Monday, January 17, 2022

Borrowed Nostalgia - Son #5 - We Can Work It Out

Son #5 is actually a nephew, though we became guardians until he was 18. He came to us at age 12, amidst a good deal of chaos and acrimony between his parents. He was a 60s-80s music fan already, likely reflecting what his father (King Crimson (?), etc fan) and mother (Josie and the Pussycats fan) had instilled in him. But the Beatles especially caught his imagination. He was also already talented at being hip, even then.  In uncertain times, being a Beatles fan has been a very stable coolness for teenagers the last 50+ years. Note: He made things up with his Mom before she died and seems to have a good relationship with his Dad now, so it all worked out.

He had an obsessive touch about it that I admired, even getting caught up in the conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney was dead and a replacement had been switched in.  It ran its course with only mild discouragement from me. He was more of a Sgt Pepper* era fan, but I think of Kyle and now wonder whenever a Beatles song is referenced what he thought of that song in particular. So that is his legacy to me.

I chose this one because it came up in an unrelated podcast when I was thinking which one to choose, and decided it is as good an example as any other. It has that common Beatles characteristic of being two songs put together. We call it a bridge now, but in their hands it was a chorus that was a change in music, but not jarring. Either piece could have been a more simple pop song in itself if expanded, but welding them together artfully was part of what set them apart.  All choruses are different from verses, but theirs were just a bit more different.  Think "Ticket to Ride," "Strawberry Fields," or "Elanor Rigby" for example. They didn't always do this, but it happened enough to be noticeable.

Linguistic note: It rapidly became common for some people to say "Sgt Peppers" as if the surname were a plural (as in the NFL player Julius Peppers rather than Floyd Pepper, the Muppet), even though it is a possessive. We work by hearing more than reading most of the time.  I don't know which I say when not thinking about it, though I am careful to write "Pepper." For that matter, is the above a Beatle song, or a Beatles Song? I don't think you could stretch to it being a Beatle's song, and no one would bother to write that it is a Beatles' song. Naming conventions were fluid at the time.  The Platters were not an assemblage of five singers who were each a Platter, but each of the TV boy band members could be referred to as "a Monkee" just as easily as "one of the Monkees." Jordanaires switched so often that they were more likely to be treated as singulars. In the 60s you could still call Ringo "a Beatle."  I come down on the preference for always using the plural, as the bands were entities in themselves. No Raiders or Pharoahs were used to make up a band. YMMV.

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