When you’re a little kid you find things to obsess about. Kids are amazing that way, they love bugs or dinosaurs or outer space or Star Wars and they learn everything there is to know about it. There are five year olds out there who know more technical facts about space dust than I ever even knew existed.
When I was a little kid The Beatles were my outer space.
John Lennon was my first crush. I distinctly remember the day my brought out his vinyls and asked me if I’d ever heard a song about a pig that could fly. I spent my weekends watching as many of the 11 and a half hours of VHS Beatles documentary tapes as I could get away with before being told to go outside and play. I wrote a report about Paul McCartney in fifth grade.
Eventually I would own every song of theirs that I could get my hands on, including demos and Sie Liebt Dich (the German version of She Loves You). In University I wrote papers on their music. I own a number of their movies and I’ve watched Hard Day’s Night more times than I know. I mean, I know so many random fact about them, it takes everything I have not to go on and on with Beatles trivia. And now, still today, while the obsessiveness has subsided, I love them.
This isn’t generally something I divulge to many people. I never really felt like people believed me, or took me seriously, or it was something like ‘yeah, everyone does, you’re no different.’ Loving The Beatles seems almost cliche at times, you can say it without having to substantiate it. But, then again, I get defensive because now that I look back I can see how much they’ve meant to me.
It was recently the 75th Anniversary of John Lennon’s birth and in the same week all of George Harrison’s solo albums became available on streaming services. This had me revisiting their music and reflecting on what they’ve meant to me, over our long years of friendship.
When I think of The Beatles I think of home. My dad let us spin his old records whenever we wanted and in the mornings before school my brothers and I would blast the vinyls throughout the house. Lady Madonna and Eleanor Rigby would blare across the stereo as we headed on our way. They’ve always been there for me, whenever times were tough or I was stressed, they were waiting. It sounds silly, but it always felt like this comforting friend who understood anything I was feeling. (Music, am I right?)
I think too, different albums or songs have caught me at different times. It feels like there’s always something there to rediscover. Today I’m obsessing over solo material and revisiting their later years where drugs got involved and things got interesting.
They also taught me this amazing lesson about being different. Watching the early footage of who they were as youngsters made it all to clear that they were weird, quirky dudes who were outside of normative culture. They were different, and they were cool. Any time I think I’m too weird or say things that are too bizarre I just remember the clip of John on stage at Shae Stadium in 1965 when he is losing his mind. That guy went nuts and people loved him.
Whenever I think I need to make more money I remember the documentary Living in the Material World about George Harrison’s search for meaning in life. It was a beautiful documentary and a good reminder that no matter how much money a person can make (we’re talking Beatles money) it won’t fulfil you.
The Beatles have been so commodified and blown up that I end up feeling like people miss the meaning behind the music and the impact they’ve had on the world and the lives of so many people. They miss the personalities and the emotion.
So when I say I like The Beatles, its so much more than Twist and Shout. It’s an emotional connection for me, to these guys and their music, and knowing that they’ll always be there for me, making me feel at home.
It may have also started my lifelong love of skinny men with floppy hair, but that’s a conversation for another day.