February 23, 2019

Why is the white album the Beatles album that has sold the most copies?

It's the double album, so it's the most expensive, and yet it's sold 24 million copies, while "Abbey Road" has sold only 12 million. They don't multiply by 2 because it's a double album, I don't think.

The white album (officially called "The Beatles") is by far the highest-selling multiple-disc album, and it's also the fourth highest-selling album of all time. Ahead of it, in addition to "Thriller," are 2 Eagles albums.

My question is, why the white album? It's more of a grab bag of songs. I like it, but I would have thought that as we returned over the years to the buying of singles, the attraction of the album would rest in the more coherent albums, like "Abbey Road" and "Sgt. Pepper." The white album was always beset with skippable songs, including the worst Beatles song ("Don't Pass Me By") and an annoying thing that isn't even a song ("Revolution 9").

So what's up? But I don't get the appetite for The Eagles either.

ADDED: Commenters are telling me that each copy of a double album counts as 2 copies sold in the RIAA count. So my question is annihilated, except to the extent that the white album is AS big-selling as "Abbey Road."

104 comments:

Ryan said...

Blackbird.

David Begley said...

What? No Eagles?

Who else is on the Althouse list?

Ryan said...

Althouse is a closet Dudeist.

EDH said...

The poster and four portrait photos?

Manson?

Ryan said...

Don't Pass Me By was #1 in Denmark in 1969.

Ryan said...

Worst song by a Beatle is Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime.

alanc709 said...

Several Beatles albums were better than the white album. Revolver, Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper's, Abbey Road.....Why 2 Eagles albums are the top 3 sellers of all times mystifies me. I like the Eagles, but the Greatest Hits album is superfluous if you liked them, and always felt Hotel California was over-rated.

DavidD said...

Well, up until Sgt. Pepper Beatles albums in the US were different from Beatles albums in the UK—sometimes the same titles, sometimes not, but a different mix of songs and, in general, fewer songs on the US versions.

Also, lots of the #1 singles weren’t on ANY regular album but, instead, only on compilations.

The Beatles were screwed by record company policy and practice.

Temujin said...

There are enough songs on The White Album that are great, or at least, very listenable, even after years.

Cry Baby, Cry. Sexy Sadie. Blackbird, Happiness is a Warm Gun, Glass Onion, Dear Prudence, Back in the USSR, While my Guitar Gently Weeps...and more.

Pretty good mix. That's why it is popular. Enough good material to hit a lot of different tastes. Except for those who love Hip-Hop.

David Begley said...

There is no disputing taste.

285exp said...

Charles Manson was a brilliant promoter.

Ralph L said...

Even back then, people wanted their music storage to take up less space, and a double album saved them 1/1024ths of an inch on their record shelf.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse is a closet Dudeist."

True!

Laslo Spatula said...

Because it is a Beatles buffet.

You get songs from most of their stylistic range, as opposed to the more 'unified' albums like Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Pepper, etc. It has a controlled randomness, as it were: an eclectic playlist that happened to come from one album.

Also: in a music landscape of Beatles over-saturation it has songs that can still feel fresh, because they haven't been played endlessly in various media and grocery stores. Even the cover doesn't feel overfamiliar (how many take-offs of the Abbey Road and Meet the Beatles covers have you seen over the years?) because, well, it's just white -- a blank slate before you listen.

You hear the riff of Sgt Pepper - your brain fills out the rest of the song before you get ten seconds in. Apply to Day Tripper, Strawberry Fields, etc etc.

Yes, the White Album has overplayed songs, but there is still a large amount of worthwhile material that many people could conceivably have never heard (or at least were not overly familiar with): Julia, Cry Baby Cry, etc etc.

In this way it is like the Stones' 'Exile on Main Street': a varied collection of Stones songs that are 1. good and 2. not toast*.

(*back in the day 'toast' was a description of the songs -- although good -- that were overplayed to the point of any enjoyment removed. Example: most Simon and Garfunkel hits; Hotel California, Nirvana's 'Teen Spirit', etc etc).

Finally -- like 'Exile' -- the White Album does not have the gloss production of most Beatles' albums: it can sound raw, loose, intimate. You can get 'closer' to it -- it isn't trying so damned hard to impress you -- because it gives you some breathing room.

