More Rock. More Roll

In this crazy carousel of a world, it’s nice to know that some things will always stay the same. Politicians will always lie, we will pay taxes, we will die, Phil Collins will always be shite.

Oh yes, and the Beatles will always be the hugest thing ever. Bigger than Elvis. Bigger than the Rolling Stones, Beyonce, Justin, Britney, Madge and Xtina morphed together in what I can only imagine would be an intensely grotesque medical experiment. I wouldn’t say they’re bigger than Jesus, cos the last time someone said that, some idiots in the Deep South went and burned a bunch of records they could’ve kept for 40 years and made a killing on via eBay.

The thing about the Beatles is that it can’t ever happen like this again. There will never be four individuals as perfect for each other blessed with such talent in the right place at the right time. It won’t happen again.

I’ve always adored the Beatles. I remember the 30th anniversary of ‘Love Me Do’ and singing along to it. I remember loving ‘Yellow Submarine’, because it’s a total kids song, sung by the then-voice of Thomas the Tank Engine. As a very, very small child, I remember seeing the name Ringo Starr come up on the opening credits to Thomas The Tank Engine and my mother telling me that he was a Beatle. I had no real concept of what this meant at the age of five, but I knew it was Something Very Special Indeed.

I’m getting close to ten years’ true love. For me, the right age for becoming a real Beatlemaniac (mid-teens, I’ve found) coincided roughly with ‘Free As A Bird’ and the Anthology that followed. I remember watching the last episode the night it was shown, New Years Eve, while waiting for the big New Years tv special. My mum told me tidbits of information that she remembered.

The thing I remember most was her telling me that Something was about George’s girlfriend Patti Boyd when the ‘Something’ promo was on (in full glorious colour). I remember this especially well because it wasn’t ever so long after this conversation that I read my books and discovered that by the time Something came along, Patti had been Mrs Harrison for some years and thus, my mummy was wrong.

The exact timing falls somewhere between ‘Free As A Bird’, which I don’t have as a single, and ‘Real Love’, which I do. A summer holiday where I bought a book called The Beatles: A Celebration by Geoffrey Giuliani and read it in the car on the way home, me and my brother giggling over a picture of Rishikesh/White Album era George, saying that if he didn’t have a moustache he’d really look like a girl. I devoured this book, literally devoured it. I still have it somewhere, still treasured for being the first, but discarded since discovering that Geoffrey Giuliani is not a good writer, and one who allows his personal biases to get far too much in the way of reportage and who values style over content.

My Beatles ‘thing’ has changed over the years. In that first flush, I’d listen to anything and everything I could get my hands on, including cheapo CDs of the Hamburg years that were utter shite. I’d read anything, even  Giuliani books that were pants and cheapo books pubilshed only to make money off the Beatles legend.

Of course, I got a little more discerning as time went on. I listened to theBig Thirteen incessantly but soon learned which ones I really loved (Revolver, White Album, Abbey Road) and the ones I liked least (Beatles For Sale, Please Please Me, Yellow ‘Bit Of A Cop Out’ Submarine) and tailored my listening accordingly. I listened to the Anthology CDs so much that the alternate takes of some songs are more familiar to me now than the finished product (particularly McCartney’s ‘Junk’… I will always hear John’s joking voiceover whenever I hear it. Take your pardner and dosy doe, and when you’ve got it, jump up.).

For quite some time, I listened to little else. For quite some time they consumed my mind so thoroughly that I remember spending a guitar lesson with the line “Paul McCartney’s Hofner bass” in my head because I’d read it in a book twenty minutes before.

Mind you, even a band as great as the Beatles can get tiresome after nothing else but them for so long. They also turned me onto other great artists- first of all Dylan, then Clapton, Hendrix, the Stones, the Who and the rest. I consider the exchange of ideas between the greats in the late 60s the reason they were all at the height of their powers: quite aside from the ideas, they were also inspired to do better than the rest, to go one further.

So, you might say I’ve drifted off the path a little. This isn’t by any measure a bad thing, because the Beatles themselves loved all kinds of music and that openmindedness more than anything else made them great. Who elsebefore the Beatles would’ve thought to combine the kind of influences they had? There is music before the Beatles: Elvis, Connie Francis, Chuck Berry. There is music after the Beatles: Everything else.

I’m not saying they were perfect. I still find ‘Revolution #9’ more or less unlistenable, ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ mostly stupid. Beatles For Sale is an album by a tired band coasting. Let It Be is a tired band who hate each other.

