Monday, March 2, 2009

Beatles Game

Mark Lerner, who did such an industrious job of presenting to us “Revolution XLI” or whatever that was in the comments the other day, was the first person to introduce to me the idea of the Beatles Game. I don’t think Mark invented it, but he was its Johnny Appleseed, describing it as something he played with his friends in those dark pre-Internet days of the early 1990s. Then it was played by phone, thusly:

Someone would call you up and say “Beatles Game,” followed by a word or phrase that appears in a Beatles song, like “shady tree” or “ice.” Your mission, should you choose to accept it, was to identify the song.

I bring this up now because it seems like a natural for the Internet age. It would work much better in threaded comments or email than it ever did by phone. I don’t know if it has survived to this point, but it certainly ought to have, even though I see Mark Lerner once every five years, if that often.

The other thing that strikes me about the game is how ideally the Beatles suit it. They have an expansive yet finite catalog, and all of it of such quality that you can assume the person you’re calling is familiar with it. It’s not so sprawling as to make the game impossible to play, nor so limited as to make it too easy. You can’t have a Dylan Game or a Stones Game, because someone might pull out a phrase from Under the Red Sky or Dirty Work, and no one would ever guess it. You can’t have an R.E.M. Game, because no one knows half those words anyway, not even Michael Stipe. You can’t have a Lauryn Hill Game, because you’ve got like one album to pick from. I suppose the closest you could come is a Doors Game, except I don’t like the Doors, so we’ll have none of that.

What we have is a Beatles Game. And it works perfectly.

8 comments:

Mark Lerner said...

Well, 1980s. Either my high school friend Dan (dunno if he likes his last name smeared across the internet) made it up, or we made it up together. It was then truly perfected with college friend Ben.

It didn't need to be done on the phone. In person works fine.

By the way, that'd be "Good Day Sunshine" and either "One After 909" or "Here Comes the Sun."

T. Nawrocki said...

What I was hoping that is that the person who got the last one would leave one for the next person. Like "sand."

Mark Lerner said...

Ah, splendid. Well, I'll leave that one to someone else for now. But I should point out 2 more rules.

No covers. (So "Honey Don't" won't work for "sand," but there are other sands.)

If you think of an answer, but *it's not the answer the first guy (it's always a guy) was thinking of, you have to keep going until you get the song he meant. This can cause games to go on for a long time, while girlfriends and other sane people drive home in disgust.

MJN said...

OK, I'll play. "Run For Your Life" for "sand."

Next, "daisy."

T. Nawrocki said...

Well, I wasn't thinking of "Run for Your Life," and according to Mark's rules, what I had in mind is what counts. Then again, it's my blog.

I was going for "Getting Better." It's hard to make sure these are exclusive to one song.

Mark Lerner said...

"daisy"... seems definitely middle or late...

MJN said...

Yeah, I'll give you the album if you'd like a hint.

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