Plus: it's the motherfucking White Album.

I am Laslo.



Unknown said...

> including the worst Beatles song ("Don't Pass Me By")

Glass Onion is the worst

whitney said...

Because it exists in the Mythic imagination more than any of the others. Completely obvious

dustbunny said...

As Paul said, “It’s great, it sold, it’s the bloody Beatles’ White Album, shut up!”
I hate the Eagles

traditionalguy said...

What about The Beach Boys' Endless Summer. Not a British accent heard in it.

M Jordan said...

That “grab bag of songs” was the best grab bag of songs ever. They’re all good ones. No pretentious theme needed. That’s why it’s their best selling album.

Johnathan Birks said...

It's the grab-bag aspect that explains the appeal I'm guessing. If you like the harder edged Lennon stuff, there's "Me and My Monkey". If you like the more pretentious Lennon stuff, or the cloying McCartney stuff, or the hurdy gurdy Harrison stuff, or the obligatory Ringo piss-take, you're happy too.
It would be interesting to know how many copies were sold after the Beatles broke up. There's still a Beatles cult, a half century after they split, though their number decreases by the day.
Honestly the Beatles are the most overrated band in history. Not because they were bad by any means, but because they were considered sui generis by critics and fans alike.

Ryan said...

The original album cover was a greased, naked woman on all fours with a dog collar around her neck and a leash, and a man's arm extended out holding on to the leash and pushing a black glove in her face to sniff it.

Scott McGlasson said...

A better question is why there are two Eagles albums ahead of anyone in sales.

tim in vermont said...

Here’s a hypothetical based on an earlier Althouse comment

Which would be the bigger loss to American culture, if Steely Dan never made an album, or Louie Louie was never recorded?

Bay Area Guy said...

Spinal Tap had the "Black Album" - but it didn't sell as much.

echessman88 said...

Owning albums has always been not just about having the music, even less so today when you can hear any song you want simply by asking your device to play it. Purchasers of albums take into account the important "perceived coolness" factor when deciding which to buy. Years ago it was common for visitors to peruse (and judge) a person's record collection.

The White Album has the highest perceived coolness of all the Beatles albums.

richlb said...

They do count each copy as two units.

Heartless Aztec said...

The great parlour game even Sir George Martin played. Make one great and coherent 14 song album out of the two discs.

Francisco D said...

Owning the White Album should be illegal.

It's a celebration of White Privilege and Supremacy.

Gahrie said...

I'll take the Eagles over the Beatles or Dylan any day.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

I'm sure there's an academic theory in here somewhere if someone wants it. Going back to the article,s source list I note that Pink Floyd's "The Wall" greatly out sold "Dark Side of the Moon". As much as I like "The Wall", "Dark Side" is a vastly superior album in my opinion.

J. Farmer said...

They don't multiply by 2 because it's a double album, I don't think.

The RIAA does indeed count double-albums twice, so that a 24x platinum certification would mean 12 million actual units sold.

J. Farmer said...

And why the hell is Thriller the best-selling studio album? It is so overrated.

Christopher said...

Laslo, that's an exceptional take.

Howard said...

Your kidding, right? It's pop rock and the Eagles are the Kings of catching tunes of the Midwest hero worship of California

alanc709 said...

"Going back to the article,s source list I note that Pink Floyd's "The Wall" greatly out sold "Dark Side of the Moon". As much as I like "The Wall", "Dark Side" is a vastly superior album in my opinion." Couldn't agree more. Dark Side of the Moon was on the Billboard 100 chart for how many years? 15 I think.

Virgil Hilts said...

The story behind the Dude's negative riff on the Eagles is pretty funny. https://movies.stackexchange.com/questions/46672/why-did-the-dude-hate-the-eagles-so-much
Just one excerpt: Burnett] had a tough time securing the rights to Townes Van Zandt's cover of the Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers", which plays over the film's closing credits. Former Stones manager Allen Klein owned the rights . . and wanted $150,000 for it. Burnett convinced Klein to watch an early cut of the film . . ."It got to the part where the Dude says, 'I hate the f@$&in' Eagles, man!' Klein stands up and says, 'That's it, you can have the song!' That was beautiful."