But you know what? The worst Beatles album ever is still a thousand times greater than most bands will ever achieve on their worst day. I mean, I’d probably listen to Led Zeppelin II over Beatles For Sale, but I’d listen to Beatles For Sale instead of Presence or Coda or most of In Through The Out Door any day of the week. And as for Oasis, I’d happily make ‘Revolution #9’ the soundtrack to my life than listen to that derivative uninspired money-making bollocks at all.

For a long time now, the Beatles have taken something of a back seat during my voyage of musical discovery, and I suspect they’d be happy about it. I’ve travelled through space and time, I’ve found things like Bootsy Collins and Rick James, Julie London, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and the rest since the first sunny days of my love affair with the Beatles. Not to mention of course, The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy. Without the Beatles, I’d never have found them.

So I’ve not listened to the Beatles much for awhile, or even indeed the solo records I’ve got. John’s records got to be quite painful to listen to in the end and as for George- I’d overplayed All Things Must Pass before he’d even died!

It’s not that my tastes have changed, but they’ve broadened. I mean, on my MP3 player I’ve got the following in a playlist:

Killer On The Loose – Thin Lizzy
One Way Or Another – Blondie
I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You – Tom Waits
Snot Rap – Kenny Everett
God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
Tell Her Tonight – Franz Ferdinand.

And that’s only part of a playlist and I’ve hardly scratched the surface of putting my records onto the machine. I couldn’t have hoped to find all this without the Beatles. Most of the people on the list were themselves influenced by the Beatles.

It’s hard now to understand that the Beatles changed everything. Even I can’t truly understand it because I live in the post-Beatles world. Moreover, I live in a post-Lennon world. Before the Beatles, rock and roll was dying on its arse. Elvis was making poor movies, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran were dead and Jerry Lee was disgraced. Little Richard was already a caricature of himself and the rest were dealing with their addictions. Rock and roll was meant to be dead and wasn’t the Establishment pleased! Then along came these working class scroats from Liverpool of all places! The Beatles didn’t just revive rock and roll music, they made it immortal! Sitting in our Post-Beatles world it’s hard to believe maybe that ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ was in fact rock music, or ‘She Loves You’. Maybe compared to Marilyn Manson or Slipknot or even Led Zep it doesn’t sound rock, but without ‘She Loves You’, you simply don’t get Marilyn Manson.

Imagine, without the Beatles, we might still be listening to Pat Boone, Fabio and Frankie Valli.  Anyway, I’m really getting off the point a lot here. Basically, I’ve strayed from the path of Righteous Beatleness and had a great time. However, the Prodigal Fan always has to return home some time, and I know I’m getting into another visit home, and all sorts of little things are pointing me in the right direction.

First off, I snagged Revolver to shove on my MP3 player along with the ‘Real Love’ single. Bear in mind that all my records and cds are in boxes at the moment, waiting for me to repaint the bookcase they’re kept on, so it’s actually very hard for me to find things at the moment. I sought out Revolver and found ‘Real Love’ along with it- a single I’ve not heard for literally years… and I once listened to it so much that I still know all the words to Ringo’s spoken intro to ‘Yellow Submarine’ and all the words to John’s live intro to ‘Baby’s In Black’: “It’s a slow number, and it’s a waltz for all of you over ten.”

Then a few other little things. I found the necklace I’ve associated with George since I dreamed he gave it to me (it was actually given to me by someone else a few weeks before, but that doesn’t matter). I wore said necklace for the first time in ages and when I got home I found that had had a dream about him. Something in the way she described it was so unutterly beautiful that I had my own dream come back to me in glorious technicolour. The only way I’ve found to deal with the death of George is George himself (which I think is bitterly ironic and  thinks makes sense) so I downloaded a bunch of stuff, including some videos I’ve never seen- notably ‘All Those Years Ago’ and something else live for Bob Dylan of ‘My Back Pages’ featuring several Wilburys and Neil sodding Young. The ‘My Back Pages’ bit was great- I got all upset that George wasn’t actually there, then caught a glimpse of someone towards the back of the stage. I may not have the best eyesight in the world, but nobody stands like George or holds his guitar quite like George. And nobody else on that stage dared to wear a bright purple blazer. Then there was the clip of Paul Simon on Saturday Night Live in the late 70s. He was singing ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘Homeward Bound’, and he had George help out. They really do sound beautiful.

Then sometime last week I got linked to REVOLVED, which is Revolver mashed-up with other songs and is proof positive that mash-ups done well are truly stupendous creations that can put a whole new spin on something a little worn out.

Then I went online to find some guitar tab for other stuff, and ended up getting a ton of Beatle stuff- notably ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’, ‘Your Mother Should Know’ and ‘Wait’.

