It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night …
In 1978 my parents bought me my first LP. It was Ray Stevens’ Greatest Hits. It was a comedy album basically with such titles as Guitarzan, Ahab the Arab and The Streak, the current Stevens hit. I liked it because it was funny. To be honest, I really wasn’t into music that much. I didn’t really know the bands or care for that matter. My passion was art, something I had recently discovered. A year later, that all changed.
Back in the 1970s, especially the early years, the southern coast of NC was far more secluded than it is today. In the mid 80s, with the rise of condos, that changed, but in 1979 it was still relatively void of the masses. On one particular weekend in ’79, we nearly had the whole beach to ourselves. It was Fort Caswell, secluded, beautiful, and devoid of any department stores, TV stations or nearly anything else. Looking back, it sounds like paradise, but to a 14 year old kid, well, the ocean was great, but that was about it. Fortunately I had my radio with me, and I was able to listen to a little music. In my family when someone turned on the radio, which was rare, classical music would come flowing out, driving me back into my room to draw. My grandparents, who I stayed with quite often, would listen to country or Sunday sermons. Again, a queue to leave … if I could. However that weekend, I had a radio all to myself and as luck would have it, the local (i.e. only) radio station within good range, was doing something special. They were spinning the #1 discs from 1964 to present. All weekend long, in honor of the “Beatlesque” My Sharona by the Knack, they were going to play every number one hit from the last 15 years in one weekend.
In the 1970s, radio really evolved. There were stations that played only “urban music”, heavy metal, and, like WQDR in Raleigh, NC, “album rock.” Most of these stations had a few things in common, one of them playing the top 100 songs of all time or some such. WQDR even did an excellent retrospective of the “album” as an art form in early 1980. But the little station down at the coast went waaaaay beyond that. With limited commercial interruption, (I think it was Labor Day), they began their marathon of sound on noon, Saturday and finished on noon, Monday. The first song they played was My Sharona by the Knack, and, as I recall, spoke at some length on how that band sounded “Beatley.” At the time I didn’t even know how many members were in the Beatles. I had heard their music before, certainly and I liked it, but before then music wasn’t my thing. The second song was “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” which, honestly, still doesn’t do anything for me. The next was, I think, “She Loves You,” which I did remember fondly. For the next hour or so I listened to that station, grooving to the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, and others. Then, it hit. “A Hard Days Night” came on. Don’t ask me why, but that song resonated with me. It had an energy that exploded. And it was catchy, damn catchy. From that moment on, I was hooked. Over the next few days I discovered and rediscovered tunes from such artists as Simon and Garfunkle, The Band, Janis Joplin, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and on and on. But for whatever reasons, the songs of the Beatles stood out the most. Maybe I had heard them earlier in my childhood. I do have a memory of hearing “Come Together” in my father’s bug eyed sprite back in 1969. Maybe that was it. I don’t know. I do know that the very next LP I bought, and the first w/ my own money, was a German import called “The Beatles’ Greatest.” It had all the hits. It took me a while, but eventually, I collected all their albums and a few singles. Then I went looking for rare compilations manufactured in other lands. A strange one I have in a Holland import w/ the cover as a painting of the Beatles as animals. Stranger still was that most of the songs on the compilation were by George Harrison. Then there is the compilation, “The Beatles in Italy” made in Australia. Hmmm. :\ But still that first album, oddly enough on gold vinyl, is still my favorite.
In 1987 the Beatles finally came to compact disc. I vaguely remember them not sounding quite as good as the LPs, but at the time I didn’t care. The music was preserved and I loved it. Today, I have all my music on computer, the old CDs transferred to my iTunes. I still have all the CDs and LPs, but rarely take them out. Tomorrow, well, today 09-09-09, I will once again take the plunge with the Beatles remastered. I’ve heard snippets of the new songs and they are much better. I can’t wait. However, there is a sad note to all of this. I’ve probably bought five CDs in the last five years. These Beatles CDs will most likely be the last I will ever buy. I don’t listen to radio any more, except for NPR (no commercials), and I haven’t owned a turntable in years. As an artist the Beatles greatly admired once said, the times they are a-changin’. They certainly are.