Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Just some random Beatles memories

In this very Beatlesy week, I sat down and thought of some personal memories attached to some great Beatles music. No doubt if you happen to stumble upon this post, you may have some cool memories that are also inextricably linked with them. So, without much editing or polishing, here's some of my thoughts:

I was born in 1968, so I wasn’t really aware of the Beatles until after their breakup. But, I did some quick catching up! I seem to recall more Beach Boys records in my mom’s collection than the Beatles.  But I do remember playing a Vee-Jay Beatles album that must have been hers. And I must have inherited some early Beatles singles (on Tollie and Swan!) from relatives as well that are still in my collection. I generally don't play them -- they're too beat up -- but they're great to have as souvenirs of the time!

“Beatles ‘65” was the first Beatles album that I could call mine. It was bought for me by my mom at our local Kmart. I still have it, even though the cheap, thin cardboard cover long ago went kaput. Perhaps realizing that this was a historic “first” for me, I took the yellow price sticker off the shrink wrap and put it on the cover. $4.84. And in the upper right hand corner, some cover damage from where I probably had put a Dymo label with my name on it (Could it have been..."Marc K."?)

As a young boy and avid reader, I used to get every book I could get my hands on about the Beatles from our Erie, PA libraries. A favorite was the very handsome “The Beatles Forever” by Nicholas Schaffner (which I remember having to hide because it had pics of John & Yoko’s “Two Virgins” album and her film “Bottoms.” Naked and semi-naked people!). I can see myself reading Hunter Davies' official biography of the Beatles at my grandmother's house, too. Always with the head in a book!

I also had at least one conversation with my mom about the meaning behind “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” as in, “You know what that really means, don’t you?” Bless her. And I had to defend a group from my mom’s generation about Julian’s classmate story, even if I’m only halfway sure that John Lennon’s explanation is true. I’ve never experimented with LSD, though, I can say that. The song did not coerce me!

As a matter of fact, I guessed I was effectively spooked by the Beatles’ druggy lifestyle as a kid that I had a very vivid dream that was kind of in the form of those creepy PSAs which seemed to permeate my TV-watching childhood. 

In it, all four Beatles were in a spare, all-white room smoking marijuana and just having a grand old time. They’re dressed in their white smocks a la “Yesterday and Today,” by the way. I can’t hear what they’re saying, and I think there was some ominous announcer voiceover talking about the evils of drugs, when suddenly (don't laugh too hard) my dream "cut" to a white paper towel holder mounted on the wall in that white room, and into frame came a big bloody hand that swiped at the towel. That was the end of that dream, as I no doubt woke up with a start. Maybe a scream. 

After reading about the infamous “butcher cover,” I tentatively tried to peel my own copy of “Yesterday and Today” to see if by some odd chance I had one. Never mind that my copy was purchased at a mall in the early 80s. Stupid kid.

Back before the days when we could listen to almost any piece of music any time we wanted to, I remember thinking about the album “Abbey Road,” and, not having heard in full yet, imagining what the songs sounded like just from the titles (I was way off, of course), even imagining a song called “Abbey Road.” I was a kid with no job, no real pocket money, so I imagined. When I finally got my copy of "Abbey Road" as a teenager, it had a skip near the beginning of "Here Comes the Sun." Grr. 

Seeing “Let it Be” on videocassette in a small makeshift screening room at Stapleton Library at IUP. Haven’t seen it since, and you can’t get it on DVD even now. I think I ended up buying a used copy of the album at a garage sale, and it's still awesome in its pre-"Let it Be...Naked" glory, with the goofy chatty bits and all intact. 

Taking my elementary school-aged son to see “A Hard Day’s Night” at the Denis Theatre in Mount Lebanon; and before that, endless viewings at home with Nick of “Yellow Submarine” when it arrived on videocassette. And being thrilled that he really seemed to be into the music. (The visuals are really pretty cool, too). Purchasing "Help!" on DVD for the Indiana Free Library where I used to work, and seeing it for the first time and sharing it with my family at home. 

And the endless amount of places I see myself enjoying the music, and still do. 


Gonzo said...

This was a fantastic read - I'm always interested in learning about other people's associations with music that is near and dear to me. It speaks to the fact that though a mass produced commodity, pop music is intensely personal.

And I think you've inspired me to break my Popblerd silence with my own take.

Thanks for sharing!

Marc said...

Thanks, Z. I too am always very interested in people's personal connections to music. That's what makes the musical experience all the richer to me (and I'm sure, others, even if they don't realize it) -- how memories and such are tethered to the music. Would love to read other people's Beatles memories, and I look forward to reading yours!