Saturday, September 30, 2006

Get back

They say that, in the West, everyone has a Beatles story.

There’s the guy who sipped wine sitting on a rug in a balcony facing the ocean, until the hostess dashed his hopes of a happier end to the night by telling him that she had work early morning, all the while Norwegian wood played on the stereo. Then there’s the girl who had her high school admirer sing Eight days a week during recess. Someone remembers being worried because he didn’t feel any higher while listening to A day in the life. Some remember driving around the Pacific Coast in a beat up Pintara listening to the White Album. There is the married couple who fought over whether Help marked the end of the early Beatles or the beginning of the middle Beatles. There’s the guy who would insist on playing the last half of Abbey Road uninterrupted. There’s the girl who hates Beatles covers, but loves I am Sam. And there’s the boy who saw strangers cry the day music died.

And everyone can relate to those four — George the quiet genius, Ringo with that goofy laugh, and Paul is really quite a good guy once you know him, and John, oh then there’s John.

Such Beatles stories are not the sole preserve of the West — a brother once told me how his mother would make dinner while playing Rubber Soul, so twenty years on, he can smell ghee-fried paratha listening to Girl.

I have no such story about Get Back. I don’t know why it is my favorite Beatles track. It is not easy to pick a single Beatles song, but this is the one I chose.

This is not the Beatles track with the most influential lyrics. Nor does it have the most groundbreaking musical technique. In fact, it is in many ways a straightforward rock and roll number. Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he said get back to where you once belonged. Perhaps. Real aficionados know that there are bootleg versions where the song urges a Paki to get back to where he belongs — this was meant to be a political satire denouncing racism. I, of course, had no idea of this when I first heard the song. And I still don’t know what Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman but she was another man means.