Surrender to the Void

There’s a huge reason why I don’t like to write about the Beatles, and why I’ve never written about the Beatles. They’re simply too close to me. The Beatles are part of my musical DNA, part of my being, part of what makes me myself. The music of the Beatles, which I have grown with over the last five decades, is thanks to my mom, who was a massive fan going back to 1963. Her old records were my introduction to not only the Beatles, but music and art as a whole. I know every second of every song the Beatles ever released thanks to 52 years of osmosis. This all might sound like hyperbole, but it’s true. The Beatles are the wellspring from which my own appreciation for music, visual art, and writing originate. In my life (sorry, bad Beatles pun), in my subconscious, the Beatles are mile zero in my lifelong journey through the arts.

That all said, I don’t have the same visceral closeness to the Beatles as I do the music of my most formative years, 1983 through 1986. The Beatles were handed down to me, while Metallica and Iron Maiden were my own discoveries, far outside the realm of my parents. That, of course, means a lot to a kid. I react to the Beatles more primally. They’re there, and they’ll always be there. With that comes the feeling every now and then that I take the Beatles for granted. I don’t play their music a lot because I don’t have to. It’s all coursing through my veins. Only in recent years have I felt drawn closer to the Beatles. Peter Jackson’s Get Back was a perfectly timed moment for me to start listening to the music on a more intimate level for the first time in ages. And what a masterful eight hours of footage that saw a bunch of worn out geniuses wrestle and fight to make a new album our of thin air, only to succeed astonishingly. It was a good reminder of how the chemistry between McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, and Starr was every bit as crucial as their sheer skill.

Now we have a new version of Revolver, one of three perfect Beatles albums (Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour being the others) that takes a similar approach to Get Back, taking the listener from the crude initial ideas to some of the most important compositions of the 20th century. As a lifelong admirer it’s extremely thrilling to witness. Even the Beatles had to work hard, it didn’t all fall out of the sky and into their laps. “And Your Bird Can Sing” was a shameless Byrds rip-off at first! Thank goodness the deluxe edition is available on Spotify so we can all hear it.

Anyway, because I know the Beatles so well I have never felt the need to own my own copies of their albums. But then on my birthday I saw the new 2022 mix of Revolver by Giles Martin for sale. I liked what Martin did on previous Beatles reissues, so right then and there I went, yep, I’m buying this! And it was a weirdly profound feeling, like I’d crossed a significant line in my life. The moment I took a fundamental artistic influence that I always considered property of my mom’s and made it my own, brought it in closer to me, for the very first time.

Anyway the reissue is sensational. Paul is the consummate craftsman, devoted to perfecting the three-minute pop song. John’s taste for experimentation is going into overdrive, yielding magnificent results. George is coming into his own as a songwriter, which will threaten the chemistry of the band soon enough. And Ringo, bless him, sings a song that would endure for generations.

35 minutes of perfection, indelible melodies, and colossal innovation, Revolver is a glimpse of popular music’s most important band just starting to peak, kicking off a wild three years for everyone involved. I’m extremely biased, but it is magic. I dislike a lot of Beatles tunes, but this album is so perfect, from “Taxman” to the immortal “Tomorrow Never Knows”, and the new mix sounds fantastic on headphones. And now I’m taking in the music in a completely different way than i did before. It’s weird. Sometimes you can go home again.