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A day in the life of The Beatles ... only, minus The Beatles

If The Beatles never existed, we’d have to make them up.

There would be a band that would ride the crest of rock ‘n’ roll and be anointed as “the greatest” and that would still be as major a cultural touchstone as they were all those years ago (so to speak).

Chances are, though, they still wouldn’t be The Beatles.

Every so often, a pop comet crosses the horizon and gets called “The Beatles of (fill in the genre)” — as if forcing some sort of one-to-one comparison with George, Ringo, John and Paul makes this quartet of would-bes into its own Fab Four.

Most egregiously, it was the cast of “Seinfeld” that laid claim to that crown — actually embracing the comparison to the point where George, Kramer, Elaine and Jerry posed for a photo shoot that mimicked the album cover of “With the Beatles.”

(For all such interlopers who would lay claim to the crown, here’s a clue for you all: If you stoop to the level of drawing such comparisons yourself, then you’re living in a nowhere land.)

The Beatles survive because — like our high school years — they never really end.

A new play, titled “This Girl,” is about to debut in (where else?) Liverpool that focuses on the life of Cynthia Lennon, John’s first wife, and what the creators say is her influence on the development of the band.

At the other end of the spectrum musically is the announcement of the “It Was 50 Years Ago Today Tour” wherein a quixotic quintet of well-known musicians — Christopher Cross, Todd Rundgren, Mickey Dolenz, and members of Chicago and Badfinger — will perform their own hits, as well as songs from The Beatles’ album “The Beatles” ... better known as “The White Album,” which was released a half-century ago.

(Never mind that the title of the tour comes from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” ... when you get a chance to hear “Ride Like the Wind,” “Come and Get It” and “Porpoise Song” in the same set list, you can overlook the quibbles.)

How far does the concept of “The Beatles of (fill in the genre)” stretch?

Consider the recent story in Newsweek, that tells the wholly unsympathetic tale of a British expatriate dubbed “Ringo” — one of four members of a particularly brutal ISIS execution and torture cell that became know as The Beatles.

... if any movie is going to get legions of still-stuck-in-high-school Boomers, time travel enthusiasts and take-the-parents-to-the-movies millennials to come together (so to speak) for eight-dollar boxes of popcorn, this seems like the one to do it.

“Ringo” wants to return to England and be reunited with his wife and children. ... Although even he admits that, well, it would take a long and winding road (so to speak) for him to do so.

Like we started with, if The Beatles never existed, we’d have to make them up ... which is, not so coincidentally, the premise of a movie opening next week called “Yesterday.”

The premise is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” ideas that, no doubt, someone will eventually claim credit for and sue the filmmakers.

For those who haven’t memorized the trailers or been drenched in the wave of publicity, “Yesterday” tells the tale of an unsuccessful sing-songwriter who discovers overnight that he’s the only one in the world who not just remembers The Beatles ... but knows their songs, as well.

It’s a brilliant conceit, partly so in this time when every musician this side of Gilbert O’Sullivan who had a hit is the subject of a biopic. Seemingly everyone already knows the story of The Beatles; how, then, do you make a movie about them that seems fresh ... and still gets to employ that treasure trove of a soundtrack?

What “Yesterday” latches onto is a notion that seems impossible — recreating the idea of music-lovers hearing The Beatles for the “first time.”

It’s that finality that locks us into a place and time. And while “Yesterday” will, with a little luck (so to speak), be worth the price of admission, it’ll also be a reminder that even alternate histories can recapture the past.

“Yesterday,” the song, has been licensed for cover versions by more than 3,000 artists ... everyone from Trini Lopez to Molly Hatchet to Dino, Desi & Billy. But the movie lets you imagine (so to speak) that it hits you as something entirely fresh.

I’m not predicting that “Yesterday,” the movie, will be a hit; the intricacies of alternative universe storylines can be too much for movie audiences to accept unless the protagonists are running about in masks and spandex underoos.

But if any movie is going to get legions of still-stuck-in-high-school Boomers, time travel enthusiasts and take-the-parents-to-the-movies millennials to come together (so to speak) for eight-dollar boxes of popcorn, this seems like the one to do it.

And it speaks to the intrigue of what makes The Beatles ... “The Beatles” ... and why nothing else in pop culture has come close.

They ended.

There are re-mastered recordings, repackaged compilations, tribute bands, stage shows, movies, plays, TV series and websites galore. There have been enough books written to wipe out entire forests.

But there won’t be anything new. We won’t find any new works by whoever wrote Shakespeare’s plays, and there won’t be any new works by The Beatles, only reinterpretations of their story and their music.

It’s that finality that locks us into a place and time. And while “Yesterday” will, with a little luck (so to speak), be worth the price of admission, it’ll also be a reminder that even alternate histories can recapture the past.

Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin is changing his ringtone at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com to William Shatner’s cover version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

Robert Galvin