It seems there has always been music in my life. I’m not certain when my love for music actually began, but it had to have been in my infancy or perhaps even earlier. I have no doubt that my mother used to sing to me while I was in the womb. She had an incredible voice and loved to sing. She sang when she was happy and sang when she was sad. She sang when she did housework or hung the laundry to dry. My friends heard her singing around the house all the time and thought she sounded like an opera star. She always enjoyed singing along with the radio and her favorite record albums, but what I believe she enjoyed most was getting together with her 3 sisters at my grandma’s house and singing up a storm. Mom did have a beautiful voice, I can almost hear her now.
Sometimes, when we were driving in the car, she would turn off the music and we’d create our own. She’d lead my sister and I in rousing renditions of,”3 Little Fishes,” “High Hopes,” and “Oh What a Beautiful Morning.” Our closer was usually “Git Along Little Doggies.” We had a blast! Yeah there was a lot of music going on in my young life.
There were several artist my mom listened to whose music I liked, Ritchie Valen’s ‘Donna’ was one of my all time favorites. Then in 1961 when I was 10, I heard a song on the radio that I really liked and wanted. It was the first time I actually wanted to buy a record. A few days later, as part of my birthday celebration, my mom took me to Savon Drug Store bought me very first single. You could call it an act of conceit but I just had to have that record, Big John” by Jimmy Dean, “Big Bad John.” My mom even let me play it on her stereo when we got home and it sounded great! And so it began.
Two years passed before I bought my next 45. Already the romantic, I bought a sappy little love song called “Hey Paula” by Paul & Paula, a song about finding true love, marriage and happily ever after. Yeah, I know, what can I say, except that I liked it. I guess I was a kind of sappy 12 year old. A few months later a song called “Blowing in the Wind” by some obscure singer/songwriter, named Bob Dylan caught my ear. On the ‘B’ side was “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.” It was another “had to have” single. At the time I didn’t realize the impact music would have on me and how it would influence my way of thinking.
In the fall of 1965, I was a 14 year old freshman in the budding stages of my musical journey. Much of my spare time was spent playing records or listening to the radio. My 45 collection was still growing but by then I was more into buying albums. There was just so much good music out there and new bands were popping up every day or so it seemed. It was a music explosion! The big music news that fall was the release of a new Beatles album ‘Rubber Soul’. In less than a week the record would hit the stores and the word was that the album was better than anything they’d done before, a real departure from their normal Beatle, yeah, yeah, yeah stuff.
At that point in history I was not a big Beatles fan, oh there were a handful of tunes that I liked and I owned a couple of their albums ‘With the Beatles’ and ‘Beatles For Sale’ but the whole Beatlemania thing was a bit too cutesy for me. Four mop-tops with their matching suits and boots. Really? They just didn’t impress me that much, I thought their popularity was way overblown. I was more interested in some of the other English rock bands that made their way to America in 1964’s British Invasion, groups like the Rolling Stones, the Who, Animals, Kinks and Yardirds. They weren’t nearly as polished as the Beatles, they were raw and unconventional which made them much more exciting. But the ‘Rubber Soul hype had peaked my interest. Something about the title maybe. It sort of got in my head. For whatever reasons I was looking forward to giving it a listen, a thoughtful listen.
A few days after it’s release a die hard Beatles fan, friend of mine, brought the new album over to the house so we could give it a listen. The rest is history. ‘Rubber Soul’ was incredible! I was blown away! The album was everything I’d heard it would be and more! Until then, the music business was about one thing and one thing only, churning out hit singles that could be played on the radio. Albums were nothing more than some of these hit singles and an assortment of fillers. ‘Rubber Soul” changed all that.
‘RS’ was the Beatles 6th studio album and is often recognized as one of the first true concept albums. It was the first album that the Beatles recorded themselves. The recording of ‘RS’ was a remarkable learning experience for the Beatles and a preview of things to come. They basically took over the studio on ‘RS’ and took control of every aspect of the recording including the album cover. They were able to take their time with this one and were more precise on instrumentation, vocals and harmonies than ever before. The resulting album was incredible and offered us a journey into the heart and soul of the Beatles, and a preview of what was yet to come.
I’ve enjoyed a lot of music since that first thoughtful listening of ‘Rubber Soul’ all those years ago, it still remains one of my favorite Beatles albums. ‘Rubber Soul’, and the much acclaimed ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ by Bob Dylan released earlier that same year, not only offered incredible musical quality, but thought-provoking lyrics as well. Both changed the way I listened to music for the rest of my life. It’s all about the music and as I said before, I love the music.
“The Magic’s in the Music and the Music’s in Me” Lovin’ Spoonful