We’re going home

I. So much younger than today…

It has been two months since I saw The Beatles Get Back documentary. I have been walking around, turning words and phrases in my head, just like Paul and John did when playing with “Two of Us” – trying this and that, goofing, slowing down, and speeding up. They ultimately succeeded – and I did not; however, this is the exact moment when I decided to start this messy piece, with the realization of my failure but also with the feeling of limitless possibilities. And so, here is a chaotic love confession long overdue.

In my own hierarchy of the most important things that defined me as a person the Beatles probably occupy one of the primary positions; their songs, their voices led me to the awakening that made me into who I am, a rock music fan, once and for all. I cannot say when I heard them for the first time – I must have been 9 or 10 years old – but I know that my first exposure was through two vinyl records that came out in the Soviet Union in 1986 (A Taste of Honey and A Hard Day’s Night); and then, a couple of years later, two cassettes copied from the Red and Blue albums (Beatles 1962-1966, 1967-1970). These songs helped me through my pre-teen and early teen years; I was lucky to be growing up in times of sweeping changes when my beloved music would turn up not just on bootlegged copies but even on a TV program.  Sometimes you could catch a fleeting glimpse of a grainy Beatles footage, and those 20 seconds would totally make your day, week, and month. I remember borrowing the original Sgt. Pepper record of 1967 for a couple of days, and diligently copying (of course, by hand) all the lyrics from the sleeve into my notebook, with the hope that one day I would be able to understand them all.

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For three or four years, the Beatles were everything to me, my world, my rock, my safe bubble; I surrounded myself with their music, their posters, and their stories that would resurface here and there, in newspapers or even in the first Russian translations of their biographies. Meeting another Beatle fan felt like a miracle, and so I was trying to pull all of my friends into their music. In the early 1990s the Film Museum in Moscow screened A Hard Day’s Night and Yellow Submarine for one day – of course, seeing the Beatles footage for more than an hour, even with the bad voiceover translation, was a blessed and overwhelming experience, a forever cherished memory: admiring the young and handsome faces of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, seeing them playing, cheering and laughing with the audience; no wonder that to this day that out of their early albums A Hard Day’s Night is my absolute favorite.

Growing older, I moved on to other music – Queen, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Paul Simon, David Byrne, Russian rock bands, and David Bowie; however, for all these years Beatles remained a constant in my life that I could always rely on; whenever I felt blue, lost, or upset, I knew that listening to any of their albums – even the earlier ones – would pick me up. I always kept their records somewhere close – first cassettes and records, then the CDs, the downloaded mp3 files, the YouTube videos, and Spotify playlists. I went through periods of adoring Paul’s solo work; much later, in my forties, I became a fan of George’s post-Beatle songs, after having discovered his wit and wisdom in the Anthology series. And then, in the magic year of 2016, I finally had the privilege of singing “Hey Jude,” along with thousands of other fans at Paul’s concert in Canada. A month later, I stood at the gate of the Abbey Road Studios, glued to this fence, feeling the energy of this place, shedding tears, and writing “Beatles 4ever” on the wall. A full circle of my life.

To be continued…

Katya Neklyudova, 2022

Rock On

Some Have Gone, And Some Remain

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