Words From The Midwest XXX

Good evening, all gangly and wide-eyed; all passionate freaks; all hummed and delivered. Welcome to the 30th edition of Words From The Midwest.

I want to continue in the vein of my previous entry and talk strictly about an artist who I am truly in love with: their music; their attitudes; their reach and their influence on me as both an artist, a musician, and a person in a phase of growth and development. This time around, I want to delve back into my history and present to you a candide account of my childhood and the rearing I got from listening to none other than The Beatles.

Now, let me be clear: I was obsessed with The Beatles. Not in a “yeah I listen to ‘em, yeah, they’re the best” sort of way. No, with a yearning; an intrigue; a hands-down, didn’t listen to anything but The Beatles for years and years. Although, of course I heard other music from my Mom and my Sisters and either liked it or not, always… in my time alone listening, it was The Beatles.

At full volume.

Their history has been well documented, so much so that even their history has documented how well their history has been documented. And so on. So I won’t go into the hows and the whats and the Hamburg and the Speed and the drinking and the sex and the complete makeover into Teen Pop Idols, onto Folk Rock and Psychedelia…the whatever. It’s all there for you. Seek it out. At least – and I’m soapboxing to an even greater length now – if you are interested, read The Beatles: A Biography and, holy shit, definitely read The Beatles With Lacan. That shit is fantastic as it psychoanalyzes both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, compares their respective childhoods and their physiological attractiveness to one aother, while simultaneously declaring their partnership as the dawn of the Post Modern age…It’s a hell of an insight. At the very least watch The Beatles Anthology. That’s where it all started for me, watching it when it originally aired on television circa 1994.

I digress.

Because, although it’s well worth it to study The Beatles, it’s so much more accessible to just, simply, listen to their music. Because woah almighty, their music – as, again, has been written about, and christ, they’ve sold over a billion records – is as timeless as humanly possible. Even the songs which date them are generally B-Sides or BBC Sessions and even those songs are pieces of history. I mean, to digress further, that’s why they exist. The Beatles not only created Power Pop Music (although, it could be argued that Buddy Holly was the true inventor of Guitar Pop) but their journey through their time as a band is so photographed, filmed and recorded, that it’s easy to get lost in just how much they accomplished and just how much they influenced – no, downright informed – Pop Culture at the time. Trends changed with The Beatles. Their music had weird chord changes and a double lead vocal, essentially singing a constant harmony…Although, it’s even more interesting to think about the way their looks changed with their music: it’s staggering when you realize they were only in the public eye as a Unit for six years. Thirteen albums. 20 #1 Singles. Very few forgettable songs.

And, goddamnit, that’s what I should be writing about: The Songs. From the count in of “I Saw Her Standing There” to the final fragment of a song, “Her Majesty,” which was tacked onto the end of their actual last recorded album, Abbey Road, as they thought they were being too dramatic for their own good by naming the last song on their last record “The End” which is true, in a sense, but, again, I digress. Each song has its place in the legend of the 60s, amidst the Mop Top Impersonators, onto Dylan and the time Bob himself gave them Pot for the first time, and how Paul had an epiphany that night: that “there are 7 levels.” And Rubber Soul and Revolver and Sgt Fucking Pepper and, jesus, should I even go on? It’s All Too Much.

Enough already…

When I try and think of my favorite Beatles album, I get kind of lost in my reasons for why I like each of them differently and exclusively from one another, but also how I kinda think about their output as one long Work Of Art which it is, though that’s something I shouldn’t even get into. There’s just too many ins and outs of that conversation. The fact that the album I turn to is Revolver shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, when I really think about my favorite LP (and that’s the UK releases, because fuck the US versions), I seem to always land on With The Beatles, which was their second.

There’s probably a really clear reason for this, and it’s that it was the first CD I ever remember buying; seaking out in Borders with a fresh gift card in my wallet; falling for the cover: Black and White with a stark contrast – which, not ironically, is my favorite style of photography – and those so-German haircuts, each of them arranged and accounted for, with The Beatles as a Unit, even with John and Paul the consumate Leaders…they were, of course, the principal songwriters. With The Beatles, though, had George’s first song on a Beatles record, “Don’t Bother Me” which is a really good sort of mid-tempo shuffle in a minor key. Brilliant really. And one of my favorite songs on the album. It would be cruel not to cite the fact that it in no way points to what was to come from him.

And, really, With The Beatles doesn’t point to what they would do with the Studio and all the instruments and the impeccable arrangements – George Martin, the real Fifth Beatle, was the interpreter of all their manic intellect and musical vision, doing things on Sgt Pepper that were so wildly new and exciting, that the album got some very damning press at the time, with certain publications labeling the album as synthetic. It’s odd that they had a point. But it still changed everything.

And everything.

Everything.

But, hell, they had already changed everything a couple different times. That they wrote their own music in 1963 was revolutionary enough (although, again: Buddy Holly).

So, okay. I’ve gone on long enough. I love The Beatles. And in short, The Beatles are why I play music. They’re why I play the music I play. They perpetually influence everything I produce, whether I’m conscious of it all of the time or not. I dissected everything they ever did. And I came away knowing full well what I want Music to be like, across all genres.

And with that, I end this, the 30th edition of Whatever This Is. For a while, I’m going to wander around my mind and think of what to write next.

Because, the news of the day is that I finished my first novel this morning. Wrote the addendum and designed the cover this afternoon. It needs a couple people to read it before it goes to Press.

And, as I read and edit this post post, I wonder just how The Beatles have affected my writing. And I land on the mere fact that I wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t for them.

Or, maybe.

Until next time.

Regards,

Michael

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s