To Be Determined

    All You Need Is Love…and Maybe a Shiny Suitcase Full of Money!

    Issue 160

    Recently I picked up my four-year-old grandson Henry after preschool, and upon getting him buckled securely into his car seat, we headed off to our lunch destination. My car stereo has a USB input, and I have a 32 GB flash drive inserted that has about 19 days worth of MP3 music scattered across a variety of genres and is set to play everything randomly. A Beatles’ song immediately came on – “Blackbird” from the White Album – and Henry exclaimed, “Is this blackbird singing in the dead of night? Can you play Magical Mystery Tour?” Stunned by this request, I immediately surfed to the correct folder and played Magical Mystery Tour in its entirety, continuing through lunch and into our afternoon excursions – and Henry sang along to many of the songs, seemingly knowing most of the words. This included “Strawberry Fields Forever,” but the song that really captivated him was “All You Need Is Love,” and he proceeded to belt it out at maximum volume from the rear of my Hyundai. “Aww you need is wuv, wuv…wuv is aww you need!” It was indeed a magical moment.

     

    Henry, having a few Skittles after lunch.

    Henry, having a few Skittles after lunch.

     

    While in my late twenties, with my toddler daughter Julie generally always at my side, I lived my life, which included listening regularly to the music I loved. We heard lots of Beatles, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Blue Öyster Cult, and Yes, as well as healthy doses of Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Nick Drake, along with a generous portion of classic jazz and classical music thrown in for good measure. I never asked four-year-old Julie what she wanted to listen to, and I never thought that anything that constantly played as the soundtrack of our lives at the time would probably even register with her. I never ignored her wants or needs, I was a doting father – but my musical choices as the house DJ were never called into question at the time. My ten and twelve-year-old stepsons were almost always outside or with friends.

    Her brothers’ lack of interest and input soon changed as they hit their teens, when suddenly my music was being challenged by the likes of Nirvana, Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers, Suicidal Tendencies, and soon after, Metallica. Both boys styled themselves as street surfers with skateboards constantly in tow, and their musical choices reflected that surf attitude. And they wanted to hear what they perceived to be the soundtrack of their lives. I generally won the battle of volume levels in the house, as my access to many hundreds of watts pumped over large speakers could easily drown out the sound of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” emanating from a boombox.

    But that continually developing musical dynamic also managed to shape everyone’s sensibilities and tastes. I actually started paying attention to the same groups the boys were so enamored with. They even checked out my music; I’ll never forget the afternoon when Yes’ “Roundabout” was playing, and the oldest, Joe, came downstairs right after Rick Wakeman’s extended keyboard solo in the song’s center. “Dude…” he said, “could you play that again? Holy crap, he’s really wailing on those keyboards!” We actually found some common ground, and I think, in retrospect, our shared appreciation for music has helped cement our ongoing relationship over time. And oddly, as the years have gone along, I tend to listen more regularly to the type of music the boys were into, and each of them listens to a lot more Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

    A few years later, I picked up then-eight-year-old Julie after school one day, and she asked me, with a level of curious incredulity, “Did you know that Paul McCartney was one of the Beatles?” After what seemed like an eternity of my force-feeding the music of the Beatles to her toddler self, we were finally having this conversation – and she wanted to know everything! Suddenly, Julie was totally obsessed with the music of the Beatles. We played the White Album, Abbey Road, Magical Mystery Tour, Let It Be, Sgt. Pepper, Revolver – you name it, she was interested. She borrowed frequently from my CD library, eventually adding many of them to her iPod. I actually felt like my mission in life had been accomplished – and when young Henry started belting out “Aww you need is wuv!” I was ecstatic, to say the least!

     

    I’ve been on a bit of a buying spree over the last six months or so, and have acquired all the 24/96 digital download files that are currently available from the Beatles, including Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the White Album, Abbey Road, and Let It Be. I also recently found the two-disc set for The Beatles’ Love, where the second disc is a DVD that can be ripped to obtain the 24/96 files. As many of us know, all the songs were remixed and remastered by Giles Martin, and while Love is not a Beatles catalog album per se, I still find it to be a refreshing departure from the usual Beatles fare. I’d gotten the 24/96 digital download for Abbey Road last year, and was truly impressed with it. And I’ve actually been searching out multi-disc sets from a host of other artists that include a DVD (or DVDs) with the 24/96 files, but I’m apparently very late to the party for most of them. Especially for the Beatles, where the cost of the multi-disc reissues was never cheap, but has gotten prohibitively expensive as of late. I did a lot of research on the 24/96 downloads for the Beatles, watched my e-mail inbox scrupulously for catalog sales offers from HDtracks and Qobuz, and managed to get them all for not too much cash – at least not a suitcase full of it!

     

    What really prompted most of this was watching Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back documentary series on Disney+ last December, which I found really interesting and entertaining. And that was despite my personal feelings about Let It Be – both the album and the movie – which was that it was a completely boring, monotonous farce (particularly the movie). However, I felt that The Beatles: Get Back re-cast the proceedings effectively, and really humanized the Beatles in a way I’d never thought possible, even though it was crazy long at around seven hours. The first hour or so of the first segment was a really tough watch (though nowhere nearly as tough as the original movie!), but it very quickly became more interesting, and was a fascinating observation on the Beatles’ work process. I found the third segment, where the rooftop concert takes place, nothing less than revelatory, and was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and musicianship displayed by a band only mere months away from splintering apart forever. Anyway, at the point when the 24/96 digital download became available for Let It Be, I grabbed it for less than $13, and was so impressed, I started methodically getting the other titles I didn’t yet have.

