Digital Classroom: The Beatles "I Want to Hold Your Hand" / "A Day In the Life"
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963)
“A Day in the Life” (1967)
The Beatles’ (inducted 1987) live performances on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 heralded the beginning of the British Invasion. One song performed on the show was also their first US single: “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963). It simultaneously embraced the legacy of early rock and roll while capturing the energy of 1960s youth culture—both in America and in the UK. The song showcased much of the musical characteristics of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team and became the template for many of the band’s hit records in 1964. But their skill and voice as songwriters changes as the decade moves forward. The Beatles begin to perform less and record more, treating the studio as a musical laboratory where new sounds and experimental recording techniques are embraced and encouraged. “A Day in the Life” (1967) exemplifies this musical development. As the final track on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band—with one of the most definitive and identifiable final chords in rock–the song also hints that the group’s two major songwriters were slowly drifting apart.
Infographic: The Beatles on the Billboard Charts
Throughout the 1960s, the emphasis on singles gave way to the rise of the album. From 1964–1967, the Beatles embraced this change, focusing less on the release of individual songs and more on how songs can work together to complete an album. (Click image to enlarge.)
Infographic: The Beatles' Album Artwork
Record covers and album artwork are an important part of the commerical packaging of rock and roll—and of the overall artistic product. Consider how the progression from singles to albums is reflected in the images chosen to represent the Beatles on their record covers. (Click image to enlarge.)