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The Beatles Are Back

This Wednesday, after months of anticipation, The Beatles: Rock Band as well as remastered editions of the Fab Four's catalog finally goes on sale.

Which is to say: The band that never goes away is back.

I started paying attention to the Beatles in the early '90s, 20-odd years after they broke up. Despite that, the group has always felt like a living--and ubiquitous--entity. My first Beatles memory? Probably hearing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" used as the theme song for the late-'80s/early-'90s TV weeper Life Goes On. Then, the Live At The BBC album in 1994. The Beatles Anthology documentary and anthologies arrived in 1995, followed by a steady flood of biographies and anniversaries. Every decade, a mess of, "It was 20 (or 30) (or 40) years ago today" headlines. The 1 compilation in 2000. Paul McCartney tours. A Cirque Du Soleil show. And now, Rock Band and the remasters.

The Beatles' inescapability has led me through various phases of engagement with their music. First came the excitement of discovery when, as a tween, I hungrily devoured every album--to the point that by my late teens I felt like I never needed to hear the band's music again, so fully had I internalized it. Then came snobbish appreciation, when rather than admit that it was the cheery melodies and joyous sense of discovery that I loved, I'd talk with other music geeks on the couches at my college's student union about the influence of musique concrete on "A Day In The Life." Later arrived a low period when I'd argue that the band was overrated.

Now, I think my opinion is settled. The band was brilliant. Do I think they stand as unimpeachable, infallible godheads who never released a bad track? No. But, boy, the songwriting, the sonic playfulness, the spirit--it doesn't get any better. Different maybe, and more in line with certain people's tastes than others, but not better.

And this year, with Rock Band, and to a lesser extent, the remasters, I get to reconsider the band again. Like I do almost every year. What a wonderful thing.

Have you had similar re-evaluations of the band's music over the years? What do they mean to you? Let me know in the comments section.

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