After ignominiously becoming the first college basketball team to blow a lead of twenty points in the history of the NCAA Tournament, the University of Cincinnati was a solemn place to attend classes on that next day in March. Spirits were obviously down, since the number two seeded Bearcats ended up losing to Nevada and failing to reach the Sweet Sixteen yet again.
In spite of the dark mood and the cold drizzle on the campus, a quarter of a thousand students had a reason to call out a good day sunshine. Right there in Zimmer Auditorium was one of the most engaging classes in the whole country, a popular elective called Music of The Beatles.
While the Fan Four had broken up almost forty years before most of the students were even born, they appear captivated by the bi-weekly presentations. The course syllabus is dictated by the chronology of the various albums, from Meet The Beatles all the way up to Let It Be.
The professor of the course is Roger Klug, a multi-instrumentalist whose recording career started way back in 1980. At some point during each session of Music Of The Beatles Klug demonstrates a various song on either his guitar or the electric piano he keeps near the lecturn.
For example, during a lesson that focused on the White Album, Klug replicated how John Lennon came up with the piano intro to “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da.” Klug later showed how Lennon on Julia” used a guitar technique called Travis picking, which he had learned from Donovan during their highly a publicized trip to India.
As enthralling as his musicianship is Klug’s vast knowledge of that famous British quartet, which includes various anecdotes of how certain songs originated. Paul McCartney came up with the title of “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road” after seeing two monkeys going at it on a street in India.
Most fans of the Fab Four know that McCartney penned “Hey Jude” for Lennon’s son Julian, but Professor Klug provided even more background about that number one hit. When he was first shown the lyrics, Lennon thought that McCartney had written it as a show of support for the controversial relationship between Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Another accessory Klug somehow has at his disposal is a program allowing him to mute all instruments except for one, allowing students to appreciate the talents of the individuals in the band. At an early session, Krug let the students hear only Lennon’s powerful electric guitar on “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, and during a more recent class he singled out Lennon’s bass work on “Helter Skelter.”
Frequently Klug points out the direct influence of The Beatles on music in the ensuing decades, as well as across genres. At the end of one session he displayed on the screen a huge photo of a Jay Z album familiar to most students present, whose title directly referenced The Beatles. That rap album, as Klug pointed out, was called The Black Album.