Something...there's something about 'Beatlemania' that one can't really explain. However, let me give it a try. I think what the Beatles did was grab my consciousness, and like everybody else who enjoyed rock and roll music, I thought they were the most original and exciting.
I first heard the Beatles (in the mid-60s) sing 'Love, love me do.' Then I heard - one of my favourites till this day - 'Please, please Mr. Postman,' then 'I Wanna Hold your Hand' and so many, so many of their songs that I can never really put a finger to say which the best was. I think they were all great.
Those days I never had a record player. Few did. Ye Old Faithful - the radio - was the only form of home entertainment available for us middle-class. Television was millenniums away. In Madras (they call it 'Chennai' these days - gosh! Why do they do this, change names? After all, like Shakespeare said, what's in a name?) 'Listener's Choice' every Saturday night was the most popular - if not the only programme - that aired Western Music. While others at home had gone to bed, I'd glue myself to the radio listening to the Beatles, who'd probably have 6-7 of their songs topping the charts for the week. Of course, there were always songs by Cliff Richard, Tom Jones and Jim Reeves too.
So, when you're a Beatle fan as maniacal as I am, it's but natural to head for Abbey Road and have your picture taken at the most famous Abbey Road zebra crossing.
From Baker Street, we took the Jubilee line train and got off at St. John Wood tube station. At the station exit, I noticed a Beatle souvenir shop. I was tempted, but I didn't. We had scheduled a trip to Liverpool in a few days and what better place to buy Beatle souvenirs than on their home turf?
In less than 10 minutes we reached the intersection of Grove End Road and Abbey Road. No surprises to find there were already a large number of tourists, all lining up at the zebra crossing to have their pictures taken. As we waited our turn, I utilized the opportunity to shoot a few pictures of Mona leaning on the 'Abbey Road' road sign. Then I had her take a few of me. In between, there was a request from this Japanese tourist group who wanted to have their picture taken crossing the road. Always willing to oblige a contemporary.
I must confess that on reaching the intersection, I had felt the excitement as well. As a proud owner of the 1969 album 'Abbey Road', I must have admired that cover picture of the Beatles crossing that road some zillions of times. Here I was now at that sacred ground.
You might say, 'For Christ's sake, it's after all just a pedestrian crossing. What's the song and dance all about?' Well, to be seated on Sherlock Holmes' armchair is a thrilling experience indeed. But the fact of the matter is that Sherlock Holmes was only a legendary character. So was Robin Hood. In comparison, the Beatles actually existed and some of them are still living. History records the fact that the Liverpool lads actually changed the way the world lived. They influenced almost everything: music, politics, culture, fashion, creativity and what have you. The Beatles' story isn't a mythological one like our 'Mahabharata' and 'Ramayana' and mankind will bear testimony to the revolution they kick-started.
The thrill of being on Abbey Road that day is something that'll live with me forever. I'm not sure if Mona felt the same as I did - she wasn't quite into Beatle music as I was - but I think I did see a hint of excitement as she walked on that pedestrian crossing.
At that intersection, Door No. 3 is another well-known landmark associated with the Beatles - Abbey Road Studios. Unfortunately, visitors aren't allowed in. Formerly EMI Studios, it was renamed Abbey Road Studios mainly because 90% of the Beatles' major hits were recorded here. And it was here, at Abbey Road Studios, a new star was born. Mary Hopkins. Her famous song 'those were the days my friend' was produced by Beatle Paul McCartney and recorded at this studio. When it released, it was a hit and went right up to be No. 1 on the UK singles chart.
There's an interesting tradition of this famous studio. Beatle fans from across the world who visit Abbey Road always scribble a message on the boundary walls of the studios. Off-late however, there are protests from amongst the St. John Wood neighbourhood, who think the graffiti is an eyesore. Naturally, hard-core Beatle fans are counter-protesting and refuse to allow the authorities to discontinue the tradition of 20-odd years.
Imagine...all those people!
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