Ame Ai confesses her love of The Beatles.
Confessions of a Younger Generation Beatles Fan
by Ame Ai
Fellow Beatles fans, I am Ame Ai from the Washington, DC area. I am a younger generation Beatles fan who is more interested in artistic takes on their music than Trivial Pursuit type facts about them. I never lived during The Beatles, so I am what I consider a young “remix/remake” Beatles fan. I love The Beatles, but especially when someone does something really innovative with their music. My thinking is that The Beatles were always experimental so I'm sure they think it is great that people are experimenting with their music. For example, one of my favorite movies is Across the Universe, an artistic musical directed by Julie Taymor. I also like the Bee Gee's Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with Alice Cooper. Another example of an artistic take on their music would be the Love CD and the companion Cirque du Soleil Love tour. Just recently, my friend introduced me to The Gray Album, The Beatles music mixed with Jay-Z and Danger Mouse music. The title is a play on their famous White Album, but it is The Gray Album because the “white” music is mixed with music from “black” singers. Smaller pieces of art, not just full albums or movies, also interest me, like Aerosmith's version of "Come Together" or En Vogue's version of "Yesterday."
I was born in Seoul, Korea. I was adopted to the States when I was four months old. Many Korean adoptees have a hard time with identity. I have finally decided that I am 100% South Korean and 100% American, not 50/50. I love languages and would love to learn Korean. While I work on learning Korean I load up my pantry with Korean food and my refrigerator with kimchi. What I love about the Beatles is that they transcend nations. They are not just British and their music is not just for Americans. Their music is mentioned in immigration stories, as with the book Nowhere Man by Aleksander Hemon, which alludes to the “Room After 909.”
I like to watch the TV show Smallville, a soap opera based on Superman. I also like to read dystopian (the opposite of utopian) novels like 1984 by George Orwell or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a relative to Charles Darwin’s “bulldog,” T.H. Huxley. When I was younger I read horror novels by Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. I remember being at a book signing with R.L. Stine. I knew he was a Beatles fan because he mentioned them in one of his books about a witch so I made a crack about the song “Paperback Writer.” I myself am a creative writer of poetry. My first book of poetry is Love, Not Love, which is about a journey to find the true meaning of love.
I love art. I love black and white photography. I love Adobe Photoshop and my Mac. I will never forget the Apple Records logo. It looks so much like the Apple computer logo. It should come as no surprise that I prefer Apple computers. All of my friends tell me to switch to a Windows machine, but I remain loyal to the computer made for artists.
I love the past. I love the 1950s, 1960s, and 1980s. I love the time of the Beatles and the hippies. One of these days I want to go to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, which is like being back in the late 1960s. I am young and old at the same time because I am young in this world, but I live thinking of a world before my time. I am a Christian, but I also believe in reincarnation and hope that one day I will meet John Lennon or George Harrison. Besides the Beatles I also like Pink Floyd, especially after I saw Dark Side of Oz, which is The Wizard of Oz set to The Dark Side of the Moon. I love all sorts of music, including music many people hate or feel very strongly about: hip hop, rap, country, etc.
I started taking an interest in The Beatles back in 4th grade. I was part of a group of girls that year. One of them, Jenn, had a father who was a major Beatles fan. He was a math professor with a good sense of humor. He and his wife would often let us into their house for sleepovers and elementary school projects. I specifically got started with The Beatles when Jenn introduced me and my other friends to their music by random singing throughout the day. I became familiar with Beatles song from her. I remember singing "I Am the Walrus" with my friends on the playground in 4th grade. It is an usual song, appealing to grade school children. It was not until I learned more about The Beatles from my music class that I realized whose songs we were singing. I remember going through a brown, thin, hardcover music book. I came across the song "The Yellow Submarine" with the typical The Yellow Submarine cartoon illustrations. I learned that The Beatles were famous with a good many people from my parents' generation, not just my friend's dad but also the music professor himself.
