Contrarian Opinion: The Beatles Vs. The Rolling Stones
People can be sorted into two groups: those that are Stones fans and those that are Beatles fans. Frankly, the Rolling Stones are a better rock ‘n roll band. They epitomize the genre.
Don’t get me wrong, the Beatles are great, and I love them. But they are bourgeois at heart, and rock ‘n roll is working class. It is just ironic that the Beatles come from a working class neighbourhood in Liverpool, while the Stones come from an upper middle class area in London. (Jagger even attended the prestigious London School Of Economics.)
The Beatles went through all the middle class phases typical of young people at the time. They started with such silly pop songs as “I Want To Hold You Hand” and then experimented with hippie and Gucci radicalism. It’s no wonder that more serious, newer bands with more working class roots sometimes mock them; for example, The Proclaimer’s “In recognition”. Or that my son’s friend, who grew up in a down and out neighbourhood in Liverpool, loathes the Beatles. And it’s no wonder that many of their songs are still popular with older folk and are repeatedly played on ‘easy listening’ radio stations.
By comparison, The Stones early hit was “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”, and subsequent tunes included such songs as “Bitch” and “Sympathy For The Devil”, not to mention “Some Girls”, which gave apoplectic seizures to the politically correct. They’re far gutsier and have been from the start.
There is no question that the Beatles wrote some of the most memorable and lasting songs of our time, and I tip my hat to them. And they were great musical innovators. But in terms of the rock ‘n roll genre The Beatles are to The Rolling Stones as Johann Strauss is to Richard Strauss for the classical music genre. As the character Daniel says in “Freaks and Geeks”, “Rock ’n’ roll don’t come from your brain. It comes from your crotch.”