I was catching up with a friend recently when he delivered something of a bolt from the blue. With a voice that appeared as nonchalant as that of a serial killer’s he confessed, without apparent shame, that he didn’t like The Beatles.
You can imagine my consternation.
My friend grew up in Sweden, not that that is an excuse. We’ll call him Agaton, after the Swedish detective of that name to preserve his anonymity.
“Have you actually heard many of their songs?” I enquired innocently.
“I think so, yes.” came the reply from Agaton.
“Have you ever played their albums?” I probed further.
“Well, no. But that’s because if I hear them on the radio I find them irritating.”
I picked myself off the floor.
“How can y.. Never mind…..”
A silence fell. I furrowed a moody brow.
“How irritating? Like scraping a plate with a knife irritating?”
“Yes. Like drawing nails down a blackboard”.
“How is this possible?” I asked.
I’ll spare you the lecture I delivered about The Beatles’ importance.
We flipped through a list of tracks from the Fab’s “1” album on Spotify. Agaton had heard and disliked several songs, such as “Love Me Do”, “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, “Yesterday”, “Help!”, “Paperback Writer”, “All You Need Is Love”, “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be” but the fact that I had to sing both “Penny Lane” and “A Day In The Life” before he recognised them (and confirmed his dislike – possibly at my singing) suggested to me he hadn’t dug that deep.
When I asked whether he had heard “Norwegian Wood” he confirmed he had read the book by Haruki Murakami and appeared surprised there was a song that had come first.
“I can’t believe you don’t like The Beatles…” I concluded. “….do you like Oasis?”
“You do know they are heavily influenced by The Beatles?”
“Look…” retorted Agaton, “I’m open minded and am happy to be convinced otherwise. It’s just a genuine reaction to the music I have heard.”
He brightened for a minute.
“Why don’t you put together a playlist of Beatles tunes you think I will like?”
This sounded like a challenge….I like a challenge…
“Okay” I replied. “That’ll be easy. I reckon there are loads of songs you won’t have heard that you’ll like. You’ll be a Beatles fan in no time.”
Agaton looked sceptical.
“I’ll have to like them all” said Agaton “and there’s got to be quite a few – not just two or three….say ten in all. If you can do that I will admit to liking The Beatles. But if I don’t like it, then you have to agree to listen to something I like.” After some thought, he came up with some music by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt called “Te Deum”. No, me neither. But looking back (and I have only just noticed this), why would anyone want to listen to a song (almost) named “Tedium?” He might be having me on.
“Okay. But you have to agree to wear a Beatles T-shirt if you’re wrong” I countered.
And with that, the challenge was set.
All that was left was to compile the playlist and, naturally, to check what other people thought. I conducted a Twitter Poll just to check I wasn’t completely out of my senses.
As chance would have it I must have caught broadcaster and former NME writer Danny Baker – fresh out of the I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here jungle – in a playful mood that evening. Danny was clearly stung by Agaton’s insouciance, and replied thus.
I did enjoy Danny’s description of Agaton as a “simpleton” which is rather unfair as he’s a lovely bloke really, but it was all the more amusing for it.
The whole incident is now called “Simpleton-gate” between me and Agaton. He did look slightly miffed.
So all that is left is to produce a playlist of Beatles songs that Agaton will like in order to win the bet. And although I have a few ideas, I thought it might be a good idea to pick the considerably large brains of the Every Record Tells A Story readership.
And yes, that means you…
Remember, here’s what we know about my friend Agaton:
- Listens to a lot of jazz and old blues.
- Dad likes Miles Davis.
- Raised in Sweden but now lives in the U.K.
- More likely to be playing CDs by Malian musician Ali Farka Toure, than The Beatles.
- Dislikes early classics like “She Loves You”.
- Dislikes later anthems like “Hey Jude” and “All You Need Is Love”
- Likes Oasis.
If you can think of a Beatles song that you think is impossible not to like, then let me know in the comments section below, or on Twitter or Facebook.
We’ll reveal the playlist next time, and find out what happens….