02 April, 2015

B is for Beatles

from Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies

On the morning of 9 December 1980, a school day, I was walking down the stairs towards the kitchen. The ABC news was wafting up to meet me as I descended.  I could hear the newscaster begin to cry as "Imagine" began and I wondered why on earth someone would shoot Jack Lemmon dead.  I was 12.

From that day, for weeks, there was wall-to-wall media coverage about John Lennon and his assassination. And an unplanned retrospective began about the Beatles that was impossible to miss.  It was the first second-wave of Beatlemania. And where the first Beatlemania had ended with disbelief and broken hearts, the revival began in that same vein.

I'd been exposed to The Beatles in the years before 1980 as my violinist brother and guitar strumming cousin had listened to and played along with all the Beatles albums, deconstructing the songs, and marveling at the genius.  I'd been in the same room doing my own thing at the time, and by osmosis the germ had taken hold.  

So by the time I realised it was John Lennon and not Jack Lemmon and there was a whole tidal wave of grief and loss being played out in the press and across the universe, the time was right for me to set out on my own Beatle odyssey:  an adventure that would become my decades long obsession; a safe haven; a raison d'etre; a focus for my art and writing; and a style guide for clothing, hair and speech.  

Oh, not to mention the most amazing SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE!

When you have those three incredible songwriters and four wonderful musicians collaborating and channeling the spirit, I can't help but think, when someone says they don't like the Beatles, that there's something terribly wrong with them.  Or maybe they just don't like music at all.  How, with such diversity, a song for every mood, a stanza for every moment, how can a person not find genius in there?  Somewhere?  I just can't fathom the thinking, or the lack of it.  Or maybe they just haven't had exposure. Or maybe they're being contrary.  Whatever.  Something's Not Quite Right.

I listen to other music too, nowadays.  I have diversified.  But I do default to the lads more often than you'd think and I don't think I've made a mixed CD (yes, I still make them) that doesn't include a track or two...).  And thank heavens my beloveds still remember me with presents of Beatley things, memorabilia from second hand shops and books and the like.  I can and will, never tire.  There will always be space in the shrine and in my heart...

* * *

My brother died suddenly when he was 45. That night he visited me in a dream with the Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album.  He didn't say anything.  I pondered that dream intensely.  He was so earnest.  He wanted to communicate something.  

After a while I decided this is what Hec wanted.  I call it Sgt Heckers.

In My Life

There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more

* * * 

  Dedicated to the memory of Cynthia Lennon 1939 – 2015


  1. Soph, such a touching and passionate post. I would have felt it more deeply had Holly not been singing 'Wrecking Ball' at the top of her lungs (even more annoying since this house is a Cyrus and Bieber free zone).
    Beautiful words from you, and although I've seen the Sgt Heckers cover before it has a deeper meaning. A tear had started, but was halted by my background noise here.

    1. Sit Holly down and play her with Helter Skelter, nice and loud. That should purge any vestige of Cyrus. Then condition and humour with a little Hey Bulldog. xx

  2. Lovely Lovely Lovely
    I remember exactly where I was when heard the news of the murder too..one of those frozen moments in time
    Wendy at Wendy of The Rock