Yes, I know, “Yesterday” isn’t on “Rubber Soul”, but this is the only original Beatles album I own. My mother didn’t approve of me listening to that sort of music, so I had to sneak it, by plugging my ear phones into my transistor radio. How could you not love the infectious upbeat, cute guys and stomping good music? We all wanted to let go, swing and sway to the music and have a great time. I never lost my mind, or screamed when they came on TV, but I really liked their music, and just loved to dance to it. I certainly watched when they were on “Ed Sullivan”.
And there’s nothing like listening to “Yesterday” when your heart is broken. Paul is speaking directly to you with his lyrics. On a visit to the British Library two years ago, I saw the original sheet music (not far from the Magna Carta – the Brits know how to revere their poets; all of them!) I felt like he was speaking to me personally. And now we all know the tune came to him while he slept, awoke and scribbled “Scrambled Eggs” as a placeholder for the rhythm for “Yesterday” until he got the lyrics. I love that! During recess, in 7th grade, Debbie, Harriet and I would hang by the side of the playground and harmonize, singing this song. It remains a favorite and a classic.
But when I looked at the back of “Rubber Soul” and really thought about all the songs on that album, those, too, were wonderful songs. “Norwegian Wood”; are you kidding me? “In My Life”…classic! I listened to the album ad naseum as a kid. Each song is spectacular. These guys could really write. Each album was an event we waited for. Their first songs were just infectious fun with some meaning thrown in and we loved to rock out to them. But as they grew and took to the the studio, under the tutelage of George Martin, their musical sophistication grew as well. Styles changed and we grew and changed with them.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked some Rolling Stones music too…the “bad boys”. Their stuff sure was fun to dance to also with their propulsive beat, and head banging sound. I loved to dance, so didn’t escape their influence. “Under My Thumb” was the theme of our senior homecoming float. I just didn’t love them the way I did the Beatles. As an Intermediate at camp in 1966, instead of singing “Paint it Black”, we modified the song and sang, “I see some red socks and I want to paint them blue” (pretending that guys would fall for us if they thought we were high school girls, as denoted by light blue knee socks). Yup, pretty clever, we thought.
But I pledge my loyalty to John, Paul, George, and Ringo forever!
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.
This story completely resonated with me, Betsy, as I, too, always felt that “Rubber Soul” was the Beatles’ best album. It was the transition from “yeah, yeah, yeah” pop to much deeper music and lyrics, yet without losing any tunefulness (if that is even a word). I looked at the song list from the album cover you posted, but I swear I could have repeated it all from memory — and recalled exactly which song followed the last one. (Including, of course, the delay back in those days for turning over the record. How quaint.)
Ditto for “Under My Thumb” as a favorite from the Stones — more so than “Satisfaction,” which I recall laughing at with a bunch of guys from the high school tennis team the first time we heard it in en route to a match. That said, as others have noted recently, if one listens to its lyrics, “Under My Thumb” is a pretty misogynistic — and possibly even abusive — song. Times do change, for better and worse.
So thank you for absolutely nailing it — though I now have both “Norwegian Wood” and “Under My Thumb” as earworms for the foreseeable future.
So many of those songs were earworms, John. They got us all singing and stayed with us a lifetime.
My parents also hated the Beatles and didn’t want to hear their music in the house. My father said they would never last. Now, their music is the first set at weddings (for the older folks so they can get in a few dances before the fun begins), much like they played big band music first at the weddings of my youth. But the young kids rush to the dance floor because they love The Beatles too.
It is so true, Laurie. My kids know The Beatles, James Taylor and other music from our era. Our music had staying power. But, I confess, I’ve become a Sinatra fan, as I’ve listened over the years. His phrasing was perfection. So we all learn from elders I guess, if we give them half a chance.
This really resonated, Betsy–I loved that you listened on your little transistor radio. So did I! I’ve always been a George fan and was attracted by the somewhat broody, introverted vibe.
Thanks, Marian. Yes, we each had our favorite Beatle who resonated for us for our own reason. But that was part of their genius…that there was enough difference that we could each HAVE a favorite to cheer for.
Your story truly captures what was so enchanting about the Beatles music for teenage girls in the ’60s. I love the little details and stories within the story. But the anecdote that made me smile most was your parody of “Paint It Black,” remembering how sock color denoted division at camp. You and your friends were “gifted youth” indeed!
Thanks, John. You and Suzy can understand the Interlochen “red socks, blue socks” reference. We Intermediates longed to attract those older guys and somehow those lyrics expressed our longing perfectly; and yes, we thought we were oh so “gifted”!
Great story, Betsy, and as I so often do, I delayed reading it until after I had written mine, so as not to be influenced by it. I’m so sad that your mother didn’t approve of the Beatles and you had to listen to them on the sly – Laurie had that problem too, apparently. I’m so thankful that my mother was open to all my music, watched Ed Sullivan with me, sang the songs with me, and even bought Sgt. Pepper for me as a surprise while I was away at Syracuse ostensibly learning physics.
I can appreciate your “red sox and I want to paint them blue” cleverness, having worn those red sox myself. But how odd that your homecoming float would have Under My Thumb as its theme. Was there a guy standing menacingly over a girl on the float?
No Suzy. The float was just a giant thumb, as I recall. I don’t think we were so literal about the lyrics.
A great retro review of your personal response to all those iconic tunes. This has been a great prompt, reading people’s individual times, places, people, events and feelings about the songs that are burned into our memories and indeed, down to our limbic brains. When they dissect us, will they find tiny channels transmitting “Yesterday” and “Paint it Black” etched into our cerebrums [cerebri?].
I bet it was exciting to be listening to “taboo” music!
Yes, those songs do bring up great memories (or not so great, as in the broken heart of “Yesterday”). I think at a certain point, my mother gave up trying to restrict my musical taste and got into more serious stuff, like me dating non-Jewish boys! Truly taboo!