The Beatles and I

Imagine a cold, overcast day. Now imagine a quaint pub at the corner of a street by a canal. Entering it on a day like this is like entering a new world. You are sitting, chatting with colleagues with a glass of iced tea in your hand. Music plays in the background but faintly - for it doesn’t want to intrude on your conversation. In fact it is so faint that it sounds like a whisper from a world beyond ours. The music changes and your ears catch a vaguely familiar strain. But they can’t quite place it. Besides this is a pub - most of whatever little reached your ears is drowned in conversations around you. That nagging sense of familiarity persists - and the inability to clearly hear the music strengthens it. Then suddenly, by some stroke of good fortune, the conversations at your table and at the table beyond and at the bar stools pause for a fraction of a second - as if everyone was reading from the same page and encountered a full stop. And you hear with unmistakable clarity a voice that you know can only be Paul McCartney softly crooning:

Michelle, my belle.
Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble,
Très bien ensemble.

A Beatles binge ensued for 2 days - one that has left me happy and sad in equal measures. Happy because it’s such delightful music. Sad because of how short-lived it all was.

While listening to this bit in John and Yoko’s Ballad today:

Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton,
Talking in our beds for a week.
The newspaper said, Say what you doing in bed?”
I said, We’re only trying to get us some peace”.

I realized that while roaming around Amsterdam during our visit in January, we had come across a shop selling prints of black-and-white pictures of John and Yoko taken during their aforementioned stay. There is something mesmerizing about these pictures, and I stood there staring at this one in particular for a long time:

The Beatles and IThe Beatles and I

I didn’t have my camera then, but while I was interviewing (the reason why we were here in January), my wife hunted the shop down and got a picture of the picture for me (we hadn’t taken a note of the street name - what magical powers she used to find this place again will remain a mystery to me).

P.S. I am impressed at how thoroughly documented their music is on Wikipedia. Practically every song has a page of its own with all sorts of quotes, notes and anecdotes - anything that doesn’t have a copyright attached.

May 20, 2011