Friday, November 13, 2009

Music to Jog By (The Beatles Remastered)

My younger sister laid claim to the Beatles first.  My idea of popular music back then was Henry Mancini's movie scores and Nino Temple and April Stevens crooning Deep Purple.  When Ed Sullivan brought the mop-headed boys into our living room, I more than feigned indifference—I really didn’t see the point.

By the time I got to the Beatles, they were almost gone.  I was in college, and we listened to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds in a haze of hash and LSD.  I went along with that, but secretly, the tight vocal harmonies on Abbey Road were what got to me:  “I never give you my number/I only give you my situation/and in the middle of investigation/I break down.”  Nobody has ever made “-tion” sound so good.

I moved on to a long stretch of the Doobie Brothers before, to the relief of my friends, I took up Brahms and Bach.  There I stayed until the remastered edition of the Beatles came out, and I thought, well, really, I ought to give it a try.  After all, they were my youth, too.

The package arrived, the CDs neatly stacked in a sleek black box.  The jewel box inserts reproduced in loving miniature the covers I remember.  I loaded the CDs on my iPod and went out to jog.  I’d long ago settled on Bach as my preferred running mate, but the Beatles, I discovered, precisely match the beat my aging stride requires.

My taste in popular music hasn’t advanced too much.  I don’t care for the nasal voicings the Beatles sometimes use.  And I remain unimpressed with Ringo’s compositional skills:  Octopus’s Garden can stay under the sea, for me.  Whatever my view of any single tune, though, I can’t help but admire their endless, exuberant ability to come up with something new.

They are my generation’s musical Picasso.  When they sing, “Each one believing that love never dies/Watching her eyes and hoping I'm always there,” there is nowhere else I want to be.


  1. Great depiction of your musical journey and great clips! I came to the Beatles after the fact (they split up when I was 10) but I've never left them. My 21 year old son is a fan too. They are indeed your generation's
    "musical Picasso".

  2. I loved this piece. The older I get, the more I appreciate the Beatles, having been a bit too young to be aware of them at their height. My son, a guitarist at 14, and his friends also understand their influence. I think that's a rare thing, to have a parent's music choice embraced by the next generation (I know I did not like Frank Sinatra when I was 14, for example!).

    Love your comment on Ringo's contributions - I also prefer Here There and Everywhere and In My Life over the octopus~ It is amazing to listen to the whole remaster set and track the different musical styles they use throughout their career.

    Thanks for linking the videos, they were great to watch.

  3. You are the second person in two days to mention relegating an interest in the Beatles to an older sibling, and moving on to establish her own individuated taste in music. Which makes me think about how, when very young, we resist conformity in personal taste in music, and art, and literature... while often, in other ways, like dress, hairstyles (look at any high school year book!) we want to blend in... -Elaine

  4. Actually, in my case, the younger sibling, but the comment is still spot-on. How well I remember the rollers and the flip, not to mention the paisley bell-bottoms. May they R.I.P. in the Octopus's Garden.

  5. Nicely laid out blog and the writing is terrific!

    I wish I had a picture of those bell bottoms I wore to Grant Park with you and your friends from U of C. Long gone. I wore them until they were in shreds. LOVED them...

    Sure remember the sounds coming from your room. I was surprised B Streisand wasn't on the list ;-)

    younger sibling

  6. The family historian and archivist strikes again! See new introductory pic for the evidence . . .

  7. Could younger sibling and friends aka the transistor sisters, have been first on the Chi-Town suburban block to hear the Beatles and start the fad? No following the crowd for us, we were pioneers ;-)

    From Wikipedia...

    Dick Biondi, a disc jockey on WLS in Chicago and a friend of Vee-Jay executive Ewart Abner, played the song on the radio, perhaps as early as 8 February 1963, thus becoming the first DJ to play a Beatles record in the United States.[15] Art Roberts, legendary DJ and Music Director at the time tells how the record came to be played first at the station:

    "Let me tell you the story of "Please Please Me". The record was released on the Vee-Jay label. It was a local Chicago recording company. The owner, Ewart Abner, brought a copy of the record to W. L. S. I was the music director at the time and listened to his story about a group, and looked at pictures in teen magazines he brought back from England. I figured, what if this group would get as popular in the United States as they were in England and Europe. So I added the record to the list."

  8. Brilliant piece and loved the clips.Music brings the memories flooding back in a way nowt else does. I recall sitting in a damp, misty coffee shop crowded in by other students, during my first year at college, listening to Revolution on the juke box. That was 1968.I am still waiting and, seeing nothing but counter-signs, wondering where that all went? any ideas anyone?

  9. Your blog is outstanding...especially the name! I read almost every word and you are bookmarked for future visits.

    The Beatles essay is much more than that in my mind. It recalls for me the very beginnings of your life in music which included Eleanor Roosevelt's narration of "Peter and the Wolf," and the lesser known 45 RPM classic about the circus with favorite arias such as, "I'm a giraffe. I'm a giraffe....."

    The Poughkeepsie story puts me right on the scene along the waterfront. And the Vassar campus and art museum are in there, too. Could you have imagined ever finding a richer environment in which to live?

    I'm looking forward to my next visit and more discoveries in and around your neighborhood.


  10. Really interesting to hear your views on them - with you being a proper musician and all. I'm not, and it has taken me decades to realise just how original they were - and still are, really, compared to the majority of bands.

    I love the idea of you jogging to Bach. So now you run 'Hear, there...' and Bach again do you? 8-)


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