Hey Matt, “You say it’s your birthday. It’s my birthday, too yeah. They say it’s your birthday. We’re gonna have a good time. I’m glad it’s your birthday. Happy birthday to you.”
Not why I picked this album… Just a pleasant coincidence. And as my daughter says… Happy 32 to me!
In a world gone crazy, we are all trying to find things to calm us, give us peace and bring us back to center. Spirituality, in any form, can be uplifting and give us direction and guidance. Many people will tell you that meditation provides amazing health benefits as well as mental and physical focus. When I went to the doctor a little while back for what was a virtual month-long headache, he told me to work on my sinuses and meditate. It helped.
This album reflects both the calm and the chaos, the discord of a band close to imploding, battling against deep, spiritual yearnings.
The Beatles - The Beatles (aka the White Album) (1968)
The ninth “official” record was a double album released in 1968 and is called The Beatles, but known as The White Album, as the only graphics on the cover are “The Beatles” and a mysterious “serial number.” This was the first album released on the Apple label, and the first made after the death of manager Brian Epstein, who died of an accidental drug overdose at age 33. The album was originally titled, A Doll’s House. Did not know that… It is a bit… odd… no offense to Henrik Ibsen…
I mentioned yesterday how Lennon would sometimes talk about his “throwaway” songs… Well any song discarded by The Beatles is almost certainly above and beyond what most folks could do. That is what makes the band so special. Obviously you always strive for creativity and creation, to go beyond your previous effort, to grow and mature and develop… but it always haunted me a bit to know or think that you might have achieved the peak of your artistry before age 30. Sadly, I don’t have to worry about that, as I am a bit beyond 30, but I do recall being freaked out by it back in my 20s. I’ll get there… to my artistic peak I mean… and hopefully SOON!
Obviously the boys went on to other projects and strong solo careers, but nothing would ever quite capture that thing that was The Beatles. How could it? We are talking about a once in a lifetime, lighting striking the head of a pin, perfect storm.
So the band was in synch and seemingly at peace after their trip to visit the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who developed Transcendental Meditation. But life in the studio proved to be anything but transcendental… and the band became more like a collection of individuals rather than a cohesive unit. Ringo even quit for a while, leaving Paul to play drums on some of the songs here. The difference between songwriters grew more stark, and although there are some strange ones, the album is filled with classics.
The first four songs, all amazing, include: “Back in the U.S.S.R,” “Dear Prudence” (for which Mia Farrow’s sister provided the inspiration), “Glass Onion” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is Harrison’s masterpiece and one of my most cherished songs EVER!
“Martha My Dear,” the acoustic stunner “Blackbird” and “Julia” all delish!
“Birthday” into “Yer Blues”… hmmm… I feel that way a bit at times… I get it! Especially on a day when you are forced to look at a new number and all that, that entails! I hate the fact that I have to check a new box on surveys. AAGGHH!!!
“Revolution 1″ and “Revolution 9″… more iconic Lennon, and while there is a lot to wade through here, and to be honest, songs that I do not always turn to like others, this album is just another example of music experimentation, depth and exploration and more often than not… musical genius. Profound pop songs are not easy to come by… unless you are The Beatles.
Long live Rock!