[Ken Melville is an independent film maker and record producer—and boyhood buddy of mine from Arlington, Mass.—who's actually produced sessions at the hallowed Abbey Road Studios. After my last post, "Innovation or imitation," he emailed me a comment that I thought deserved its own post. Take it away, Ken.]
One of the biggest ironies or paradoxes of the Beatles was that they weren't TRYING to be innovative! They were just trying to be successful.
They were extremely conservative musically, just so good at it that they set trends and such. It wasn't until the press TOLD THEM that they were innovative that they strove to fulfill that non-intuitive direction and it became rather self-conscious after that.
But that was nothing they had ever conceived of themselves, they just did what came naturally. Never a thought to being "breakthrough" or "radical" or "musically innovative". Eventually that became a mantra they had to live up to, and the pressure to do that—which was not native to them—album after grinding album took its toll.
Paul of course just reverted to writing silly love songs on his own as soon as he got free of that "innovative" curse. And John just escaped back into a kind of self-absorbed bland and pretentious minimalism. None of it innovative at all. From guys to whom the word was always largely meaningless.