When I was young, I thought of The Beatles as “old people’s music.” They broke up the year I was born. I really didn’t know much about them. I just knew they were around from Mes ‘Rent’s “time.” Not stopping to think for a minute that Ma Mére is only 21 years older than me and Ma Pére, 23 years older than me, I just thought it was “old.” Needless to say that it wasn’t.
Oddly enough, too, I didn’t even know any Beatles songs. Remember, we had no true Top 40 or pop stations at the time so I never got any exposure. “Pop” only listened to country and western and my mother really didn’t listen to much. I think the closest I heard of the Beatles was “Stars on 45” from the band of the same name. That was after John Lennon’s tragic assassination in 1980. I remember when that happened. I told Ma Mére, “Haha one your music people died!” I don’t have a clue a) why I’d say it; b) why I thought it would be appropriate. It was dumb and not appropriate. But, I was 10 and had no couth or “know better.”
Well, we moved to WSNC and I had access to more music. I heard Beatles. More Beatles than I’d ever heard before. 92.3 played them a good bit. I liked what I heard, mostly. I remember the first time I ever heard “Eleanor Rigby” and it’s orchestral majesty. I had to actually call the station and ask who it was and the jock, Pete Bunch, didn’t make fun of me but he did seem a bit perplexed that I didn’t know who did the song, or even what it was. I was sitting in my very small and tight office above the shop Mes ‘Rents had for their trucking biz. It was awesome! The Beatles now reside in my #2 spot of my favorite bands/artists of all time, right behind KISS.
I started collecting Beatles albums and then spent time reading up on them and Brian Epstein and this guy George Martin who had shaped the entire Beatles landscape. I can see him bossing them around about what they were going to record and how. Making them do it over and over and over. There wasn’t any easy DAW editing back then, just manual cutting and pasting. And most of the tracks were recorded live from what I could tell with a lot of bouncing and overdubbing. Yet, everything sounded fresh, still does today. At least from Help! on. That’s when their music changed to me, too; for the better, mind you. But, the sonic balance of everything just swelled and sounded so full.
It all goes back to the strings of “Eleanor Rigby,” though, for me. Or, perhaps “Yesterday” or the majority of the Yellow Submarine album/soundtrack. Or, the piano on “In My Life.” Or heck, any Beatles song on any Beatles album, really. The mark George Martin left on every one of them. Priceless. Some consider Stu Suttcliff or Pete Best the “fifth Beatle” but they’d be like “other Beatles” to me. George Martin was like a full on member that wasn’t in the forefront, again, at least to me. Of course, the songs would have been written whether he was part or not, but I have a feeling what we hear now is due to him taking what was written and altering it to create a whole new musical entity.
Sir George passed this week at the age of 90. That’s a long and quite fruitful life and he’s made all of ours even better by giving us his vision, dedication and knowledge. Rest well, Sir George and if there’s an afterlife, sit with John and George H. and write some awesome tunes. You’ll be missed. And, yes, I know there was a whole world of Sir George outside the Beatles. This is just what I decided to focus on.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“There are places I remember all my life though some have changed.
Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments. With lovers and friends I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living. In my life I’ve loved them all” – “In My Life” (Lennon/McCartney)