Then yesterday, I switched on the TV and watched some Richard And Judy. Now I have been known to watch this, but not for ages and ages. I was going to switch off and just sod off to sleep, but thought I should leave it on and see who was going to be on in the rest of the show.

The final guest was one Mr Richard Starkey, MBE. He was charming and adorable and funny as. Moreover, he also cut Richard Madeley down to size, which I LOVE to see happen. He was talking about Postcards from the Boys, which I don’t have yet but find to be beautiful and fabulous.

All of this leads me to one conclusion: I’m meant to come home for awhile. My boys are calling me back to remind me why I love them so. My boys, my everlasting boys, seem to have tired of my flirtations with the rest and are pulling me back to them, at least for awhile. Because this is rock and roll at its very, very best. Nobody understood it better than those four, and nobody did it better. Time to go home- they’re waiting for me.

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14 Responses to More Rock. More Roll

  1. Oh wow — what a wonderful post. I loved reading about your Beatles journey, and it’s inspiring me to write my own story of Beatles love in my LJ, which is quite a bit different, but similar in passion. πŸ˜‰ I loved them starting as a tiny, tiny kid, since my parents are big fans, and I ended up taking all my parents’ LPs and claiming them for my own.

    And you’re right, one of the best things about them is that they are a gateway to other music. The “gateway drug” of rock. πŸ™‚ I know we don’t share exactly the same taste in other music (I know you don’t like U2, for example, and I appreciate Thin Lizzy but don’t yet adore them), but I can see how your branching out is very similar to my own path of discovering other music because of the Beatles.

    The Blondie, Tom Waits, and Beach Boys songs you listed are incredible. I’m probably silly for asking, but there are quite a few albums you have a good chance of loving if you like all the things I know you do:

    – Buy the whole Beach Boys Pet Sounds album if you don’t have it — mandatory.
    – Velvet Underground, Loaded
    – Have you gotten into the Stones albums much? (it’s likely, but it took me a while to actually buy their albums rather than just their Greatest Hits)… Let it Bleed, Exile on Main Street
    – I’m spacing out, we have probably discussed, but do you know Bowie albums? Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory?
    – You might actually like the Grateful Dead’s album American Beauty
    – Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow?
    – Jimi Hendrix, basically any of his albums? Axis: Bold as Love?
    – Jethro Tull, Aqualung
    – Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
    – Allman Brothers Band, Eat a Peach
    – do you like Radiohead? if so, The Bends is a must.

    Anyway sorry if we have discussed some of these before, my brain cells are not what they used to be. πŸ˜‰

    • Oh, and despite all the new suggestions, wanted to say… I SO know what you mean about coming home. I have been listening to the Beatles all week and it feels great.

      • apollarock says:

        Doesn’t it though? It feels at once familiar and comforting and yet I’m still hearing some things anew. It’s just…. a thing of great wonder. Who knew four blokes could create such things?

    • apollarock says:

      Let me go through this one by one:

      – I’ve got Pet Sounds somewhere, in the boxes of records, but haven’t heard it in ages. It’s funny, I remember reading that Brian Wilson made Pet Sounds to try to compete with Revolver… and Paul got his inspiration for his bits of Sgt Pepper from Pet Sounds
      The others I tend to have bits and pieces of rather than albums: I haven’t been able to spend money on album after album- although I’ve tried!

      – Have you gotten into the Stones albums much? (it’s likely, but it took me a while to actually buy their albums rather than just their Greatest Hits)… Let it Bleed, Exile on Main Street. I really dig Exile… and I’ve come to realise I like a lot of their stuff that doesn’t make it onto stuff like Forty Licks. Sticky Fingers remains my favourite- did you know that Mick Taylor, Brian’s replacement, was from the town I live in, which turns out to have been a suburban hot spot for rock in the late 60s? The pub in question was converted into a supermarket about 10 years ago.

      – I’m spacing out, we have probably discussed, but do you know Bowie albums? Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory? I certainly DO know Bowie albums, although I’m more of a mid 70s girl… and in California my first hair dye job was inspired directly by the Station to Station/Low-era Bowie hair!

      – You might actually like the Grateful Dead’s album American Beauty I’m not a Dead kinda person. I seem to like very specific parts of Ye Olde Psychedelic Genre, and they aren’t it- partly I must admit because both John Densmore and Ray Manzarek of the Doors were negative towards the Dead. However, I’m nothing if not open minded and will look into it. Anyone inspiring something as fabbo as Cherry Garcia can’t suck too badly!

      – Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow? I have issues with Grace Slick’s voice, but like the Dead, I’m always open to being proved wrong! And thinking more on this… I think I’m an LA psychedelic girl- too cynical for the SF stuff!

