Sergeant PepperIf there’s one thing I’m grateful for in my life, it’s that my parents had a huge record collection when I was a child in the 1960’s. I was raised in a home where music was always played. One of my earliest memories is dancing wildly to Collette Renard singing a song from the comedy Irma La Douce when  I was three years old. My mother said I spun around and around and around. I was introduced to folk music from Bob Dylan, The Weavers, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. My parents’ collection included the controversial musical Hair. At eight years old, I knew the lyrics to Age of Aquarius by heart. But if I had to name a group that was the soundtrack for my childhood, it would be the Fab Four from Liverpool – George, John, Paul, and Ringo.

There are so many Beatles songs I can associate with my childhood. I remember hearing ‘I’ll Follow the Sun‘ when I was five years old. ‘All You Need is Love’ as we drove along a highway in rural Ontario on a rainy day when I was eight. ‘Yellow Submarine‘ buying vanilla chocolate chip ice cream at Britannia Bay in Ottawa on a hot summer afternoon when I was nine. I also remember my mother refusing to let me see the animated movie ‘Yellow Submarine‘. In retrospect, maybe she was right. The imagery of that film was really psychadelic. Or maybe she feared I’d turn into a flower child like some of my babysitters 🙂 My most favourite memory is hearing ‘Maxwell’s Hammer‘ on my grandfather’s enormous sound system at Glen Lake in Langford, BC, when I was ten. When I turned twelve, the songs that marked the passage into my turbulent teenage years were ‘Hey Jude‘ and ‘Let it Be‘.

Even though the band long since dissolved, and George and John departed this world for the ethereal Strawberry Fields, the music of the Beatles still endures decades later. So you can imagine my pleasant surprise and enthusiasm when it was announced at this year’s 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) that The Beatles: Rockband for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii, will make its global debut on September 9, 2009 – the same day as the re-release of all their albums.

This idea for this game was originally championed by George Harrison’s son Dhani. It was presented to Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Yoko Ono –  the majority shareholders of Apple Corps. It was developed by Harmonix in collaboration with Apple Corps. The game follows the history of the Fab Four – you actually choose which Beatle you want to play. Are you the enigmatic John? The contemplative George? The cool Paul? Or the mellow Ringo? The instruments are modelled on the drums and guitars used by the Beatles. The soundtrack includes 45 original titles remastered by the engineers at the Apple Corps studios. There’s also actual in-studio dialogue from the Fab Four as well.

I have no doubts that The Beatles: Rockband is going to be incredibly successful when it makes its worldwide debut on September 9. There was a huge reaction to it at E3, especially when Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr showed up to give their blessing. I couldn’t help but find it amusing to see the mostly 20 something audience wildly cheering for a group who played before most of them were even born! <Insert snide comment about these gosh darned kids today and their music> 🙂

On another note, it strikes me that a new cultural threshold is being crossed when a video game becomes a platform to acquaint and re-acquaint people with such a global influence as the history, music, and visual style of the Beatles. It’s almost a ‘karma’ sort of thing that the son of a Beatle would bring forward this idea and help to make it happen. Somewhere George Harrison must be smiling.

Doctor ArkanoidDoctor Arkanoid

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