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With All Duet Respect: On Snobbery, Kanye & McCartney
Ned Raggett , January 5th, 2015 13:48

Turns out plenty of Kanye fans don't know who Paul McCartney is. So what? It's not the ignorance of youth that bothers Ned Raggett, it's the faux outrage and the smug lols that greet it

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Kanye West is one of the biggest pop stars the world has ever seen. He's been cloned and ripped off and referred to, he's had run-ins with authority, been questioned and mocked. He has recorded epochal singles, and albums that sparked entire musical movements if not careers. Kanye is an actual figure of note well beyond just the world of music, to the point where his romances and ultimate marriage to a scion of a well-known American family is part of modern conversation. On New Year's Day, he appeared on 'Only One', a single talking about family joys and love. There was also some old English dude called Paul McCartney on there, and a lot of people went, “Who’s that other guy, guess he’s about to become famous!” 

These initial reactions felt like snark, or Twitter reflexivity, or more, as much as it could be a real thing - nothing conspiratorial, just a ‘Eh, it’s a mix of things, and who cares?’ A nontroversy, as NPR writer Ann Powers put it. There were plenty of other things to think about, musically and otherwise.

It was only when further reactions started appearing on news sites and social media basically all going, to one degree or another, “What’s with this, how dare anyone not know the co-lead singer of 'Say Say Say'?!?" ("Losing hope in humanity by the minute. RT if you know who Paul McCartney is #TheBeatles" wailed @AliMaadelat) that I started getting annoyed.

There are many reasons why I might have found these patronising tweets irritating. Am I getting annoyed at a ‘kids today’ group I’ve just handily constructed in my brain? Am I imagining a variant of the reaction I noticed decades ago directed at me and about music I had just discovered? Am I getting annoyed at friends sharing these follow-up reactions for a social media laugh? Am I conflating too much in my head?  

Yet, I still think it: the whole 'Kanye fans don't know who Paul McCartney is lol' thing, whatever its sources and seriousness, is just such a piece of pernicious BS. I left The Beatles behind pretty early on, moving from general knowledge (thanks to a TV showing of Yellow Submarine when I was eight or so) to active interest (1987 to 1990, thanks initial CD releases etc) to getting bored and burnt out and moving on, for a variety of reasons. I’ve never really looked back - I haven’t consciously dug out and listened to a Beatles album of any sort since the mid-1990s. It’s an itch that I no longer feel a need to scratch.

Distance helps, though - a few years back I heard 'In My Life' one morning at my usual Saturday breakfast spot and really enjoyed encountering it in that random context. It was all familiar enough but felt fresh in that moment, rather than as endless revisiting. I think this, rather than cultural stripmining, is a fine way to approach a lot of music, art, literature – things I learn about, internalise, then don't revisit because I don't need to consciously and continuously. Why not allow for a happy accident instead?

This is arguably a specifically generational take, one shaped by the Beatles hangover that was still pounding in the 1980s. I can recognise how this was shaped, how ‘Twist And Shout’ could become a hit again in 1986 in the wake of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In 2015, the assumed knowledge still holding sway that 'Well of COURSE we're all supposed to know about the Beatles' is just hands-in-air frustrating. So much is down to specific context and a failure to recognise that your own experience is not a universal one, whether generationally, geographically, and more besides.

A slew of great comments on Twitter resonated for me - Tyler Andere, speaking back in summer on a separate and similar moment, said: "yo for real i am tired of white folks shaming me for not being super stoked on the beatles or whatever...my mom is from jamaica and my dad is from kenya so i was getting down on like bob marley + miriam makeba when i was a kid." Eric Harvey: "Asking kids to be familiar with the name Paul McCartney in 2015 is like asking kids in 1964 if Mamie Smith was their favorite singer... Despite their continuing ubiquity for most of us I think we vastly overestimate knowledge of the Beatles for younger generations... I asked 28 freshman/sophomore students about the "White Album" last semester and only 2 of them had heard of it." Jody Rosen: "And BTW: boomer rock fans' knowledge of Jolson, Armstrong, Bing, Billie, Sinatra, ragtime/jazz/pre-rock pop is, by and large, woeful." Yet the comment I liked the best came from Chris Middleman: "I grew up in an anti-Beatles household that was strongly pro-ELO. I appreciate ground broken, yet am not interested in shovels."

A mea culpa: I've certainly sometimes groused about things that people 'should' know, but what I hope - I hope, I emphasise again, because I can’t expect perfection in myself, much less anyone else - what I try to do now is keep it to the context of someone expressing interest or curiosity about something I assumed they would know already, and to limit myself to what is very clearly mock outrage. Beyond that? People will learn as they do. And continue to learn: Lord knows there’s plenty I know nothing about, and more I’d argue I know too much about. Being surprised that people don’t know certain things, not thinking about why you might know certain things when others don’t - that I don’t get. It might not be the end of the world, no. But instead of just going ahead and laughing, it might not hurt to ask why one laughs to start with.

Beep Beep
Jan 5, 2015 2:07pm

Every single time something like this happens, there is bound to be a convoluted thinkpiece about why those godawful "music snobs" are "so serious" about some people thinking the music world starts and ends with Top 40 radio of the past 2 years. How about one teaching people how to Google "Paul McCartney" instead?

