Friday, October 25, 2013

Beatle Birthday

So. Tomorrow's my 45th birthday.

No. That really is not a shameless attempt to solicit "Aw, that's great! Happy birthday!" Seriously. I had little to do with my being born, other than, y'know, being there when it happened. But I am saying it strictly for mercenary reasons. I am writing a post about it. Sort of.

The Beatles were the first rock-n-roll band I ever got into in a big way. Way back when I was 11 in the summer of 1980 and discovered the one Beatles record in my dad's collection, The Blue Album. Before then it had been all teeny pop stuff and movie soundtracks and, well, music just wasn't that big a thing to me. That all changed when I learned, within a few hours, the existence of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "A Day in the Life" and "Revolution" and, most important to me in my early years, "Come Together" (which was my first ever "favorite" Beatles song.)

A few weeks later I bought The Red Album and by the time the fall rolled around, I was a full-fledged Beatlemaniac. That birthday that year, my 12th, was the first one for which I ever received Beatles albums as gifts. They were American releases and LPs, of course, so I got Beatles '65 and Magical Mystery Tour. Later that year I got four more albums for Christmas—Meet the Beatles, Abbey Road and two compilations (Hey Jude and Love Songs)—and really, was there anything better for a young music fan in the pre-CD era than seeing that distinctive shape of an LP gift-wrapped and waiting under the tree? I think not.

(That also was the year, lest I forget, John Lennon was killed. So within about six months of my newfound superfandom, even before that magical Chirstmas morning where all those perfect squares laid waiting for me under the tree, I knew for certain that there would never be any hope of a Beatles reunion. Which really bummed me out.)

But for me, because of those first initial gifts that came 33 years ago tomorrow, I always think of the Beatles on my birthday. It's another birthday entirely, really—the birth of my musical tastes.

So today and through the weekend I set out with one goal in mind, musically—to listen to every Beatles album, in order, by the time Sunday night gets here. It's a daunting task—by my best estimation it's right around 10 hours of music, stretched out over 210 songs (if I listen to the 27 songs from Past Masters that don't appear in some form on any other releases, which I plan to do. At the end).

So far I've made barely any headway—I am only up to Paul's rather stunning vocal take of The Music Man's "'Til There Was You," six songs into their second album, With The Beatles. It'll be what I listen to in the car and at home. I have (checking clock) about 60 hours to get this done. But I wish to do it. Because it's my birthday, after all. A time for wishes!

So. From this:

(And wow - how discordant and downright subversive is George's guitar solo, huh?)  

To this:


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