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Revolution Number Nine September 9, 2009

Posted by markgeil in Music, People.

Happy Nine Day. We’ll have a day like this (9-9-09) for the next few years (until 2012, if you’re counting), but this one seems extra-special. SEPTEMBER has 9 letters, and so does WEDNESDAY. Could also be because nine is such an interesting number. When I was little I learned all kinds of math tricks you can do with nine. I’ve forgotten most of them, which I’m discovering is a common occurrence, especially as my kids ask me math questions that I’ve long forgotten. I do remember one interesting trick with 9-mathematics. If you add the digits of 9 times any one-digit number, you get 9. To wit: 9 x 2 = 18, and the two digits of 18, one and eight, add to nine. 9 x 3 = 27, and 2 + 7 = 9. It works all the way up to 9 x 9. Go ahead, try it. Fun for hours, depending on your math skills.

Today is also special because it’s the big release of the Beatles remasters and the Beatles Rock Band. I asked Hannah’s friend Molly, who has Rock Band, when she was getting the Beatles game so I could come over and play. I’m thinking me as Ringo on drums, Hannah on guitar, Molly on vocals, and her dad Jim on bass. Left-handed of course. Have to be authentic. Molly said she was going to ask for it for Christmas. Too long for me to wait, I told her. Jim, are you reading this?

Entertainment Weekly published a list of the top Beatles songs and albums, an exercise in derision. Sgt. Pepper at number seven? White Album ahead of Abbey Road? Yougottabekiddingme! Let me not then add my own ranking to the fray. Instead, here are a few Beatles songs that have a special meaning for me, in no particular order. Feel free to add your own to the list.

Here Comes the Sun: I can still see the beam of sunlight on the blue shag carpet in my room. It had been a long winter. I was a teenager, and sometimes teenagers just have long winters. I saw that beam of sunlight, and the little fuzzy things that float through that air that are apparently always there, but you can’t see them until they’re illuminated by a sunbeam, and I smiled, and I played this song.

Nowhere Man: I loved this song when I was little, and I’m not sure why. I do recall one day, laying on my brother’s bed with those gigantic vinyl-padded old-school headphones on, the ones that covered half your head, listening to the Red Album on his record player. Nowhere Man came on, and I knew all the words, and I closed my eyes and sang with gusto, at least until a looked up and saw my brothers having quite a laugh at my expense.

Eleanor Rigby: This is a more recent memory. A few months ago I bought a fabulous music book with guitar chords for 90 Beatles songs. Every now and then I’ll just page through the book, playing song after song. It wasn’t until I played this song and felt its chord progressions that I fully understood the characters and their depravity, described so fully in just a few lines of words and melody. The Beatles were brilliant.

Hey Jude: Who doesn’t have a Hey Jude memory? I have several, but one that comes to mind today is from Psychology class in my senior year of high school, taught by the late Greg Gault. The class was famous for the unit on subliminal messages, during which Mr. Gault would show us the hidden pictures on Camel cigarette boxes and Coca Cola ads, and then he would take out his record player. We listened to Queen backwards, tore apart “Hooked on a Feeling” in almost criminal fashion, and scoffed when Mr. Gault tried to reveal all the hidden drug references in “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It was amusing to see him take on the Beatles, who did very little to hide their drug references. (Had he not heard “Dr. Robert”?) His take on “Hey Jude”? Drugs. All drugs. I still remember one line in particular: “The movement you need is on your shoulder.” Never really understood that line. According to Mr. Gault, it’s when you’re shooting up, popping that needle right in your shoulder. Do druggies even do that?

In My Life: I rediscovered this song during that same senior year, and though it’s written and sung from a much wiser voice than I had at the time, I took it to heart with all the excess sentimentality and melodrama a 17-year-old can muster. I was certain that these friends around me would be there forever, that I would remember these places all my life, just like the songs says. And, I was convinced that all those people and memories would pale when I would think of my love, my high school sweetheart. “I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before. I know I’ll often stop and think about them, [but] in my life, I love you more.” Yeah, like that ever happens.

Guess what? It did happen. I married that high school sweetheart, and every time I hear that beautiful song I think of her.

So, happy 9-9-09 to Amy and to all.



1. amy Geil - September 11, 2009

Ahhhh. Thanks love of my life!

2. Jim Cooper - September 14, 2009

Mark, we’re thinking of getting the game soon, well before Christmas. We do not have a bass, especially not a left-handed one, and I’m not shelling out the bucks for the replicas. I do hope to add a microphone so that we can harmonize though.

I feel like a third wheel commenting in this romantic thread. I’ll get out and leave you two alone.

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