when I became aware of The Beatles. It was summer. My parents, like so many in the late 70’s, went through a bit of hard luck. We moved to a town suffering from urban sprawl. I was placed in catholic school without much formal religious training. I was shy, awkward and painfully out of place. An older girl in the neighborhood who went to Saint Lawrence took pity on me and made me listen to the fab four. I really listened to them and everything changed.
I became obsessed with digesting everything Beatles. For my tenth birthday I was given any choice of 3 albums…I chose Sgt Peppers, The White Album and Love Songs (those double albums counted).
I laid on the floor of our living room with my head between the two speakers of my parents wooden cabinet stereo system listening for hours to the songs at the highest volume allowed. For the first time, I heard harmony of voices like I never before. I heard some of the best covers of Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly. I also heard the wonderful rich originals, Lucy In The Sky, Dear Prudence, A Day in A Life to name a few. I could pick out the rhythm of Paul’s bass playing and felt the palpable rough hewn edge of Lennon’s voice.
The basic beat is the driver of this blues inspired mainstay of the Let It Be works.
If there is any doubt to Lennon’s ability to play the most raw emotion into a vocal this song should dispell it.
The deceptively simplistic complexity drumming of Ringo’s beats spoiled me with a steady beat and a flourish thrown in at just the right measure.
Just listen to the drumming on HELP!. It is a master class in economy.
Finally, many will say Claptin is god, but for me George Harrison’s guitar was more expressive and earthy, touching my young girl’s heart.
Perkins, Berry, Holly, & Django…all there but mixed up and passed through the fingers of Harrison brilliantly.
Christmas of that year I was given my first set of earphones, which gave birth to years of air guitar and bedroom dancing. By Valentine’s Day, I could mash potato just like a real mod.
Through The Beatles, I became fascinated with the 60’s, which led to my love of R&B and of course Aretha.
I also became a self professed Anglophile…drinking tea and reading all I could about England. What could be more ridiculous than a ten year old with a cup of English Breakfast? Well…the following summer, between fifth and sixth grade I watched Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.
I was so moved that I began reading all of Shakespeare’s plays, which eventually culminated in my college degree of a BA in English with a theater emphasis. The Shrew moniker comes from my experience playing Kate several times throughout my college career. Incidentaly, my semester abroad in London was a dream of my nine year old self realized.
The influence of the lads from Liverpool had over me was not only serious…the same summer I saw Romeo and Juliet, WPIX , played “A Hard Days Night”. The searing wit and sense of british silliness is evident through out this little gem.
Little did I know that just a few years later, could I not only sing every lyric of a Beatles tune and recite Shakespeare, but I could also perform many of the skits from Monty Python.
As an adult, I have branched out and spent many a month not listening to my Beatles collection, but I always return, observing new depths to each lyric, reveling in the preciseness of melody and astonished by the complete naked emotion of their body of work as a group. I am also dazed by the impact that this group has personally made on my life choices. One could even say my concert photography style of low light high contrast images has been strongly infleunced by the early Hamburg photographs of the Beatles by Astrid Kirchherr.
I wouldn’t trade any of the choices I made. I have rich experiences that allow me to hear, see, love and laugh completely.
Today, 09/09/09, marks the release of Beatles Rock Band and the much touted complete remastered cds. I can’t wait to get my hands on it all, but I am particularly excited by the cds. Since the migration to cd in the mid 80’s, I never replaced all my Beatles albums…they just didn’t feel the same. I couldn’t place why. The sound was just not as rich as the albums I nearly wore out. I still have them all…preserved laying flat away from direct heat sources, as not to warp. I am absolutely giddy that time and effort has been taken to lovingly rework each cd and replace much of what may have been lost to the digital age forever. What a crime that would have been.
I was nine when my world changed. I was nine when a series of events were put in place to make me who I am today. I was nine when I first listened to the Beatles.