Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Crafty Southpaw's Mailbag

Recently I got perhaps the nicest comment that I've ever gotten on my site.  It was from a comparatively new member of this little corner of the Inter Tubes, brought to us from Very Yosie (I'm pronouncing it with a soft J today). It was Cranky, Caregiver and Storage Warrior, who read my most recent "The Beatles are Gods" post and said the following:

Cranky: Gary - great Beatles vignettes. I'm 55 and the Beatles were a very important part of my growing up which I think explains why I still love them. However, you look much younger than me in your photo. How is it you came to be such an emphatic fan?

Well Cranky, firstly thanks for reading and for your comment - welcome aboard and please feel free to comment at any time.  Secondly, you're correct in that I'm younger than you (and also younger than Yosie.  She's older than me, have I mentioned?).  I turned 43 this past September.  When I made my appearance, Hey Jude was the #1 song on the charts but that's not what did it.  It was actually two things.

The first thing was, of all things, the "Paul is dead" rumor that gripped soft minds in the early '70's.  One night, I couldn't have been more than 8 or 9, our friends from across the street, the Blackstones, were over our house and we scared ourselves silly with a bunch of Paul Is Dead palaver.  I remember it freaking us out to the extent that the Blackstones ran, not jogged, back home because it was dark and they were completely spooked.

Anyway, the next time I was at the music store I wanted to buy a Beatles album that had lots of P is D clues. Not having any idea what to buy I took a shot and bought Abbey Road.  I remember being disappointed that the album wasn't as clue-laden as I'd have liked.  But eventually I got around to playing the album and I remember never having heard anything like it before.  Song after song just blew me away.  Being young and susceptible to a catchy hook I gravitated a bit more towards the Paul tunes than the John ones but eventually, as I wore the grooves down on the album (kids, look it up), I grew to love the album as a whole.  I remember specifically how the Beatles made clever use of silence on each side of the album - how side one ended so abruptly, how side two gave us Her Majesty after almost 30 seconds of silence after the previous song. I was impressed.

The second thing was that my brother Ross, the idiot fucktard scumbag genius who beats me in Scrabble more often than I'm comfortable discussing, had a cassette of Sgt. Pepper and wouldn't let me listen to it.  So naturally I listened to it all the time, and heard an entirely different side of the Beatles - psychedelic, trippy, fun, four young men at the very height of their creative powers doing things that no-one had done before.

And after that - well, I just listened to nothing else.  My brother can attest, if he wishes, to the extent of my personal case of Beatlemania.  Posters on the wall, book covers, pretty much you name it, it was Beatles-themed.  I became their biggest fan, period.  When I heard of John Lennon's death I cried like I lost a member of my family, which in a way I guess I did

When I decide I like something, I really, REALLY like it.  And when I love something, that something occupies a place in my heart forever and ever. And I loved the Beatles. I committed every song to memory. I read book after book after book. I learned everything there was to know about them. And though in the years since I've opened up my musical horizons somewhat, I still haven't found a better band.

Cranky, I hope this answers your question.  And since fish gotta swim, I'll close with another little Beatles vignette:  In 1995, the Beatles released three, two-disc CD's of alternate takes and unreleased tunes, Anthology I, II, and III.  All three went to #1; before they were made available to iTunes, they had collectively sold 15,000,000 copies - of double albums.  A band having three double albums in a row going to number one had only happened once before, to Donna Summer in the '70s.

Thus 25 years after they played music together for the final time, the Beatles became the highest-selling musical group of 1995. Paul was quoted as saying "I always wondered what band would sell better than the Beatles.  Turns out it was the Beatles."

Yosie: you can wake up now.


  1. Gary - I love that term "storage warrior." Wish I'd thought of it before I named my storage unit spelunking blog. Thanks for your welcome and, more importantly, your great post about how you became the Beatles' number 1 fan.

    Abbey Road was a great place to start; it's one of my favorites. I thought the cover art was a whole "Paul is dead" clue. George the gravedigger, Paul the deceased, John the religious figure, can't remember Ringo's alleged role. The White Album is probably the most clue-laden, as I recall. My friends and I ruined a friend's lyric insert from the album, poring over lyrics and making notes in all the spots we saw clues.

  2. Ringo was to have been the mortician. And yes, there were a number of "clues" surrounding that photograph. Here's the ones I can remember off the top of my tired old cranium. Kids, get your copies of Abbey Road and follow along:

    1. Paul is out of step with the others.
    2. The lefty Paul is holding a cigarette in his right hand.
    3. Paul is barefoot.
    4. There's a Volkswagen in the far left foreground with the license plate "LMW 28IF" - the clue was allegedly he would have been 28IF he were still alive (which he wouldn't have been: only 27).
    5. On the back of the album there's what looks like a skull in the shadow next to the words ABBEY ROAD.

    The reality is, they were just wearing what they wore around then. Paul was barefoot because it was hot that day. Etc etc etc - P is D is a bunch of hooey.

    Re: clue-laden, I thought Magical Mystery Tour and the booklet that came with the first pressing of the album had the most clues, but that's just my opinion.

    Whoops, another Beatles first: With Sgt. P, they were the first band to publish their lyrics on the album. The industry thought they were crazy. And since it had been six whole months since Revolver, they thought the Fabs had "dried up." HA!

  3. 1) You missed so many clues. As much as you think you know about the Beatles, you missed the boat on the most important aspect:

    2) Paul really is dead

  4. Wow. I actually listened to that twaddle for three minutes I'll never ever get back. The guy on the tape is the worst George Harrison impersonator I've ever heard. The guy who did his voice in Yellow Submarine was better and he sucked.

    And the next time you talk shit about me not knowing about the Beatles I will challenge you to a throwdown, which you will lose shamefully.

  5. omfg - please...make it stop! Cranky, how could you? *sob* lol

  6. Years ago I had a tape of a radio commercial where a guy imitated Ringo.

    "This is the famous Ringo of the famous Beatles. When I come to the colonies I pick up a copy of Rock Magazine. I didn't even know Paul died until I read it in Rock Magazine." Classic

  7. Tut tut, Yosie. People love the Beatles, some even more than they love you. Wait: is that it? You're jealous of the adulation they get? Jealousy is ugly on you, Yosie.
    :-P J/K...there's room in my heart for all five of you!

  8. @Light: that's pretty funny. Used to be, an impersonator could actually say "this is [the guy he was impersonating]" but they kiboshed that shit years ago.

  9. What is this jealousy? I no not of it. That's for all you mere mortals.

  10. Joe C is not only jealous when she isn't the focal point of attention, she also has been taking grammar lessons from Waffles.