Vinyl and Beers | Beatles or Elvis?
Once a month, the Vinyl and Beers crew will pose a musical question and, with all the inspiration a couple of good beers can provide, share our thoughts via pairings of records and brews. This month’s question comes from esteemed music-lover and director Quentin Tarantino: In a scene deleted from Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman’s Mia posits that everyone can be classified as a Beatles person or an Elvis person, and all other musicians can be divided into one of those two categories. In theory, Beatles folks tend to appreciate the integrity of the musical creation process, while Elvis admirers are wooed by showmanship and the characters that create the music.
With a flip of this musical coin, the discussion begins – are you Team Beatles or Team Elvis?
Karl – Team Elvis
For me, I’m an Elvis guy. Look, I love the Beatles. Those four Scousers are the artistic atomic bomb that permanently changed the landscape of pop music. But as much as I want to avoid being murdered by some college-aged Anglophile who has never listened to a Stones album, I need a little more out of my musicians. In the vein of Elvis and his sensual pelvis, give me Freddie Mercury commanding the masses at Wembley Stadium. Let me hear the musical journey from Ziggy to the Thin White Duke to Jareth dancing the magic dance with creepy muppets. And give me Elton dressed as Donald Duck playing piano like he was at a lavish rococo party. While the Elvis aesthetic may be responsible for such cultural monstrosities as Britney’s shaved head, the Cyrus wrecking ball and Kanye’s twitter account, MJ, Madonna, Hair Metal, KISS, U2, decades of different approaches to the boy band, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel riding around on a bike during a live performance of “Solsbury Hill” all make up for it.
To me, The Beatles represent creating a piece of art, which is noble and respectable. Elvis represents rock and roll, a state of existence, and I wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day.
Caroline – Team Beatles
Ironically, as I write my portion of this article, I am 36,000 feet in the air en route to the home of glitz, rhinestones and all things over-the-top, Las Vegas. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that I will encounter more than one Elvis impersonator during my stay. And while I am invigorated by the thrill of Elvis and the theatrics of the rock and roll acts spawned from those aforementioned sensual pelvic thrusts, for me, there is no substitute for the subtle artistry of The Beatles. The vocal and instrumental harmony of the four, each undeniably talented as individuals, is graceful in a way that sounds otherworldly. And while their sound is effortless and controlled, these boys rock out in a different way, by exploring life’s biggest, most controversial subject matters. Politics, religion, revolution, LOVE – The Beatles cover everything you’re supposed to check at the door at Thanksgiving. To write lyrics and produce a sound that makes you FEEL those themes is a rare gift few musicians possess, and even fewer possess to the degree The Beatles do. It is no coincidence that the list of The Beatles’ hits is so lengthy and their lyrics are so widely known.
So while this girl likes to rock and roll all night and party ev-er-y-day just as much as (and probably more than) the next guy, the empath in me cannot help but fall in love with music that touches on what it means to be human and the idea that, truly, all you need is love.
Where does beer come into this? How about comparing two of the best breweries in the world, Tree House and Hill Farmstead? Representing the Elvis side of things, King JJJuliusss is one of those limited release cans that is a juicy, hoppy, unfiltered assault on the palate, and it’s these types of beers that set Tree House apart from the pack of New England hopslingers. This is the sequins and Vegas version of the incredible Julius and it’s “Suspicious Minds” Elvis, firing on all ridiculous cylinders and ramping everything to 11, embracing the ridiculousness of excess, and greeted by roaring applause. It’s the kind of beer worth waiting hours in line for, and the anticipation of what awaits in the can is akin to waiting for your favorite artist to burst out onto the stage.
Compare that to the much more refined Anna from Hill Farmstead. HF is no pushover in the IPA game, but add in their farmhouse, sour and barrel program, and it’s easy to see why many consider them the best brewery in the world. Their library is diverse and provides hit after hit, just like the output from the Fab Four. Imitating an early Beatles track, Anna is a great example of a beer where there is something wonderful in its simplicity and flawless execution – slightly tart, easy to drink but full of flavor. While Tree House pumps out rock and roll beers that can be the headliner of a tasting evening, beers like Anna are meant to be shared like a good bottle of wine and are the perfect compliment to a good meal and good conversation.
So which one is better? Much like the Elvis/Beatles comparison, you don’t need to choose. We all may have our preferences, but variety in both beer and music is indeed the spice of life. Where do you stand? Let us know!