J. Farmer said...

@NorthOfTheOneOhOne:

Going back to the article,s source list I note that Pink Floyd's "The Wall" greatly out sold "Dark Side of the Moon". As much as I like "The Wall", "Dark Side" is a vastly superior album in my opinion.

The Wall is also a double album and thus its certification is doubled. Dark Side has actually sold more units than The Wall.

Ryan said...

The real genius of the Eagles is the producer David Geffen. Gay Jewish kid from Brooklyn moves to LA and packages up the 70s SoCal scene.

pacwest said...

"Plus: it's the motherfucking White Album."

That about covers it.

mccullough said...

The variety of song styles on the White Album makes it a good listen.

Dear Prudence is a really good song.

Fernandistein said...

On its cover, The White Album featured all the people who weren't on the cover of Sgt Pepper's.


"As a result of the methodology that the American and Canadian certification-awarding bodies (the RIAA and Music Canada respectively) use,

each disc in a multi-disc set is counted as one unit toward certification,

leading to many double albums on the list—such as Pink Floyd's The Wall and the Beatles' The Beatles—being certified with a number double the number of copies sold there."

The Wiki list of biggest Beatles sellers is rather different...

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

hello. Teh album is white, and everyone is racist.

Andrew said...

The White Album has some weird but great (and underrated) songs. Rocky Raccoon and Piggies are two of my favorites.

Patrick Henry was right! said...

I'll defend the Eagles. Hotel California captures it's time better than any album. The beginning of the long dive into narcissism. The announcement of the coming of Antifa.
Beautiful music in service of a coming lost cause, sort of a Gone With the Wind for the 20th century!

Laslo Spatula said...

On eclectic double-albums and how they are 'counted' - from Wiki:

Though London Calling was released as a double album it was only sold for about the price of a single album. The Clash's record label, CBS, at first denied the band's request for the album to be released as a double. In return CBS gave permission for the band to include a free 12-inch single that played at 33⅓ rpm. Ultimately, the planned 12-inch record became a second nine-track LP...

Then, the Clash's triple-album, "Sandinista!":

According to Joe Strummer, the decision to release a triple-LP was their way of mocking CBS for resisting their desire to release London Calling as a double album, then releasing Bruce Springsteen's double album The River, also on CBS, less than a year later.[13] The band's wish to release the album at a low price was also met with resistance, and they had to forego any royalties on the first 200,000 copies sold in the UK and a 50% cut in royalties elsewhere.

The difference: "London Calling" is an album of great songs, while "Sandinista!' is a bloated mess by a band that now had their head up their asses.

I am Laslo.

Bill Peschel said...

"The difference: "London Calling" is an album of great songs, while "Sandinista!' is a bloated mess by a band that now had their head up their asses."

God, yes! You can chart the decline on the first album of Sandinista, which started off strong and then degenerated.

"London Calling" also shows what you can get when a band meets the right producer. See also: Who Killed Amanda Palmer (produced by Ben Folds), William Shatner's Has-Been (Folds as well), and Bonnie Raitt's two albums with Don Was ("Nick of Time" being one of them).

Ann Althouse said...

"The RIAA does indeed count double-albums twice, so that a 24x platinum certification would mean 12 million actual units sold."

I wish the article had made that clear. I considered the possibility and scoured the article for evidence of it, then made my inference.

Dave in Tucson said...

"Mr. Moonlight", "Wild Honey Pie", "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" are all objectively worse songs than "Don't Pass Me By".

Possibly unpopular opinion: "Yer Blues" is my most likely to skip song on the White Album.

gilbar said...

it was the best for cleaning pot on. double albums are always best; and the whiteness of the White album made seeing your pot easy.
Also; it came with pix to put on your wall

Ann Althouse said...

I'm going to guess that The Eagles were there at a key point in the lives of some people (probably 10 years younger than I am) and the sound and the words are interwoven with personal emotional development that makes it terribly deep and evocative for them.

I consider myself lucky that the most musically emotional years for me were 1965 to 1969, when I was 14 to 18. That stuff touches me in a way that other things cannot.

"Hotel California" came out in 1976. If you were 14 to 18 then, maybe The Eagles really mean something to you, something like what Dylan means to me. Even if it's just something like what Donovan means to me, that would be profound.

