I played at the Beatles Tribute Night tonight at Oskar Blues in Lyons. My partner Nancy who is in my uke band Gadzukes!, and I performed "Till There Was You" from the first Beatles album, "with the beatles" on ukes. That album came out in late 1962, and of course everything in the world changed. But what really changed the most for me was I learned, from that album, what a good song was.
My parents and sisters loved musicals and played them endlessly around the house. I hated them, mostly because I loved rock and roll and they were not rock and roll. But mostly, I hated the sound track from "The Music Man," a huge Broadway hit that was currently a hit movie. I liked the Kingston Trio. The Beach Boys. Wilson Pickett. The local Minneapolis cover bands that specialized in rhythm and blues. Bob Dylan was a year away.
Then the Beatles (insert cliche here) exploded into the world. The singles started coming. "I Want to Hold Your Hand." "I Saw Her Standing There." "Please Please Me." I waited impatiently for the album. And when "meet the beatles" came out with its now classic noir cover, the half-shadowed pictures of the haircuts I studied for every detail, there was the ecstatic moment, the pleasure of ripping the plastic covering off and laying the needle down on the first groove. And what a record it was. But to my amazement, there on side two, cut nine, was "Till There Was You." From the dreaded musical, "The Music Man." What the fuck?
So what I learned from that track, with it's gorgeous classic guitar solo, claves and cha-cha beat was that it isn't about the haircut. Or the electricity. Or the beat. Or the culture. Or me versus my parents. It's about good songs. "Till There Was You" is a good song. A great song, maybe. And John, Paul, George and Ringo knew it. And once I listened to it, without the wall of the times and the culture, and my teenage anger, I guess I knew it too. And I'm proud that I recorded it on my CD. And that I copied George's guitar solo, note-for-note. And that i play it at every Gadzukes! gig. And that I played it tonight. Because it's a good song. And that's what counts.