I’ve been playing a lot of Beatles lately – these days I don’t get to listen to a lot of complete albums – mainly for nostalgia’s sake and because I’m still acclimatising myself to their album, The Beatles (also known as ‘the White Album’ (a requested Christmas present from last year which I’ve relocated from the ‘rubble’ of the study). It's one of those albums I've always wanted to own and seem to be on every "Albums You Must Own" list I've ever seen published. It contains several of the songs I know from growing up, and several I’ve rediscovered the joys of, and several I’ve fallen in love with, wondering how I’d never heard them after all these years.
For most people, a lot of their permanent musical tastes, or so I’ve assumed, usually develop from the music that their parents love. In my case, it was the Beatles. The Beatles seemed to define a shared common musical waterfall between my parents, cascading downwards to my brother and I. As I reflect now, my parent’s individual musical tastes seem quite different – my father was partial to acts like The Kingston Trio and my mother was into acts like the Seekers, and later, Barbra Streisand – but somehow, The Beatles were the meeting point. Perhaps it was this deep love of their catchy tunes combined with their sometimes witty and sometimes poignant (and sometimes altogether weird) lyrics that made the Beatles seem an innate essence of my being. I remember being aghast when a friend told me that she hated them. To her, the Rolling Stones were it. I was amazed that someone couldn’t like the Beatles, it seemed impossible and unnatural!
Every child usually remembers the music that was played on long car trips – my husband revealed Roy Orbison was a favourite – and usually, whether you liked it or not, those songs became ingrained in your memory. I can’t ever remember when we DIDN’T listen to the Beatles. The companion to our car trips was a 6-cassette album produced by Reader’s Digest called the Complete Beatles. Other musical variances – Hooked on Classics was another to get continual airplay and another Christian rock cassette briefly featured – came and went, but the Beatles was a permanent fixture.
Only on really long trip would all 6 tapes be played on each side. And they were always played in order. Each cassette measured the musical history of The Beatles, from their earliest hit to their later obscurer songs. We all sang along to Love Me Do, Do You Want To Know A Secret, Norwegian Wood, and Eight Days A Week. By the time Cassettes 5 & 6 were played – usually an indication that it was a really long car trip – we would be treated to later gems such as Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, The Long & Winding Road, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill and Piggies. Possibly the reason I didn’t quite like the latter songs as much as the earlier songs was because we didn’t play tapes 5 & 6 enough. Somehow, Cassette 5 went missing; disappointing as it featured some of the favourite songs, and though I denied any wrongdoing, I had to ‘fess up years later, finding when emptying a small bedroom cupboard. By which time, it didn’t matter since we hardly played cassette tapes anymore. I still felt guilty though.
It seems funny to me now, that the music I loved was the music that my parents loved – by the time the Beatles had reached my ears, it was some 20 years after those hits were made, a long time after they’d disbanded, and about 5 years after John Lennon had been assassinated. By which time, any hopes of a Beatles reconciliation that my newly christened ears (and mind) had formed were dashed. I often wonder music what my children will adore, since I know that whatever my husband and I will play will stick with them, as it did with me when my parents played it. Still, my love for their music has remained and I get pleasure from playing it – sometimes repeating particular tracks endlessly – as much now as I did back when I was younger.
*taken from “I Will”, featured on the album, The Beatles (aka The White Album)
Who knows how long I've loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to, I will
For if I ever saw you
I didn't catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart
And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know I will