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Temporary Secretary
Jan 5, 2015 2:10pm

Also relevant: the recent migos-are-better-than-the-beatles meme

tbh I've never cared much for them. Feels like people are upset that Beatles fandom as their signifier of intelligence/taste/sophistication or whatever is losing it's 'cultural capital'.

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SF
Jan 5, 2015 2:23pm

I often see people in their teens who clearly know and like the Beatles' work, and if others encounter this too then I think some of this expectation of Beatles knowledge/appreciation possibly comes from this, and maybe also from the ripples they created. To an extent some music, such as Beatles and Stones, is in the cultural DNA but I agree it's silly to get in a lather about younger generations not knowing about the Beatles, or - as I reckon is the case with some - being aware of them but not necessarily realising this McCartney bloke had anything to do with them.

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ad hominem
Jan 5, 2015 2:32pm

you grow out of the beatles

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merz
Jan 5, 2015 2:42pm

In reply to Temporary Secretary:

migos really are better than the beatles

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Sean K
Jan 5, 2015 2:48pm

Aaaaargggghhhhh! Two of my least favourite 'famous pop people' working together... if I were better at maths, i'd be able to work out exactly how heinous this is likely to be. However the precise atrocity quotient may turn out, I can only say I really hope I never hear this, as it's likely to be instantly fatal. If anyone is able to tell me exactly how long I need to avoid national radio, TV and shops that may be playing this, i'd be eternally grateful

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Ram On
Jan 5, 2015 2:57pm

I'm glad Twitter wasn't around when I was 14 to publish the ignorant comments I made. I'm also sick of the type of online outrage-bait story that finds dumb or offensive stuff people say and shoves it all together so we can feel better about ourselves. It's a lazy way to do reporting.

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Burt
Jan 5, 2015 3:25pm

Kenny who?

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Cory
Jan 5, 2015 3:38pm

It is possible to go through life without knowing who The Beatles are unless you're a fan of music.

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Kali Nichta
Jan 5, 2015 4:12pm

Cheers for this piece. Holding up people for ridicule of a knowledge gap just smacks of bullying to me.

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mazi
Jan 5, 2015 6:39pm

Steven Acker "Greatest Generation" that continues to wreak havoc on our planet today with it's selfishness? you lost me there. I'm 53, and I rely on my own children's advice now. My father's generation fucked this country and this planet over royally so that they could have shitty, low-rent pop music of the Beatles on their HDTVs. Now these old fucks whine about the kids who are STUCK holding the bag? The quicker these kids JETTISON YOUR PAST, the quicker this planet, and hopefully species, can move on to a brighter tomorrow.

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Hypnoboogie
Jan 5, 2015 8:03pm

This kind of "ignorance" should be encouraged. I long for the day when people don't know the hell Paul McCartney *and* Kanye West are.

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killchen
Jan 5, 2015 10:48pm

FAUL LIVES

PAUL IS EDAD

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Dan
Jan 6, 2015 12:28am

It is hard to understand how you can not appreciate the Beatles and that McCartney is arguably the best singer and songwriter of the last 50 years. Paul Simon ranked him in the top 5 of all time; Bob Dylan said McCartney is the only one he is in awe of; Brian Wilson cited Paul as the best musician he's ever known. When Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis were trying to put a group together the bass player they wanted was McCartney. Every major artist of the last 50 years from Jay Z to Nirvana have cited the Beatles as their inspiration. Bragging about how you don't get them is as ignorant as saying you don't like Shakespeare or feel Mozart is overrated. Speaking of Mozart, the classical musicologist Howard Goodall has said only Mozart has written more great melodies than Paul McCartney. Hard to see anyone else in music today hitting such heights. Finally, McCartney has written or cowritten 31 number 1 songs - among many other accomplishments that put him according to Guiness world records as the most successful songwriter and musician ever. No one will ever catch him in success or the admiration of musicians the world over. What will Kanye's career be like in 35 years when he's 72 or will we still need him when he's 64!

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Ian Grey
Jan 6, 2015 12:40am

Mr Acker gloated inaccurately "Because we, sir, were educated and our parents were educated. They were the Greatest Generation and ours didn't do too badly either." Oh please. My parents were poor and educated by misery. I barely made it out pf high school before a band stole me from the hideousness of American blue collar agony. The boomers--we--just had more spare cash and we got big boners over what we got to do with that cash. Woo hoo. Gimme some neo-black metal, please. (Love the Beatles and as an engineer am constantly amazed at what they accomplished but it's _very_ hard to listen to them. It's even kind of creepy. Paul, I kind of like. He makes his cool electronica records, he made that weird thing with Youth, he can still craft a record. He's still creatively alive.)

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Geanconagh
Jan 6, 2015 1:13am

Who is this Kaney West of whom you speak?

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San Louis Esbestebo
Jan 6, 2015 1:28am

The only Kanye West song I've ever heard is "Gay Fish" from South Park.

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Jan 6, 2015 6:02am

Kane West, isn't he one of the artists involved with that P.C. Music hype last year?

