Wednesday, 20 April 2011

I like The Beatles – I don’t know whether I love the Beatles

She said John’s already up there – he’s waiting for you.

I think she said he was sitting on the bed. Richard and I were kind of freaked by that – but that was Richard’s mum for you – had a turn of phrase and smile and a welcome for the strays who would wander through that home – up the stairs and to the record player and television that resided in Richard’s room.

He first introduced me to the Beatles – not that I hadn’t heard of them already but by the tail end of the 1970s and the new beginnings of 1980s – The Beatles had kind of gone right out of fashion. They seemed to be from another era – another time back then. The dissipation of all things Beatles had happened – you could pick up a set of Rock n Roll 1 and 2 for a couple of quid in Woolworths – there was no awe. And to be honest there shouldn’t be – people get shot because of that. So it was through Richard’s record player that I got to hear the hits of the past, the obscure tracks and Revolution Number 9 in the dark. Because playing music should be exhilarating and communal at times – the [in] sound of the [in]crowd.

Paul and I once created a ‘horror’ experience that had us playing a Japan b-side – it was Burning Bridges [if you want to try it yourself] at 16rpm as you entered a room full of shock. You could do that on record players then – slow it down – speed it up – separate the sound – switch the speaker – get to understand sound.

Richard understood sound.

Still does.

He would play me The Beatles – point out a harmony, a sound, a beat, a this, a that – and I would listen [and learn] And over time I’ve fallen in and out of love with The Beatles – they’re a huge behemoth in the world of the popular – christ [you know it ain’t easy] they practically invented it all – the boy band – the serious band – the arguments – the plundering of this and that – juxtaposition – it’s a drag man.

Richard and I wrote a play about the Beatles. We were young. We never took it to the West End – it wasn’t a sure fire hit. We still might cast it – Michael York as Rory Storm – that sort of thing. We also partook in a fancy dress competition – in fact – the only fancy dress competition I was ever in – not that I haven’t tried to look like my idols over the years – like some sort of perpetual fancy dress competition – I believe my Alex Patterson years were fairly successful – possible not my Flavour Flav’s. We went as John and Paul – we couldn’t muster a George or a Ringo – but looking back it would have been more fitting to be George and Ringo. We wore white collarless shirts and black trousers – Richard had fashioned some Lennon specs from chicken wire. He was Lennon – I was McCartney - as I shared a birthday [well all of my birthdays with Macca]. And obviously just in case our transformation was not good enough in itself – we put our names [that is John and Paul] on card around our necks.

We did not win.

Nor come second.

But immersing yourself in the those sounds in other people’s room’s was important. Of course my fascination [not musically] for Clifford T Ward was borne out of stops in that house – at the end of wibbly wobbly way and just down from Andy Ross’s. Some times I picture it vividly – those eighties days [and nights] sometimes I smell it too – a moment as I pull a record from a sleeve. I’m back in Richard’s house and a record is playing and we are talking – and invariably laughing about things. We still do that – laugh about things.

We should make time to play one another some records

But from time to time I return to Abbey Road Studios and hear the experiments in sound [and colour] that Martin and his mates put together. I’ve been listening to the Magical Mystery Tour album – all remastered and i-tuned for Apple[s] and that sloppy Ringo drumming keeps on giving me a smile. And the children have tuned in, turned on but not yet dropped out to the psychedelic sounds of Lucy in the sky with Diamonds, All you Need is Love, I am the Walrus and Strawberry Fields – so the car journeys are getting better [couldn’t get no worse] So it all starts again – this legacy – as two kids in juniors once did – playing songs for pleasure. The Beatles are the real rolling stones – they’re not stopping.

I bought the Beatles ‘Rarities’ album – this was a WH Smith purchase – upstairs in the precinct. Blue cover – simple – no pictures of the band – just their sounds. It had ‘Rain’ and ‘She’s a woman’ on it – I always come back to those. Not so much – ‘You Know My Name’ – although it does seem to surface in my life more times than I would have imagined back then. There’s something so beautiful about both of those tunes. There’s the Lennon sneer – as they ‘run and hide their heads’ and the all out blues of McCartney as he hollers that he don’t need no presents. This is The Beatles for me – fluid bass – scratched chords and harmonies rich in understanding – all the time accented by the fact that things might fall apart or get out of hand – that a shout might go up – a line get fluffed and before you know it – you’ve buried Paul and slayed the Tate household.

The Beatles are good people.

Being in the company of good people is always a bonus.