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An intermediate level English resource.  Music: 

The Beatles - still going strong

Amazing! Over fifty years after they last played together (August 1969), the Beatles are still one of the most popular rock groups in the world! During the six years of their existence, they led a revolution in music. Over half a century later, their records still sell in millions every year. 
The Beatles, in the mid sixtiesThe Beatles, as young musicians in the 1960s
  •  In November 2021, Disney screens a new documentary about the Beatles, called Get Back. The three-part documentary is about the Beatles' final album, Let It Be, made in 1970
  •  In 2019, the Beatles' Abbey Road was (again) the top-selling vinyl album in the USA, with 246,000 sales.
  • In 2014, Hollywood made a big new documentary film about the Beatles.... almost 50 years after they broke up !
  •   In 2013, a "new" Beatles album, "On air live at the BBC - part 2" was the group's 31st top ten album in the USA !
  •  In 1996, six million Beatles albums were sold during the year. That would be a good score for a functioning band or group; but for a group that last played together in 1969, it was incredible!
  •   In Britain, a study recently showed that the Beatles are still one of the most popular groups with people over 15 years old; and they are still popular with teenagers too.
    All over the world, teenagers know the tunes, and often some of the words too, of the Beatles' most famous songs. Yesterday, Penny Lane, Hey Jude and When I am Sixty Four are among the best known.
    Among more recent pop groups, many big names  - such as Oasis, Blur or Foo Fighters - owe a lot to the Beatles, and they say so! In their album the Masterplan, Oasis did a new version of the Beatles' song I am the Walrus.
    However there are also dozens of bands all over the world which do nothing but copy the Beatles. There is a band in England called the Bootleg Beatles, a band in America called the Fab Four, a Norwegian band called Det Betales, and even a band called Museum in Kazakhstan; and there are many more too!
    The Bootleg Beatles now do over 100 shows a year, and they always bring in big audiences! Once, they filled the 10,000 seat Budokan stadium in Japan!
    There are also dozens of Beatles conventions and Beatles weekends every year, in different parts of the world. The annual BeatleFest in America (founded in 1974) takes place twice each year, and attracts up to 20,000 fans!
    In Britain, the Beatles are still a big tourist attraction. Thousands of people go to Liverpool every year, to see where it all began. In Liverpool, they can visit the Beatles' museum, take a "Beatles' Tour" of the city (seeing places like Penny Lane), or visit the house where Paul MacCartney lived as a teenager.

    So why did the Beatles become so popular in the sixties, and why are they still so popular today?
    They became popular because they caught the spirit of a generation. Sixties teenagers were very different from fifties teenagers; they wanted to change things, and escape from the rather dull fifties. The Beatles came along, offering a new type of music, with new instruments (electric guitars). They were not the only group, of course; but they were the best, the most original. At first they copied rock 'n' roll songs from America. These were not well-known in England at the time, but it was easy to get rock 'n' roll records in Liverpool, a busy port city at the time. Sailors brought the most popular records from America, and these became popular with young musicians in Liverpool. Then the Beatles began writing their own songs - and people liked them.
    When they became popular, they did not stop doing new things; instead, they pushed back the frontiers of pop/rock music in all directions. And where they went, others followed.
    Today people are still following them; and probably they will continue following for a long time to come.


Word guide
WORD GUIDE broke up: separated - led: were at the front of - functioning: active - last: for the last time - incredible: hard to believe - tune: melody - owe a lot to: are strongly influenced by - but: except - audiences: spectators - convention: congress, symposium - found: begin - dull: boring, uninspired - sailors: seamen, people who work on ships



Worksheet:

Decide whether the following statements are true or false:.

Decide whether the following statements are true or false:
The Beatles are more popular today than ever. T / F
Oasis have recently copied a Beatles’ song. T / F
The Beatles once filled Japan’s Budokan stadium . T / F
There is a Beatles Festival every year in the USA. T / F
Paul McCartney lived in Penny Lane when he was a teenager. T / F
Penny Lane is in Liverpool. T / F
The Beatles always wrote their own songs. T / F


For teachers:

Introduction: Before taking this article, ask your pupils to tell you about the Beatles. Some of them are sure to be able to provide some details.

            Who were they? When did they exist? Where did they live? What happened to John Lennon? And to the others?
            Which Beatles are still alive today?
            Also ask pupils if they know any Beatles' songs? The titles? The words? What do the titles mean? the words mean?
           For copyright reasons, we cannot reproduce Beatles' texts here but you and your students can find them on the Internet. Play a song like Yesterday, Penny Lane or Norwegian Wood in class.

Origin of the name Beatles.

  The word was invented by the musicians as a homonym of the word beetles.  Beetles are small black insects. Beat means rhythm, so put the two together and you make Beatles.

Memory testing / oral expression. Read through this article, stopping at the l in the text below, and asking pupils to recall the missing words in italics.


 So why did the Beatles become l so popular in the sixties, and why are they l still so popular today? They became popular because they l caught the spirit of a l generation. Sixties teenagers were very different l from fifties teenagers; they wanted to l change things, and escape from the l rather dull fifties. The Beatles came l along, offering a new l type of music, with new instruments. They were not the only group, of course; but they were the l best, the l most original. At first they copied rock `n' roll songs l from America. These were not well-known in England l at the time, but it was easy to get rock `n' roll records in Liverpool, a busy port city. Then the Beatles began l writing their l own songs - and people liked them.           
  When they became popular, they did not stop l doing new things; instead, they pushed back the frontiers of pop/rock music l  in all directions. And where they went, l others followed


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A Linguapress.com
Intermediate level EFL resource
Level - Intermediate.
CEFR
LEVEL : 
B1 intermediate
IELTS level: 4 - 5
Flesch-Kincaid  scores

Reading ease level:
70  Fairly easy
 
Grade level: 7.9

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Originally published in Horizon magazine. Updated 20201.

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