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Jan 6, 2015 8:57am

In reply to Ian Grey:

Yeah but to be fair to two of them they are physically dead, never mind artistically

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mrg
Jan 6, 2015 10:06am

In reply to Dan:

As it happens, I quite like the later period (White Album, Abbey Road), and certainly appreciate their impact on pop music as a whole. That said, I also acknowledge that many people do not like and/or care about them at all. There is a certain strain of Beatles fandom, hinted by your post, that simply cannot accept this. Tell them you don't like the Beatles and they'll tell you that you're just winding them up, trying to provoke a reaction, or plain wrong. Because how could anybody not love the Beatles, right? The narrative is that they are objectively brilliant (they're not) and universally beloved by every single human alive (they're not). No other artist gets treated in this sickeningly fawning, canonistic way – and if anything it probably acts as a barrier to people getting into them.

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mrg
Jan 6, 2015 10:07am

Btw, excellent piece, Ned.

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Deiseboy
Jan 6, 2015 10:18am

Wasn't it the same even in the mid 70s with teenage Wings fans? A common quote would have been "my parents said that guy used to be in some other band".

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Nina
Jan 6, 2015 10:30am

As someone who works in a related music field, I try and stay aware of all types of music, from all periods of time. The Beatles are my peers, therefore I know the body of music they produced. I have a deep appreciation for Paul McCartney, his talent, his music and feel he is under appreciated as to his contribution to music. I have made a point at learning about the roots of music. This is not typically taught in schools so the youth today may not be exposed to the history of music and are therefore unaware. Unless they are with others of similar tastes they may not be exposed either. Music is an ART and art is in the 'ear' of the beholder! Everyone will have their own perspective and opinions. And that's ok. What saddens me is when I read the rude comments, full of profanity. The foulness is more a problem than the lack of knowledge. People don't need to type who are their least favorite pop rock artists, who is talentless etc. Their rudeness, which runs rampant across all social media in MY opinion is more worrisome than youths who may not know who Paul McCartney is. Guess what? They'll learn who he is now but will they learn to be more sensitive, caring, devoted, kind, giving, committed, generous, ambitious, educated and not have an attitude that screams "what's in it for me? Ignorance should be encouraged? They (Kanye and Paul) are physically dead as well as artistically? There's part of the real problem.

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Dont test me
Jan 6, 2015 11:14am

Get your diarys out and watch the same thing keep happening. Next it will be a picture of someones x-rays

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Tenbenson
Jan 6, 2015 12:48pm

In reply to Dan:

.........oh! Sorry, were you speaking? All I heard was a monotonous drone. And not a good one, like by Sunn 0))).

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klausdinger
Jan 6, 2015 1:44pm

Great piece. I'd been trying to mull over exactly why all this had been bothering me, but you've said it better than I could. There are loads of reasons why a kid today might not know who Paul McCartney is, and many of them are very good ones. Their own cultural/musical landscape might be so vibrant that they haven't yet felt drawn to dig that far into the past (that comes with time)? Maybe they come from a place where The Beatles are not that important? Maybe they've been granted the opportunity to grow up without the cultural hegemony of the white bread beatlesandstones gatekeepers of taste, with their perennial All Time Top 50s that sanction Kind of Blue and What's Going On as permissible ethnic representatives. I wasted years of my life trying to pretend to enjoy David Bowie or Astral Weeks, because otherwise I wouldn't be taken seriously as a music fan. It'd be lovely to think that was all behind us, the notion of canonical rock & roll defunct.

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Blurred Girl
Jan 6, 2015 2:52pm

What do you mean you don't have both We All Together albums.....??!!!!

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Ian Grey
Jan 6, 2015 5:06pm

Another way this isn't a story is how transparent Kanye's motives for doing this. There are two. Both delight McCartney.

1. Kanye gets everyone talking about him incessantly in an entirely new and stupid way. Bravo!
2. Kanye, who was not schooled in mid-20th century song, gets a free learn-as-you-go by one
of its most ludicrously successful practitioners.

Fin

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jude
Jan 6, 2015 6:54pm

Take a look at a globe, now find England on it. You'll notice a few things: it's very tiny, and it's at the edge of the world. The number of people in the world who have never heard of Paul McCartney far outweighs those who have. Most people in China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have no idea who McCartney is - and that's 3 billion people. It's really only in the UK and the (white) US where McCartney continues to hold fascination - the UK, because that's where he's from, and the US, because that's where rock and roll is from, and the whites feel it can never die (even though go to Berlin, and you'll find it's pretty well dead). My two cents. ;-)

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Jude111
Jan 6, 2015 7:14pm

In reply to Ian Grey:

Where do people come up with this stuff? Ian Grey writes that Kanye "was not schooled in mid-20th century song." Is there a real "school of rock"? At any rate, here are some samples that Kanye has used in his music in the past, which tells me he has a pretty extensive knowledge of 20th century popular music: Nina Simone's Strange Fruit, King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King, Aphex Twin's Avril 14th, German Krautrock band Can's Sing Swan Song, Marvin Gaye's Distant Lover, Black Sabbath's Iron Man, Steely Dan's Kid Charlemagne; songs by the Alan Parsons Project, Mike Oldfield, Etta James, Phil Manzanera, Ray Charles, Daft Punk, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Giorgio Moroder, James Brown, Spoooky Tooth, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Tears for Fears, Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding, Rupert Holmes, Bette Midler, Chaka Khan, Public Enemy, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Rick James, Queen, Yes's Jon Anderson, Quincy Jones, even Peter, Paul & Mary. And that's just scratching the surface.

