I’ve just seen a face

I’m about 5 and I’m sitting on our plush green carpet downstairs by dad’s stereo equipment; a turntable, a tape deck with all sorts of buttons; a red button for stop; a big green button for play; he even had a reel to reel player; like the ones you see in recording studios; it was a musical wonderland; I loved music as a kid. My dad starts off by playing me the first track of the Rubber Soul record by the Beatles; “I’ve just seen a face”. I loved to watch the record spin and look at the big album cover with the distorted faces of Paul, George, John and Ringo and look at all the photographs inside. He then puts on a classical music record with a woman singing in a foreign language. I was less than enthralled with the second selection. He the proceeds to interview me; microphone in hand; on a portable tape recorder. He asks ‘David, what do you think of the music I played for you” I replied ” I like the Beatles because they are faster and they are boys; the second song was too slow and boring” I wish I had the cassette of this mini interview but I’m pretty sure it’s lost to the realms of history but the memories are etched in my mind and by writing maybe I can bring that moment to life.

Circa 1987

 

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The spirituality of George Harrison

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Many people who have known me know that I am the biggest Beatles fan; a little obsessional perhaps but their music has shaped me from childhood all the way to adulthood; getting me through some of the roughest patches in my life. When people think of the Beatles they may not think of any spiritual music in their catalog ( and remember we are talking about spiritual and not religious) and while there may not be many; there are some songs that I consider to be spiritual in nature and most are from George Harrison.

And let me just say that even now I have difficulty picking my favorite Beatle, but I will say that very few people would choose Ringo as their favorite ( right?). I appreciate all their styles; Paul represents to me the more melodic pop side that I like; his music is mainly happy and upbeat.  I really love John; his witty sense of humor and sarcasm; I can relate to his activist side; an idealist trying to make the world a better place through music and art.   And George ( the quiet Beatle); his music more understated; his songs with the Beatles may not stand out to some but they do to me. During the later years he really grew as a songwriter incorporating his interest in Indian spirituality into his music; adding sitars; a virtually unknown instrument into the rock world. Not only does George interest me as a musician but as a person. I admire his intelligence and gentleness as a man; he just seemed like a kind person who didn’t have the ego of his other band mates; he didn’t buy into the mythology and that is what I most admire about him.

When I was a kid all I listened was music from the Beatles ( solo works included).  I have this clear memory of us as a family driving to the beach and playing George Harrison “My sweet lord” as we on a bridge; over looking the Atlantic Ocean in Norfolk, VA with the battleships in the distance; that music gave me a lot of comfort and I’m not why. Every I hear it I just get this calming feeling when I hear that song. The lyrics are so beautiful; and you can deny the spirituality. ” I really want to see you. I really want to be with you. Really want to see you lord but it takes so long, my lord”. It really doesn’t get any more spiritual than that. And if you listen to his first solo record “All things must pass”  it can be overbearing at times and preachy but the message of love and god and spirituality is all there; I think that is important in music. I think we all need something to turn to in times of trouble ( no pun itended) and music can serve that purpose.

I remember I was 14  I was at a friend’s house.  Something happened where I was sick but my parents weren’t home so I went to a neighbor’s house and she ( his mom) took care of me. I was looking through her cd’s and noticed she had the White album by the Beatles; I don’t think I had ever heard it all the way through. I asked to borrow it and I ended up listening to it over and over; analyzing the songs and just soaking it all in. It’s such an underrated albums with so many different styles; a lot of people don’t like it but I think it’s album that is way ahead of it’s time ( particularly Helter Skelter. First metal song ever, right?)  There was one song by George Harrison titled “long long long” and at first listen it sounds like a love song. The chorus goes ” It took a long long long time. Now I’m so happy, I’ve found you. How I love you”.  That sounds like pretty much like every love song you’ve ever heard but the music is somewhat somber and has a serious tone; it doesn’t sound like “Something in the way she moves” or “If I fell”    This song was something else entirely; it was haunting; it stuck with me and through the powers of the internet I researched the meaning of the song ( like most nerds do).  The general consensus is that its not a love song at all; in fact it’s a song about God ( or spirituality if you will)  The years of searching for the answer and finally finding it in God; how long that search was but the happiness  gained from finally knowing God.  At the time I had not found God yet but I appreciated it’s meaning. Now as a spiritual person I find the sound hauntingly beautiful and relatable on a deep level.

