Check it out . . .
Here in Philadelphia on the radio they have 'Breakfast with the Beatles'. The DJ tells a little anecdote about the Fab Four then plays three songs from across their career. Today's anecdote was about their hectic lives in 1964. Every day was a blur from hotel room to dressing room to stage back to hotel room . . . and they were working on their first movie. It was Ringo who uttered the line, "It's been a hard day's night." One of the best lines ever.
So this agent, a guy called Lester, repeated this to the press, said the name of the movie is A Hard Days Night
Well John heard about this and he got kind of bent out of shape - John was like the big leader of the band, right?
At this point there isn't even a song written yet called A Hard Days Night. So John is kind of out of sorts, but he's dealing with all this success so he can't really squawk too loud, so he knuckled down and wrote the song, and it was attributed to Lennon-McCartney.
It was 1964. I was a kid, freshly evacuated out of Indonesia, The Year of Living Dangerously. We were living in Bondi Beach, Sydney, and I thought it was the most beautiful place in the world. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.
I was in my first real school, Bondi Elementary. Not some bungalow in Indonesia but a real school. Then that song came out, and we were all crazy about the Beatles. It completely blew us away. I'd never even heard music on the radio before . . . suddenly the great tunes of the Fab Four, belting out at us from everywhere. It was all a first. Completely blew us all away.
We went to see the movie, of course, Saturday Matinee, blew us away even more.
I was 6 years old. The Beatles paralleled my childhood from that point on.
My Dad rejoined us from Indonesia . . . he had to stay back to close out the project. The next year we moved on to California . . . by that time my Dad had all these great American connections and that's where the Big Money is . . .
For Christmas that year in California, Mother presented us the Meet The Beatles album and we all sang along to all the songs over and over and over again.
That was the best Christmas I ever remember growing up. I was 7 years old.
We wore a groove in that album listening to it over and over and over. The next year Mother got us a NEW Beatles album . . .
That blew our minds ALL OVER AGAIN!
There's never been a band quite like the Beatles for offering variety . . . each album was like discovering a whole new band . . .
In the meantime we'd been fed a constant input of Beatles . . . the Help movie had come out, and every Saturday morning we watched the Beatles cartoons. Suddenly there was this NEW version of the Beatles.
The album cover showed them as a studio band, and it was obvious that Beatlemania was over . . . but the songs were even MORE AMAZING.
In '67 my Dad picked up another overseas contract and we moved to Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). Life there was . . . different . . .
We lived in these huge whitewashed cement houses with flat roofs you could go up an walk around on, sleep up there during the hot season if you wanted. Huge walled in yards.
It took them six months to paint the place because the walls were so high.
There were herds of cows walking up and down the streets, piles of garbage that people and animals would pick through . . . open sewers . . . no TV, no telephones even . . . if you wanted to communicate with another family you sent a servant over with a note.
There were packs of wild dogs and at night the jackals would come out, do battle with the shrews over the garbage heaps.
We'd hunt the jackals and shrews at night with flashlights and pellet rifles. During the day I used to hunt cobra - a constant problem in our backyard - with a baseball bat. That became my job.
Our entertainment was whatever we did outside, for me it was slaying snakes. There was no TV, only Saturday Night Movies at the USIS. All the rest of the time we were on our own. We kids had tons of time to develop our imagination and learning skills, so much better than sitting in front of a TV. We created some amazing things - one day I'll tell you the Saga of the Lone Penguin.
By the time I was in 5th grade I'd lost track of how many snakes I'd killed - DEADLY POISONOUS snakes! I never thought anything about it; the gardener taught me how to kill cobras and so I went about it like it was part and parcel of taking care of the yard.
Only time I had a close call was the time I lifted an old plank in the backyard and instead of a cobra it was a NEST OF VIPERS!!! Vipers are a HUNDRED TIMES MORE DEADLY than cobras!!! and a THOUSAND TIMES FASTER when they strike!!!
Cobras are NOTHING - they just flare up their hood and sit there all stupid-like waiting for you to beat their brains in with the baseball bat. Vipers STRIKE OUT at you with LIGHTNING SPEED and that's exactly what Mama Viper did to me! I had a split second look at a MOUTHFUL of RAZOR SHARP POISON FANGS COMIN' STRAIGHT AT ME!!!
I slammed that plank down on that snakes' head faster and harder than I've ever done anything before or since!
ANYWAY . . .
One day in Dacca Auntie Helen showed up. She was my mother's older sister . . . very beautiful, a very flamboyant personality. Auntie Helen used to show up wherever we were, reeling in from her latest adventure. This time she told us a bunch of confusing tales of riding the Orient Express through Yugoslavia, hanging out with a bunch of Serb Chetniks, talking all about the double-headed eagle. None of that made a lick of sense to me, of course, until years later when I was going in and out of the former Yugoslavia like the place had a revolving door.
Aunty Helen had no kids of her own, but she loved us kids, and this time she brought us the latest Beatles album!
SGT PEPPERs LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
What a brilliant album! We were all BLOWN AWAY ALL OVER AGAIN ! ! !
It was like "WOAH!!! Look what happened to THESE GUYS!!!"
It was ABSOLUTELY a big difference! But we still loved it - OH YEAH - who wouldn't ??? It's BEAUTIFUL MUSIC and it's withstood the TEST OF TIME.
By this time we were aware of the Beatle's trip to India, and that had special meaning to us because we were in Bangladesh, and we had already seen a pic of John with his wireframe glasses and short hair. One day Mother was reading the International Herald Tribune - that was our only paper - and she said "Oh look! Here's a picture of John Lennon with glasses!"
The Times They were a-Changin' . . .
It had started about eighteen months after we'd arrived but now the troubles between the Bengalis and their West Pakistani overlords were getting progressively worse. We pulled out just ahead of when it became full blown civil war, although we kids saw enough suffering & human tragedy before we left . . .