Admit it: Kanye's a walking Encyclopedia of 20th century music.

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Steve Acker
Jan 6, 2015 9:23pm

“PAUL WHO?” On Kanye West and Why America is Literally Falling Apart
January 6, 2015 at 11:02am

The recent musical collaboration of Sir Paul McCartney and hip-hop/rap artist Kanye West has shed light on a major cultural, sociological, and political problem: America is no longer one cohesive nation. We have become, instead, a niche-nation….a fractured, fragmented, hodge-podge of special interest groups with no knowledge of each other and no real perspective on their relative place in the grand scheme of things.

We have become a massive collection of cultural and sociological bits and pieces and it appears inevitable to me that this fragmentation will continue until America is no longer recognizable as America.

So how has this happened? When did it start? In two words: Cable TV.

Upon the commercial release this week of the maudlin ballad, Only One-- sung by Kanye West, accompanied by Paul McCartney on an electronic piano, and apparently written by both—the Internet was flooded with tweets from Kanye fans who had no clue who this old geezer their hip-hop hero had thrown in with was. “Paul who?” they asked

Of course, this has prompted countless online debates and threads—including a spirited discussion among the members of a music discussion group to which I belong—asking what the hell is wrong with these kids? How could they not know who Paul McCartney is? How could they not know The Beatles?

As I see it, ignorance of the Beatles among today’s wayward youth is but a symptom of a much more serious illness…a culture of ignorance. And why is that a problem? Because these young and dumb youngsters are voters, or soon will be, and eventually they will be the majority. And if our Republic is fundamentally a nation of majority rule, what kind of country can we expect from an ignorant majority?

How Network Television Brought Us Together

From the 30’s through the 70s, mass media--first network radio, then network TV--brought all Americans everywhere together as one mass society. It was a shared experience that transcended racial, ethnic, and religious barriers. After struggling for a decade in the 50s to become a national mass media, television in the 60s became a cultural force – for better or worse. Programming was alternately earth shaking, sublime and sometimes ridiculous, but whatever it was, it was all we had. On any given day or night, American families had only three choices: ABC, NBC, and CBS.

On Sunday nights, half of all American families with TV sets sat together to watch the Ed Sullivan Show. As a child and then as an adolescent, I saw not only Elvis and The Beatles, but also the Bolshoi Ballet and Buddy Rich and Itzhak Perlman and Broadway shows of all kinds. We all did.

Every prime time evening we would all sit together in the living room watching Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show and later the Andy Griffith Show. We kids were constantly exposed to nuclear families with traditional family values, and those values became our values.

Every evening at 6:00, after the whole family had sat down to dinner together, we all watched the news together. We watched it because there was nothing else to watch. We kids couldn’t switch the channel to MTV because there was no MTV. So we all had a common base of knowledge about what was going on in the world, and again, this base of knowledge cut across all cultures, all races, and all economic barriers.

So as we Baby Boomers entered high school and college and the job market, we all shared these common experiences, these common values, and this common base of knowledge. At the same time, we were all steeped in American history because that’s what they taught us in school and that’s what we saw on television. We all said the Pledge of Allegiance every day. We all knew why we had fought the Revolutionary War and what it meant. And anyone who came to America from other countries seeking the American Dream had to take civics classes and pass citizenship tests in order to become Americans.

How Cable Television Has Divided Us and Fostered Mass Ignorance

The expansion and rise of cable television (which had been around since 1949) in the late 70s and early 80's, with its ever-increasing array of niche-market channels, has over the decades divided and separated us. It has diluted and destroyed our common base-of-knowledge, as well as our common values.

This fragmentation of society is evident not only in television and radio, but also in magazines and of course, that ultimate double-edge sword, the Internet. For while the Internet, and especially Facebook, has brought the world closer together in one respect, it has at the same time driven us father apart. We don’t talk anymore. We text. We email. We chat. We sit in our rooms behind our monitors, we send our pictures and personal news out into the world, we read the comments and we comment on our friends’ pictures and news, but we seldom pick up the phone to have real conversations.

We have withdrawn from mass media and universally-shared knowledge and universally-shared experiences into tiny common cocoons shared only by a few of our Facebook friends or only by our own small social groups. This is why Kanye West’s fans know nothing of Paul McCartney and the Beatles. They know nothing about anything at all that came before them. They’ve seen every film Tyler Perry has made or (if they’re white) Adam Sandler has made, but they have never seen Citizen Kane. They have never read a book that they didn't have to read in school. They have never listened to any music that has not been played on MTV Jams or their local rap radio station. They have never been exposed to the diverse education my generation was exposed to because they have had too many choices, and what they have chosen and continue to choose has been limited to their own narrow personal experiences.

