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01 February 2012 @ 08:20 pm
Bp's Song of the Week #141: The Beatles "Yes It Is"  
Did I bite off more than I could chew? I started this last week [actually it's now 2 weeks ago] and here it is the end of this week and I'm not sure where I am with it. But what's nice is that I've been spinning The Beatles since I started this - normally it's a spin through each album in the catalog and then on to new music, but I've been digging deep on them in a way I haven't done in years. There's nothing magical below, but I felt as if it needed to be magical, maybe that's what the delay was.

The Beatles
"Yes It Is"

And this wasn't going to be the pick, not by a long shot. It was going to be "All My Loving," which if I had to pin down a favorite Beatles track would probably come out of my mouth eight out of ten times, but over the course of the weeks I became attached to this somewhat forgotten track that was originally a b-side to 1965's "Ticket to Ride." It didn't appear on an album proper and while I'd heard it when running through their catalog, it wasn't something I knew nearly as well as the rest of their catalog and so I really got into this gem in the past week or so. It's one of the few songs that they incorporated three-part harmony on ("That Boy" and "Because" being the others) and it's just wonderfully sad in its harmonious dissonance.

"I could be happy with you by my side,
if I could forget her,
but it's my pride,
yes it is, yes it is, oh yes it is

Please don't wear red tonight,
this is what I said tonight,
for red is the color that will make me blue, in spite of you,
it's true, yes it is it's true"

As a reminder, these multi-purpose email/blogs are not only to highlight and possibly introduce an amazing song from an artist, but also serve as an outlet for me to dump memories, observations, and my listening history with a band or artist that, prior-to, only existed in my head. As such, this one might be a bit rambling and somewhat disjointed as I reach back to my early teen years to the beginnings of my love for [in my best Ed Sullivan voice]: The Beatles!

Coinciding with the 20th Anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1987, The Fab Four's catalog was released on CD for the first time. In 1986 and carrying through '87, MTV started showing the original '60s animated Beatles cartoons that featured cute little skits with John, Paul, George, and Ringo in various mad-cap adventures set to their songs. It was this exposure through MTV that originally introduced me to lads from Liverpool. Luckily my Mom had 1962-66 in her collection which was an hour packed with some of their finest early-era songs. I soon began playing it over and over again as well as transcribing the lyrics (don't tell me you don't remember pressing Play-Pause-Rewind-Play a thousand times to your favorite songs). I was probably the only 12-year-old who knew what darning socks was all about (thanks to Ms. Rigby).

Ever the collector, I started to record the cartoons on VHS. There was a special MTV Beatles weekend, maybe in the summer of '86 that I remember being the lightning rod where it all unfolded for me, the genesis of my Beatles fandom. Soon thereafter PBS ran a show called The Compleat [sic] Beatles which was an in-depth history of the group. I distinctly remember my parents and brother being out of the house that evening and I was home alone (which was rare at that time I believe) and the electricity went out...my biggest concern was that it returned before the broadcast started and I believe I missed the first 10-15 minutes due to the outage. I still have that TDK video which I should pull out and see if it's watchable now - I remember some wonderful live footage of the George Harrison track, "If I Needed Someone," which drew me to him. He quickly became my favorite Beatle. I watched that videotape constantly. (See below for youtube link to the documentary)

There were trips to the local State University's library to photocopy pages from music history books on the band as well as a few books taken out of the library or found at used book stores that I dug into. Charles Burnsworth, a local professor who traveled the U.S. with a presentation on the band, had a local viewing of the multi-media (at the time) presentation and that was a treat to attend at the big lecture hall at the State University. I learned so much and it opened my eyes to their history and impact on music and culture.

At this time I started to save my money and slowly acquired cassettes at the local record store, slowly, over time collecting up album after album, something that the 'instant-gratification' youth of today know little about. I didn't have the luxury of getting introduced to their catalog all at once online, but had to save and slowly acquire it over the span of months. Granted, this meant that I could properly digest each new prize and develop a full and meaningful relationship with each record.

I remember after picking up Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and telling my Dad about everything I'd read and heard about it on the ride home from the store (at this time we had a radio, but no tape deck in the car). When we got home, I took my boom box and new cassette with me on my bike to the school and hopped on the swing set while I absorbed the record for the first time. I lived less than a 5-minute walk from my school, which was K-12 in my tiny town, and loved to swing away the hours while listening to music.

Maybe it was the Help & Sgt Pepper's t-shirts that I wore to school in 7th grade that alerted people to the fact that I was becoming a fan of the Fab Four, but I remember getting a cassette of a couple LPs from the School Nurse and also school board member whose daughter was a grade ahead of me (what a sad time it was when she skipped a grade level in elementary school and my first crush was no longer in my class). Those latter recordings were taped from original reel-to-reels. I eventually replaced these cassette copies with the real deal store bought version, except for a compilation called "Hey Jude" that was never pressed to cassette.

In the cassette budget bins were a few of George's solo albums that I took a chance on (Gone Troppo, Somewhere in England and Dark Horse) and started to enjoy his solo work, but when Cloud Nine was released in 1987 I was overjoyed. It was current, but with a classic Beatle-ish tone. I adored that record as it accompanied me on numerous early morning paper delivery trips in the winter. It remains my favorite Beatles solo effort.

When I started working at Trans World in 1999, one of the first things I did was save up some money and order the wooden roll-top box set of 16 Beatles CDs. One of the finest musical purchases I've made!

Here are some of my favorite Beatles tracks that aren't the big hits (except for the first as it was going to be the pick):
All My Loving - delayed chorus until after the 2nd verse - brilliant
And Your Bird Can Sing - what a brilliant guitar lick and "tell me that you've heard every sound there is..." harmony
If I Fell - it's all about harmonies and the juxtaposition of solo voice and harmony
We Can Work It Out - a perfect combination of the early '60s layered harmonies and jubilation, with a nod towards their future sound
Revolution - to a fan of hard rock and metal this was an instant favorite when I was younger
Good Morning, Good Morning
Here, There and Everywhere
If I Needed Someone - another great guitar riff and Harrison vocal
Do You Want to Know a Secret
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End/Her Majesty
I'm Looking Through You
The Compleat Beatles (part 1)