    I’m really hoping Giles Martin will continue with his excellent work and eventually get around to the remix and remaster of Magical Mystery Tour – which is probably one of the least-impressive-sounding Beatles albums currently on digital. Most Beatles scholars point to a mid-seventies’ German import LP as being the finest sounding version of the album ever, and we really need this classic updated in a high-resolution digital format. Some folks might consider the work Giles Martin is doing as a bastardization of the originals, but my personal impression of them is very positive; I don’t think the Beatles’ music as heard on the current group of remix/remasters has ever sounded better. Despite Martin’s occasional wandering from the absolute original intent, I still think they sound pretty amazing on a really good digital system like the Euphony Audio setup I currently have access to. Along with Magical Mystery Tour, there’s Yellow Submarine (the song-track version vs. the soundtrack), the group of songs that ended up being the Hey Jude EP (in the US, anyway), and perhaps Revolver and Rubber Soul. In my book, that pretty much covers every album by the fully-formed, more modern version of the group. That said, I still have pretty much everything by the Beatles in regular rotation (at least in my car, anyway), and should Giles Martin decide to remix/remaster the early albums as well, I have zero doubts that I’d buy them all too.

    I’ve seen a lot of press online recently about the Dolby Atmos encoded versions of classic album titles that are appearing on Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Tidal. At least one of The Beatles’ albums, the singles compilation disc 1 along with a maxi-single that includes “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Penny Lane” has also been made available in Dolby Atmos. Giles Martin has been at the helm of those efforts, along with Sam Okell, but let’s hope that doesn’t distract him from continuing to remix/remaster additional catalog titles. I personally haven’t heard any of the Dolby Atmos releases, and I don’t currently have a surround-sound setup available to experience any of them, but I’ve read and heard several less-than-enthusiastic reviews of some of the recent releases. I’m always suspicious when movie theater surround software is applied to classic catalog albums – the results for me have always been a mixed bag.

    Coda

    My life as an adult has always been a tug of war between a desire for a relatively simplistic lifestyle and the lure of material things – you know, nice house, nice car, really nice stereo! But that has always been tempered by an overwhelming desire for peacefulness. In fact, Julie and I have this ongoing ritual where every year she asks me for a Christmas list, and the first item on that list is always “world peace.” That sentiment was thoroughly impressed on me as a young man by – you guessed it, the Beatles – because “All You Need Is Love.” John, George, and Ringo (especially of late) were vocal about peace and love throughout their careers, both with and beyond the Beatles.

    But I also have to admit that well into the point where Julie had suddenly immersed herself in the Beatles, whenever “All You Need Is Love” would play, I’d sing along and jokingly paraphrase it, with the main response being, “All You Need Is Love…and a shiny suitcase full of money!” When the lottery arrived in Georgia, that got further paraphrased to, “All You Need Is Love…and a half a billion bucks!” (Which I felt actually flowed better with the music.) Yes, I had obviously sold out – at least in spirit, because that shiny suitcase full of money or the half a billion bucks never showed up. (At least, not yet!) Every time my wife and I are out and about and she sees an armored truck, she always comments, “that’s the kind of SUV I really want – and fully loaded!” The appeal of truckloads of cash is undeniable.

     

    Henry, with a green tongue after a Popsicle.

    Henry, with a green tongue after a Popsicle.

     

    But in a world filled with hunger, strife, and war, love is what we truly need more than anything today. And it’s really refreshing that a younger generation of music lovers – like my grandson Henry – can fully embrace a message of love. Even when it’s being delivered by a group from over half a century ago.

    All images courtesy of the author, except header image, courtesy of Apple Corps.

    6 comments on “All You Need Is Love…and Maybe a Shiny Suitcase Full of Money!”

    1. One of my current entertainments is watching music reaction videos on You Tube – especially young people hearing a Beatles song for the first time. It is quite affecting to observe even emotional reactions to them, and also their astonishment as to the breadth of their output.
      A young lady who goes by “Call Me Caroline” actually went through the entire canon from first album to the last, with singles interspersed appropriately. Quite enjoyable to watch.

      1. Bob,

        Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I’ve been helping my daughter with some carpentry work around her house — she’s getting ready to put it on the market, so I’ve been over there for days, but getting pretty close to wrapping it up.

        I use DVD Audio Extractor — it’s not free (about $38 if I remember correctly), but it works so very much better and more intuitively than some of the other rippers out there, and it will go online and get the metadata, which some rippers don’t. And if you look carefully at the booklet info with DVDs (like the ones that come with Steven Wilson remix/remasters of King Crimson, Yes, ELP, XTC, Jethro Tull, etc.), you’ll see the menus for what is available in high res (usually 24/96) on the DVDs. And if you dig deep enough during the setup process with DVD Audio Extractor, you’ll see options to rip tracks other than just the high-res album tracks, often with substantial bonus materials available. I think it’s well worth the investment.

        Tom

    2. One of my grands took an interest in the Beatles. We played the LPs & sang much as you describe. But he’s a teenager now, seriously into… Pink Floyd.

      I count it as a win-win.

      1. Mike,

        Right? I got turned on to Metallica, and the two boys got turned on to Led Zep and Sabbath. It’s definitely a win-win!

        Thanks for reading!

        Tom

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