It’s quite natural then that in the years ahead, as they grow into adulthood, as they take the reins of our society and our government, that the society these young people mold will be equally limited and equally myopic. Tragically, it will also be predicated on values that were not the values of our Founding Fathers—the values that made The United States of America the Greatest Nation in the History of the World. How could they fight to preserve those values—why would they fight to preserve those values—if they have no idea what those values are?

So it is inevitable, the way I see it, that they will mold not a government of the People, by the People, and for the People, but a People of the government, by the government, and for the government. Because unfortunately, as they understand it, the source of their prosperity (such as it may be) is not their own initiative, not their own personal pursuit of happiness, but Federal Government handouts.

And that is why it is so significant and frightening that Kanye West’s fans have no idea who Paul McCartney is.

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Dan
Jan 6, 2015 11:18pm

In reply to mrg:

I appreciate your point but I guess the essence of the matter is whether or not there are ever objective standards of what is good music. To me, Louis Armstrong, George Gerswhin, Sinatra, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis are all objectively great. I'd put the Beatles,among others, in this category. You can be an intelligent music fan and appreciate one artist on this list more than another but I think it is objective reality that all were great. If someone says Duke Ellington is over rated and it is ok for young people to not know of his music in a general way, I would say that is a shame and reflects poorly on our society and music education. It is ok for someone to believe Kanye is better than Ellington but please don't disrespect Ellington in the process. The comments regarding the Beatles and McCartney seem to be disrespectful to artists who changed the world and produced an objectively great body of work that has passed a test of time that Kanye has not yet passed but may in the future - only time will tell.
So my point is that the Beatles, like the names above, have over time passed into the canon of objectively great music and there should not be disagreement among educated music fans about this. The back and forth among people who are serious music fans is what happens over long time periods and the artists who survive are remembered and those who do not are forgotten. My money is on the Beatles that they will be among a handful of artists from the second half of the 20th century who will survive the test of time. Most artists will not. I think Kanye would agree with me that the Beatles deserve to be on a list of great and timeless artists and that Kanye himself will likely join the list with the passage of time. Taste is always subjective but over time a consensus is reached that certain artists are great and there is little to be gained by disparaging a great artist from the past. If your opinion is that the Beatles were not great, I think we both know that most musicians and critics would disagree as the Beatles typically top surveys etc. Not everyone will name the Beatles as their favorite but simply conceding their great quality and impact seems entirely reasonable and the entry point for inclusion on a list of canonistic artists.
BTW, you noted a comment by someone (Chis Middleman) who grew up in an anti- Beatles and pro ELO household. I hope you appreciate the irony of noting ELO who based their career on the Beatles and who were led by Jeff Lynne who appreciates the Beatles probably more than I do.

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Richard
Jan 7, 2015 6:23am

The twitter and blogosphere hashtag campaigns on either side of this are just more publicity from the desperate publicity machines of music makers and music sellers in this dying industry to generate money. Anyone who piles on helps sell records, not change the world.

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Chris
Jan 7, 2015 4:30pm

I worked with someone who liked both The Beatles and Kanye West.
I bet his underpants are sticky with this news.

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mrg
Jan 7, 2015 5:38pm

In reply to Dan:

That's where I'd disagree, Dan. Much as I too love Duke Ellington, Miles Davis et al., I completely reject the idea there's any such thing as objective greatness in art, no matter the medium. I don't mistake my love or appreciation of a piece of art for its objective reality. In fact, I'm entirely baffled by, even suspicious of, the desire for personal taste to be quasi-mystically validated as objective, irrefutable fact. All greatness means in the context you're using it is critical consensus based on arbitrary, cultural-specific, historically rooted and self-reinforcing criteria. You have to ask yourself about the universality or otherwise of those criteria, what kind of people the critics are, what narratives they are reinforcing or undermining, what power structures, social norms and received wisdom they reflect. If greatness consists of nothing more than 'self-appointed taste-makers agree that this is good', then it's a pretty hollow concept, and not one I have much use for.

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mitchell cobb
Jan 7, 2015 7:53pm

hmm.. as much as being actively angry about kids not knowing who macca is is tedious and embarassing, you got to admit there is something quite funny about western kids having no clue about such an ubiquitous pop-cultural figure. it would be like not knowing what chips are.

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Dan
Jan 7, 2015 10:45pm

In reply to mrg:

Interesting. I now see that your comment about the Beatles is more a reflection of your rejection of received cultural norms and authority than anything specifically about their music - as you said, you enjoy the White Album and Abbey Road. I think this is probably a generational thing where us boomers grew up accepting wisdom received from elite or authoritarian figures. That is perhaps why we react when we perceive a threat to cultural respect for the Beatles because we want them to join the pantheon of greats like in the world we grew up in. If such norms won't exist in the future, I guess Nevermind. Thanks for clarifying.

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The Intl
Jan 9, 2015 10:34am

To be fair, asking kids in 1964 about Bing, Jolson and the rest is kind of an unfair comparison. McCartney is a ROCK artist, and that music still lives and thrives today. Jolson & Bing did NOT rock out & were fairly corny. Paul did some trailblazing because not a lot had come before; EVERYTHING came before Kanye so all he can do, really, is act a fool to get on the radar, just like everyone else nowadays. However, I do find it odd that McCartney doesn't pair up with any of his contemporaries, it's always a "kid".

