It doesn’t exactly take a Freudian analyst to point out that behind peoples love of gossip magazines and behind-the-scenes documentaries lies their love of seeing stars makes gaffes, fall down, get hurt, but mostly, just mess up. And we like to see this because it reminds us that those closest to the supernatural are, after all, all too human. But our desire to find humanity in stars and idols isn’t limited to their failures. It is perhaps for this reason that The Beatles Anthology is such a valuable resource.
While it would be unfair to say that the sound of The Beatles is nearly as perfect as an orchestra playing the overture to Parsifal, it’s not far off to point out that any Beatles track is a perfectly crafted, almost flawless pop song. Anthology gives a listener access to demos, rehearsals, jokes, argument, as well as the occasional dropped chord or slip of the finger during a bass maneuver. Anthology gives us access to the imperfection of the Beatles–a world one may never have imagined existed. Although The Beatles manage to make such imperfections endearing more than anything else. Perhaps one could do without John’s joking around–the number of times he announces a title name of one of his own songs in a highly silly and accented voice is staggering, but this too reveals a certain insecurity.
There is, however, something undeniably charming about George strumming out “Something” on his own, and imitating the sound of drums and bass guitar between choruses with his voice to point out where everything might belong once the song is completed. More than that, however, one of the most famous Beatles stories is when John came into the studio and strummed out Strawberry Fields Forever–which later became a highly-produced piece that required an orchestra. The other three were nothing short of blown away. Best of all, that recording–the first time Strawberry Fields Forever was plucked out for the public (presumably) on Lennon’s Gibson J-160E–is on Anthology.
There’s something precious about being privy to moments like these, and Anthology makes it possible. Then again Anthology also digs up Paul’s rendition of “Bésame Mucho”, in Spanish, because the French in “Michelle” just wasn’t bad enough. So in those regards, The Beatles Anthology still does have some drawbacks…