Most people my age grew up with parents who listened to the Beatles. I didn’t, and it shaped me in some interesting ways. The most obvious is that I don’t care much for the Beatles. I do appreciate that they were great songwriters, but I usually find anyone else’s arrangements of their songs more interesting than theirs.
The band that most closely took the place in my life that the Beatles filled in friends’ lives was the Chad Mitchell Trio (later the Mitchell Trio). They instilled a love of minor-key melodies in me while impairing my sense of pitch for years with the harmonies on songs like this:
Four Strong Winds
But we’ve been through that a hundred times or more.
They were very political and used both compassion and satire to make their points, sometimes subtly, sometimes not. The material they chose pointed out the hypocrisies on both sides of the political fence.
The Battle Hymn Of The Republic Brought Down to Day
Our might is marching on.
The Draft Dodger Rag
I hate Chou En Lai, and I hope he dies…
They sang about civil rights and the realities of war, commercialization and commodification, political corruption and assassination, global paternalism, history and, of course, love. Understanding what they were singing about was right up there with figuring out Doonesbury for getting myself a political education. They sang songs in several languages. They worked with excellent musicians but never let making beautiful music get in the way of making great songs.
Yeah, knowing the Chad Mitchell Trio is about half of understanding my approach to music and a healthy chunk of understanding my approach to life.