. . . horrific suffering that you simply cannot imagine unless you've lived in a place like that . . .
. . . suffering on a level with the greatest war crimes and human tragedies of the 20th century, I saw that as a kid . . . the place was a mess . . .
We ended up in Bangkok, and for the second time in my young life I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven. After Bangladesh, Bangkok was Big City, Shining Lights . . .
. . . a rich, vibrant exotic Oriental culture . . .
. . . BEAUTIFUL WOMEN . . .
. . . and THE NATIVES WERE FRIENDLY!
It was 1970 . . . the Beatles had just broken up which was a heart break, but I was starting 6th grade at the HUGH International School; BIG adventure. Several of our friends who were in Bangladesh were also there - it was the step-up for engineer families after "paying our dues" in the "Old Country" and the start of yet more interesting times for me!
Thailand is one giant playground full of fun & adventure! Mother used to take us on the trains and we'd explore all up & down Southeast Asia. By this time we were "Old Asia Hands".
We were in the night markets in Kuala Lumpur . . . a fantastic place . . . Any supplies we couldn't get in Bangkok were available there. We came across a record store . . . and my, my, my, there it was . . .
THE CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH
We purchased it of course - that was The Old Country for us - it was the Beatles first post-breakup release, with a lot of great Indian sitar artists.
Next followed All Things Must Pass
George Harrison's masterful triple album full of hits. Then Paul did the theme to that Bond film:
LIVE AND LET DIE
A superb tune, to this day. One of my personal theme songs.
In 1974 I spent my summer vacation down in Aussie, working in a factory in Sydney. It was winter down there and with my thin tropical blood I froze my ass off! The big deal that year:
BAND ON THE RUN album by Paul McCartney and the Wings
When I finally made it back to Thailand I made my way to the beach and lived in the sun & the sand for two solid weeks. Recharging the batteries.
Back in Bangkok the week before school started, I was hanging out at the Teen Club. I overheard this girl saying to another "Where did Sean Linnane get that DEEP TAN?"
Angie was a year ahead of me in school, a beautiful girl with copper colored hair and this amazing copper colored skin. Pink Floyd's DARK SIDE OF THE MOON was playing over the sound system. I asked her "What kind of music is this?" I'd never heard anything like it. Then we talked about the big album of the year: BAND ON THE RUN. Very different to DARK SIDE of course. Angie said she liked that song 'Jet'.
We became sweethearts . . . 'Jet' was "Our Song". It was very sweet and innocent . . . all we did was hold hands, hold each other tight at high school dances . . . make out a bit . . .
Nowadays whenever that song comes on the radio I text Angie and tell her "They're playing our song . . . JET" She always coo's and sighs over that . . .
Angie still has that amazing copper color. Nowadays she's married of course, but what she and I had was so sweet & innocent way back then it's not even an issue. In 1975 Angie's family returned to the States. There were a couple of letters, then I never heard from her again until the Internet phenomena picked up and nowadays we're all back in touch, the old Bangkok Gang.
By 1976 I was Big Man On Campus at the International School. By that time off course we were all heavily into Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Santana, and of course the mighty, mighty Led Zeppelin . . . those were the days! It was a time of great music, that's for sure!
Then John Lennon came along and BLEW US ALL AWAY ALL OVER AGAIN!!! The album I got that year was John Lennon's ROCK-N-ROLL
That picture on the cover of the album could have been me. I was Joe Cool. I especially like his renditions of Stand By Me and Be-Bop-A-Lula. I don't think there was anything John Lennon couldn't do well.
The years rolled by. I graduated high school in '77 and hung around Bangkok another year because I loved the place. When that became counterproductive I went back to Aussie. I went "home" hoping to get to know my homeland but for the most part I fit in like a square peg in a round hole.
Still I'm glad for the time I spent Down Under. I did and saw some amazing things. I hitch-hiked from Mount Gambier on the South Australian border, all the way up the coastal highway to Sydney, New South Wales.
I saw the incredible Ninety Mile Beach, and some of the most idyllic countryside imaginable. Sometimes people took me in, sometimes I slept in paddocks. One time I woke up in a field in the middle of the night surrounded by a herd of kangaroos. I just lay there and tried to make a sound like a bush, I didn't want to spook them and get stomped to death.
But ultimately I was spinning my wheels . . . then in December 1980 John Lennon's amazing album DOUBLE FANTASY came out . . .
He blew us all away AGAIN . . . he never failed! . . . but this is a poor choice of words because three weeks later he was blown away by that lunatic . . . sadness
About six months later I was in Melbourne, across from Flinders Street Station. It was winter, late afternoon and the cityscape shadows were getting long. There was this big jumbotron TV newly installed over the city square and they were showing a graphic of the Middle East with arrows & jets coming out of Israel and a radioactive symbol over Iraq. I know my geography so I knew where but I could not tell WHAT they were talking about.
It was the Israeli bombing of the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq, of course. My thoughts were 'Oh My God, that lunatic killed John Lennon and now Israel's dropped The Big One'! I thought the whole world was coming to an end.
The Seventies were obviously OVER. Ronald Reagan had just been sworn into office on the heels of the whole Iran mess. My Dad was still working for the same American company he'd been with all those years in Bangladesh and Thailand, and an opportunity existed for me to get a Green Card.
I sensed my years of meandering between Melbourne and Sydney and wandering the Outback were over, it was time to get serious. I had to get my ass over to the States and get on board with the program.
I arrived in L.A. February '82 with my suitcase in my hand . . . ready to move on to the start of the next phase of my life . . . and life has never been the same ever since . . .
A big "Thank You" to Special Agent SUPERFREAK for coaxing this story out of me, and helping me write it down . . .