There’s an old story about one record company executive who passed up the chance to introduce the Beatles to the American public, saying “Guitar bands are dead.” It’s probably not true (I looked and can’t find confirmation of it anywhere), but of course it’s a good story. The irony should be obvious: the Beatles were the band that almost single-handedly extended the shelf life of guitar bands for decades to come, and established that particular combo as the bread and butter of Western (and even worldwide) popular music. Real or imagined, this particular executive represents everything we all hope we’re not: believing that we’re on the cusp of the future, while we’re actually hopelessly stuck in the past.
Of course it’s been nearly half a century since the Beatles formed as a band, and guitar bands are very much alive (though once a decade or so, there’s always a pompous music critic who comes forward to exaggerate rumors of their demise), due in no small part to the Fab Four’s exponential expansion of the medium. And while numerous guitar bands have attempted to drag rock and roll in numerous labyrinthine directions, every decade or two there’s always a new crop of bands clinging to British Invasion-style pop rock and its simple harmonies and bouncy guitars.
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