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Scott
Jan 11, 2015 5:39pm

Is this a good place to shoehorn in my shitty opinion that Abbey Road is a mediocre album speckled with some truly awful moments?

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Drew
Jan 12, 2015 1:44am

Two things bothered me about this whole faux controversy: (1) The thinly disguised (and sometimes not so disguised) racism of Beatles fans upset that Paul had "lowered himself" to work with Kanye, or who refused to give Kanye a shred of artistic credit and dismissed him purely as a "loudmouth" (although they had no troubled overlooking the bad behavior of that other loudmouth Paul worked with, John Lennon. (2) Articles like this one where the writer rushes to trash the Beatles or insist "of course I"M not a Beatles fan" or to demean McCartney. For as long as The Beatles have been around, there have been people who hated the Beatles. Hating the Beatles doesn't make you unique. And denying their influence just makes you look like a boring contrarian.

So Web sites manufacture a controversy and then use Kanye and Macca as clickbait.

P.S. I think the song they created together is lovely.

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Drew
Jan 12, 2015 1:46am

In reply to Scott:

Well at least you characterized your shitty opinion correctly. :) Abbey Road is a masterpiece, start to finish. But you aren't required to like it.

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hb
Jan 13, 2015 8:21pm

In reply to Drew:

"...racism of Beatles fans upset that Paul had "lowered himself" to work with Kanye, or who refused to give Kanye a shred of artistic credit and dismissed him purely as a "loudmouth"

Everything has to be racist. Sigh.

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Antony Bates
Jan 16, 2015 10:27am

In reply to Nina:

No, Nina - the guy said two of the Beatles "are physically dead, never mind artistically". He wasn't saying West and McCartney were dead in any sense.

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Antony Bates
Jan 16, 2015 10:42am

In reply to Drew:

Do you really think Abbey Road is a masterpiece? I like the Beatles, read the books, got the records etc, but "from start to finish"? It's got Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Oh Darling and (oh GOD!) Octopus' Garden on the first side! The rest is terrific, of course, no argument there!

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james
Jan 19, 2015 4:11pm

You'd have to be a complete fucking idiot to not know who Paul McCarntey is. It's like not knowing to Mozart is, or Stalin. The Beatles and McCartney aren't just artists, they're among the most significant people of the 20th century. To not know who they are is a sign of ignorance that should not be excused. Imagine what other bits of basic information those people are unaware of.

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Drew
Jan 19, 2015 9:04pm

In reply to hb:

HB: No, everything doesn't have to be about racism -- just things that are about racism. And people being willing to overlook all sorts of bad behavior by white musicians by dismissing Kanye and his work because of his "loudmouth" behavior is plain old racism.

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Drew
Jan 19, 2015 9:10pm

In reply to Antony Bates:

Antony Bates: There is no such thing as a perfect album. You could name weak tracks on every album ever made. That said, I can see why you'd view Octopus Garden as a weak track but Oh Darling is fabulous. Oh Darling is Paul at a heartbreaking moment in his life. Lennon always gets credit for writing "confessional" songs but Paul wrote his share of very personal, gut-wrenching moments and Oh Darling is one of them. As for Maxwell's Silver Hammer, I think it's an adventurous track musically. And lyrically, it's a chilling story about public fascination with serial killers. It's not my favorite track on Abbey Road but Paul has taken a ridiculous amount of abuse while I can think of countless other artists who wrote about serial killers and were celebrated for it.

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Drew
Jan 19, 2015 9:33pm

Rereading this, I think it's kind of amusing that the author is accusing people of being smug for criticizing Kanye, when this author is just as smug about the Beatles. These sentences from the piece -- " left The Beatles behind pretty early on. ... I’ve never really looked back. I haven’t consciously dug out and listened to a Beatles album of any sort since the mid-1990s. It’s an itch that I no longer feel a need to scratch." -- sound pretty darn smug to me. Because god forbid a UK music writer praise the Beatles.

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Simon
Jan 28, 2015 12:55pm

In reply to Drew:

I've always thought that Maxwell's Silver Hammer was intended as a pastiche of the stuff on Nilsson's first LP (especially since the Beatles had quite a thing for him) and if it had been on there instead of Abbey Road, it probably wouldn't attract nearly as much ire. As to the question at hand; The Beatles and supposed lack of curiosity aside, it is odd that a significant number of younger people claim ignorance of McCartney given that he seems to crop up in the news regularly enough these days

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sieteocho
Jan 28, 2015 2:29pm

The real issue here, I think, is that there is an asymmetry. The Beatles were extremely lucky to be present at the creation of a whole new thing, and stamp their name on a many ideas that proved to be enduring. You could call a person who doesn't know about the Beatles to be "ignorant". But anybody who can't name a single rap artist from the last 20 years doesn't ever get labelled ignorant. A lot of people who have openly questioned who the heck Paul McCartney is - that's where they come from. Paul McCartney is over. The Beatles is over. Even the British Invasion ended around 20 years ago, when neither Blur nor Oasis made it big in the US. Music was meant to last a long time, but it wasn't meant to last forever.