Here's what the music was in 1976. I was 25. I cared about music, but not in a way that could open me up to The Eagles. I bought new things by old favorites — "Coney Island Baby" (Lou Reed), "Desire" (Dylan), "Wings At The Speed of Sound," "Songs in the Key of Life" (Stevie Wonder). Probably the only new person I cared about was Patti Smith.

cf said...

thanks for the memories, this takes me back to my most true and glorious education -- through my ears! -- memorable musical lessons of love and what women could be by charming rockandroll guys -- geniuses, gurus. direct experience of their minds, ahh.

summer 68, sgt pepper was hallowed ground, we listen in my summer escape art class like devoted monks pondering meaning.

late 68, two fellow high school band members take over a practice room, thrilled to open this next issue of Truth and Wisdom, this blank white album with no words on it. we three hear "hey jude" together in focused wonder, like respectful virgins we were.

fall 69, my English composition professor rushes into our seminar clutching Abbey Road, victorious. We listen, virgins again, our ears on holy ground.

. . . and the eagles were easy company later, a guitar strumming binky for the challenging times

. . . and so now don't let me get going on Mr. Dylan, another champion for women!

Merny11 said...

Worst Beatles song ever has to be Yellow Submarine. Ugh. Rocky Raccon and While My Guitar Gently Weeps among the best.
And most overplayed and therefore awful are Stairway to Heaven and Margaritaville

madAsHell said...

Didn't John and Yoko pose naked for the cover art, and this was unacceptable for export to the States. So.....The cover art became white!

J. Farmer said...

I wish the article had made that clear. I considered the possibility and scoured the article for evidence of it, then made my inference.

The current rule is that the double album must be greater than 100 minutes in length to be counted twice, so the The White Album would not qualify (it's about 90 minutes long). However, the rule doesn't apply to albums from the vinyl era.

I consider myself lucky that the most musically emotional years for me were 1965 to 1969, when I was 14 to 18. That stuff touches me in a way that other things cannot.

It's interesting how the music one listens to when they are about 13 to 20 ends up being the music they listen to for the rest of their lives. Songs from that period always tend to evoke vivid memories, especially from when you're in high school.

AZ Bob said...

It is raw. I can remember when the White Album came out, many Beatles fans were disappointed. Not me. I dug it. Of course, I was more of a Rolling Stones fan then. Still am.

Mark said...

Why? Trendyism. Because it is has been perceived as hip and cool.

J. Farmer said...

Favorite Beatles' songs: While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Here Comes the Sun, both Harrison songs incidentally, even though I'm not really a fan of Harrison's hippy-dippy influence on the band.

Least Favorite: With a Little Help from My Friends. It's condescending and mean-spirited. But I love Joe Cocker's take on it, though.

Mark said...

Why 2 Eagles albums are the top 3 sellers of all times mystifies me

Why? Trendyism. Because they were perceived as hip and cool. I remember the Eagles being a thing and so I bought an album of theirs to be a cool part of the crowd. And I listened to it once or twice before I got sick of it. And how bland they were.

EDH said...

Unlike any album before or since, over time the White Album reveals a pattern of grime tracing the perimeter of the records inside and, if you came to the party early enough, the original raised "The Beatles" lettering.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why? Trendyism. Because they were perceived as hip and cool."

Really? Where were you?

Where I was (NYC) The Eagles were completely uncool, part of the horrible decline of what was once rock and roll.

I don't think I have ever heard The Eagles referred to as hip or cool.

I put them in the same category as "The Horse With No Name."

Mark said...

I was in junior high.

Mark said...

Most likely bought it at that long-gone place at State and Liberty.

Bay Area Guy said...

Loved the Eagles then, still love 'em now.

Driving to/from San Francisco & LA in a Dodge Charger, listening to the Eagles, dreaming of girls.....

EDH said...

How many of you bought the Beatles "Hey Jude" album with that tacky "HEY JUDE" bumper sticker on the top?

As a kid, I don't know how many hours it took me to peel that hideous thing glued to cover photo trying not to damage it.

Now I learn...

Beatles – Hey Jude/Beatles Again 1970 LP with rare sticker
$495.00 - $396.00

A rare copy of the 1970 Beatles LP Hey Jude (also known as The Beatles Again) with a title sticker on the cover.


