Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Beatles are 70

As a young man, I went through a J. D. Salinger period. I'd read every published piece he’d written. It wasn’t hard because there were only 5 or 6 books. Recently, I turned my son on to Teddy – the last story in Nine Stories.

As usual, my son made me see things in the story that never occurred to me. He said he thought Teddy was autistic. Wow! When I was his age we weren’t that aware of autism. If you know the story, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

The Glass family really struck me. Franny and Zooey was my favorite. I’ve always loved good dialogue and that’s what the entire book is. It reminded me very much of Jean Cocteau’s Les Infants Terribles. When I was young, I was enthralled with anything young and intelligent.

The only book Salinger wrote that I didn’t really enjoy was Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, was coming of age and confused about which direction his life should take. I didn’t like A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce for the same reason.

I just couldn’t relate. Ever since I was 5 or 6, I knew exactly where my life was going. I was going to be a Beatle.

Like a lot of white kids my age, they were as far as it was possible to go. I’ve made several references to them already in previous posts.

It started with the day I was listening to my favorite song, Stormy Weather by Lena Horne, on KXOK. It was followed by The Beatles version of Twist and Shout. I found religion!

The acquisition of every new Beatle record was like a holiday in our house. My mother even let me miss school when the movie Hard Day’s Night came on TV one morning. She knew The Beatles were that important to me.

Like a million other kids I strapped on my mother’s acoustic guitar and watched my shadow against the wall as I played the records end to end.

When the White Album came out, we didn’t have a record player, so my dad told us to bring it to his apartment. I played it over and over until I had completely memorized it.

My kids and I were visiting my mom recently and, for some reason, we went through my old school report cards. Dylan was amazed at how bad my grades were. Recently, he almost got a C and it was a family crisis. He pulled it up to a B but that’s even bad for him.

My only goal was to get a D and pass. My 8th grade teacher left a remark that I’d do well if I would only show up for class. That was about the time John Lennon’s Imagine came out and I played hooky every day to listen to it.

I guess I still have the bug. I’ve been accused by friends of playing hooky from life because my pursuit of music has always been more important to me than getting a real job.

December 8, 1980, my band was deep in the woods of Southern Illinois recording our first album when we started getting calls from around the country. I’m not sure how anyone got the number. I remember a call being for me and I was annoyed at the interruption. I don’t remember actually hearing a voice, but I stopped everything, walked out the studio door to my car, and turned on the radio. Every station was playing Lennon’s music so I knew it was true.

Mark David Chapman got twenty years to life for the murder of John Lennon. He’s been denied parole 6 times. Each of his applications has been opposed by Yoko.

Chapman left a copy of Catcher in the Rye in his hotel room. In it he wrote “This is my statement,” and signed it “Holden Caulfield”.

As everyone knows, today, John would have been 70. Recently, Ringo performed at his 70th birthday party. Someone walked onto the stage and put a Hofner bass on a guitar stand. Everyone knew Sir Paul was there, and Ringo seemed genuinely touched. Check it out on YouTube. Google did a great job with their logo as a tribute. I can’t help but think of The Beatles as family.

Check out this pre-America clip……

Photo by Astid Kirchherr


Tony Patti said...

How can you even begin to describe what the Beatles were when we were kids? In a world of do-wop and the decline of rock and roll they dropped like a bombshell. They wrote songs like they'd never heard the radio before, where everyone else was trying to redo last week's hit. The whole world stepped up their game in music, in universally positive way.

I never wanted to be a Beatle as much as you did, but every time I play some music I thank them for helping to make it an important part of my life.

Doggie said...

I remember when you and I spent marathon sessions in front of our record player when we lived together. We were in a psychedelic frame of reference and decided to play one of Tracy's records. It was McDonald and Giles. We were so excited. We looked at each other and you said,"It's the Beatles!"

Anonymous said...

Whenever I read these memories that were so important to you and so emotional, then see responses from your friends, I'm touched and feel as if I'm reliving my youth in another dimension.

Also, I, too, went through a J.D.Salinger stage and loved everything I read except Catcher in the Rye. Thinking I was perhaps being unfair, I recently re-read it. I still didn't like it!

Your Mom

Anonymous said...

I still find it funny that you were called a traitor for reading that book all because of one crazy a**h*le.