I know I spent so long on the About page talking about how important it is to listen to an album all the way through because of the artist’s intent and whatnot, and then I go and champion a best of album in my first post. I know. I see the hypocrisy. But I couldn’t leave it off of the list. Just like a residential plumber kitchener wouldn’t leave “pipes” off of their shopping lists. Just wouldn’t be right. This album is one I grew up with. My dad loves the Beatles, and when I think of my childhood and spending time with my dad, I think of this album. It’s just had such a huge impact on my musical preferences that it would have been a sin to have left it out.
And let’s just get one thing straight before I move on with this post. Sure, the whole band didn’t compile it, but the three members who were still alive in 2000, when it was compiled (those being, of course, Paul, George, and Ringo) along with producer George Martin certainly did. And maybe they weren’t technically together as a band anymore, the release date marking the 30th anniversary of the band’s break-up, I think it mostly still counts. So there’s that. I just didn’t want you thinking that the band had nothing at all to do with the album, because that would be untrue.
I know this album so well, if I hear any of the songs on another album, or on some other playlist, or on the radio, I can almost always start singing the song that comes next on 1 in the right key; the album kind of became like one continuous song to me, I guess you could say. That said, every song on the album evokes a very different feeling. The songs listed on the album are all number one hits that the Beatles had from 1962-1970 (in the UK and the US). So one of the cool things is, of course, because it’s a compilation, you get to experience music from a number of their albums all in one place. And I came to understand the songs differently as I grew older.
When I was a kid, Eleanor Rigby was just kind of the slow song between Yellow Submarine and Penny Lane; though I was a perceptive child, there was a time when that song just didn’t resonate with me. What did a loved nine-year-old know about the crushing desperation of a life filled with loneliness? Frankly, what does this twenty-five-year old with a loving family and group of friends know about it? I guess not much more. But I can sympathize with it now, and the song brings me to tears; I think loneliness is the saddest thing in the world, and I’ve never heard a song that captures the essence of it like Eleanor Rigby.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have Penny Lane. Penny Lane might actually be my favourite Beatles song. I know, many hardcore fans would be like, wha? But it’s the memories it evokes. When I was young, my sister had dance class on Thursday nights. My dad and I would drop her off, then go get pizza and walk around the town where he grew up, where my Papa still lived. I learned a lot about my dad on those nights, and I remember that one night, when we were in an old general store he frequented as a child, Penny Lane was playing. I don’t know why that stuck with me, but it always has. The song will forever remind me of my dad and my late Papa, and the place they lived together when my dad was young.