I wrote this as I listened to “long long long” for the thousandth time in my life; music has played a big role in my life; the soundtrack to my life and I find so much inspiration for my writing in it.  It’s a shame that George Harrison only got 2 songs per album during his days with Beatles; he think he was far more talented than his band mates gave him credit for. And I think he could have added even more depth to the Beatles music had been allowed to record more music.  I hope after reading this you can listen to the songs and George Harrison and hear the spirituality coming from the music and maybe gain some comfort in his gentle spirit ( may he rest in peace)

As always,

Thanks for listening

Dave

 

The night I met her/ do you Mr Jones?

A variation of an earlier post but who’s counting…

I met her at the end of the bar; she was by herself and so was I.  It was a late night and we seemed to be the only people there.  I go out to the patio for a smoke and she tries to bum a cigarette from me; I oblige. How could I say no. We start small talk and I ask her about her interests and she states she’s an English major; I hadn’t written anything but  I played it off like I did; because why not; she didn’t know me. We go back to the bar and the conversation quickly turns to music; which is my forte since I could talk for hours about my favorites albums and their meanings; most people don’t pay any mind but she was interested.  Being the intelligent English major she was; she told me she was the biggest Dylan fan and I was impressed. I figure anyone who likes poetry must be into Dylan. I replied that I loved Dylan but I was more into the Beatles and we got into a long conversation into the difference between the music of The Beatles and Dylan and the influence they both had on each other. At some point it became less oh my god I’m talking to a woman and I am handling myself and more I can’t believe I’m having an intelligent conversation about music with someone that seems to be never ending; it was such a rarity. Of course it did help I had some liquid courage; the cigarettes didn’t hurt either. Somehow you feel more confident with a cigarette in your hand and smoke escaping from your mouth as you discuss Blonde on Blonde vs Revolver.  We talked so long that the bar closed and I noticed from the corner of my eye; the bartender giving me a sly smile.  And in my naivety I gave her my number; failing to give her mine; thinking she’d call me the next day but of course I never received that phone call. But hey I enjoyed the conversation while it lasted; we’ll meet someday again on the avenue.  I hope you get  me. Do you, Mr Jones?

 

In rememberance of John Lennon

Today is December 8th and it marks the 37th anniversary of the tragic shooting of John Lennon in New York City. It’s a sad day for music fans. I can’t help but think that if John Lennon had stayed in England would he still be alive today? We haven’t learned our lesson about gun violence in this country and because of our violent nature we lost of one the great voices in music. Someone who stood for peace and love and whose music touched so many before and after he died ( including myself) It makes me angry that 37 years later gun violence has only increased and we still haven’t found a solution. Like John Lennon said “Give peace a chance”. John Lennon 1940-1980

 

A letter to John Lennon

A letter to John Lennon

John i write this about you even though we never met and you died 2 years before I was born. It is the eve of your untimely death 37 years ago and I thought I would tell you how I feel. You were a wonderful man with a beautiful soul. It hurts beyond belief that you; a person who stood for peace and love were gunned by a madman intent on your fame. He took your life; but he didn’t take your spirit; your spirit leaves on through your music and your words. I am angry that you were taken from all of us; leaving behind a grieving widow and a young son who was now forced to grow up without a father. It makes no sense and here we are 37 years later and gun violence has only increased in that time; I often think what you be saying about this if you were alive. Give peace a chance would sound great about now; it wasn’t silly then and it isn’t silly now. Obviously I admire the music you made with Paul and the others. I grew up listening to the Beatles; in fact I cant remember a time where I didn’t hear your music. It gave me so much comfort in my sad days and made me jump for joy when I was feeling happy. Songs like strawberries fields and a day in the life were a soundtrack to my life growing up. Of all of the Beatles, I think you were the most innovative; the one always looking ahead. I loved your sense of sarcasm and wit; always the wisecracker; it came out in your songs. It makes me feel like I am not the only one on constant sarcasm mode. I admire that fact that at a time when so many musicians stayed silent; you were the first to speak out against war and talked about this crazy thing called peace. Even today peace and love are such a strange concept to most people; something that can never be achievable but you said All you need is love and I am inclined to believe you. John, the world misses you. The world needs someone like you right now to speak out and give others the courage to do the same. Wherever you are John just realize you made a difference in this world and we are all better for it. Thank you. Your friend, David