That’s what I do while walking along the towpath. I ruminate. Yes, I watch the swans, the ducks, the heron, the coots and all. I get distracted by the different boats moored along the towpath. They change every few days. Except for the boats named ‘Bramble’ and ‘Ken’s Free’. They’ve been there a while now. If a boat is in a lock (there are two near us) I gongoozle for a bit. But mostly I ruminate. About life. I turn 65 in a couple of weeks. Lots of life to ruminate about.
Today I went off to the local Sainsbury’s for some comestibles. It rained heavily last night, so the towpath was soggy. I wore my wellies and had fun walking through the puddles while a few others, unprepared, had to dance around them, avoiding the water, but sliding in the mud. Amusing.
It was on the way back, comestibles in hand, that I began to ruminate. The British papers seem as interested in The US elections as in Britain’s June referendum on whether to stay in or leave the EU (European Union). Anything Donald Trump appears to be good headlines. David Cameron isn’t. He’s just another in a long line of privileged Brits who think they know what this island….and the other island…. need(s). I ruminated about all that….and more.
The more came in the form of a musical hero of mine who finally gave in to age. Sir George Martin died at age 90. He was indeed the 5th Beatle and made the band what they became. I was thinking that the best of who we are as humanity seems to be from those who are in the background. They endure. They never look for public accolades. They are just good at what they do and do it quietly and efficiently. The only reward they ask is that what they do makes a difference or matters and will be remembered.
I didn’t know who George Martin was for years. I may have heard his name in conjunction with The Beatles’ production, but, let’s face it, it ws John, Paul, George and Ringo who had our attention, whether they wanted it or not. Their music is as much a part of my life as anything else. I remember hearing ‘She Loves You’ on my transistor radio one night (I had to hold it under my pillow in case of parent alerts) late in 1963. I listened to WBZ Boston from my lower bunk bed in Grand Valley (population 400), Ontario. A new song from England. I was sold.
I have since learned that George Martin didn’t like the way the Beatles ended the song….on a major 6th. The Fab Four stuck to their guns and it turned out to be a piece of genius writing for the time that Martin hadn’t approved. He later admitted, given the fan evidence, that he may have been wrong on that occasion. It would not be the only time he had to back down. I ruminated what some of the songs might have sounded like had George Martin gotten his way on all the Beatles tunes. He produced over 700 of them.
Then my friend in Grand Valley, Chris Menary, bought the Beatlemania album and we listened to it at his house (when his parents were out) until we wore the vinyl thin. I have found out since that the title was issued only in Canada. Elsewhere it was known as, ‘With The Beatles’.We hopped around Chris’s house to the beat of ‘Please, Mr. Postman’, ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ and the rest. My favourite was ‘All My Loving’. It was the first Beatles song heard by most Americans.
The first song I played in a band was The Beatles’ ‘The Night before’. That was in Grand Valley too, at the High School variety night. We all wore Beatles caps and Neru jackets. I haven’t felt as cool since. And I got to dance afterward with the second prettiest girl in school. Heaven on earth. I owe some of all this to George Martin. No one else wanted to record the Beatles. Martin took a chance. He saw potential and raw talent and moulded it.
Then in 1969, at High School in the north west corner of Toronto, I skipped class one day to join some mates in the library to listen to the newly released ‘Abbey Road’. We were all in awe. What George Martin did with that album can only be described as magic, from crunchy guitar work to a country ditty to Paul’s throat busting rendition of ‘Oh Darlin”. It remains my favourite Beatles album. When I got back to the boat, I put in the little Brennan JB7 and listened to the whole Beatles’ catalogue. Had to be done.
From rumination to reality. The two go hand-in-hand in my life. Most of the time. Just writing this has started me ruminating about old friends from Grand Valley and elsewhere. I wish you all a tuneful moment. Whatever your taste. Could be that over the years you have loved a tune produced by George Martin. The Beatles were not his only musical project. Worth delving into and ruminating about methinks.