Tweet Planet earth is having its once-a-generation Beatles kenipshit this week. Which means people are either delighted to see the fab four's formidable back catalogue reappraised, or are jabbing biros up their noses and clawing at their temples with pulpy fingernails each time their facebook feeds are updated with yet another clip of Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da.
I'm revelling in the current hype to be honest. Mostly because I have such precious memories of the last time all this happened, back when when the Beatles Anthology series came out in 1995. Like anyone with ears I had heard the Beatles back then. But they were very much in the background of a masturbation-riddled hell of Greenday cassettes, Stephen King books, and impotent electric guitar skills. Not to mention self-loathing morning routines spent aiming projectile zit bullets at my despondent reflection while Robson and Jerome's musical feces spewed unchecked from the clock radio. Being fourteen was a true annus horribilus for me in Kells.
Anyway, Dave Fanning (at the time my go-to guy for the new Soundgarden cut, probably still a lot of people's go-to guy for the new Soundgarden cut) began playing all this music from the anthology series one night. It was mostly the weird psychedelic stuff, like the spare, mellotron-led demo of strawberry fields forever (still my favourite version). And good fuck, but I can remember the first time I heard it. It was like being mentally altered in a way. I experienced the music physically; down my back, behind my knees and in my tummy - an echo of the same floored way a child might feel when they think there is a ghost in their curtain or that santa is creaking about on their roof. There was a thick soupy essence of the strange buried in that music. Lennon's fevered reimagining of his own childhood headspace was for me at that age, a mainline shot of some sort of sweet psychedelic voodoo that went straight to the deeper recesses of my brain.
Listening to the Beatles cured my zits overnight too! Just kidding, I suffered from a recurring shiny lance-job halfway up my already sizable conk until I hit seventeen. 17 again? Get fucked Efron.
All this is a side of the Beatles that gets overlooked nowadays - this utter strangeness which is inherent in some of their work. And yeah, I know that can't be helped in a way. They have become so embroidered into our cultural fabric that it is hard not to take them for granted and perhaps easy to casually dismiss them as 'meh' or whatever. But like other truly great 20th century art which has since become shorthand - such as Magritte's lonely men in bowler hats - the essence is still there, glowing dimly like ETs heart, waiting for you to scrub away all the layers of cultural slime and see it for what it is, a postcard from some 'other' place, a place from where only genius can broadcast coherently back to us.
MP3: The Leisure Society-Something
I'm not going to risk a Beatles MP3, 'cos Apple will probably hoover my post up into 'nowhere land', but this cover version is a great substitute. Mojo's latest issue has an alternative version of Abbey Road with contemporary artists covering that album's tracks. The rather lovely Leisure Society's effort leaves their folksy stamp all over George Harrison's 'Something'. I'd advice you to download it folks. It's more than a throwaway.