The nice thing about the Beatles Channel on Sirius XM is that you never know what you’re going to get. There might be Chuck Berry or another of many artists who inspired the Beatles, or one of their solo outings, such as from Ringo’s ‘fun period’ (early to mid-70’s).
Chances are though that you’ll hear the original Fab Four. It might be a tender love song, or it might be Take #17 of “Helter Skelter.” It seems now that this band did everything and tried everything. It’s all over the place, and it’s why the Beatles are still in heavy rotation, and not just on their own channel.
I might sound like a fan, and I am. But not always. As a young child, I didn’t really appreciate the Beatles.
I was probably born too late. You needed to be 14 or so in 1964 to feel the full impact of Beatlemania. I was younger than that. The mania first came to my Warwick, Rhode Island neighborhood when a kid brought over a new 45 record with his portable record player, treating our family to “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
It sounded loud, muddled and screechy to my five year old ears. It certainly wasn’t folk music, something you heard a lot of in my house. As the months and years went by, we heard more Beatles, songs like “Eight Days a Week”, or “Help!” But these were only occasional things, seen on television, and we were not radio listeners.
By the time we did discover radio, the band had transformed – a far cry from the ‘yeah yeah’ music of 1964. You could tell it was the Beatles by their voices, but all else had changed. Odd instrument choices: flutes, speeded up piano, sometimes a string quartet or even a full orchestra replaced or were added to the usual guitars and drums.
How did a band change this much this fast?
But I still couldn’t fully appreciate the music. It came in dribs and drabs. A few seconds here, a few there, on static-y AM radio with a DJ blabbering over the end of each song. Songs came and went. I heard “I Am The Walrus” once in 1967 and then never again until 1973. Where did it go?
I can see the problem now, I think. There were no Beatles records in our house. Nothing I could really listen to. We had plenty of Peter, Paul and Mary, and a few novelties like Herman’s Hermits and The Monkees. But no Beatles. Nada.
Finally, finally, finally. Someone brought home a Beatles record. I think it was the fall of 1968. A 45. The A side was “Hey Jude”, which we were blase about. The B side, “Revolution” was what we really wanted to hear. Over and over again. “All right, all right, all right, all right, ALL RIGHT!”
At long last, I was in heaven, like a starving dog being tossed a bone.
A year or so after that, we acquired Abbey Road, and the rest is history.
As a young adult I picked up the White Album, and discovered twenty or so songs I’d never heard before, including a slower version of “Revolution.” Why they included the eight minute “Revolution 9” I”ll never know. The consensus seems to be: Blame Yoko.
And later, a new, “Naked” version of Let it Be came out. I listened with interest, especially the banter between takes. Paul seems annoyed: “Ringo doesn’t want to go to Australia. That means we’re not going to Australia.” Evidently they had been there before and it’s a very long plane ride.
So here we are today. I have Sirius XM and a car with six awesome speakers. I wish our 1960’s station wagon had the same, so I could have heard “Got To Get You Into My Life” in its full, horn-infused glory, but what are you gonna do?
I am grateful, though, that I can now hear what was on John’s Jukebox, or a Paul remark after a good take. “Keep that one, mark it Fab.” Or anything by George.
Every single day of my life.