(Edited to reflect corrections from the comments.)
I watched A Hard Day’s Night on Tuesday for the first time in years. It had never done much for me in the past, although I appreciated it a lot more after reading Jonathan Gould’s group biography Can’t Buy Me Love. Gould discussed the Beatles’ group identity, how they perceived themselves, especially at the height of Beatlemania, as four against the world. The film highlights that identity, even if you discount the fact that the Beatles are performing a script—they seem to communicate in a code impenetrable to outsiders but perfectly understandable to themselves. In addition, the scenes in which they’re seen playing music together are filled with genuine joy—they aren’t good enough actors to fake the pleasure that shows on their faces. Their powerful sense of camaraderie is all the more poignant given what we know now that they didn’t know then—how temporary it was going to be. That’s why I enjoyed the posts over at Any Major Dude With Half a Heart this week imagining what might have been (here and here) had the Beatles figured out a way to overcome their differences and kept recording together through the 1970s. Tuesday, Reuters reported on a new film about the making of the album and stage show Love, and the largely amicable collaboration among Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia Harrison—another occasion for wondering what might have been.
All of this is a roundabout way of leading into what I really want to write about today. As Gould mentions, the Beatles and the Beach Boys sometimes saw themselves as rivals. American fans often perceived a rivalry between the two as well, although British fans were more likely to view the Beatles’ top rival as the Rolling Stones. So what I’d like to know is . . . when was the last time both the Beatles and the Beach Boys had a record in the Top 10 of the Billboard singles chart at the same time? It had to be sometime in the mid 1960s, right? Between 1963 and the end of 1966, the Beatles had 20 Top 10 hits, the Beach Boys 13. And for three weeks, ending with the chart dated September 24, 1966, “Yellow Submarine” and “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” were in the Top 10 together. But that wasn’t the last time.
The question becomes easier if you know that the Beach Boys wouldn’t reach the Top 10 again until nearly 10 years later, when their cover of Chuck Berry’s “Rock and Roll Music” became a smash. But right there with them in the Top 10 during the summer of ’76 were their ancient rivals. Capitol released a Beatles compilation album titled (oddly enough) Rock and Roll Music, and a single from it, “Got to Get You Into My Life,” originally on Revolver. And for a period of four weeks, ending with the chart dated August 7, 1976, the Beach Boys and the Beatles were back in the Top 10 together. The Beach Boys actually got the better of it this time, making Number 5, while “Got to Get You Into My Life” made it only to Number 6.
Given that I was too young to remember hearing the Beatles and Beach Boys on the radio in the mid 60s, the little taste I got in the mid 70s was a sweet thing indeed.
“Got to Get You Into My Life”/The Beatles (buy it here)
“Rock and Roll Music”/Beach Boys (buy the album version here;
according to the Wikipedia entry for the song, the single version has never been released on CD because the master is irreparably damaged No it isn’t. See comments.)