It would be impossible to talk about the music that influenced my life without mentioning The Beatles, whose music has been in my life for the longest time, and who still inspire me to this day.
The first Beatles album I ever recall owning was Revolver (1966). I remember having a battered copy of the album early in my life – I think I was maybe five years old. I have no idea who gave it to me, but I recall spinning songs like “Yellow Submarine” and “And Your Bird Can Sing” repeatedly and often enjoyed when my parents listened to albums like Let it Be, Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
As I began growing up musically, the Beatles were there as well. I remember how heartbroken I was when I learned that John Lennon had died (I blogged about that in a recent post on my blog (https://ebarteldes.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/remembering-john-lennon-30-years-on ) but that only led me to discover more about their music.
When I went to Florida with my paternal grandparents in the summer of 1981, they took me to the record department of a big-box store and I used most of the money my parents had given me on a selection of Beatles records that included Sgt. Pepper’s, The White Album, Abbey Road and Hey Jude (which has since been removed from the official Beatles catalogue in favor of the two Past Masters discs). As I went to the register, an elderly lady asked me to see what I was buying so she could see what young people were listening to – and was surprised to see that my pile had nothing but the Fab Four.
The Beatles drove me into musical research – by listening to their records, I realized they’d covered songs by Chuck Berry, Arthur Alexander, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, The Isley Brothers, The Shirelles and even Motown (“Please Mr. Postman” is one). At 14, I wondered who those guys were, and (in those pre-Internet days) devoured anything I could read – or hear – from them. Once I heard about Chuck Berry, I started hearing about Little Walter, Muddy Waters and ultimately Robert Johnson, who was a huge influence on The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and Keith Richards – whose tunes I started to discover beyond “Satisfaction.”
I guess today I write about music simply because I studied so much stuff about pre-60s music, and the knowledge gave me the knowledge I have today. It was also (initially) because of The Beatles that I picked up the bass (my first instrument was the clarinet – and yes, I could play “When I’m 64” on it – probably still can) when I formed my first band in Fortaleza, Brazil – a garage band that morphed into a Beatles tribute band that lasted – on and off – about eight years.
Although I no longer play in Beatle tribute bands (the last one was Plastic Sole, which I quit in the fall of 2001), I still have my 1967 Hofner bass and always try to include Beatle tunes in the music projects I get involved in. Ah, and there was that Beatles on Ukelele marathon I participated in earlier this year.
As it turns out, my wife is not a fan of the Beatles, but she does appreciate some of their music from time to time. But hey, I think I can still convert her….