Somebody lamented that the problem was that the US has become much more fragmented in the last 20 years and that's why people don't see the Beatles as the Beatles. Well that's because that guy, in his ignorance, doesn't understand that we live in an era where a pop act is just a pop act, rather than the god-like deities of time past. It could be that the Beatles were one of the last bands to unite a generation, (or maybe it was Nirvana, I don't know). But it's supposed to be a good thing. It's a sign of the immense riches of our cultural scene that we have so much product we don't even know what to make of it. Thank god we live in an era where everybody is famous for only 15 minutes because I lived through the pre-internet era where you had to listen to the radio and nothing but the radio and it seriously bored the shit out of me.

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Strix
Jan 28, 2015 7:34pm

50 years is a long time
Who aged, let's say 20 in1966, was listening to "popular" music from 1916?
Not me, that's for sure!

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jeff
Feb 7, 2015 10:33pm

The truth is that the one I don't know anything about Rihanna. And I simply can't understand why McCartney would associate with a moron like Kanye West. The Rihanna FourFiveSeconds video demonstrates not only what is wrong with 'so called' music today, but also what is wrong with a good portion of that generation of young people. Particularly young black people. Watching McCartney standing there looking like 'what in the hell am I doing here' during the course of the video is simply embarrassing. Shame on you Paul. Shame on you for getting sucked into participating in yet another piece of crap. I didn't think I'd see you ever get mixed up in anything worse than that pathetic Dave Grohl dreck, but somehow you manage to keep stepping in it. Do you think this makes you look hip? Perhaps relevant? Nope. Just pathetic. A pathetic old Beatle trying to be cool like one of the kids. Get a clue pal, you're not building a legacy, you're destroying one. You were cool. Not now. Perhaps next you'll be contorting around like some retarded spastic like Kanye and Rihanna. Maybe you could get Yoko to do it with you. John Lennon would approve.

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Drew
Feb 10, 2015 2:37am

In reply to jeff:

Good lord, Jeff, have a drink. Calm down. It's just music. Paul stood in place in the video and played a guitar, moving a bit. That's all. Was he rapping? No. Was he twerking? No. He was a musician who co-wrote a song and helped arrange and play on it. That's something he's been doing for 50 years. It's something he likes to do. You are not required to like everything he does. The fact that you throw in a gratuitous shot at Yoko tells me all I need to know about your tolerance for difference and experimentation. Thank goodness Macca isn't as uptight as some of his alleged fans.

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Feb 10, 2015 5:49pm

In reply to klausdinger:

Funnily enough, Kanye West has also passed muster with the "cultural hegemony white bread whatever the hell you said gatekeepers of taste". That's how he's become so popular - most of his fans probably aren't black, more likely white and middle class.

So, ironically, your attempt to look so liberal and right-on in your music tastes at the expense of less enlightened white people, shows you to be a part of another, but just as staid, "gatekeepers of taste" clique.

The "blacker than you" white music snobs.

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Feb 10, 2015 6:01pm

In reply to Jude111:

Duh.

He barely even writes the songs anymore, check out the list of "collaborators" for his last piece of shit.

I don't think he's unaware of songwriting, but he doesn't show many signs of being capable of it. Lyrics like:

"I keep it 300, like the Romans
300 bitches, where's the trojans?"

Or trying to rhyme "French-ass restaurant" with "croissant". Yeah, a talent for the ages there.

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Feb 10, 2015 6:13pm

In reply to mrg:

"You have to ask yourself about the universality or otherwise of those criteria, what kind of people the critics are, what narratives they are reinforcing or undermining, what power structures, social norms and received wisdom they reflect."

No you really don't. Your problem with "greatness" as a universal concept, is just that you resent authority and clearly go to ridiculous lengths to gainsay it, even if the opinion presented is as uncontentious as The Beatles being great.

They were, and their music touched almost the whole planet. Whether it still holds relevance to the current generations of music fans is neither here nor there, The Beatles' greatness is a historical fact.

In this case, we're talking about a band that transcended all the niches you mentioned. They literally touched almost the whole world, how yo

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Feb 10, 2015 6:23pm

In reply to Drew:

"The thinly disguised (and sometimes not so disguised) racism of Beatles fans upset that Paul had "lowered himself" to work with Kanye, or who refused to give Kanye a shred of artistic credit and dismissed him purely as a "loudmouth" (although they had no troubled overlooking the bad behavior of that other loudmouth Paul worked with, John Lennon. "

I like your thinly disguised over-reaction to these over-reactions. "Racism?... Hating on Kanye West is far from racism, it's a sure sign of good taste, and rebelling against the mediocrity he represents, both musically and lyrically.

You mention John Lennon as a "loudmouth". Sure he was, but he often shouted intelligent things, as well as stupid ones. He was also a funny fucker, witty and outspoken, both live and on record.

Watching West speak live during the Katrina disaster, I was struck by just how thick he is. He literally seemed to be struggling to form coherent sentences. Is it racist to notice that someone black happens to be thick?

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Feb 14, 2015 9:33pm

In reply to :

Beatles rap both a couple of basket cases need to be sent back to England where they can smoke some good dope.

