It Won’t Be Long. Almost any of Lennon’s songs on ‘With the Beatles’ or ‘Hard Day’s Night’ would do for this slot. I was a wannabe songwriter bound tightly by the musical conventions of the previous fifty years. Lennon threw a disdainful pot of musical paint at all that: wrong chords, missed or truncated bars, irony-laden Glenn Miller quotes harshly, gleefully out of context … I wrote dozens of pastiche imitations – all thankfully lost, but I’ll never forget the exhilaration of discovering that A major to F# major and then back to A, or B flat, or wherever, was okay: rules could be broken. This discovery soaked through from mere music to real life over those few churning years.
Rain. I’m basking in the garden of 17 Hutchings Walk, one weekday afternoon in June 1966, early in that coruscating summer. I’m not at all focussed on music, my mind and my body are elsewhere entirely, wafting around various situations and one particular girl. But then this sound drifts through the French windows, and sucks me indoors. Somebody’s got the new Beatles single, and has put the B side on first. Something opens.
And Your Bird Can Sing. We’d done our usual set at the Piper in Milan, and I’d struck up a conversation with the Indonesian lead guitarist of the new all-girl support band, the Honeys. She had a genuine Gibson Les Paul, which meant I was in love with her. We sat knee to knee while she proved to me that the jangly two-line guitar part could be played at one go, not double-tracked, if you were good enough, which she was. Complications grew from nowhere over the next few stretched-out weeks. She had a husband and a child back in Holland, it seemed. In the end she fled the country. I don’t think it was because of me, but I’ll never know, will I? I wish I could remember her name.
Hey Jude. This one is a sitcom moment. Andy walks in to the pensione with a 45 in his hand. “Rubbish new Beatles record,” he announces. Maybe he’d only heard the B side.
I Just Don’t Understand. Lastly, a teaser. This was never a ‘proper’ Beatles track: it’s on the Live at the BBC compilation, recorded for Pop Go The Beatles in July 1963. I’ve included it because I love the song (original 1961 record by Ann Margret, you can find it on YouTube), love John’s performance of it, and love how it reminds me precisely what it was like to be a teenager in love.