OXFORD, UK -- A visit to England provides a great way to learn about the Beatles, but for a group of American college students studying in Great Britain this summer, their best lesson about the Fab Four came from a familiar source – one of their professors from the states.
Laura Peterson, who teaches in the music program at St. Bonaventure University, delivered a guest lecture about the Beatles on Thursday to 38 St. Bonaventure students in the university’s Francis E. Kelley Oxford Program at Trinity College, Oxford University.
Peterson teaches a “History of Rock and Roll” course at St. Bonaventure and devotes several class sessions to the Beatles. She condensed those sessions into a one-hour lecture that touched upon the origins of the Merseybeat Sound and Beatle history from the early days of the band to the intricacies of some of their more complex recordings.
Using great technical and music detail, Peterson dissected “Tomorrow Never Knows,” ”Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Eleanor Rigby” to illustrate the immense talents of the band.
“They took their art very seriously; they took their music very seriously,” Peterson said
She also noted the valuable contributions of George Martin, who produced the recordings.
“I call him a magician because he was one,” she said.
Peterson outlined the factors she feels help explain not only why the Beatles became so popular, but also why the band, in only eight years of existence, made a lasting impact on music, culture and society.
Those factors, she explained, were the group’s unique sound and the ability of the four musicians to collaborate, to produce music that was both simple and sophisticated and to assimilate the work of other artists without being derivative.
Peterson’s lecture had an immediate impact on several of the students.
“A few of my friends and I went to Liverpool the day after she presented, and everything she talked about Liverpool came to life when we got there,” said Julia Rose Money, an education major at St. Bonaventure.
“We went through the Beatles museum, and as we went through, we kept saying, ‘Wow, Professor Peterson talked about this,’” she said. “We also went to the Cavern, which she talked a lot about, which was quite the experience.”