“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.“
With the exception of a short ditty about Her Majesty, the above quote is the last lyric of the last song on the last album The Beatles ever recorded, and the song is aptly titled “The End”. Technically speaking, “The End” was not the last song that The Beatles ever recorded, and at that point in The Beatles career, the four band members were hardly in the studio at the same time, and breakup was inevitably eminent.
Yet “The End” was hardly an epitaph. Regardless of the in-fighting, and the bitter and ugly legal battles to follow, The Beatles music has not only endured… it has flourished. One only needs to do the math to find that it’s been almost five decades since the boys released their last album, yet their relevance seems like a footprint on the moon… unaffected by the sands of time.
“It’s better to burn out than to fade away.“
Unlike so many other performers, particularly rock bands, The Beatles ended on a high note, with a valid argument that they didn’t need to break up at all. Let it Be, their last album to be released, was figuratively a posthumous release, yet it still yielded two number one hits that shared the 1970 charts with solo work by its former members George Harrison and John Lennon. A year later in 1971, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney would also chart with solo work, proving that the creative output was far from depleted, even though they were no longer together. There were countless offers for reunions, with outrageous amounts of money offered, yet there was to be no reunion… and perhaps to their credit. “The Beatles” – as a band – never grew old, they just ended, with millions mourning their breakup.
The Beatles certainly didn’t burn out, as is proven by their individual output as solo artists through the 1970s and into the early 1980s. They still had contributions, just not as the encapsulated Beatles, thus leaving the collective work of the band to stand alone as a body of music recorded over six years. Six years!! All this fuss over a band whose recording life lasted such a short time in the grand scheme of things. Yet, those six years would yield an unprecedented amount of hits both written and performed by The Beatles – a feat never duplicated either before or after.
“If you strike me down, I will become
more powerful than you can possibly imagine.“
~Obi Wan Kenobi
There is no contesting the greatness of The Beatles, and the fact that Ringo Starr – often regarded as the lesser contributor of the four – is worlds wealthiest drummer, is very telling. Although The Beatles didn’t “die” in a literal sense, the bands sudden ending was merely the beginning of their timeless iconicism, not unlike James Dean or Marilyn Monroe. Today, The Beatles exist as a thing of immortalized legend, seemingly surreal to those of us who didn’t live through the 1960s.
Since their breakup in 1970, The Beatles have sold more music and more merchandise than while they were together. Their music continues to be used in movies, television and on Broadway… even in their own Cirque Du Soleil show. In 2010, John Lennon’s toilet sold for $15,000.00… Now that’s Beatlemania!
The assassination of John Lennon in 1980 forever ended the worlds desperate hope that the Fab might reunite once more, but future generations have and will continue to discover their artistry through the music they left behind. More books have been written about The Beatles than any other artist or performer, and will likely continue to be studied, analyzed, discussed and debated about for many years to come.
Full circle, if the line “the love you take is equal to the love you make” were to be applied to The Beatles, the love seems to know no end.