On social media a teacher posted a clever new dress code rule for their students that I couldn’t agree with more. If students wear a t-shirt with a band, they have to be able to name at least three songs from that band.
Last week I saw a young man in Walmart wearing a Beatles’ shirt but as he got closer I realized it said’ The Beatles SUCK’. I felt a stab of pain, ouch mi corazon. I had to laugh at myself. When I was in fifth grade my friends and I started a Beatles Fan Club. Over 35 years after the British Invasion, somehow the four of us caught Beatle mania. I remember the day we started the club it was a toss-up between The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. It took our 10-year-old brains about 30 seconds to decide the Beatles were the cutest. That settled we found a shed, put up a poster and negotiated over who got which one. I picked Paul and it snowballed from there.
In the era of Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, my friends and I were annoying our parents and siblings with non-stop Beatles music and movies. We weren’t much different than the girls screaming in the audience in black and white on our screens. We were obsessed! During that time CDs were about $20, tapes $10, but Beatles records you could find at yard sales and thrift stores for 25 cents, and that was the birth of my vinyl collection. These days, records cost at least ten times more than their digital download cousins.
But nothing can touch the experience of playing a record, the crackle of the needle hitting the first song is unbeatable. Forget digitally remastered, Al Green’s voice is pure bliss on vinyl. It just hits different. These days we listen to music more as a background noise while we do other things, but with records, the act of playing the record and having to flip it, makes it the central activity. It’s a physical experience that allows for memories to be made.
When I was a librarian, there were always concerns that e-books would eliminate the desire and value for physical books. There was a sense of the end of an era, but I always trusted that people wanted the experience of the book. There is the undeniable connection people feel for physical objects that bring them a sort of joy. We can’t let go of the emotional connections we have to physical objects whether it’s a book or a vinyl record. It is the unity of our senses that gives us a delight that an e-book and music download can’t give us.
My record player sadly was broken several years ago by a feisty kitten. Even though I haven’t played one of my records since it broke, their presence on the shelf makes me feel satisfied. Just like my bookshelf of favorite books, I feel good just knowing they are there; it’s part of what makes a house feel like home.
I couldn’t think of any boy bands of today that teenagers are into now, so I googled it and found a group I have a vague recollection of, BTS, a Korean pop group. As I was scrolling, wouldn’t you know right below my search in Google was an article with the top all time ten bands, updated in 2023. Guess who was number one, right above The Rolling Stones? Maybe I’ll ask the boy with the t-shirt if he can at least name three Beatle songs. It goes both ways after all.