Stubborn About the Beatles 1/15/23

History with Richard Bleil

Sometimes I wonder how many Beatlemaniacs still exist.  I am one.  But I’m also kind of a fool, or rather, I was when I was in high school. 

My grandfather gave my sister the first two Beatle Albums, Meet the Beatles, and With the Beatles.  They didn’t come with sleeves and were not in great shape, but she wasn’t interested.  Being a fan of Elvis (who I always liked, but wasn’t exactly a huge fan), she just didn’t see the point (I guess) to this little band from Liverpool.  So, she gave me the two albums, I fell in love.

In ten years as a band, the Beatles recorded twenty albums, I was a collector.  That means that in the early ‘70’s, they were still recording, and I was still buying.  Five years together, they decided to stop touring because, as Ringo stated, they couldn’t even hear each other playing on the stage.  They decided that their fans couldn’t really be getting much out of the concerts, so they started their own recording studio (Abby Road) and record label (Apple Records) and became experimentalists.  For example, I tried to learn Eleanor Rigby for guitar, but it never sounded quite right.  As it turns out, the Beatles didn’t even use guitars in the recording.  They experimented with violins (and related like cellos).  The next time you hear it, listen to the instrumentation.  In the seventies, for a rock band to use only bow-based instruments was, well, gutsy. 

Anyway, throughout middle and high school, I sang the praises of the Beatles, even after their time as a band had ended.  I kept listening to their albums, and never bothered with anything new.  But the crazy part is that, back then, what was new was Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Heart, Pat Benatar, and the classic and wonderful music that today I absolutely adore.

Yes, there was a lot of garbage back then as well.  Let’s be honest, though; if you choose any time, you’ll find garbage in music.  But now I enjoy these bands all as blasts from the past.  They play on classic radio stations, and I’ve purchased a plethora (maybe not complete collections) of their albums, but it’s like I’m enjoying the re-runs.  I was right there when they were still new and making names for themselves, and I just let them slip right past me.  It is akin to enjoying classic television sit-coms like WKRP in Cincinnati, but only because I came across an episode twenty years later. 

There’s nothing wrong with that, really, but it’s a sad lesson to be learned.  If we focus too much on the things that we’ve enjoyed in the past, like watching Fletch (the original) even as I write this and missing out on new movies like A Man Named Otto (I think is the name).  Does it matter?  Not on something as trivial as music and movies, no, but in life there are parallels that are far more important.

We have a habit, as humans, on living in and relishing the past.  I’m probably the worst at this, thinking about Melissa the Cheerleader, or Marci from Chemistry.  The problem, though, is that we tend to remember the past as better than it actually was, and we see the present as worse than it is. 

I have an excuse.  With no spouse, no children, there’s no reason for me not to live in the past.  There is really not much for me here in the present, so there’s no harm in pining for lost loves from days long gone.  But if I had a spouse, dwelling too much on the past can hurt my relationship today.

As we glamorize what has happened, the present begins to look tarnished and worn.  Lovers that have been with us for a decade or two seem to lose their excitement and luster, but those from the past never do. 

Of course, what we’re missing is that the lovers from the past lack history.  We look at how exciting things were, or could have been, in a fantasy world we’ve created in our own mind.  But we forget the dedication of the spouse who has been with us, the love that created children, and the comfort of the home built with our significant other. 

I guess it’s not fair of me to assume that I can guess what married life is like, but I do know that passion ebbs and flows.  The flames of a new love, the excitement of something unknown fades, but when it does with somebody that is important enough to stay with them means that it should settle into something comfortable and trustworthy.  I love the Beatles.  I always will.  But I also love The Pretty Reckless.  I have learned my lesson.

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