Friday, June 2, 2017

Hodgepodge 216/365 - Beatles

The Beatles came on the scene when I was nine. (Can that be?)* It was 1963. I still remember the first time I heard them: it was in my friend Mary Ann Pobog's garage; we were hanging around doing whatever, and her older brother beckoned us, turned up the radio, said, "Listen to this!" I don't recall if it was "Love Me Do," "Please Please Me," or what, but it was off that first album that hit the States. We loved it. We all danced around the garage, gleeful.

And yes, I became a Beatles fan. The Stones passed me by until much later. I was also a Paul fan. Sorry. I know that's gauche. (Things have changed in that regard, but I can't undo the past.)

I never did see them "live" on the Ed Sullivan Show, because my family didn't watch stuff like that. I've of course seen those sessions since then, in replay mode. They were darling. And they became more and more confident. It must have been some sort of multifecta of cultural forces that propelled them into the stratosphere of our popular imaginations: talent, sure; shows like Ed Sullivan; an amazing producer in George Martin; the perfect combination of McCartney-Lennon, with their complementary voices and slightly discordant aesthetic (and, increasingly, political/emotional) sensibilities.

I learned just the other day that my good friend Nina actually heard the Beatles in person. (Also the Doors; also Janis Joplin, just a few weeks before she died.) Knock me over with a feather!

I of course can sing along with pretty much the entire Beatles repertoire.

The other night, the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, David and I called the album up in Spotify and danced to the whole thing. That was fun! (And yes, it was a singing-and-dancing extravaganza.)

Yesterday I heard from several friends about a wonderful interview by Terry Gross with producer George Martin's son, and how amazing the newly remixed album is. So: I've got some more listening to do.

And here is the story behind every song on the album. So, some reading to do as well.

They only made twelve albums (though some may quibble about the very beginnings), of which I have most—on vinyl:

Please Please Me (1963)
With the Beatles (1963)
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Beatles for Sale (1964)
Help! (1965)
Rubber Soul (1965)
Revolver (1966)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
The Beatles ("The White Album," 1968)
Yellow Submarine (1969)
Abbey Road (1969)
Let It Be (1970)

The Help! album has a special place in my heart because it was given to me by my mother's best friend, Libby, who I'm sure was clueless about such things (she had no children of her own: I can identify), but she went to a record store and asked, "What would a ten-year-old girl like?" They steered her perfectly right.

My favorite album? Probably Revolver. And who doesn't love the B side of Abbey Road? And so much of the White Album. And oh yeah, Sgt. Pepper—which apparently I have to get my hands on the remaster of. Okay. There are worse tasks in the world.

Even though I don't especially like getting old (or more to the point, approaching the end of my life), I am very glad that I was alive for, and remember, all of the Beatles' relatively short reign. And I do mean reign: there was something uniquely magical, transcendent, even a little bit regal about them.

Thanks, Beatles, both you two still with us, and you two departed. You'll always be part of me.

* Actually, no, it was early 1963, so I was eight. Okay. 

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