The "Favorite Beatle" Question

I watched A Hard Day’s Night yesterday, the Miramax two-disc DVD version released a few years ago. I hadn’t watched one of the Beatles’ films in a while, and my VHS tapes are packed away, so I had little choice but to go with AHDN.

It’s a great film. I can’t fault anything of it. The Beatles weren’t actors, but you wouldn’t know by watching. The story was rather thin, but you wouldn’t care. Dick Lester’s direction was top-notch, the cinematography holds up. If the film were made in color it might have looked dated, but black and white serves the film well, gives it a timeless look and appeal. The tie-in album is, I think, by far the best of the Beatles’ first four (UK) albums. If I could take one Beatle artifact with me to a desert island, there’s no choice–I’d take A Hard Day’s Night.

I’ve loved the Beatles for a long time. A very long time. I had Beatles CDs before I had a CD player. I scoured back-alley record stores and online auction websites to acquire bootleg albums, especially anything related to the “Get Back” fiasco. Suffice to say, I have a lot of The Beatles in my CD collection.

I’m sometimes asked, Who is your favorite Beatle? I think anyone who likes the Beatles gets “The Question” at one time or another. It’s a natural question, and watching A Hard Day’s Night for the first time in a year and a half “The Question” reared its head in the back of my mind.

It may be a cop-out, but I would have to say, It depends.

My favorite Beatle is a situational thing, dependent almost entirely upon mood, just as mood determines which of their albums sees time in the CD player and which don’t. Early-period Beatles, not so much. Late-period Beatles, most of the time. But then you toss in “Revolver,” and that’s the album I can listen to the most, yet that falls smack dab in the middle of their career. It’s a mood thing.

Then there’s which of the solo albums see play time and which don’t. George’s albums, especially “All Things Must Pass,” “Cloud Nine,” and “Brainwashed,” see a lot of play time. Ringo’s albums, especially the ones since “Time Takes Time,” see a bit. John’s albums and Paul’s albums, though, get very little play, but then I’ll go on a tear and I might listen to “Band on the Run” three times in a single day. It’s a mood thing.

See, I think it’s more about how we perceive the Beatles and their personalities than how they really were. In my angry moods, I might lean toward John. In my facile moods, Paul. In my eager-to-please moments, Ringo. In my deeper, more introspective moments, George. These aren’t hard-and-fast perceptions of who the Beatles were as individuals. Rather, these are the personality caricatures we’ve formed of them over the past forty years, carcicatures defined in large part by A Hard Day’s Night and the other films.

I am a Beatles fan. I am also a fan of the Beatles as individuals. But I would be hard-pressed to say that one Beatle is my favorite above the other three.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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