Around the age of 16, I distinctly remember walking down the street I grew up on with one of my best friends and having a conversation about The Beatles. He informed me The Beatles were solely a thing of the 1960s, not the Fifties as I assumed from the early black and white photographs. Hmmm. That’s probably the moment my unquenchable thirst for Beatles knowledge all started.
Before too long I would become completely immersed in the music of the Fab Four. I already owned what some call The Red Album (their Greatest Hits from 1962-1966) on a double album — actual vinyl — and then my world really opened up when The Blue Album (Greatest Hits from 1967-1970) came into my possession on a double audio cassette. I already knew and loved songs like Nowhere Man and Norwegian Wood, but THIS…this was a WHOLE NEW WORLD!
Strawberry Fields, tangerine trees, kaleidoscope eyes, Yellow Submarines, even Old Brown Shoes…that was the kinda world for me. Much like The Beatles and other musicians have said their world just “went TECHNICOLOR” when they heard Elvis, it was the same for me. I was hooked. I’d lie in my bed with the now politically incorrect “ghetto blaster” stereo on my window sill and stay awake as long as I could while listening to all of those great songs on cassette tape. It was magic. I couldn’t get enough of the songs, the band, the artwork, all of it.
Around the same time, what also fueled my fire was the documentary “The Compleat Beatles”. I taped it off USA Network late one night onto a blank VHS tape from cable TV. “Liverpool, 200 miles to the northwest of London” was the opening line. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t (and still can’t) point out London on a map to save my life. This was the home of THE BEATLES we were talking about. It became like scripture to me. It chronicled their story from humble beginnings through their worldwide success –including teenage girl hysteria (it set the bar for all musicians) — and ended with their breakup. It had interviews with band members, their entourage, other musicians, people who knew them from Hamburg. It was pretty darn complete/compleat — or so I thought.
Not long after this period of Fab Fever, I visited another neighborhood friend of mine I’d known since age 4. His family had moved out of state. During the visit, he casually mentioned he’d also recorded The Compleat Beatles during a PBS pledge drive — but my mind was blown when he mentioned some scene about a girl who called Paul McCartney “The Sprout of a New Generation”. I told him he no idea what he was talking about. This was a film I’d watched from beginning to end at least 25 times, if not more. I had no recollection of this scene. He said, “You know the New York chick with the dwarf-like picture of Paul.” What in the world was he taking about??!!
He was crazy and MUST be thinking of another film — because there was ABSOLUTELY NO WAY it was The Compleat Beatles.
Well, it turned out he was right. Much to my dismay, I learned (the hard way) that USA Network had edited certain scenes for broadcast and there was no “picture of Paul: the Sprout of a New Generation” scene. The moral of the story? You can KNOW you’re right and still be wrong? That’s one takeaway, but the real lesson is there’s always more to learn about The Beatles. I’m grateful for that.
Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!