Now I feel like Jake La Motta in Raging Bull when he pulled the jewels from his belt before trying to pawn it.

Anthony said...

Eagles kind of embodied the zeitgeist* of the mid-late 1970s in the US. They had a sort of country/folk, hard rock, pop thang going on, combined with the California feeling. Plus they made a lot of great radio songs. They weren't my thang, but I get it.

>>It's interesting how the music one listens to when they are about 13 to 20 ends up being the music they listen to for the rest of their lives. Songs from that period always tend to evoke vivid memories, especially from when you're in high school.

Yeah, I hate that. I listened to my teen years -- pretty much mid-'70s through early-mid-'80s-- a lot. I was totally into AOR and prog rock (which I know our dear hostess hates) back then. But since the 1990s I mostly left it behind. I still have a lot of my old vinyl (and some newly acquired old vinyl) that I take out and listen to occasionally. Otherwise, I was all on board with grunge. I'm all over the map now.

Try getting the radio station KCDX here in Phoenix online; it's an AOR aficionado's dream.

Char Char Binks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Char Char Binks said...

"Which would be the bigger loss to American culture, if Steely Dan never made an album, or Louie Louie was never recorded?"

The second.

The Kingsmen (I assume you mean their version) was a band of shitty musicians who accidentally made something brilliant. Steely Dan was a band of brilliant musicians who purposely made shitty music.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...


“"Why? Trendyism. Because they were perceived as hip and cool."

Really? Where were you?

Where I was (NYC) The Eagles were completely uncool, part of the horrible decline of what was once rock and roll.”

Good God. Not truly cool. Traveling Willbury’s cool. Luck and good marketing allowed the Eagles to capitalize on the Boomer’s time of affluence. Millions more Eagle’s CDs were bought in the ‘90’s than were ever listened to.

Fernandistein said...

Favorite Beatles' songs: While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Here Comes the Sun,

"Sun" always brings to mind that "coming onto acid" rush...fun!

In alpha order -

Helter Skelter
Here Comes the Sun
Money
Taxman
Paperback Writer
Sgt. Pepper's/2 (with the chicken)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Ringo was a hell of a drummer, eh?

chickenlittle said...

There is nothing more popular and futile than bitching about other people's taste in music. It's utterly self-serving.

Yancey Ward said...

I have never liked "The White Album", but one thing about it is true- it is the broadest of the albums in musical style and contributions from the 4 individuals in the band. If I were going to pick an album that would give you the fullest Beatles experience, I might select precisely that one. For me, I have and will always prefer "Revolver" and "Abbey Road".

jr565 said...

I had no idea thst double album sales were counted as two album sales. That’s news to me. Why it’s so popular? They did do a reissue with a totally new mix and 5 cds worst of outtakes recently which most likely added to sales and it also has a lot of variety to its songs.

But I’m also surprised about it being the top selling Beatles album. I think it’s one of their most interesting albums simply due to the different. Styles of music on display, but I’d assume something like abbey road would be the top seller. Or a greatest hits package.

Ralph L said...

I put them in the same category as "The Horse With No Name."

We just knew you were anti-American. Nice to hear you admit it.

jr565 said...

“Why? Trendyism. Because they were perceived as hip and cool."

Really? Where were you?

Where I was (NYC) The Eagles were completely uncool, part of the horrible decline of what was once rock and roll. “

That’s because you were probably one of the cool kids who held bands like the eagles in disdain. A lot of people rejected the eagles outright as being too corporate or whatever and instead promoted bands like iggy and the stooges or the velvet undergorund, or whatever was Big at the time.

But the eagles were the cool band to those who Listen to the radio and like the pop song they hear on it. Like maroon 5.

I personally never found them “cool”but I thought some of their songs were ok.. They might have a double album worth of good songs, the rest is utter garbage.

Earnest Prole said...

The best five songs on Eagles Greatest Hits are stronger than the best five songs on any pop album except (perhaps) Thriller. If that's true (you may say), you may not actually like pop music all that much, but that's hardly the Eagles' fault.

Yancey Ward said...