      – Jimi Hendrix, basically any of his albums? Axis: Bold as Love? Ah, bella Jimi! My brother destroyed the first of our Hendrix albums, the little bastard, so I’ve been slowly replacing them. There’s something about Are You Experienced, man.

      Story, true or not: Three blokes are sitting in a club arguing over which of them is the better guitarist. Pete Townshend claims he is, Keef says HE is and Eric Clapton kicks back and says he’s God. Much arguing and debating ensues.

      The band for that night come on stage. It’s the newly formed Jimi Hendrix Experience, and over the course of the set resolve the matter once and for all.

      – Jethro Tull, Aqualung Have been looking for this, actually. If I don’t find it in the shops soon, I’m going to Amazon.
      – Fleetwood Mac, Rumours My friend Lynsie LOVES these guys and I’ve been listening to them more lately. Not bad, but not entirely my scene. I keep seeing the Big Love video on Vh1 Classic too.
      – Allman Brothers Band, Eat a Peach I do dig the Allman Brothers Band although I’ve not heard of them much. Here they’re kinda just the guy that died, the guy that married Cher and the guys who helped Clapton make Layla.
      – do you like Radiohead? if so, The Bends is a must. Oh, I can’t STAND Radiohead! Music to slit your wrists to! I think that I just don’t dig Thom Yorke’s voice, so I can’t really get down with it. I’m weird like that.

      PS. If you’re looking into Lizzy, Jailbreak is probably your best bet. That’s when everything was perfect, everything was right and in place. I like some other bits better, but that’s the Best. Or Live And Dangerous, which always gets voted the greatest live album ever. Cos, you know, it IS!

      • This is all good to know. πŸ˜‰ Most of the albums I recommended have one thing in common: they are very much albums, Beatles-style, as opposed to a collection of singles, and they tell a story or have such cohesion that you almost don’t want to pull out any single songs on the album — you want to listen to the whole thing. This is one thing I think the Beatles mastered and then the rest of the music world followed suit, and it has given me a taste for the album as a piece of art, rather than individual songs.

        So, of all these:
        – Pet Sounds, famously, is very much a concept album, and very much linked into the work the Beatles were doing at the time, as you mentioned
        – The Stones: Mick Taylor! So cool. I mentioned Let it Bleed because some of the cuts don’t make it onto Forty Licks, and as a whole it’s just an incredible piece of work. Besides Exile and Sticky Fingers, Some Girls is a favorite of mine. But I find in general the Stones have such great singles that no one ever listens to their albums, which are great too!
        – Bowie albums: great, excellent. Glad you know them. Love the haircut story!
        – The Dead: American Beauty is very much a concept album, extremely folk-influenced, lots of acoustic guitars and harmonies, very mellow and cozy in sound, lovely lyrics. I can appreciate that the hippie thing doesn’t appeal to everyone, but the songwriting on this is particularly good. If you get it and like it, don’t buy any more of their albums — the rest of the albums suck. Let me know and I’ll hook you up with live shows, which are the only way to listen to them. πŸ˜‰
        – Jefferson Airplane: Haha, good distinction between L.A. and SF psychedelic! Being a former L.A. girl and a current S.F. girl, what can I say, I like ’em both. Surrealistic Pillow is another one of those nice concept albums, very groovy ’60s vibe.
        – Jimi: Again, lots of people know the singles, but not many know the albums, so I had to check. I got into Axis first, then Experienced?, and then Electric Ladyland, and all of them are absolute musts. And I’ve heard that story! Pete always had Issues with Jimi, he always said Jimi stole his guitar smashing / burning thing. I know they had Words at the Monterey Pop festival. (Which, btw, is an EXCELLENT DVD if you haven’t seen it.)
        – You can’t find Jethro Tull? Eeek! Again, FABULOUS concept album. I got into it at the exact same time I got into Floyd and Hendrix and Zeppelin. Lovely musical renaissance period of mine.
        – Fleetwood Mac: I grew up listening to Rumours, and again, I couldn’t pull a single song off the album, but I just love the whole thing together. Love Lindsay Buckingham’s guitar and Mick Fleetwood’s drums especially.
        – ABB: No one knows their albums either. Eat a Peach has some live improv stuff which is great, but also some really wonderful songs, and came out just after Duane Allman died. Duane was an absolute genius slide guitar player, and if you can deal with southern-flavored rock at all, Eat a Peach is a great album. Strangely enough, the Dead are not too far away from the Allmans in sound, at certain times.
        – Haha! Okay, no Radiohead. I saw them live and they blew my mind, but yeah, can understand that Thom’s voice isn’t for everyone.

