It was fifty years ago today. Well, last Friday to be exact.
Love Me Do came out on 5 October 1962, and briefly charted. If I heard it at all, I probably wrote it off as a discountable Bruce Channell copy (which it was). The closing down of my life in Leeds, the closing down of my university career, of tenuous or endurable friendships and red-hot or chilly loves, the strange sense of loss – music had to wait in the queue once again, for a while. But a head was building up, not just in me but everywhere.
I Saw Her Standing There. When I got back to Southbourne in June, Beatles were everywhere, and so was a music explosion, which gleefully grabbed me, shook me up, spun me till I was dizzy, and tipped me out. I just bummed around. It was great. I went to the beach – sometimes the far end of Southbourne towards Hengistbury Head; occasionally on car trips (having passed my test and annexed my mother’s side-valve 850cc red leather seated Morris Minor for my own use) to Shell Bay, across the Sandbanks ferry, where whole days could be easily, indolently wasted on beach life. June and July and a bit of August 1963 slipped away. Eventually, I got a job on the buses.
If I Fell. My first band, the Trackmarks, wanted to be the Beatles. Well, everybody did. ‘Mania’ says it: every so often, something takes over. I remember us leaping around on Sandbanks beach one evening as if we were in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, bothered that there were five of us because four was the only right family size. And me feeling jealous – I wanted to have invented those chords!
Tomorrow Never Knows. I think ‘Revolver’ coincided with my first joint, but I don’t remember this track as any kind of psychedelic experience. In fact I remember it only for two reasons: being intrigued at the time as to how they’d managed to expend so much effort on this boring dirge; and wondering now how I managed to play it to my girlfriend in the back seat of the Morris Minor in Bedford’s Beach car park.
Strawberry Fields Forever. Now here I did succumb to druggedness. It had both of the elements of music I was looking for at the time, melody and sound. And words. That’s three. Well, who's counting? Right at the end of the fade, John says something. ‘Them freaks’, as he later called them, claimed that it was ‘I buried Paul’, which was obviously nonsense. The authorities insist that he says ‘cranberry sauce.’ I persist in my belief that what he says is ‘I’m very bored’, which he was.
Penny Lane. 1967: a long argument in the street outside the Piper club in Milan with Maurizio, the lead singer of Italy’s top group L’Equipe 84, about whether it was a piccolo trumpet or a speeded-up normal one. I was right. Happy days!
Let It Be. The only Beatles song I actively hated when I heard it.
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