My favorite Beatles song is "Something". It is one of the songs for which I have the earliest memories. My mother had an 8 track player in our car and that was one of the songs that she played the most often when I was around 4 or 5 years old. On the same tape she had "Come Together", "Let It Be", "The Long and Winding Road", and "Got To Get You Into My Life". There were other non-Beatles songs on it, too, like "I Got You Babe". Those songs evoke special memories for me when I hear them.

Unknown said...

What about The Beach Boys' Endless Summer. Not a British accent heard in it.

That's an interesting case. It was a greatest hits album put together by the band's former record label with no group participation and has some amateurish mistakes: For instance the versions of "Help Me Rhonda", "Be True To Your School" and (less noticably) "Fun, Fun, Fun" were the (inferior) album versions, not the hit single versions.

Nonetheless, it put the Beach Boys back on top of the charts, and pulled them out of their prog rock noodlings (as seen on "Carl & The Passions" and "Holland"). Even with the ultimately unsuccessful "Brian Is Back" campaign, the post "Endless Summer" albums were more interesting (if less frequent) than the post "Sunflower"/ pre-ES albums

Jeff said...

While we're mentioning the Eagles, I just have to point to Don Henley's cover of the great Leonard Cohen song Everybody Knows. Covers should only be recorded if they improve on the original. This one does.

Earnest Prole said...

If I may may a pitch for the White Album 50th anniversary re-release, its third disc contains the acoustic demos for the album that are in many places stronger and more soulful than the official release.

gilbar said...

The Kingsmen (I assume you mean their version) was a band of shitty musicians who accidentally made something brilliant. Steely Dan was a band of brilliant musicians who purposely made shitty music.

Supposedly, when Johnny Ramone (PBUH) was in England, the dudes that became The Clash came and told him that they wanted to be a band, but that they weren't good enough;
And Johnny told them: "You don't have to be good; you just have to be loud"

I'm sure i'm misquoting this, but it's true

donald said...

We would play Sandinista in office on the USS Ranger in 1983 when we were showing the flag off Central America. We thought that was kinda funny.

Also it had this:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6uT6KKWgvQU

Which was and is still pretty great.

donald said...

Bleh. That is The Leader. About 1:58 of some oh hell yeah bass rumble.

Jim at said...

always felt Hotel California was over-rated.

Side two of Hotel is better. As is side two of The Long Run.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Sandinista was a mess. Why did anyone think punk could be elegiac? Not that The Clash was punk by that point. Tory rockers.

Unknown said...

Remember all that embarassing stuff in The Rolling Stone about how "The Clash" was "the only band that matters!"?

Does anybody listen to them today?

PackerBronco said...

"Possibly unpopular opinion: "Yer Blues" is my most likely to skip song on the White Album."
======

Unpopular opinion indeed. "Yer Blues" is GREAT.

Another possibly unpopular opinion: "Yesterday" is trash. It's like being stuck in a bar listening to your mate going on and one about breaking up with his girlfriend, but he's your friend see, and you can't leave though all you really want to do is tell him to STFU.

Brian Stark said...

My theory, based on my own experience and the fact that I was born in 1955, at the start of the "Bulge of the Bulge"

We loved the White Album because it ended three straight offerings of "WTF is this?" high concept albums. We were weaned on the early straight on rock stuff and felt orphaned by "Sgt Pepper" and "Magical Mystery" We were just too young for it.

Then the Beatles we knew returned with "Back in The USSR", "Birthday", "Rocky Raccoon", "Blackbird", "Revolution", "Obladi", "While My Guitar", "Piggies" (yeah, right) .... And sure there was high concept crap but you could just skip over it

We were all turning 13 when the album arrived, just old enough to make our first album purchase, so we did. And lest we forget, there were a hell of a lot more of us than early boomers

Unknown said...

It's because the White Album had the greatest Beatles song of all time: Why Don't We Do It in The Road!

Bradley Cavedo said...

It is an awful album. I hate it. I was so disappointed when I bought it and played it. I tried to like it but couldn't. Awful. It is like socialism.

Bill Peschel said...

"Does anybody listen to them [The Clash] today?"

"Lost in a Supermarket" appeared at the end of "Over the Hedge," so there's that.

Bill Peschel said...

The Eagles poses an interesting question: WTF?

I mean, I like a lot of music, and I like the Eagles. "The Long Run" is a pretty good album.

