Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Beatles.

Today on 09/09/09, all albums by The Beatles have been remastered and re-released (as well as The Beatles Rockband), and Kink FM has been playing every Beatles song - alpha'beat'ically (yeah, I know) - all day. This idea was so amazing to me that Kathy & I actually went out to Fred Meyer and bought a radio - no joke - just to listen to it while we were at home most of the day. I don't think there's any other band one could listen to nonstop for an entire day without getting sick of, but listening to it throughout the day has been kind of a grand musical voyage. If you think I get a little riled up when I hear people calling Michael Jackson overrated, just wait until I hear the words, "The Beatles are overrated." In fact, the minute I hear that come out of someone's mouth, my respect for them automatically plummets a little bit. Sorry, it's just the truth. That statement to me isn't a personal judgment call, it's just someone being stupid.

On my own personal level, there were two bands which shaped my musical life growing up: The Beatles, and Simon & Garfunkel. (And then after that, Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Wonder.) Only I feel like kind of a bad Beatles fan because I can't really tell you the specific attributes of each individual album. I own Revolver, Rubber Soul, and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and I think that's it. And even those I bought later, just because I felt like I should, and never actually listened to a huge amount. What I actually grew up on was this blue cassette of my parents', which my sister and I combined probably completely wore out. The Beatles, 1967-1970. There's another similar collection, with a red background instead of a blue, of their earlier years, and I think I later bought both the red and the blue on CD but listening to it weirdly somehow wasn't as good as listening to that cassette. And the red, earlier-years CD is fun, but it's the songs on that blue one which I know so well and have listened to so often that every time I hear one it's like hearing an old friend who's known me my whole life. Hence, while a real Beatles fan could debate the merits of say, Abbey Road versus The White Album versus Let It Be, my only contribution to the conversation would probably be, "Uh, was that song on the red album, or blue?"

I feel like I don't really need to talk about the cultural and musical significance of The Beatles as a whole because it's already been stated better a hundred times over by rock critics and smart writers around the world. But here's a list of some of my favorite things.

1. I believe in that fifth grade journal I had where I listed Dreams as my favorite song, I'm pretty sure I probably had Let it Be as my number 2.

2. Help! My favorite of their earlier, jinglier stuff. This song is awesome, and like a lot of their early songs, there's something slightly edgy hiding behind the happy-go-lucky-ness, something hinting to the world that Rock 'N Roll is going to be really, really awesome, a la the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations.

3. Songs Which Are So Uniquely, Simply Wonderful There Will Never Be Anything Else Like Them: Eleanor Rigby, Yesterday, and Lady Madonna.

4. Blackbird. This song is so delicate, so pretty, so lovely.

5. Hello, Goodbye & Here Comes the Sun: I have just always liked these a lot and found them the most fun to sing, for some reason. My other favorite thing I like to sing is from She Came In Through the Bathroom Window and I like it just because it sounds fun, although it makes pretty much no sense, which is a theme among a lot of Beatles songs (You'd like to be under the sea in an octopus's garden? Really?): Sunday's on the phone to Monday, Tuesday's on the phone to meeeeeee.

6. These lyrics from Strawberry Fields Forever: I think I know, I mean, oh yes, but it's all wrong. That is, I think I disagree.

7. Don't Let Me Down: Just for that chorus, for the first time he sings it at the very beginning of the song: that is soul, that is the blues.

8. Those na-na-na-na's at the end of Hey Jude. Come on. I don't think there's anyone alive who doesn't feel good when they hear those na-na-na's.

9. Golden Slumbers. This song is short, less than two minutes, and quiet and simple, but there is something about it that almost makes me cry. Perhaps because it is such a sad, defeated song, signifying their sad, defeated end after a long and tumultuous journey, starting with the hopeless line, Once there was a way to get back homeward. Once there was a way to get back home. And then what gets me is when the song swells and it is just full of sweetness, Golden slumbers fill your eyes. Smiles awake you when you rise. Sleep pretty darling, do not cry, and I will sing a lullaby. This song then segues into Carry That Weight, which takes all that tenderness and just feels good, determined, triumphant. This YouTube video someone made, coincidentally, is pretty awesome.

10. While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Thanks, George Harrison. Thanks.

11. Revolutionary: A Day in the Life, Come Together.

12. In My Life. If this song doesn't just wrap you up in its sweetness, you have no soul.

13. Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind, possessing and caressing me. Across the Universe, the song, not the movie, which I thought was awful.

14. Finally, I almost cannot stand how perfect their last words - I cannot remember if they were the last recorded or the last released, I know it is all kind of switched up and confusing, but it doesn't matter - were. Thinking about The End (which segues after Carry That Weight, see #9, I just wanted to write about this separately), how it is so simple yet so brilliant, it just blows my mind, and, just, just, Overrated? There are people in the world who can actually think that?

And in the end
the love you take
is equal to the love

you make.


  1. Nice site, Jill! I like the things you like!

    I realize that the times we live in are just too damned weird to focus any degree of attention on a rock 'n' roll band that released its final recording forty-years-ago last month - two of whose members are gone from our midst. Think about it. In 1969, at the height of all that was going on then, any columnist who would have devoted a entire page to the greatness of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra would have been laughed out of the business. But this isn't just any band we're talking about here. With the exception of the President's address to a joint session of Congress last night, I didn't spend much time yesterday focusing on affairs of state. September 9, 2009 belonged to the Beatles.

    Yesterday marked the long-awaited release of a box set containing all fourteen albums recorded by the Fab Four between the years 1962 and 1970. What makes this package different from what has previously been available is the fact that the engineers at EMI (the studio in London where they did most of their work) have digitally remastered the recordings from the original multi-track tapes. It was like listening to them for the first time all over again. The Beatles have never sounded better - I didn't even think that was possible!

    Let me attempt the impossible and sum up the Beatles' message in one sentence: We are the makers of our own dreams. That works for me.

    Dream. Dream away.

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  2. Ok, so when I was in junior high, I developed a kind of scary obsession with the Beatles. I've since grown out of the obsessive part, but I still feel a very possessive love for them and get rattled when people call them overrated. I totally understand about how the cassette sounded better than the CD--I made a recorded cassette of all my dad's old Beatles 45s, and those versions of Hey Jude, I Want You (She's So Heavy), and Revolution will always be better than the CDs and MP3s I have now.

    Also, The End is a perfect ending--Abbey Road was their last recorded album, but Let it Be was released after it, hence the confusing part. Also, Her Majesty is the "secret song" after The End, so technically, it's not the last of anything...but can still give me goosebumps when I'm in the right mood.

    I can't wait to play Beatles rock band.

  3. i love me some Beatles. also, i grew up listening to that blue Beatles cd as well. Years later I found out there was a red one and was shocked.

  4. So whenever I talk with anyone about the Beatles, and I mention that I really like them, they are always like, "so what's your favorite album?". Which is always hugely embarrassing because, swear to God, I don't know the names of ANY of their albums, or which songs are from what album, or whatever. I ONLY KNOW THE SONGS FROM THAT STUPID BLUE CASSETTE. I often try to gloss over this fact by saying something like, "well, I'm mostly into the songs they did in the later years."

    Alpha'beat'ically? Really?

  5. So while reading this entry I immediately went to my Pandora and created a Beatles channel. Also, I agree, Someone who says they are overrated isn't stating an opinion, they are showing how insane they are. I'm just sayin...