        OK, will check out Jailbreak. I am having such a problem with music this month, because the Pogues just reissued ALL OF THEIR ALBUMS, remastered, with extra tracks! HELLO I have to buy them all. Argh!

      • apollarock says:

        The cynic in me would suggest Shane needs beer money, but that’s the cynic. The Pogues played in Manchester last month and were very favourably reviewed by all the mags I read- even hinted that Shane wasn’t drunk. Cait O’Riordan turned up to sing too. Wish I’d been there, man. Still, Robert Plant in April so I can’t complain too much!

        Am SO putting this in my memories to use as reference… I suspect I’m going to need a chaperone when I go to HMV again!

      • Cait O’Riordan! SO cool!

        And ROBERT PLANT OMG. πŸ˜‰

        I am so glad that someone else shares my music obsessiveness. Yay.

      • apollarock says:

        Oh yes! Meant to say…

        Q magazine just published a Psychedelic Special Edition (another Beatle moment) and there was of course, an article about Jimi. He didn’t nick the guitar destruction from Pete, he borrowed it from from Little Richard’s ‘do anything to get noticed’ school of live performance (and who’d fired him for being too outrageous, if you can believe that!) and mentioned the time Jerry Lee Lewis upstaged Chuck Berry by pouring lighter fluid into his piano and setting light to it with the words “I’d like to see any son of a bitch follow that.”

        So, Pete’s living in a bit of a dream world- Jerry Lee did it first in 1958.

      • cadey says:

        Oh God. Rumours. I love love LOVE that album. Everything was just so perfect (even if everyone’s lives were falling apart while making it) and Lindey’s voice and his guitar and Mick’s unbelievably tight drumming and John’s… Oh God, during The Chain, right when it goes silent and all you can hear is John’s bass, I crank the stero to Spinal Tap 11 and just bask in that moment. And Christine is so hauntingly beautiful on her tracks – I’m not much of a fan of her songs, but I can relate to them. And Stevie… I would kill to have her voice, I really would. Especially when she’s singing the last track off the album – Gold Dust Woman. That song can send chills down my spine.

        Do you know how to pick up the pieces and go home?

        Yeah, that one does me in every single time.

        Okay. Enough of the Fleetwood lurve off of me. πŸ˜€

        Oddly enough, I can sing like Grace Slick. I’ve got almost the exact same range. And I’ve had White Rabbit going through my head for the past few days.

        Clare, if you get the chance – get Jessica by ABB. Trust me on this. I can listen to that song over and over and over again. That song has me interested enough to go buy their albums. πŸ˜€

      • apollarock says:

        Oh, I’ve had the Jessica love for a long old time. It’s brilliant.

    • annearchy says:

      I’d talk about my everlasting love of the Beatles in my LJ, and how it happened, but then everyone would know *exactly* how old I am (and then I’d get laughed out of LJ, wouldn’t I??). Also, I’m appalled that this year I forgot my anniversary of discovering the Beatles *hangs head in shame* I promise I’ll try to do better. I know George’s birthday is next Friday, so I have no excuses about that πŸ™‚

  2. no_remorse says:

    For some reason I’ve been listening Strawberry Fields Forever on and off since Monday. Which is weird since I never liked to listen to it before.

    I am not much of a Beatles fan, to be honest. I think you are right when you say that contemporary music wouldn’t be the same without them, but you know what? Contemporary movies wouldn’t the without D.W. Griffith either, but that doesn’t make Birth of a Nation any more watchable or Intolerance less of the product of a megalomaniac. (I actually like Intolerance though.)

    I am old-fashioned enough that when I want to listen to an inventor of modern music, I listen to Bach, Mozart, Beethoven or Handel. And I do, because I know that I will invariably like what I hear. The Beatles’ b-sides though have me running for the hills. But so have pretty much anybody else’s b-sides.

    • apollarock says:

      Ah yes, Birth of A Nation. Watched that in class in California. It was so bad the teacher turned it off partway through and said she wouldn’t make us sit through any more.

      And as for Beatle B-Sides… Rain is much better than its A-Side Paperback Writer. Everyone has filler, I guess… it’s just that Beatle filler is better than most people’s good stuff!

  3. sugarjet03 says:

    I SO didn’t know that Ringo Starr was on Thomas the Tank Engine!! I was on the phone with my mom when I read that and she was all like “you didn’t know?” and I was like “why didn’t you tell me”, and she was like “you were three- you wouldn’t have understood!” Oh, well.

    Great post. I love the Beatles. I’ve listened to most of the albums, but I don’t have many of them, sadly. We’ve been analyzing some of their songs in theory lately (most of the earlier stuff), but it’s been amazing to look at their genius from a different perspective.

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