Friday, June 1, marked the 40 yr anniversary of The Beatles greatest album, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, recorded as Beatlemania was waning.
I got introduced to The Beatles at the Havel School, a British school in Germany for military kids, in the 1980s where we sang songs like With a Little Help From My Friends and Yellow Submarine at formal assembly from our blue songbook as well as Help! and Yesterday in music class. Back then I didn’t know then that they were sung by The Beatles.
That blue songbook, and the various editions of music class songbooks we used had many classic rock and folk songs such as Simon & Garfunkel’s Feeling Groovy (59th St. Bridge Song), Tennessee Ford’s version of Sixteen Tons, Waltzing Matilda – Australia’s unofficial national anthem, and Greensleeves. I so wish I could get my hands on a copy of it now.
I can sing all those songs by heart. Doing so brings so much joy to me. Whenever I happen to catch any of them on the Oldies radio channel, my heart just skips a beat. Schooling in the British military system may have just been the bestest time in my life!
Reading the truly psychedelic lyrics now makes me wonder under what influences were these songs written and performed. I mean just listen:
Lyrics from Feeling Groovy
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
Hello lamppost,What cha knowing?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growing.
Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in’ doo-doo, Feelin’ groovy.
Got no deeds to do, No promises to keep.
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you, All is groovy.
As I’ve grown older, Sixteen Tons is really speaking to me–although it’s about the misery of coal mining I think it can be applied to the misery of working day in and day out as an adult in this capitalist world!
Chorus Lyrics from Sixteen Tons
You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Oh, brother, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go;
I owe my soul to the company store…
But back to the Beatles!!!
As I child I had a voracious appetite for books and ordered a lot of them from the Scholastic flyer. Now that I think of it, I can’t believe my dad actually spent all that money on books that I would read in seconds and then were tossed around various rooms. I hardly buy books now, not so much because I don’t have time to read, which I don’t, but it makes so much sense to borrow them from the library instead!
Anyway, I once ordered a Rock & Roll interactive book that had colouring options, history tidbits, and funky games. The book introduced me to KISS, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and the Bee Gees. It taught me trivia such as KISS means Keep It Simple Stupid. I knew all about Gene Simmon’s tongue and KISS outfits (oh my goodness) without even knowing a single song of theirs. I gained an appreciation for Heavy Metal although I can’t say I enjoy it as a genre. However, Alice Cooper’s Poison does make its appearance often on rotation on my MP3 player I must admit.
Then in the summer of 1989 I discovered Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers while visiting family in Belgium. It was the first tape I ever bought. I fell in love with the remixes that summer. Years later, when I heard each song in its original entirety I grew to love them too. My tape now is pretty old and I don’t even have a tape player any-more. I will have to get the CD so I can reminisce some more.
I fell in love with Techno and Dance genres living in Germany in the late 1980s. “This beat is technotronic” anyone?! Oh goodness, Technotronic, Snap!, 2Unlimited, C+C Music Factory…. is it any surprise I enjoy house, techno, kwaito, and dance genres today? Pump up the Jam was the first tape I ever copied – straight from my dad’s LP.
Oh dear, here I go rambling again. Back to the Beatles. Honest.
In 1990, when we moved back to Ghana I discovered a box of my parents OLD music LPs and tapes. I found and listened to The Beatles tape until I wore it out. And that’s how I became a Beatles fan. So if anyone is still wondering what to get me for my birthday, Christmas, or just because I’m such a fabulous person, a Beatles Greatest Hits collection will surely hit the spot!
Just to name a few of my favourite Beatles songs:
With a Little Help From My Friends
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
When I’m Sixty Four
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Strawberry Fields Forever
Please Please Me
I am the Walrus
Magical Mystery Tour
A Day in the Life
Here Comes the Sun
Ticket to Ride
A Hard Day’s Night
All You Need is Love
Twist and Shout
You’re Going to Lose That Girl
Eight Days a Week
I Want to Hold Your Hand
She Love’s You
All My Loving
And I Love Her
Can’t Buy me Love
The Fool on the Hill
Do You Want to Know a Secret
Here Comes the Sun
While my Guitar Gently Weeps
Take Good Care of my Baby
Just a few see? How are they not the greatest band ever?!