Let me take you down…’cause I’m going to…
There goes a couple of references to think about: from my blog title, to the post title, to the very first line. They’re all from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. If at this point I’m still not making sense, although it isn’t quite my style, I’ll give it to you directly.
I’m not an expert in any way. They simply hold a unique place in my life (pun not intended). The Beatles, that is. More important to mention is the fact that it isn’t the band that’s uncommonly significant to me although I like them tremendously and admire their accomplishments as musicians. What’s significant, rather, is the collection of distant memories their music spontaneously evokes. These memories are so distant and blurred and fragmented; they almost seem so laughably insignificant at first thought. But given a second glance, the visual seems so tangible that it might as well be the reality now.
It isn’t unusual for third-world families to live in different countries separately in order for parents to provide easy living for their children through viable income. I say this now as an adult, I believe, because it is all I’ve known. Yet, growing up, I was the only one among my friends or anyone I knew, really, that was in an odd situation as such. That’s as much expounding I will do on that particular matter for now. Here is the elusive point: it was undeniably gratifying as a kid to spend real quality time with your parents when it only happened in rare occasions.
So where do the Beatles fit in?
They fit in a tiny island country wedged between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Kingdom of Bahrain. I spent a few summers there where my parents lived. Surrounded by the Persian Gulf, when I say the archipelago is tiny, I mean it’s really small. I remember one night; a family friend drove us around outlining the entire country within a matter of hours–equivalent to that of complete consumption of a bucket of KFC. Plus sides. I remember driving around, a lot, in our navy blue 1982 Toyota Corolla DX. Windows down. No air conditioning. During summer. Summer in the desert. Imagine?
I don’t remember how hot and icky it must’ve been being we were a family of five in a two-door car. What’s prominent in my mind is the breeze that passed through, taking the beautiful sounds of the Beatles from our tiny yellow Sony sport cassette player and bringing it out to the open for the sands to dance to. We belted out the side A favorites, flipped the tape, and slept through the B-sides. This particular road usually took our family to the nearest public beach. But that day, our parents took us somewhere a little more idyllic. It was as much middle eastern romance a nine-year old could handle. That day, surrounded by reddish orange sands all around, singing the Beatles like die-hard fans do, we went to see a 400-year old tree. Yes. A tree right smack in the middle of desert nowhere. It was known as the Tree of Life amongst the locals; however, as I learned later on, the tree species’ natural habitats are actually dry, arid environments. As a kid, though, I was immediately engaged.
It was fascinating. The thirst-quenching green in the middle of a vast dryness. The elaborate branching that resembled an old hand-woven Celtic tapestry. The wooden hearts carved by star-crossed lovers into immortal infinity. The wonderful melding of four British voices so distinct and cool. I soaked it all in as I lay eyes-closed atop a lowered branch. It was magical. A wonderful childhood reverie.
This is what happens when Strawberry Fields Forever plays. It, in turn, plays a lovely memory in my head.
Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It’s getting hard to be someone
But it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me
– the Beatles