Rob's parents took him to NYC to see Beatlemania in the fall of 1978. Shortly thereafter, they would buy him the two compilation albums that would be the introduction to The Beatles for a lot of folks who didn't grow up in the 60's. They were commonly referred to as the Red Album, covering the early period of 1962-1966, and the Blue Album, which spanned 1967-1970. Rob and I dismissed these references, as we would contend that the late era singles and B-sides compilation, Hey Jude, was the Red Album. I'm not sure where we came up with this. First of all, there isn't a trace of red on the album's cover, other than George Harrison's tie...but maybe that's the reason. Hang on a sec...a Google search has just unearthed this description of an album being peddled on what appears to be an eBay copycat site: "THE BEATLES Hey Jude (Extremely rare Ecuadorian 10-track compilation LP pressed on RED vinyl..."
Somehow, I doubt Rob and I were aware of this rare Ecuadorian LP, but this may be a hint as to why, in some circles back then, it was referred to as the Red Album. Anyway, it appears that today, the title of that album is universally considered to be Hey Jude.
Ok, where was I? Oh yeah...those two compilations got it started, but we quickly dived into the entire catalog, with a particular emphasis on the period from Rubber Soul on. Back then, and even to this day, I was and have never been a big fan of The Beatles' early work. I'm pretty sure I used to say that every song from that period sounds the same. This may or may not be true...well, it is to some extent...but I still find that material to be much less compelling than Sgt. Pepper's, Abbey Road, The White Album, etc.
Rob and I would obsess over The Beatles even more than we did over Kiss. While vacationing at Rob's family's place on Sacandaga Lake in the lower Adirondacks, we developed a Beatles board game. I still associate bike treks into the nearby town of Broadalbin with those songs, as Rob and I would always attach a cassette player to the rack on one of our bikes for the trip. This didn't work very well, as it always favored one person's ability to listen over the other's. I'm pretty sure Rob usually got the better end of the deal.
Our biggest Beatles' fixation occurred after reading the book, The Walrus was Paul, Gary Patterson's account of the great Beatle death clues. Rob and I became fully engrossed in researching every clue related to the rumor that Paul McCartney had perished in a car accident in 1966, and been replaced by an imposter named William Campbell, also known by the pseudonym Billy Shears, the winner of a Paul McCartney lookalike contest. We tried to slow down "Strawberry Fields Forever" on a Magical Mystery Tour cassette to determine if the mysterious voice near the end says "I buried Paul" or "I'm very bored". We probably did irreparable damage to Rob's copy of The White Album and his turntable by attempting to play "Revolution 9" backwards.
Despite being impressionable youths, and really wanting to believe this fascinating rumor, neither one of us was convinced. It seemed too great a coincidence to believe that, not only did this imposter look like Paul McCartney, but he also sang like him and shared his songwriting ability. Although...The Beatles did stop touring in 1966, and considering their extreme shift in musical direction from Sgt. Pepper's on, it is possible that John Lennon was writing alone, but continuing to credit Lennon/McCartney. Now, wouldn't that be ironic?
The Beatles would be the last musical obsession that Rob and I would share. Our tastes went in decidedly different directions during our high school years, as I would enter my hard rock phase. Rob, meanwhile, despite being the Quarterback of the Arlington football team and the lightbulb-eating Center/Power Forward of the basketball team, would compromise his macho jock image by getting entirely too excited about such musical gems as the Flashdance soundtrack.
From the Archives: Cup of Coffee—Cliff Lee
2 days ago