One afternoon when I was a teenager, I picked up my brother’s acoustic guitar, opened the ‘Beatles Complete’ songbook, and began learning ‘Let It Be’ because it only had four chords. It was the beginning of a lifelong love of playing guitar, as I worked my way up to ‘Yesterday’ with eleven chords … and a lifelong love of the Beatles music.
I’ve been continuing to dig into the changing psychology of artists through their lyrics using Watson Personality Insights and earlier this year worked on a Beatles project. As usual, I drew the Beatles in my own childish style using Adobe Illustrator, and ran personality insights on the band’s lyrics.
With the help of my work colleagues, Steve and Bogdan, both Beatles fans, we identified five eras of Beatles music styles. You can check the project out for yourself.
If you check the project out, you can see how we assigned the albums to these eras.
These are the eras we identified.
- Beatle Mania : 1963 - 1965
- Experimentation : 1965 - 1966
- Psychedelia : 1967 - 1969
- Back To Basics : 1968 - 1970
- Resurgence : 1969 - 1970
The Beatles music changes through fairly dramatic and well defined styles beginning with the poppiness of albums like ‘Help!’ and ending in the mastery and refinement of ‘Abbey Road’.
What do the changes of eras reveal?
Well, based on the big five personality traits the Beatles were remarkably consistent in their emotional range throughout their career.
Trust and authority challenging peaked with the Sgt Pepper era. Striving for achievement ( lyrically ) reached a peak with Abbey Road.
Lyrically, the ‘Back To Basics’ era was the least agreeable - matching the written history of the band during the recording of ‘The Beatles’ and ‘Let It Be’ albums.
So maybe not so many surprises lyrically. The Big Five Personality Traits indicate that the Beatles ended on a high note - with the most conscientious work ( lyrically, and the all around higest scoring ).
I really liked figuring out these eras, studying the results and drawing sketches of the band through the ages.