Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Rock and roll – and religion?

The news that the Vatican has forgiven the late John Lennon for his claim that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus has reverberated around the world.

I was brought up Catholic, and when I was a believer thought that it was nice that the church was modernizing, but this is either a scary sign or a good one.

A recent search on Google for “Beatles” and “Vatican” found 523 articles, though the original editorial in L’Osservatore Romano, the church’s official newspaper, is not yet online. It praised the Beatles on the 40th anniversary of the band’s seminal double album “The Beatles,” aka “The White Album.”

The positive comments about the Beatles’ contributions to music would no doubt shock and stun anyone who was over a certain age when the Beatles were in their heyday, and might even shock the remaining living Beatles.

I remember reading an article several years ago in which a British customs agent who had confiscated their gold records from the U.S. said (sometime in 1965, I think) that their popularity was on the wane based on his research among teenagers in his neighborhood.

It’s amazing to me that their music has lasted this long. In a time when most cars that pass by featuring the thump of hip-hop rantings about ho’s, the cops and drugs, the Beatles’ works are almost like elevator music.

Maybe that’s a good thing. Some music has staying power, and some music should just go away. I mean, we listen to songs like “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be” and “A Hard Day’s Night,” and think they’re awesome. But I still remember a song by a guy named David Essex called “Rock On,” and how it was played to death on the radio, and Essex joined the ranks of “one-hit wonders.”

I don’t know if Beatles songs will ever become part of Catholic services, but it is good to see that the Vatican recognizes quality.


November 25, 2008 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , , , , ,

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