dinsdag 20 november 2018

The Beatles. The Beatles 50th Anniversary

Photo: Wo.
On Sunday 11 November, Armistice Day in many European countries, I left my home for Paris for a near week of work there. Trump, Putin, Merkel, Rutte, many notables were there already for president Macron's Paris Peace Forum. The so-called digital week was in full swing. Peace on the Internet is more and more becoming a topic in need of discussing between leaders of state. The digital haven of liberty and independence as envisioned by John Perry Barlow (Grateful Dead's lyricist) in the 90s has been out of fashion for over a decade. Only now the rest of the world is catching up on that and yours truly was a part of that all.

This is not what I wanted to talk about today. Getting into my local train station to start the journey to France's capital, I ran into a poster with four familiar faces. Faces of young men in their 20s, with a date, 9 November, announcing the re-release of the famous double album called 'The Beatles' or as the world has started to call it "The White Album", for obvious reasons. A nation wide campaign, this add was. So expectations must be high.

Those four faces took me back about three decades. To a 3 by 4 meter room on the 7th floor in a hideous flat in Leiden filled with over a 160 students. Our floor was called 7th Heaven and in several ways it lived up to its moniker. Many friendships for life were formed there. After living there for a few years I ran out of cupboard space and asked my parents to ask around whether someone was doing away with a (simple) closet. Within weeks I got a response and "your brother is moving so he'll bring it on Saturday". So when he rang the door downstairs I went down and found not a closet in the van but a three piece living room cupboard of a couple of meters long and close to 2 meters high. Remember the seize of the room?

It was heavy to and did not fit into the elevator .... and I lived on the 7th .... So dutiful son as I was I gathered flatmates and we started lifting the hideous thing. I had to rearrange my whole room in a few minutes and a couple of hours later I had a room filled with cupboard. Dark brown and extremely ugly. As my flatmates said "Hij is niet mooi, maar weg is je zooi". It isn't good looking, but does away with your rubbish.

My whole record collection fitted into the lower section, which was handy. It even had a booze cabinet in the middle. Not that I could afford much, but fun anyway. Certainly for keeping the Belgian beerglass collection, as had become in vogue at the time. But how about that connection to 'The Beatles', you rightly ask by now.

Photo: Private archive
As you may know, the original The Beatles album, all white with a few small letters on the front spelling the band's name, contained four pictures, the same for as on the add poster last week. I stuck those to the four top doors of the giant cupboard, taking a bit away from the enormity of the thing.

Now The Beatles were not exactly on the peak of their popularity around 1986/7. I was a fan already for two decades, but my mostly, slightly younger flatmates were not, even hardly knew the music really. The 80s new wave, disco or progrock ruled in their universes. So they started to call the giant cupboard "the mausoleum" or "the morgue" depending on the story they told on The Beatles and what was contained behind the four doors.

So come 2018 the album is re-released in a new mix by Giles Martin. I have not bought the x-disked set for all those euros but did buy the three cd version. And yes, it is sounding beautiful. The fun audibly to be heard on the so called Esher tapes, is clear for all to hear.

Come 2018 I have changed my view on 'The Beatles' (again) for years, also because of The Analogues. Let's give that band its due for my reappraisal of The Beatles' work. From something taken for granted, to once again my favourite band ever. The two recent re-releases certainly have helped also. Listening with fresh ears to music I have known for many decades certainly helped here.

I can remember being somewhat slightly shocked listening to 'The Beatles' for the first time, probably around 1980 after I had bought the album. This was some weird shit altogether alright. In fact I recall not really being able to digest what was on offer all in once. It was too diverse, too far out, too shocking perhaps even. So un-Beatles; yes, I realise how bad this sounds.

And now, well, for quite some years already, I hear how diverse it all is and mostly how brilliant. 'The Beatles' offers, once again, a band at the top of its abilities and it would get one album better as well. 'Abbey Road' is the pinnacle as far as I'm concerned, but 'The Beatles' is almost as fantastic (barring 'Revolution #9' of course, but I can even live with that in 2018).

It is 2018 and even more than before, I realise that The Beatles truly are my band, although that mostly is due to the three albums (sort of) mentioned here. Together with the "red" and the "blue" double albums they are the pinnacle of pop music. Something which is clear in so much music being made today. Beatlesque is a word that points to the influence of the band on all that came after, something I discern almost on a daily basis. Right up to this day and most likely far beyond.


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