I didn’t used to get the Beatles. Yes, it was clear to me that they were legendary and probably bigger than certain world religions and all that, but other than the irresistible bubblegum pop catchiness of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” they left me kinda cold. But then one day, I heard the end of a song. It’s a famous song, some say overrated, and I’m sure I’d heard it before, but this time I really “heard” the end. See, up to the last minute or so of the song, Sir Paul is kind of doing his mealy-mouthed, crooner type vocal delivery (yeah, yeah, he can carry a tune but so can Buble, why should I care?) but then he sort of kicks it down and starts nearly screaming into the mic “Judey Judey Judey!” (that’s right, the song is “Hey, Jude”), and with that simple refrain, that dirty, adeptly controlled vocal layered so finely beneath the winding ’round and ’round jam of the guitar I heard the proof of what I had been doubting. “The Beatles ARE a rock band.” My life has never been the same.
But let me not overstate it. I mean, I’m no SUPERFAN (I find room in my heart for the Rolling Stones, for example), but I am a fan. I’ve had long conversations and debates about Paul vs John, I’ve opted for my favorite of the Fab Four (I’m a Ringo man, don’t judge me), and I’ve built the perfect 15 song version (down from 30!) of the White Album in my head. And so, I felt it was appropriate, necessary even, for me to recognize and draw attention to the fact that Beatlemania has a birthday coming. Sir Paul is turning 73 on June 18th; alas, not the iconic “64” of the song, I missed that one, but still, turning 73 makes him the same age as my grandma, which is kind of weird and awesome at the same time. Weird because practicing rock stars rarely seem grandparentish and awesome because I can totally make the connection if I squint hard enough. Look, here’s what I mean. A few years ago thousands of people flocked to Chicago and filled Wrigley Field and stood in the streets of Wrigleyville and filled the beer garden at Goose Island just to catch a sound wave off those legendary pipes and a splash of surf from that mythic guitar. Doesn’t that totally sound like some of the better family reunions you’ve been to? You know, where Grandma presides and everyone fights over her cheesecake and its the only place you want to be. Like, Beatlemania is a family, dude … and dudette.
So, anyway, let’s celebrate and revisit some of those favorites, like Abbey Road and the White Album and Sgt. Pepper’s and Hey, Jude and Let It Be and yes, even With the Beatles, though, I don’t own a copy. But this is where that “family” thing comes in. Perhaps some brother out there … or sister … could loan me a copy. We could drag my turntable out by the street, “power up the Pioneers” (thanks for that Audio Adrenaline), and enjoy the beginnings of an entire era of rock music. We could invite all of our friends, excuse me, family, and even SUPERFANs of The Rolling Stones, and have our own little Wrigleyville experience. Maybe Grandma would come. Ok, probably not, but she might hook us up with some of her cheesecake. And be assured, birthday cake aside, there’s no cake like Grandma’s cheesecake for a birthday party. I’ve enjoyed it in the past, we can all enjoy it now, and if and when Grandma discloses the recipe, I’ll be enjoying it when I turn 64.