We all took an interest in The Beatles and in creating music in general and thus formed a very amateur band called the 4 Leaf Clovers because there were four of us, like the Fab Four. The singers of my fourth grade band, 4 Leaf Clovers, were Jenn, Cynthia, Carolyn, and me. Our band was very informal; we had no instruments. As grade school children we did not perform concerts or anything elaborate, but we did consider entering contests. However, the contests would have minimum age limits, and we became disconcerted that we could not be taken "seriously" due to our age. We named it "4 Leaf Clovers" because we were fond of searching for four leaf clovers in the playground. We did perform once for our music class, but no one seemed to like our music. I do not think it was because the tune was bad, but the lyrics were strange. We styled our music after The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus," "Obladi Oblada," Yoko Ono’s “#9” and their other drug-inspired nonsense songs, which we did not know were considered “psychedelic” songs at the time. We also sang “Mother Knows Best”, “Here Comes the Sun”, and “With a Little Help From My Friends” (spoken). We also called ourselves the Weirdo Club, perhaps in part because of our weird songs. My favorite song that we wrote was "Sunday Drivers" because it had a good tune, and was not too off-the-wall. Our other songs were "Little Ant," which was about a classmate we did not particularly like. Here is an excerpt from "Sunday Drivers":
the worst of their kind.
the worst you can find.
Driving down the road
got my bags all ready.
I hope we're driving with Eveready.
We're gonna need a big battery charge
'cos we're riding slow as a barge."
Now one of us has actually been the lead singer of a band. Cynthia became Yveline, the lead singer of the band Interrogation. Not me, unfortunately. Her favorite Beatle was George Harrison. She started listening to their individual post-breakup CDs long before I did because I was a purist for quite some time. I have since lost contact with Jenn and Carolyn. When our group of four split up into one-on-one it was usually Jenn with Carolyn and me with Cynthia. While Cynthia sang I continued my love of The Beatles by collecting whatever I could get my hands on: t-shirts, books, articles, framed posters, figurines, etc. The t-shirts I own are a red t-shirt of the Let It Be cover, a tan t-shirt of the The Yellow Submarine cover, a gray t-shirt that says “Les Beatles”, and a black t-shirt with just their faces. My favorite book was a collection of lyrics complete with art created by The Beatles themselves. However, I would not recommend it for someone under age 18. One poster I have contains the covers of many 45 records, records that played music prior to the beginning of LP, or vinyl, records. The other poster is a black-and-white poster depicting all four in profile with their signatures underneath. Two figurines I own are from The Yellow Submarine: Paul McCartney and Glove. I also have a set of them playing in concert in the early 1960s. I have never been to any festivals. I have never seen The Beatles in concert. I am too young. I have also never seen them individually in concert post-breakup. Right now, my only options are to see Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey) or Paul McCartney. I liked Ringo when I was younger before I ever knew about The Beatles because he was the conductor on Thomas the Tank Engine. Even though Ringo was my favorite, my favorite singer post-breakup was John Lennon before he was killed, and that was before my time.
I love Ringo because he is funny. I have a good sense of humor. I have a weird sense of humor that is random, much like Ringo’s humor. I enjoy the comedies of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I love to laugh during Scrubs or The Simpsons. I love British humor especially. Perhaps it’s the accent that turns me on. I like Monty Python and Douglas Adams. A member of Monty Python played a voice actor on The Yellow Submarine. Some of the jokes and inside jokes I remember from Beatles movies are the following:
∑ In Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band it begins in the town of Fleu de Coup, a joke on “flew the coop”
∑ In the same movie, the band is signed onto BD records, which stands for “bulldog”
∑ In The Yellow Submarine, they refer to Saturday as “sitar-day” when they come to get George Harrison
∑ In the same movie, they joke about “blue glass,” referring to bluegrass music.
My dad was never too fond of The Beatles and neither were any of my boyfriends; however, my mother enjoyed some of their music. I do not have any brothers or sisters. My current boyfriend thinks that they were too "white bread," or popular. This is an interesting way of seeing them to me because The Beatles are not common in my era. In fact, many people my age have never heard of their music. I am drawn to the uncommon and unconventional. However, The Beatles were common in the past. They were considered a mere boy band, like ‘NSync or The Backstreet Boys.
Even though none of my boyfriends had a fondness for the Beatles, they did play a role in a lot of music I liked. I like music when I associate the music with good feelings. Many musicians I would not have liked unless my boyfriends did not introduce me to them, providing commentary and analysis of the lyrics. One boyfriend introduced me to Linkin Park, one introduced me to Tool, one introduced me to Ludacris, and one introduced me to slow jazz. I love music with meaning, but sometimes knowing the meaning does not come naturally. I would not have liked any of this music if I did not know someone who liked it and was able to “show me the ropes.” Perhaps my love of the Beatles has rubbed off on them. The fact that my Beatles obsession has lasted so long must mean that the bond between female friends is stronger than the bond between ex-lovers.
