Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beatles' Mania

The Beatles were always an enigma to me. A band that everyone raved about but I just didn’t quite get.

The first exposure of The Beatles I had was an annoying, “Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Sing the Beatles Cassette.” It sticks in my head for two reasons. First, I had The New Kids on the Block (TNKB for fans) “Step by Step” cassette and the Alvin and the Chipmunks’ cassette. Didn’t have a lot to choose from.

Second, I’ll always remember that cassette because it was green. I thought that was weird the sort of way that the original Zelda Nintendo game was gold.

So I listened to this cassette that I only sort of liked a lot. I don’t know if I got burned out on the songs or burned out on high-pitched cartoon chipmunks singing, but something left a horrible taste in my mouth for years to come.

It wasn’t until my love affair with Nirvana that I went back to the Beatles. Kurt Cobain said one of his main influences were the Beatles, and since I wanted to be a rockstar, and I knew that heroin was Kurt Cobain’s other inspiration, I figured the Beatles were the better place to start. My mom had one of their collections on CD often referred to as the “Red Album” which contained some of their earlier, more boy-bandy hits like “She Loves You” and “Can’t Buy me Love.” I understood the parallels between the verse chorus verse style of the Beatles and Kurt Cobain, but again I just couldn’t listen to them.

Then in college, I sort of saw this girl on and off that I was crazy about and she was a Beatles fanatic. I learned as much as I could about the Beatles, and was starting to like them more, but ultimately I learned the history of the Beatles. Often times, we’d get drunk (large group of people, not just me and this girl) and music was always a favorite argument. I felt that if I could defend the Beatles enough it would give me some credit.

We would’ve never worked out, just like I thought me and the Beatles would never work out.

Then, recently, Sallie and I obtained a turntable and a record collection. The collection was mostly throw-away, dime a dozen Southern Rock and Jam-bands, but in the midst was a copy of Abbey Road. I listened to the sweet embrace of the needle to the thirty year old vinyl, and even through the dust and imperfections, “Come Together” played my heart like a bass and I finally understood.

Then all the wretchedness of last week happened. A buddy of mine came over to hang out, calm me down, and let me borrow the Beatles Rock Band game from him. I booted it up and for a two and a half hour period, I understood every appeal of the Beatles.
I never knew the hundreds of cover versions from the Joe Crocker version “With a Little Help From my Friends” on “The Wonder Years” to Soundgarden’s rendition of “Come Together” that was always labeled “Come Together (cover)” but I never bothered looking up.

They play with my emotions. Sometimes I feel like a teenager with drastic mood swings playing a continuous game of pong from happiness, to sadness, to anger, to sexiness all contained in one short period of time.

I finally understand.