How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin
Despite being banned, the Beatles still managed to infiltrate the Iron Curtain and influence a whole generation.
Published: June 11, 2013 (Issue # 1763)
УHow The Beatles Rocked the Kremlin: The Untold Story of a Noisy Revolution,Ф rockets the reader back to the stagnant times of the Brezhnev era, when the BeatlesТ music was illegal in the Soviet Union, yet bootleg recordings of Paul, George, John and Ringo were influencing and inspiring an entire generation of Soviet youth.
Renowned British documentary filmmaker Leslie Woodhead has recently published a treatise positing the Fab FourТs influence in bringing down the Soviet establishment in the second half of the 20th Century.
WoodheadТs connection with the Beatles can be traced back to the very beginning: Once a researcher for Granada Television in the North of England, he shot the only surviving film of the band performing an early gig at LiverpoolТs Cavern Club.
УThe little two-minute film I shot in the Cavern Club in August 1962 is the first and only film of the Beatles before they became famous,Ф he recalled in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times.
The intricacies of how a catalogue of 212 songs from УLove Me DoФ in 1962 to УI Me MineФ in 1970 (the last thing they recorded) could have helped change the direction of the Soviet Union are problematic.
УOf course, the processes by which the Beatles and their music promoted change in the Soviet Union are complex and elusive,Ф said Woodhead. УFrom Stalinist times, culture had often been an agent for change in a society where other political processes were suppressed and unavailable.Ф
Despite the Beatles not being Уdirectly political,Ф and in an era when numerous Russian fans still had difficulties grasping the meaning behind the lyrics, Woodhead thought that the timing was perfect.
УTheir music arrived at just the moment when the hopes of a young generation were being dashed by BrezhnevТs crackdowns. What was conveyed through the music, and what was troubling to the Kremlin, was a youthful spirit of freedom and unchecked energy,Ф he said.
Woodhead interviewed numerous Beatles fans from the Soviet-era while creating the book.
УEveryone I met from the Soviet-era Beatles generation emphasized the word СfreedomТ and talked about how their music somehow freed the Сslave within them.Т In St. Petersburg, music producer Andrei Tropillo described the process for me with a wonderful image.Ф
He quoted Tropillo: УWe understood the message of the BeatlesТ music the way dogs and cats understand us: They donТt understand the words, but they catch the feeling.Ф
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