My favorite Beatles song is, like everyone else, “Imagine” by John Lennon, even though that was written post-breakup. Another song dear to my heart is “Yesterday” because it was the first song I was able to play on a piano when I took piano lessons back in high school. What I think is great about the Beatles is that they have a song for every occasion, whether pre- or post-breakup. For example, Paul McCartney has “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.” They have a lot of love music for every love feeling. When I was in an interracial relationship I would think of Paul McCartney’s song “Ebony and Ivory.” When I was going through a breakup I sang “You Won’t See Me.” Currently, my favorite song for the moment is that song sung during the bowling alley scene in Across the Universe, “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” Their best albums, in my humble opinion, are Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Yellow Submarine. In terms of post-breakup collections I also love The Beatles/1967-1970.
The Beatles were the best songwriters of the century. They are historical even though two of the members are still alive. The country song “Bigger than the Beatles” is ridiculous because nothing and no one is bigger than the Beatles. Their music is easy to sing and memorize. As an Alto II (the lowest range for a woman) I can sing their music easily because many songs center around the lower C note. Their music is extremely easy for me to memorize. I usually have a difficult time memorizing lyrics, but Beatles lyrics always come naturally.
Another smaller obsession of mine is “Quantum Leap.” I have five seasons. If I could go back in time and “right what once was wrong,” then I would leap into Ringo’s body to make sure that the band would not split up and that John would not be killed.
I love musicals and Beatles movies. I especially love Beatles musicals. My favorite lines are always those delivered by Ringo, such as "I have a hole in me pocket" from The Yellow Submarine, which was a pivotal line in the movie. I have the following movies:
* Hard Day's Night
* The Yellow Submarine
* The Anthology (taped TV special)
* Beatles Firsts
* Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (a musical)
* Across the Universe
My favorite Christmas gift was the musical, Across the Universe, which was based on their music in the same way that Mamma Mia! was based on ABBA music. It stars Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess. Wood is currently dating Marilyn Manson and Sturgess was in another movie, 21, which is about gambling. I was very pleased that Julie Taymor directed the movie. I remember having a conversation with a former coworker who was a fan of musicals, like me. She told me all about Julie Taymor’s version of The Lion King, which was on Broadway for a long time. She told me how inventive and experimental she was with the casting of the play and with particular scenes. In one scene, Julie Taymor depicts a running herd of animals by having the actors and actresses hold wind-up dolls, controlling the mammalian dolls as if they were marionettes. As I watched the movie again, which I highly recommend, I would talk aloud about how I was impressed with the synchronization of the actors’ and actresses’ actions during the songs “It Won’t Be Long”, “With a Little Help From My Friends”, “Happiness is a Warm Gun”, and “Hey Jude.” Other songs were remarkable because of the unconventional ideas of Julie Taymor. For example, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was sung by a lesbian and “Strawberry Fields Forever” referred in the movie to rows of strawberries that were pinned to a canvas. I found it brilliant that the waves along the beach became the edges of a newspaper in “Helter Skelter.” The names were all names taken from Beatles’ songs: Lucy, Jude, Sadie, JoJo, Prudence, Dr. Roberts, and Mr. Kite. Sadie and JoJo reminded me of Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix. Those two sang a terrific “I’ll Never Do You No Harm.” U2’s Bono played Dr. Roberts and famous British comedian Eddie Izzard played Mr. Kite. When my mother watched it with me the first time she remarked that the movie showcased songs she had never heard sung, such as “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” probably because these songs distract from their clean-cut persona from the early 1960s. I, on the other hand, recognized all of the songs, and patted myself on the back for being such a good fan.
Watching that movie was like watching the “Free Love” music video years before. It came after The Anthology, a TV special with companion CDs. The music video contained so many inside jokes that only true fans would understand. For example, there was a hole in the music video that reminded one of “Fixing a Hole.” Also, there was a woman who climbed into a house through a window, which reminded one of “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.” The single CD Free Love was created before John Lennon was killed and was introduced to the public with the help of the surviving members after his death.
