I'm one of those people who never really got into music as a teen-ager. Only recently have I paid attention to what music I think is good and what music I think is just a waste of energy to listen to, much less to produce.
The exception to that statement was The Beatles.
I clearly remember when I first realized that music was a good thing.
Sitting in the backseat of the family Ford LTD, baby blue, on my way to another family vacation in another part of the nation. Walkman attached to ears. All tapes that I brought with me had been listened to twice over. Dad hands me a double cassette of the White Album and says, "You're old enough now to appreciate this."
I was 12.
Good lord. The feeling I had rush over me listening to Julia and I'm So Tired and Me and My Monkey. It was an organic orgasm... for a 12 year-old.. as close to an organic orgasm as a 12-year-old can achieve.
I was hooked from there on out. My bedroom walls throughout high school and college were plastered with posters of The Beatles. I had a massive crush on John Lennon for years. Collected all The Beatle trading cards. Bought the Anthology CDs & video collection- anything Beatles that could be bought in Louisiana- I got.
Part of me always felt like I was born in the wrong time period. I felt that fate had made a mistake- making me a child raised in the 80's, hitting puberty in the 90's, facing adult hood in the next century. I was supposed to be one of those people at Woodstock looking out for the brown acid... hanging out smoking dope... catching onto the hip beats and what not. But, alas- 1978 was my year instead.
Pudding pops. Punky Brewster. The A Team. Eh, not too shabby I guess.
My friends respected the fascination- they were smart kids. However, I was mocked a bit for my obsession and collection of all things Beatles.
When I hit my Junior year of college, I got exposed to the Austin music scene and slowly started to find that, Hey!, there's other good music that's not made by British guys. I didn't listen to my Beatle CDs as often as I had before. My Beatle posters were moved from the living room decor and brought into the bedroom as I felt that such things were not appropriate for a 23-year-old young adult to have in the outer parts of her habitat. (In the bedroom, sure- but not the living room.)
Slowly, The Beatles had to share room in my heart with The Old 97s and Wilco and Ween and The Flaming Lips. Excellent people to keep company with, but still- their stock share in the Ladeeleroy heart market had slipped.
Back in the day of being obsessed with The Beatles, I always imagined what it would be like to hear that one of them passed away. For some reason, I always imagined that the next one to go would be Ringo... go figure. He was the oldest, that's the way things work, right? I'd most likely be in my car and notice that all the radio stations were playing Octopus Garden or something. Then I'd realize that Ringo died and would pull over and cry and cry because, well, a Beatle died and that was the thing to do, right?
I'm in my car. My head is filled with snot. My nose is chaffed from whiping it with paper products that aren't related to Kleenex. I'm listening to NPR and I get kind of sick of listening to all the Taliban and economy crap that seems to be all the rage right now. So I turn the dial to the classic rock station. Something is playing. "All right. The Beatles. That'll start the day off right." Next While My Guitar Gently Weeps comes on. "Sweet- a double play. Nice choice classic rock station." Then, after that Within You, Without You.
That's when I knew. My heart started to pound a little bit. My throat sort of closed a tad. I know that my facial expression turned to one of fearful anticipation as I waited for the DJ to come back to the air.
No DJ. Just a voice over of George Harrison giving a quote about playing the Sitar. Then some cheesy radio spliced cut-in came in: "Remembering George Harrison on 102.3."
He died? Didn't he just get over cancer? Wasn't it only a couple of weeks ago that he kicked some guy's ass after said guy stabbed him?
I parked my car and walked into work, looking for anyone who might be able to confirm what I had already reluctantly concluded.
The receptionist is up front. Listening to some kind of retro dance music that has a continuous back beat of "er er er er er er er er er."
"Did George Harrison die?," I asked.
"Yeah. Last night. Had cancer or something.," she replied between head bobs.
I got sad. My mind went into this entire fast forward replay of every great moment that my life had involving The Beatles:
Driving to school in the same baby blue Ford LTD that we took family trips in- with my sister- late as usual. Munching on a raw Pop Tart. Listening to the most recent cassette of mixed Beatle songs, both of us pissed about something, but singing along anyway.
Being incredibly depressed about being the only 17-year-old in the entire world that hadn't even been kissed, much less asked out by a boy, and crying on my futon bunk bed. Putting on Blue Jay Way and waiting for all tears to subside- which, evenutally, they did- and feeling incredibly better.
Watching Help! for the first time and laughing my ass off.
Counting down the days to the first Anthology's CD release.
One of the most clear moments I had while smoking pot- that, if I could have one indulgent wish- it would to be in a room with my closest friends. And also with us would be John, Paul, George and Ringo- all sitting around on big comfy pillows passing around a big ol' joint having a joyous time. I remember getting goose bumps at the thought of Harrison turning to me, eyes rimmed with red, exhaling a stream of smoke, joint pinched between his fingers saying, "Well, lil' darling. I do believe that it's your turn to partake." Damn. Damn. Damn.
George Harrison. Damn.
I was too young to realize the significance of Lennon's passing. When I was first exposed to him, he was already dead.
Harrison, though. The quiet one. The Dark Horse. The Beatle that had that sex appeal that you don't even notice until you were a bit drunk and flipping through one of your coffeetable books with your chick friend. Turning to a page.
George in a black button-up shirt. Tight dark denim jeans. Brown sandles. Hair streaming perfectly into a nonchalant sexy-man look. Eyes looking straight at you. Crooked teeth barely visible, but nonetheless, still very appealing. You realize that, in all these years of knowing of this person, you never really saw how incredibly sexy he was.
And now he's dead.
And that's just weird to think about.
It's kind of like loosing a friend that you never even got a chance to meet.
Thanks. Very cool. Someday we'll smoke that joint.