Getting back to the Beatles...and the magic of music
It refuses to play second fiddle to anything and anyone. It will never ever go away, and it cannot be silenced. That’s because Music lives within and without us, and, as we should know by now, it is the soundtrack to our lives.
For some of us, we have a reason to be excited about something because there’s a new and different wave of “Beatlemania” waiting ahead next month.
This is when the epic version/revision titled “Get Back” that director Peter Jackson has been painstakingly working on for years using unused footage from what was “Let It Be” is released.
For the first time, the doco shows what was going on with the band members during rehearsals and before that historical final performance as a band on the rooftop of the Abbey Road Studios.
Already released are timely teasers so that some of us can perhaps come together as the Christmas season approaches and embrace life as it’s meant to be.
Let’s face it, for almost two years, life has not exactly been a celebration of joie de vivre. It’s been very tough times where we’ve often been surviving and not living. It’s been way too much of Hello, Goodbyes to family and friends.
Those Nowhere People are still on social media with Eleanor Rigby and all the other lonely hashtag people. There are plenty of blackbirds and bluebirds trying to take their broken wings and learn to fly again. Others are waiting for that Sun King and more sun, sun, sun.
Of course everyone has their own priorities. For myself, what’s difficult to understand is being around those who claim to be in music, but who don’t show any passion for it- to go back and understand its origins and the great talent who led the way so that we and music are where we are today.
Yes, it’s not exactly a great place, but one hopes things will eventually change for the better, better, better...
Music has been a great teacher. It’s taught me so much- lessons in love, appreciating friendships, letting go of all the Sexy Sadies, how to better understand what my emotions are saying, and to accept the good with the bad and the knowledge to know the difference.
Certain songs are my personal serenity prayers. They help me unravel any cross wires short circuiting the thought process.
They also offer an intuitive ability to see through the blah blahs and where those Nowhere People use social media to pretend to be what they’re not.
If we spent more time listening to music and making music and far less time talking about the same old negative things and trying to outsmart each other, we just might be in a happier place and with more productive people.
This isn’t me refusing to face the truth and being a Pollyanna. It’s just not subscribing to coming together online and offline to be part of single minded thinking that always comes back to being about one’s self. There’s a word for this: Selfish.
At least, this is not what music was ever meant to be or do- be selfish.
Music was put here to make us think and feel and share new and artists no longer with us and understand ourselves and the world around us better.
It’s about finding something that makes us feel alright and then help find those other moments to make these feelings even better.
During World War Two, Vera Lynn offered optimism to Britain during the bombing of London when she sang “We’ll Meet Again”.
Decades later, John Lennon would invite us to Imagine.
Paul McCartney mentioned how in his hour of darkness, Mother Mary comes to him offering words of wisdom and telling him to let it be.
George Harrison was positive that the sun was about to appear after a long cold lonely winter.
Sinatra and Ella, the music of Motown, Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan offered life lessons through their songs.
These were different takes on life that one never learned at school- and which will never be learned or taught online.
Music reminds me of my father, an amateur musician in Ceylon who hosted his own radio programme called The Melody Maker.
If not for him, I would not have met the Dave Brubeck Quartet as a kid, learned the lyrics to “Autumn Leaves” and grown up listening to his collection of 78RPM vinyl records by everyone from Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Errol Garner, Fats Waller, the Glenn Miller Orchestra to Sarah, Billie, Dakota Staton, Buddy Greco, Benny Goodman...
I think of my Auntie Prim, a music teacher in Hong Kong, and just how much she cared about her students and how teaching them was her calling in life.
If not for the girl who became my wife- Trina- I would never have known that Joni Mitchell wrote the line, “Trina with her wampum beads”...We walked down the aisle to “Our House” by Crosby, Stills and Nash.
As a journalist, music led me to interviewing Sammy Davis Jr, Bhaskar Menon, Ahmet Ertegun, Quincy Jones, Billy Joel, George Harrison, John Lennon, Bowie, Phil Ramone, Norah Jones and so many others.
During these times, I was inspired to at least try writing my own music. Many remain my personal diaries. I don’t need them on Spotify.
As for the Beatles, what can be said about them that hasn’t been said before?
We each have our own stories of what first captured our interest in them- for me, the count-in to “I Saw Here Standing There”, the opening chord to “A Hard Day’s Night”, the Rubber Soul record, the creativity of the album cover to Revolver...
And in the end, this new old documentary is a reminder about four young lads from Liverpool who, somehow, found each other and came together to create some of the greatest popular music.
They were hardly perfect, but maybe that’s what attracted some of us to them. How, even with their imperfections, they were able to produce the music they did with such honesty and knew when their work was done.
“Get Back” promises to offer a new and unfiltered look into four individuals who only ever wanted to be musicians and ended up being messengers through their songs whether they liked it or not.
“Get Back” shows the Beatles returning to being a band and, perhaps, after learning something new about each other and why they became what they still are today.
Maybe by “getting back”, we shall find something new about ourselves that will make us better people and realise how all we need is love.