Another musical I enjoy is Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, created in 1978. It stars the Bee Gees as the members of the band. Billy Preston plays Sgt. Pepper and one of the Bee Gees’ own plays Billie Shears. George Burns narrates as Mr. Kite. The evildoers are Frankie Howerd as Mr. Mustard, Steve Martin as Dr. Maxwell, Alice Cooper as Father Sun, and Aerosmith as the Future Villian Band (FVB). I thought Steve Martin made a good Dr. Maxwell; the role was similar to another role he played as the dentist in The Little House of Horrors. The band members have to rescue their musical instruments from each evildoer: Mr. Mustard has the bass drum, Mr. Maxwell has the silver cornet, and Father Sun has the tuba. The songs that were treated well in this musical were “Nowhere to Go”, “Carry that Weight”, and “Get Back.” The former was centered around money, the second was sung during a funeral, and the latter was sung when the windvane magically comes to life and rewinds certain tragic events to the time before the events occurred. Earth, Wind, & Fire play at a benefit concert near the end. Also near the end other celebrities make their appearance, to remind one of the Beatles’ original album cover: Tina Turner; Carol Channing; Bonnie Raitt; Sha-Na-Na; Heart; Wolfman Jack; Leif Garrett; Frankie Valli; and Hank Williams, Jr., to name a few.
The Yellow Submarine is wonderful because The Beatles created it; it was not created by some non-Beatles director. Also, one gets the impression that the music was made-for-movies music since the soundtrack matches the movie. I like how they had a Cerberus-like creature for the song “Bulldog.” I think it’s hilarious when they start singing “Nowhere Man” to their funny new friend; it is like a playful insult. The poor guy. Certain songs seemed to be made for certain movies. For example, “When I’m Sixty-Four” seemed made for The Yellow Submarine. I see it in Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but it is not the same. Another similar situation is that with “I Want You” and “She’s So Heavy,” two songs that go together. Both songs are in Across the Universe and Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but I prefer Julie Taymor’s treatment of the songs best because of the choreography and creative ideas. You will just have to see it yourself to know what I am talking about; I think I have given away enough already.
Though it is not a musical, I also have Beatles Firsts, which is a collection of “firsts” from 1963 to 1964. It contains The Mersey Sound, their first documentary; The Beatles Come to Town, their first color film appearance; and their first U.S. concert in Washington, DC after they are on The Ed Sullivan Show.
I had a recent tragedy though in terms of my Beatles collection. I used to own 20 Beatles CD's. However, someone stole them all from me, as well as makeup, my Nintendo Wii, and other items when I was moving into an apartment. I had just signed the sublease for an apartment near the University of Minnesota in February. I had been moving items in gradually throughout the week in the living room when I was not working, and it was daylight. I suppose that I am too trusting because my alma mater had an honor code in place so no one really stole anything ever. When I returned one day my moving boxes were opened and my favorite music CDs ($750 worth or 50 total with 20 of them being Beatles music) was gone with my makeup and my Nintendo Wii (About $200 worth). All together, I had lost about $1,000, which I will never fully recover. These are some of the albums I lost in that fiasco:
∑ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
∑ The Yellow Submarine
∑ The Beatles/1962-1966
∑ The Beatles/1967-1970
∑ The White Album
∑ The Music Box Beatles
I found some other open boxes in front of people's rooms, not in the living room. I asked several people if they knew of anything and made several accusations. I found out that it was common for a new leasor's expensive laptop to be stolen, and no one had done much of anything about it. Suffice it to say, I found another place to live. I filed a police report immediately, but they could not do much for me. I explained to the leasor the situation and told her that she would need to find another subleasor to replace me. To this day, I suspect that it was the housekeeper since he had a key and since all of the roommates denied having stolen anything. Several months after I left the state, I received a bill from the leasing office.... That is when I found out that the subleasors the leasor had replaced me with did not pay for any of the months that they were there. I stated very clearly that that was not my problem, and I did not owe anything since I had never even lived in the apartment.
I was brokenhearted about my Beatles collection, but I vowed to buy them up again when I can afford to do so. Fortunately for me people buy me Beatles gifts all the time. People know that The Beatles are my passion. During the Christmas I was back in Virginia I started rebuilding my Beatles collection from scratch. Now that Christmas has come and gone I now have CDs for Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Yellow Submarine, 1, The Beatles/1962-1966, and Across the Universe, in addition to the DVD Across the Universe. A fan is always counting his or her collection. I am sure that I will rebuild the collection of music that was stolen from me. I still have many more Christmases to come. On my next wish list I will add The White Album.
As a Korean adoptee I found a musical band with universal appeal when I was in fourth grade. Even though I have other interests, I will always be a loyal fan and will always be inspired by the way they lived and wrote their music. I will continue to collect whatever I can get my hands on, especially since my former collection is now irrecoverable. I will continue to network with other fans, making inside jokes, and perhaps I will be able to find someone who can help me fill my collection or tell me about an opportunity to meet Ringo, one of the survivors. I hope that one day soon I will be able to say “I’ve just seen a face” of a fellow Beatles fan who read my confessions.