Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Life in Four Colors (Part Thirty-Eight)

In the late summer of 1965, I bought a copy of Help! I didn't realize it at the time, but it would be the final Beatles album I would buy for several years—until Abbey Road, in fact.

I was an avid Beatles fan from the first time I heard their music in 1964 and on into 1965, so it may seem incomprehensible that I would simply give up on the group entirely. It wasn't dissatisfaction with their music that made me quit buying their albums; I enjoyed Help! immensely, both as an album and a film, and was particularly pleased to see a comic book reference in the movie (at one point, a number of DC comics, including Action, Superman, and Jimmy Olsen, can be seen on the sheet music rack of an organ)—a perfect blending of two of my favorite interests, obviously! And the over-the-top story of Help!, with its blending of James Bond motifs and musical cues, added a third major interest of mine.  So what wasn't to like?

I can't point to any one thing that led to my drift away from the Beatles, but I suspect it was a combination of factors. For one thing, the group's music was moving into new directions, and I suspect I wasn't aesthetically ready for the changes. I loved not only the early Beatles album, but that wholesome pop image that was associated with the group; as they began to emerge as more complex people capable of producing more complex music,  the twelve-year-old me wasn't ready to progress with them.

Secondly, I found myself spending more of my money on comics. by 1965, I had discovered a number of other comics that piqued my curiosity, including the Warren Magazines line, ACG, Charlton, Magnus Robot Fighter at Gold Key, plus the whole line of Marvel and DC titles... my comics interest was growing exponentially, and my budget wasn't. Since I could still hear the Beatles' hit songs on the radio even if I didn't buy their albums, it seemed like the most logical thing to cut. And back then, one album cost almost as much as thirty comic books!

Third, my growing friendship with Gary Steele, as well as my waning but still existent friendship with John Ball, led to a de-emphasis of music. Neither Gary nor John had much interest in music—the only record I remember Gary owning at that time was a copy of Lorne Greene's "Ringo" (about a Western gunslinger, not a Beatles drummer), while I don't remember John ever buying any music at all. And for me, music has always had a social element: without friends to share an interest in music, I found less motivation to buy albums. My old comic book buddy Phil Patterson, with whom I shared a passion for Beatles albums, had moved into other social circles by this time, and had pretty much abandoned comics. So I really had no one with whom I could discuss Beatles albums or any other music.

And here's a real surprise, considering my adult devotion to the Beatles: in 1965, my favorite part of the US Help! soundtrack was the James Bond-ish intro lead-in to "Help" that George Martin tacked on to the song—and the Beatles had nothing to do with that little bit!

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