I’ve spoken often, okay fine I’ve ranted, about my father’s, shall we say, disappointing musical tastes but I’ve rarely spoken of my mother’s. She too is a lover of country music, especially those classic quartets like The Oak Ridge Boys and The Statler Brothers. In fact, she herself sings in a women’s a cappella choir (that’s code for barbershop), competing across Ontario and the Eastern United States in singing competitions. Yeah, I had no idea either. Just like there’s a fetish for everyone, no matter how obscure, apparently there is a hobby for everyone too.
Despite her wholesome veneer there lies within a small ingot of rock ‘n’ roll gold forged from summer nights at the local roller rink in her youth. A window in time when The Who, The Rolling Stones, and, of course, The Beatles left her all dreamy eyed and quivery before my father entered the picture and inexplicably did the same. I know this because she told me so in the late eighties when I, and a sizable portion of my generation, went through a brief love affair with The Who which had embarked on a reunion/farewell tour which now seems utterly laughable. She also still owned one Beatles album.
It was a different time back when I was a little gaffer. CDs didn’t exist, cassettes were rare and LPs and radio still ruled the music delivery business. In that quaint, but retrospectively comical context, the half dozen or so assorted LPs and 45s my sister and I “owned” were fantastic treasures which we played on our toy turntable almost constantly. As I entered my tweens, my mother’s lone Beatles album became the cream of an admittedly limited crop. In grade 8 I loaned it to one of my best friends in exchange for a Rolling Stones album. He had three older brothers and therefore a knowledge of and access to rock music that dwarfed mine. I loved “Get off of My Cloud” but couldn’t wait to get “my” Beatles album back.
True to form, this infamous Beatles album wasn’t even a famous Beatles album. Not Sargent Pepper or Rubber Soul or Abbey Road or The White Album. Instead it was a collection of cuts from earlier releases repackaged to capitalize on Beatlemania. As such, the songs on the album are genuine rock ‘n’ roll tunes from the late 50s and early 60s, including a few written by legends like Carl Perkins and Chuck Berry. Mop top Beatles rather than Maharishi Beatles.
I am having such a hard time picking one song from this album to kick off the weekend. I’ve changed my mind a dozen times. There are easily seven tracks I’d be happy to choose. All conjure up floods of childhood nostalgia for me. Alas, I can only pick one so in honour of my secret rock ‘n’ roll mother’s birthday this week, here’s “I’m a Loser” by The Beatles from Beatles ’65 released in 1964.