It seems a lifetime ago.
And in some respects, I guess it was.
The first Beatles album released in Canada
On that Christmas morning, back in 1963, I rushed from my bedroom to find what I had hoped would be there. A 331/3
RPM vinyl record called Beatlemania [With The Beatles]
by this new British music sensation called The Beatles.
My mother had got it right. Perfectly right, and over that long winter in mid-western Canada, I wore that record out.
My mother is gone now. I supose that life wore her out, but the memory of her smiling face as she watched her son doing something akin to the chicken dance with a bit of "The Twist" mixed in for good measure ... that memory is as vivid as if it were taking place right here, right now.
The Beatles. For so many of us, The Beatles connected the dots of time and made sense of a world that had all but gone mad. Snubbing their noses at convention and the pall that the WWII generation draped over our lives, these four lads from Liverpool brought hope and some kind of careless, exuberant joy back into our lives. They helped us break free from what was "expected" and sent us reeling into the future, not with a fear of what was to come, but rather with an anticipation that life and love would undeniably persevere.
Today, Beatles' music rekindles some fond memories and some mercilessly sad memories, but it was always there ... the music ... playing like an ever-present soundtrack helping to define the highs and lows of our lives.
That first Beatles' album is gone now as well. I can't even hazard a guess as to what became of it, but I don't regret its loss. After all, it was easily replaced, and to be honest, I have several copies tucked away in that big old pine bookcase over there.
Some things in life are irreplacable, of course, and I suppose that there is a part of me that wishes that were not true. But, hey, you can't bring back that first kiss, that first love of your life, that first birth of that first child, that first passing of someone important in your life, that first moment when you suddenly recognised that the person looking back at you in the mirror had thinning or graying hair, that first crisis from which you never thought you'd recover, that first realisation that life had some inevitable end you never before expected to be so fast-approaching.
Times has no conscience or scrapbook of events. It measures your footprints and then washes them away with a morning rain. Every first flares up for a moment, and then is gone forever. First things don't last, except in your heart and soul, where they continue until the very last.
So here we are, fifty years after that Christmas in 1963, and The Beatles are coming ... again.
To commemorate the 50th
anniversary of The Beatles arrival in the United Sates, Apple Corps and Capitol are releasing a thirteen CD box set of the albums that were released in North America. On January 21, 2014, the set will be released for sale and will include all the American albums from With The Beatles
to Hey Jude
The U.S. Albums Box Set
I know. It's hard to imagine that what we knew as kids growing up in the 60s has suddenly reappeared in our lives. That soundtrack, that music, that cover art is returning to us, almost as if it never disappeared, long, long ago. I'm not sure whether to shout for joy or weep hysterically. I don't know whether to feel young again or ashamedly old.
Memories of those seven years, the years during which we were lucky enough to have The Beatles, flood back into a consciousness now belaboured by age and uncertainty. All those reckless days of all those unspoiled green years seem to be sneaking in through the side door, and to be honest, I'm not sure what to do about it. Does one drink from the cup of sentimentality and wistfully drift through the gates of "Strawberry Fields" into a land of wonderful imagings, or does one shake one's head and pay attention to what is the here and now, the "Here, There, and Everywhere" of an everyday life?
The answer, I think, is that you do both. What this "new" release of Beatles' albums brings to every Beatles' fan is now no longer really a soundtrack of current experience, but by remembering the past, we remember how we were shaped by that past. For good or bad, Beatlemania changed each and every one of us.
We should never turn away from the experiences that we met on the roads we have travelled and the successes and failures we met along the way. So let the joy or pain of "Yesterday" return, and let's embrace every remembrance. It was, after all, your life, and hopefully, you lived it as fully as you possible could.
Let this returning collection of music engender in you the fire to live the rest of your life with the same passion that you had as a young man or woman.
I suppose that some people will insist that it is better to forget, insist that one can't live in the past, and insist that it is important to "move on" in life and discover new experiences. Of course we should. Still, it is equally important to celebrate the people we knew and the places we've been in our lives. These memories are never gone, no matter how hard we try to put them out of our thoughts and feelings.
The importance of music has never escaped me. I have run the gamut from Bobby Vinton to Frank Zappa, but it was always The Beatles' music that formed the standard against which every other artist was measured.
As the years creep by, I often find myself singing that line, "Will you still need me, when I'm sixty-four?" and turning it around in my mind. Will I still need The Beatles' music when I turn 64? My answer could only be, "Of course I will ..."
© The Beatles On Abbey Road. All Rights Reserved.
Posted December 14, 2013.