October 12, 2008

It’s a boy thing, isn’t it, making compilation CDs (formerly tapes). So it might be because of my gender that I do it. Now that I have finally mastered the rip and burn facility (my computer couldn’t do it until last month), I’ve filled in those occasional empty spaces by creating some new CDs for the car, since I don’t have a tape-player in my car any more.

Compilations-for-the-car of the kind that I’ve made in the past have driven my family mad, notably the one which had over 25 versions of ‘Rock Me Baby’ back-to-back. Still, it made me happy. It kept me on the streets.

I’ve just had a shot at reorganising the Beatles albums (which I never play all the way through), keeping only songs which I still like. I am not a particularly avid Beatles fan, but they do represent my childhood. I tried to do this without consideration for order, so that it would be a pleasant surprise when played back. The only thing I concentrated on was omitting songs which bored me – even then, I think. I gave up trying to represent each album, because a moment’s thought showed me that ‘Abbey Road’ is, of all of them, almost the most dated, and certainly the weakest. Only ‘Here Comes The Sun’ made the cut.

Playing them back – them, because it turned into three CDs – I realised how much I favoured Lennon songs over McCartney songs – even Harrison songs over McCartney songs. Try as I may, I can’t be doing with stuff like ‘Blackbird’ or ‘Yesterday’. But at the same time, I was also struck by how good McCartney is on bass, and how particularly good Ringo is throughout. Ringo was once described as “not even the best drummer in The Beatles” (it was Paul McCartney they had in mind), but he seems pretty inventive to me.

Another nice effect of compilations is the accidental collisions they throw up: so that ‘A Day In The Life’ is now followed by ‘The Night Before’. I am sure I can get a poem out of this.

The Beatles are always in the news, and the publication of Philip Norman’s colossal 700+ page biography of Lennon will doubtless dominate the Christmas lists. There is an odd article in the Observer today about a town in northen Scotland to which Lennon went on childhood holidays, and which he did visit again in 1969, before crashing his car there. Apparently, the town has just held a memorial concert – Lennon would have been 68 last week – and the locals think that the song ‘In My Life’ refers to their place of residence. This is a very odd claim to make, since, apart from the opening line ‘There are places I remember’, there is nothing specific about Scotland, rain, midges, crofts, or indeed anything about anywhere. And the whole point of the lyric is that the places the singer remembers are inferior to the memory of a lover he once had.

Added to which, McCartney says that he wrote the song. Paul Simon says he believes him. But I don’t.

Incidentally, Norman’s biography revives the well-worn claim that Lennon had a couple of homosexual flings. McCartney has already said that this is nonsense because he shared a bed with Lennon scores of times in Hamburg and would have known. Ah but Paul, perhaps he didn’t fancy you…