The Beatles have finally come to iTunes: Apple (Abbey Road) meet Apple (Cupertino). I was nine years old when the Beatles appeared that first fateful night in 1964 on The Ed Sullivan Show. Lying on the livingroom carpet in front of our big console television, I watched mesmerized, developing an immediate crush on Ringo and noticed when they flashed “Sorry girls, he’s married” when the camera closed in John Lennon. I was a pretty die-hard Beatles fan for many years after that. I stood in line with my aunt who took me downtown to the
Woods Theater in Chicago’s Loop the first day A Hard Day’s Night was released, and repeated that for next year’s Help! I wore the “gear” gear and bought bobble head figurines.
The nascent girl-folksinger in me tended to adore the ballads (and I still do); those are the tracks I’d play over and over, memorizing every word—and eventually every guitar chord. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” was probably my best-loved very early Beatles song.
I suppose because I liked the folk-rock ballads best, albums like A Hard Day’s Night (“If I Fell,” “Happy Just to Dance With You,” “And I Love Her,” “This Boy,” “I’ll Cry Instead,” “Things We Said Today”) and Rubber Soul (“Michelle,” “Norwegian Wood,” “The Word,” “In My Life”) appealed most to me. Another favorite album, Revolver, included several ballads (“For No One,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Here, There and Everywhere”) but is nicely balanced by harder drive of “Taxman” and “Got to Get You Into My Life.”
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band stands in a class by itself. It is whimsical, innovative, genre-bending and completely addictive. From the hidden-picture puzzle fun of its elaborate, colorful cover to its equally elaborate musical orchestrations, I spent hours in Sgt. Pepper’s company. The heavily orchestrated title track is a great sing-along song, and the whimsical “When I’m 64” seems ironic in 2010: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m 64?” Hah! Of course we do! Then there are the surreal mind trips of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Fixing a Hole.” But the album also contains more serious fare, bordering on social commentary with “A Day in the Life,” and “She’s Leaving Home.” The entire album is an eclectic, rich mind trip. No drugs needed.
Speaking of which, as the Beatles drifted more into the psychedelic rock scene of the late 1960s, my musical tastes drifted in another direction, discovering that I wanted to be Joan Baez, Judy Collins and and Janis Ian all rolled into one female folksinger. So, alas, my love affair with the Beatles came to an end by the time Magical Mystery Tour came out. Instead I spent my hard-earned babysitting money on Judy, Joan and Janis; Simon and Garfunkel, Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs.
But I’m looking forward to downloading all those old favorite Beatles tracks onto my iPad over the next few weeks. I still remember all the lyrics.