Their songs combine the mythic modern west with heartfelt songs of lost love and betrayal and it's all safely encased in smooth harmonies with not a lyric going askew. It's an experience as safe as a Disney ride.

Mind, this is not criticism. It's damn hard to achieve. And combine that with nostalgia for the band when the greatest hits album appeared, and it hit the sweet spot of boomers with money who want to relieve Those Times, even if they didn't experience it in the first place.

Good lord, I just looked up "Take It Easy." It was released in 1972. I was 12 then. No wonder it seems like it's been around forever.

madAsHell said...

I think someone above mentioned the re-issue of the White Album, and it's available on Amazon.

Be sure to use the Althouse Amazon portal!!......not the link provided above.

Mark said...

Why are things popular?

When I was growing up, people talked about how great and good-looking JFK was. On vacations or field trips to D.C., you'd stand by his grave and sigh.

Then you grow up and start looking at things objectively. And realize that JFK really was NOT all that good-looking. And his presidency was not all that.

At some point, there is simply a lot of group think. And that leads people to believe something is good or popular or worth buying. Even when it sucks.

Music, movies, politicians.

Why did the White Album sell so much? Again, trendyism. Word got around that it was the thing to have, and so a lot of people went out and bought it.

We are a species of lemmings and sheep.

Phidippus said...

Fully agree with the above posters about Dark Side of the Moon vs. The Wall.

I find Dark Side as fresh today (when I'm in the mood) as it was the first time I heard it, the year it was released. OTOH, I cannot ever recall being so let down as when I listed to The Wall. So leaden, so woodenly ideological, so forced. No musicality or wit, or even inspired madness, that I could detect.

The purely sonic quality of the LP version of Dark Side is not always achieved in many CDs that I own (mostly classical music), which certainly speaks well of their recording engineers.

The White Album has many tracks that have survived the passage of time relatively well for me. As some have noted, it would have been stronger as a single disc release, but still, there's more than one disc's worth of good stuff in there, IMO. It is one of those records which, on hearing it, I am immediately taken back to certain sunny mornings when I was in my teens. These experiences are not fully transferable to someone who was not that age, in that time and place, when they first heard it. It is a characteristic, and weakness, of popular music in general, I believe. Hence the widely differing opinions of its quality and significance.

Pugsley the Pug said...

“The Beatles” aka “The White Album”, while not their best work, more a collection of song that were a prelude to their solo careers than by the cohesive band that they were previously, is still far better today at over 50 years of age than most music made since then, particularly currently made music. Especially considering the primitive recording equipment that was state of the art back in the 1960’s that they used to make their albums. I also think that this might have been their last album that they recorded in monophonic - all of their music that had been released in stereophonic up to & including this album was recorded in monophonic but mixed post-recording in stereophonic by George Martin & his crew.

rightguy said...

One big reason the Beatles' and Eagles' music has endured is the excellent quality of their original songs. You could write a chapter in a book analyzing Yesterday and Tequila Sunrise; both tunes are written in the classic & elegant AABA form that so many great Broadway songs are written in. Most rock songs are verse/chorus +/- a bridge.

Douglas said...

I don't know why it's so popular. I mean, I have all the Beatles's albums, but the White Album only has a couple of good songs on it and a bunch of lousy ones, and can't compare to their greatest albums like Revolver, Rubber Soul and Abbey Road.

Ken B said...

I was 14 to 18 when The Eagles and disco and Frampton were big. That music means nothing to me.

Dennis P. said...

Why are wee still talking about an over-rated British boy band? When will the boomer's cultural hegemony end?

J. Farmer said...

@Ken B:

I was 14 to 18 when The Eagles and disco and Frampton were big. That music means nothing to me.

That wasn't the point. What music did mean something to you during that time, and how do you feel about it now?

Earnest Prole said...

How the Beatles’ ‘Esher Demos’ Enhance the White Album

Mr. Forward said...

White album privilege.

Saint Croix said...

The Eagles can suck it and die.

Also there's Revolver, and then there's all the shit that's not as good as that. Which is a lot.

Aussie Pundit said...

best selling albums of all time:
Michael Jackson, Thriller
Eagles, Greatest hits
AC/DC, Back in Black
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_albums