Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh
chris_walsh

Yeah, I'm talkin' 'bout boys. The boys being The Beatles.

This is my kind of radio stunt: today KINK FM 101.9 is playing the entire Beatles catalog today, A to Z. I tuned in at 7 to hear "Because" followed by "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" and am listening now -- though I'll probably take a break at 8:00 to listen to Greasy Kid Stuff on 94.7 FM. Interspersed with the pure Beatles stuff will be remastered John Lennon songs, "Imagine" and "Woman" and such like, and this is all in honor of how today would've been John Lennon's 70th birthday. Let that blow your mind.

This doesn't blow my mind, but it surprises me: I didn't really start paying attention to The Beatles until 10 years ago.

I was aware of them, of course, but not really until, oh, 1982-83. When my family moved to Virginia Beach, the radio station that became the station of choice in my house was an oldies station, mainly 1950s and early-to-mid 60s with some Abbey Road Beatles thrown in. Before that, in Camarillo, CA where we'd lived in 1981 and '82, we'd listened to more current pop and current country -- "Baker Street," "Elvira," "Islands in the Stream," Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good," that's what comes to mind -- so the Beatles weren't played much if at all. But Dad was and is a big fan of early Beatles, so there was that positive reinforcement once we were actually hearing them. So the soundtrack to our rental on Lord Dunmore Drive in Virginia Beach had a lot of Beatles, without the mid-era "Tomorrow Never Knows"/"Doctor Robert"/Sgt. Pepper/White Album stuff making much of an appearance. Then in our next house, one my folks bought on Little Lake Drive in another part of Virginia Beach and where we lived from 1983 to fall 1984, I started listening to Top 40, which was starting to feel its death throes but I didn't know that while getting into the habit of listening to Casey Kasem. Also started watching MTV regularly then, too. Some Beatles influence there, but once again, not much actual Beatles, except for the video for Lennon's "Nobody Told Me."

A blip happened on my music radar come 1987, when the Beatles CDs started coming out -- I recall the Tysons Corner, VA Tower Records playing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends" over the speakers -- but I was hunkered down in junior high at the time and likely having some trouble noticing anything pop culture-y I wasn't already a fan of. (I was having no problem noticing girls I found cute, though...)

The rest of my Eighties and early-Nineties soundtrack was mainly Top 40 and actual soundtracks: I started paying serious attention to film music, which I'd first noticed thanks to the John Williams-scored stuff of my youth. Danny Elfman reinforced that -- Beetlejuice and Batman were the first of his film scores I owned -- and then in college I listened to almost no radio. Not even college radio, which is a major gap for a music geek. Though I did start listening to Elfman's band Oingo Boingo -- just as the band was winding down, but I didn't know that, and of course there's significant Beatles influence in Oingo Boingo, but I didn't know that either -- and when I started dating Alicia in 1996 I started listening to current radio again. Re-educating myself in current music to an extent. (Later I heard some critic call 1996 the single worst year for pop culture in at least the last half of the 20th century, but hey, I didn't know that at the time.)

In the midst of this, The Beatles Anthology aired. 1995. And my family taped it from television. I didn't watch it. I had other pop-culture-y stuff on my mind. And then it was 1997-2000, my first real blast of being an adult with a full-time permanent job (community newspaper work, Hermiston, Oregon), a period of wonderful stuff and horrible stuff and trying-to-keep-growing-up stuff. And Northwest Public Radio out of Pullman, Washington, which was the only Hermiston-area radio I liked. And maybe the last blast of MTV being semi-relevant to my life; yeah, I was still a watcher, even in the Limp Biskit era. ("Like a chump... like a chump... like a chump..." Probably not Beatles-influenced, I figure...)

I just realized: there was a period in my life where I was probably slightly more familiar with The Rutles than The Beatles. This really surprises me.

Late 2000. I'd quit the Hermiston job, needing a bigger city and aiming to move to Portland, but staying with Mom and Dad in Dundee near Portland because that was a cheap option while I figured out Step Next. Sometimes I just wanted to listen to or watch stuff. And finally, on whim-y interest, probably influenced by the publicity over that fall's release of The Beatles 1, I pulled the VHS tapes of The Beatles Anthology off of the shelf, still with the 1995 commercials. And the bizarre, world-skewing, sometimes tragic, sometimes hilarious saga of those Liverpudlians reached me. And more, more, more of the music. Including the songs less likely to get on the radio, then or now. I've said it before: "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" seemed like a message from aliens, hearing it the first time. I dug it immediately. (I'm allowed to use the term "dig it," right?)

Beatles movies followed -- Help! first, I think, followed speedily by A Hard Day's Night ("How'd you find America?" "Turn left at Greenland") -- and then Christmas happened. My presents included the wallet I still use, the 4-CD box set Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman -- seriously one of the best gifts I've gotten, I'm not kidding -- and the CDs of Sgt. Pepper and Help! And...it started. I have almost the whole catalog now.

I caught up. Took a while for me to become a Beatles fan, but become one I did. And now I'm more likely to hear their influence, both on what's coming out now and what I listened to when I was younger, like Tears For Fears. I sort of like Oasis, though I'm by far more of a Blur fan, so had I been caught up in that back in the Nineties I know which side I'd've been on. Still a Beatles-influenced side, in fact.

This has been a ramble through my musical growth. I started writing this at 7:20 and it's now 9:13. "Get Back" is on the radio now. Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin', into the future...

(And I did have Greasy Kid Stuff on, on a different radio. from 8 to 9. I have trouble multi-tasking, but apparently I can multi-listen.)
Tags: music
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