What do you learn when you analyze the lyrics of the Beatles?

The musical group the Beatles had a profound impact on Western culture during their time together between 1960 and 1970. The three songwriters, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, together and separately evolved in their lyrical styles over time. Using a new generation of computer text analyses, the Beatles’ lyrics were analyzed to address how the group changed as a unit over time, how the various members changed in their writing styles, and the overlap in lyrical styles from one composer to the next. Overall, the Beatles’ lyrics became darker, more psychologically distant, and less immediate over time. Paul McCartney’s lyrical style proved to be more variable and broad ranging than either Lennon or Harrison. Using latent semantic analyses, Harrison’s lyrics were more influenced by Lennon than by McCartney. Finally, the lyrics jointly written by Lennon and McCartney were mathematically more similar to Lennon’s linguistic styles than McCartney’s.

Source: “Things we said today: A linguistic analysis of the Beatles.” from Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Vol 2(4), Nov 2008, 197-202.

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