FLASHBACK FRIDAY: The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ and My Dad

I don’t remember the first time I heard Revolver. It was probably when I was really young. My dad, keen on honing my life as a music aficionado from a young age, would’ve probably played it while I was still in my mum’s womb. An avid Beatles fan since forever, my dad is responsible for my siblings and I having classic rock music in our lives from birth, and I am so indebted to him because of this.

You go through stages with your parents’ music. You’re too young to know, then you’re old enough to be too “cool”, but for me, I think I got out of that phase really quickly. Maybe it was my dad’s refusal to change his CDs to one of mine or my sister’s in car trips, even when I begged him not to play The Who‘s Tommy album because it was giving me nightmares. “But it’s just so good! Listen to that,” he would exclaim, turning up some searing guitar solo in Pinball Wizard whilst I blocked it out with some Delta Goodrem. He did once let me have control during that one drive where I played the Destiny’s Child Christmas album, but only wanted hear Eight Days of Christmas for the hour-long journey.

“You’ve got to listen to the whole album, Emma. From start to finish. That’s what they’re for,” Dad would say to me. Whatever, Dad, just play the song again. But, due to my conditioning to appreciate music in it’s whole form, and it’s most classic form (the 60’s and 70’s), this phase was rather short-lived – and thank God it was. Whilst my formative teenage years were indeed spent submerged in the indie rock universe, and not long after that getting really into French electro, The Beatles have just always been there. Like that friend you have that you don’t always talk to, but you can call up at any time and its like nothing has changed. That’s The Beatles for me, and by extension, that’s Revolver. Furthermore, that’s my dad.

A lot of it has to do with the sheer diversity of the album. There is literally so much going on in this record, and the fact that it has still, 49 years on, has stood the test of time to this degree speaks for itself. From the quaint, “beginner level” Good Day Sunshine or Ringo Starr‘s Yellow SubmarinePaul McCartney‘s blistering Taxman; George Harrison‘s psychedelic, kaleidoscopic masterpiece of Love You To; all the way through to the album’s most ambitious track (which is saying something) in the form of John Lennon‘s Tomorrow Never Knows, each and every song is an expertly created piece of music that holds it’s own just as much as its fellow tracks, and each creates something entirely different when all combined into one album.

Pushing themselves again and again as they ventured further into their careers and the spoils, trials and tribulations that came with it, the Fab Four really were kings of the world. Having to compete with their peers, but competition, such as Bob Dylan and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, it was a musical arms race of epic proportions come 1966. 300 studio hours for just 35 minutes, John, George, Paul and Ringo banded together to create their most daring, ambitious, outlandish and liberating record yet. They no longer really cared about their tours, their performances or their legions of screaming fans, and now much preferred to retreat into the studio – and into themselves. LSD, India, the Dalai Lama and Hinduism all played their own part in this time for the Beatles, but so too did their innate drive to constantly be better, not only for them personally and as a band, but to grow with their fans. The screaming and crying girls were growing up and experimenting, and in the decade of free love, so were the band. They could have easily gone out then and there, retreated into their drug-fuelled lifestyles and become known as that “pretty good band with those catchy songs”, but this time was pivotal for them to become the band they are known for today.

From the opening notes of Taxman, with it’s metaphorical middle finger well and truly up, Revolver begins it’s unpredictable but totally enthralling musical journey. George’s lead vocal paired with some blistering guitar work – piercing licks and jangly 60’s vibe and all – leading into the slightly creepy Eleanor Rigby; theatrical and unnerving with it’s string section, paired with Paul’s evocative lyricism. He was always good at narratives, old Paul. In fact, this album showcases the best of all four Beatles. John’s drugged-out I’m Only Sleeping, George’s seductive sitar work on Love You To, a typical Paul love song with Here, There and Everywhere before Ringo’s defining Yellow Submarine, and back to John for some good old fashioned rock’n’roll in She Said, She Said– the first side of the record is already an aural extravaganza. Side two, with Good Day Sunshine (Paul); And Your Bird Can Sing (John); For No One (Paul); and John’s tongue in cheek song about a questionable “doctor” called Doctor Robert – also brought the aural goods. Yet another Harrison pearler in the form of I Want To Tell You, the liberating Got To Get You Into My Life courtesy of McCartney and one of their best tracks ever, Tomorrow Never Knows, from John wrap the album up in a mad rush to get to the end as best as they can. So many genres, so many influences, so much ambition and focus- Revolver evolved from a studio album to a living , breathing project that would go onto define a decade.

It was totally revolutionary. The world, not ready for this aural assault, unsuspecting as they spent hours going over each and every detail. Revolver set them up for what is, in my opinion, their magnum opus that is Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but there is something about Revolver that I have learned to love and appreciate more and more as I have grown up. My love for George Harrison really bloomed here; his sitar and his vocal effects twisting and turning their way into my mind, opening my ears to sounds that I had heard before, but not like this. But again, it’s more than just that. Revolver is, to me, my dad. My hero. The man who sacrificed everything for me and my sister, and who doesn’t stop trying to be the best he can be. When I listen to Taxman, it’s not George Harrison I see. It’s my dad, swaying his head, doing some air drumming, whispering the lyrics whilst hanging the clothes out on the line or mowing the lawn (on the very rare occasion he did it). My parents, all four of them, are the reason for my love of music, and my subsequent career in the industry.

Sharing music with my dad has become one of my favourite things to do in the whole world, and it’s a tradition that we have had since I was born. My dad is the type that remembers the moment I was brought home to our house from the hospital by the song playing on the radio at the time. He’s the type that, when thinking of an event, immediately asks, “Now, what’s the music situation?” He is the type to share what he’s listening to every single morning to his Facebook friends, most of whom he doesn’t actually know. My dad taught me it’s important to listen to albums, not just singles. He taught me that the amount of outfit changes in a video clip is in direct contrast to how good the song is (Beyonce excluded, of course). He is the one who introduced me to rage, who calls me up to tell me about a new music documentary he’s just watched, and he’s the type who taught me what loving music really is. When you feel it in your bones, in your fingers and your stomach. You get a lump in your throat when you hear a song that hits you like a tonne of bricks. He pinpoints moments in his life with songs, and taught me to do the same. He’s also the one that introduced me to The Beatles, a band who taught me and continue to teach me every single time I revisit one of their many records.