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My Car Runneth Over
Feb 15, 2015 2:04pm

It's not racist to put Kanye 'below' Macca, nor ridiculous to elevate Kanye 'above' Macca: this 'meeting of two musical minds' is a for-profit-only arrangement. Paul knows his relevance is gone: did his last album produce ANY songs you just couldn't get away from, like 'Shake It Off'? Obviously, that was the intention, if you work with someone like Mark Ronson. And Kanye's a media junkie; gimme the hype!
Why is it that comments keep referring back to Macca not being known by the younger generation? EVERYTHING can be Googled: does that mean kids today should know EVERYTHING? Or just the things WE feel they SHOULD know? I agree that there are certain historical 'facts' (if that word can be used) that people should at least know a little about, but it's also true that people learn things at different times, and for different reasons. I know a lot more about American (and World) history now than I ever did when I was a teenager. Why? Because it didn't matter to me back then, and I couldn't figure out why it should. And that's probably the reason why a lot of kids don't know (and don't care) about Sir Paul: because he doesn't matter to them, and they can't figure out why he should.
I know... if they want to know why he matters, listen to the White Album or Abbey Road, right? Yes, great albums... but what kid listens to albums? My son, 19, knows all about Bowie and the Beatles, but mostly because of individual songs he heard from movie soundtracks and video games. Taking something old, which had a visual connection for past generations (a concert or music video), and giving it a new visual medium is exactly the kind of thing McLuhan talked about in the 70's. But not everyone today is going to be happy living in 'our' moment; a lot of them want to live in 'their' moment.
Like any younger generation.

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theUbiq
Feb 15, 2015 10:07pm

In reply to Jude111:

But was it kanye or the in vogue producer he paid to write the album that picked the samples?

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Ron Tamra
Feb 24, 2015 6:33pm

you keep seeing these stories around the interwebs since this song dropped, only added to by Kanye's grammy goof-off. and all the comments are the same: old white guys getting upset because no one gives a flying fudge about their precious pop band.

the music industry (first clue right there: industry) is a machine. right, we all know this? the Beatles, despite what anyone thinks of them as performers, entertainers, and artists, were essentially of the first super pop bands. boy band. clearly, Elvis might have been the true first part of this new machine, but the Beatles were the next generation and amped it up a bit.

ever since the Beatles, there's been countless copies and contenders for whichever current decade's major pop group.

look at archeology and see how things fade throughout history. the Beatles will never last forever. sorry, but that is essentially true. it pains a lot of older people to admit this because it's admitting defeat to Time Itself, and the onset of death and meaningless. (most people have issues with this concept, hence religion, etc. but that's another argument.)

at some point in the near future, another pop act will be equally huge and last some 40-60 years. they too will fade. this is life. get over it.

Kanye, regardless of how cranky white record nerds perceive him, is most certainly huge now, and will start to fade in talent soon. but his art will certainly live on for a bit. like the Beatles. right now, I have no idea if his art will last as long as the Beatles; we shall see.

so what is all of you people's point here? pissing on Kanye or the Beatles and claiming one is the legit King of the throne or not. this is all elementary school pissing wars... entry level crap!

point being: if you like the Beatles, fine. if you like Kanye, fine. you guys DO know that pop music IS designed for teens? so what that the Beatles took acid and grew beards! so what that Kanye sings about sex and uses bad words! it's still juvenile stuff. it's STILL mere entertainment that is ALL manufactured for you to keep you from going apeshit at your shitty job, right?

is all this banter really necessary? is this what readers of Quietus have become? shit, I might as well go surf Facebook to find equally mundane discussions.

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Westicles Flaming
Feb 24, 2015 6:44pm

In reply to Strix:

exactly.
only hardcore OCD record fans know every name, date, album title, etc. and in most cases, they only know the genres they like. I like what I like, and that's that. I listen to new music from other genres all the time... if something sticks, great! if not, oh well! no reason to beat up on it! lives are much happier when not overly judging and criticizing everything.

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Casmilus
Mar 18, 2015 4:09pm

Paul McCartney forgot who he was when he made [fill in title of most-hated solo single]. The rest of us politely looked away.

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Echo Business Solutions
May 25, 2015 4:35am

Every time this song comes on in our office, we start singing like crazy! In Charleston SC, where we work at Echo Business Solutions, there are a lot of employees who just like to have too much fun! lol. This song makes it sooo easy.

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Echo Business Solutions Inc
May 25, 2015 4:36am

Another thing about Echo Business Solutions Inc is that we literally have speakers in every room for when we get in in the morning and we fire up this song. I'm sorry if some of you don't like this song, but daaang! We think it's great.

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Vazxvae
Nov 4, 2015 6:27am

windows 10 loader
Mientras los usuarios de energía probablemente saben todas estas correcciones por corazón, FixWin para Windows 10 (hay una versión independiente de Windows 8/8.1 y Windows 7/Windows los usuarios de Vista) es una herramienta ideal para aquellos que no son expertos en Windows o que no tienen el tiempo para los foros para una respuesta de arrastre. He probado la herramienta en algunos sistemas que experimenta problemas después de hacer el salto a Windows 10 y funcionó bien, aunque dependiendo de los problemas que tiene, su kilometraje puede variar.

windows 10 activador

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