The Beatles Phase

I was the Beatles’ biggest fan for a while.  My connection to the men and their music was unique, never quite equaled before or since.  I owned every album—not just the singles, not just Sergeant Pepper’s/the white album/Abbey Road—every single one of them, including Please Please Me and even Yellow Submarine.  Do you know what’s on Yellow Submarine?  It’s a handful of Beatles’ songs (and two of those are Harrison songs) and then a bunch of instrumentals by George Martin.  There are romantic comedies with more Beatles music than Yellow Submarine.  You needed to be a pretty devoted fan to go buy Yellow Submarine.  Lucky for the Beatles (and for George Martin), that’s exactly the kind of fan I was.

Bealtes Comic Book

A few weeks ago I was out at lunch with some slightly older friends and they started discussing how their kids were starting their Beatles phases.  I was surprised at how nonchalant they were, as if they had always known this moment would come.  So I asked a few questions about the “Beatles phase.”  After it became clear that I was still a bit over-sentimental about my own Beatles phase, one of the guys looked at me and said “Bell, did you really think you were the only one that had a Beatles phase?  Everyone has a Beatles phase.  It’s like the number one most common teenage milestone in America.”

Yeah, I knew that. I knew when I was buying life-of-John-Lennon comic books that I was just one more kid among countless other fans.  All those times I watched HELP!, with my friends and all alone, laughing at the clever one-liners and quirky details that could only be fully understood by John, Paul, George, and me (Ringo didn’t seem to be in on some of the smarter puns), I was well aware that this was a mere rite of passage for a huge swath of American adolescents, rather than a lonely but transcendent trail blazed by one uniquely gifted fan.  When I paid good money for the George Harrison live double album, a collection of concerts for the people of Japan, I didn’t for a moment consider myself far more entitled to the music than the masses of ignorant people applauding in the background.

Beatles Fan Club

All of that time, all of that money, all of that emotion- that was just my Beatles phase.  No big deal.  The photographic histories I pored over; the mythology; and the trivia.  Tons and tons of trivia.  From the rise and fall of Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe to the secret origins of the Walrus to the strange effects behind the organ solo in For the Benefit of Mister Kite.  I knew it all, every bit of it.  I never for a moment thought that this knowledge, this veneration, made me unique in any way, or qualified me for any special approval or blessing from the masters themselves.  Nor did I ever indulge in drawn out daydreams in which I was called upon to sing backup vocals for every song on Rubber Soul, or to mediate a peace between Paul and Yoko.  I knew very well that there could be no reason I would be selected for such things over the rest of those millions of teenagers who had devoted their own hearts and souls to knowing each of these geniuses intimately, through their lyrics, rhythms, life histories and romantic tastes.  I was just an average kid going through a Beatles phase, and I had no illusions that that was anything special at all.

So I think it’s cool that kids these days are still going through this same old stage in life, even though it’s all been done like a million times.  It’s funny to me that these kids think it makes them all ‘deep’ or something to point out the appearance of the Sitar on Norwegian Wood or talk about the legal difficulties Apple Records had to deal with.  It’s not deep, kids, get over yourselves and just enjoy the music.  And honestly, you’ll never understand them like I do anyway, so don’t even try.

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13 Responses to The Beatles Phase

  1. Davis says:

    I remember those Beatles comics well. Kind of naughty, if I recall.

  2. Christian says:

    It’s good you were born when you were because if you were a kid today you would be the type who had every Pokemon card ever made and that wouldn’t be as fun to reminisce about 20 years later.

    The Beatles is the only source of contention I remember between you and mom and dad. And I remember one of your friend’s mom being convinced that Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da was secretly about menstruation (Ob-La-Da could be said like “oh bladder,” and I’ll let you figure out the rest) because the Beatles were evil like that.

    I think mom’s have spent as much time trying to decipher Beatles lyrics as any stoned teenager has.

  3. Macy Bell says:

    My friends and I went through a major Beatles stage too believe or not. Such good times spent hanging at the Morgan’s listening and dancing to the Beatles. I had no idea moms were against it, kook. I think my mom was so proud actually. She would rather me listen to the Beatles any day of the week rather then my Pearl Jam or Smashing Pumpkins stuff. I have to say, I am with her!

  4. Braden says:

    Ryan, You are a very a good sport.

  5. Landon says:

    I had a short beatles phase that included me and three of my friends being the fab four for halloween. i borrowed a genuine beatles wigs but my other friends had like cleopatra wigs or blonde girl wigs spray painted black. i was by far the most genuine looking beatle. the costumes looked good at school but when we were trick-or-treating in the dark people thought we were the blues brothers and a bunch of other dumb things. I was pretty bugged that they didn’t recognize us as the boys from liverpool.

  6. Wade says:

    My Beatles phase would have been much more pronounced (and by pronounced I mean I might have actually purchased With the Beatles) had it not been for those seedy Londoners who stole my heart 3/4ths the way through my Beatles phase, replacing Let it Be with Let it Bleed and “I wanna Hold your Hand” with “I Can’t get no Satisfaction.” Some Girls became my White Album and Keith my George. What the Stones lacked in comic books and silly movies, they more than made up for with cold hard rock and roll.

    (Mom if you are reading this, you didn’t fail me as a parent. I’ve made some positive changes in my life since then.)

  7. Ryan says:

    Macy, I actually used that argument on my parents. They didn’t buy it. Listening to the Beatles might be better from their point of view than listening to Metallica, but you were still going to end up listening to druggies singing songs about drugs.

  8. Macy Bell says:

    The difference was Jules didn’t know they sang about drugs, and she was a huge fan too.

  9. Andrea W. says:

    I never had a beatles stage, but I definetly felt cooler for you having yours as well as my friends, Lisa and Paige.

  10. Erin says:

    My Beatles phase ran from Jr. High through High School. I still remember the dance we made up to Hello Goodbye. I also remember listening to all my moms old records picking out all the “Paul is Dead” referenes…Strawberry Fields was my favorite, they really said “I’m burying Paul,” I just know it. And sadly, i too thought we were unique and cultured for our appreciation of the Beatles. I have such great memories associated with so many of those songs. . . good times.

  11. LAT says:

    I’m just a random reader who somehow stumbled across this (awesome) blog (which, by the way, I need to stop reading during law school classes because I keep snorting into my computer), but I totally identify with the “Beatles Phase.” In fact, I might still be in the middle of mine. I definitely spent many an hour watching and re-watching “Help” and once had an incredible bonding experience with one of my friends who admitted to having that movie over and over again with her siblings. And then there was the strange marriage of my Beatles phase with my Star Wars obsession, which resulted in little Star Wars/Beatles song parody children. Oh my.

  12. kris says:


    I’m a teenager, going through my Beatles Phase right now! I’m going to buy the Anthology ❤

  13. Dominique says:

    I’m 15 and currently going to a Beatles phase right now. I hope it doesn’t end, some of my older friends say they would hate to see me out grow my phase, it’s a sad day when a fan loses interest.
    I’ve been told it’s a phase, but it’s a strange type of phase. I’ve gone as far as buying an actual record player, The White Album, Help!, 1, Abby Road, With the Beatles, and Rubber Soul on vinyl just because I was told The Beatles songs sound much, MUCH better on a phonograph than they do on any sound system today.

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