The curious thing about legally downloaded music is that the best band in the history of rock and roll is not represented. That, however, is going to change: The Beatles will be coming to your mp3 player through some means in the next few months, and if they’re smart, they’ll do it through iTunes (no matter how the lawsuit turns out). It’s hard to imagine it took this long, but the Beatles’ old engineer Neil Aspinall plans to remaster the whole catalog and give it a go.
I’m not sure how much more remastering is necessary – I thought they did a pretty great job with the CDs released in the late ’80s, and unless they plan to completely change certain albums (like they did with “Let it Be”), I’m sure it’s just their way of gilding the calla lily.
But here’s the thing: it means the Beatles will now be easily accessed by hundreds of millions of teenagers about to start bands, and that is good news for anyone still looking for some new songsmiths to kick our asses once more. Sure, they could go to a record store and get “Magical Mystery Tour” for themselves, but does anyone go to record stores anymore for anything but movies? And if our hip teens are indeed going to a store, how much would you have to pay them to find “Sgt. Pepper” in between some records by Bread and Bachman Turner Overdrive?
I’m never going to be the kind of adult – or father – that thinks today’s kids need a good kick in the pants. What they do need, however, is to listen to “Rubber Soul,” and often. I may have been a loveless dork in junior high school, but I didn’t need girls: I had the Beatles (only 20 years after everyone else had them). My brother Kent got me “Revolver” for my 12th birthday, and that began an obsession that was only slightly tempered by my love for XTC (this blog’s namesake).
I still dream of getting on “Jeopardy” and having “The Beatles” as a category, because I would wipe the FLOOR with my opponents. I knew (and still know) every last detail about every recording, bootleg, chord change, alternate lyric and genesis behind every note John, Paul, George and Ringo ever played. Obsessive? Sure, but we all need our religions.
I can’t imagine a world without “She Said,” “Fixing a Hole,” “Martha My Dear,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” and the second side of “Abbey Road.” My brother Kent says he doesn’t play the albums anymore, because he can just put them on in his head, complete with the old scratches. I still whip them out in the barn when I want a project to go swimmingly.
All I can hope is that there are a cadre of soul-searching 14-year-olds who will download “Day Tripper” or “Fool on the Hill” this summer and have the same reaction I did: staring into middle distance, finally having been spoken to.
coincidentally, my hair has lengthened to Lennon circa 1966 proportions