My Unfolding Beatles Epiphany

Paul Waddington

© Copyright 2018 by Paul Waddington


Photo of Paul in the Beatle's recording studio.

The true story of how the magic of The Beatles touched my soul at the darkest time of my life, lifted me from darkness and showed me that All You Need is Love .

I was nine years old. It was early 1980. At weekends, I would often stay at my Grandparents. It was a large detached house with a spare front room. It was a 'secret' place where I would sneak into an explore, what to me where hidden and fascinating old family photos and nick knacks. I was still coming to terms with my father walking out on me and my family, so it was a dark and confusing time for me.

One day, whilst my grandparents were preoccupied I took the opportunity to sneak into the room again. I pulled open the lower drawer in a large chest. There under some old bits and bobs were these fantastically intriguing music albums...the covers were enticing and held me in child like fascination with their artwork and names: They looked to me, as a part of that room; lost secret treasures, from a time long ago: 'Revolver', 'Rubber Soul', Magical Mystery Tour', Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band'., 'Help!', 'Beatles for Sale'. I had heard the name 'Beatles', and that were a band from the old fashioned 'black and white days', and were something, to my nine-year-old mind, ancient. The covers were anything but: Odd, strange and enticing, each one so different from the other. There in the corner of the room was an old record player. I knew that my granddad held 'pop' music in the lowest regard possible: How could I hear these records from these weird looking records from the olden days? By some chance there was a pair of dusty headphones on a table-top. I checked the corridor and hallway: All was quiet: I can recall which record I chose: It was 'Revolver'. I knew what I was doing would get me into trouble...if I was caught. My experience with the music of the late 70's and early 80's was one of disassociation. Then after setting the needle down, with a crackle, 'Taxman' hit my ears for the first time. I recall just being mesmerised by the words, the melody, the structure as the album unfolded into my consciousness. I can recall being stunned by 'Tomorrow Never Knows'. I knew then that The Beatles were something special. I felt that I hadn't experienced music until that moment in my life. I learned that the albums were my uncles, put away after he went on to study art. And as I secretly and furtively discovered the intricacy and beauty of the genius that is The Beatles over the next couple of months, it lightened and lifted my soul, at what had been a dark time.

A few months later I went on a three-week holiday to Canada. I was about to embark not only on a journey across the Atlantic to a far-off country, but also to discover more about The Beatles.

My mother had a friend on Ottawa and we got some tickets for her, me and my brother and sister. We stayed in a proper Canadian suburban house, oak and timber. Windows of sunshine, and three stories high…it was the late Summer of 1980. We were staying with my mother’s friend’s family. The weather was golden, and my mind and brain soaked up the sights and experiences of this culture only seen before in flickering TV images: Freeways, large wide giant ‘automobiles’, endless open land and country, I learned about cheeseburgers, multiple TV stations, (back home we only had three) and the intense weirdness of a drink I had never seen before called ‘Dr Pepper’. I Will never forget the look of bewilderment when I asked for a packet of ‘crisps’ in a local store.

On the second or third day, I found the families record collection. I thrill of joy went through me when I saw there were Beatles Albums in the record collection. I had thought the ones I had found back in my grandparents’ home was the whole collection. However, these were different albums to the ones I had furtively unearthed. A double album in a plain white sleeve, with just ‘The Beatles’ printed on it a slightly off angle. Inside were loads of weird photos of the Beatles. My imagination was fired up as I looked through the images. Then another album of them, again looking totally different to their pictures on the other albums. On this one they were looking older, had long hair and were walking across a street on a zebra crossing somewhere. I dug out more….again for some odd reason, they were again new to me. All the ones in Canada turned out to be the perfect supplement and compliment to the ones I had discovered in that dusty front room. A red bordered album with them looking young…and a blue bordered album with them looking older again, all long hair and beards…it was almost as if they were different people. I imagined that the Beatles must have been a group for years and decades…from being young guys, to these old world weary looking hairy men. So, one afternoon, I found myself alone, in the large timbered room. I selected the album that was white.

The Beatles and their music are a intimately and intrinsically linked to my memories of those long endless Canadian sunny days. Now, and for the rest of my life, whenever I sit down and put on that eclectic masterpiece that is the White Album, I am snapped back in time and space to warm, yellow bronzed sunlit afternoons in Canada, listening to ‘Dear Prudence’ and ‘While my Guitar Gently weeps’ for the first time….the undulating music hitting my mind and burning links of that time within me forever. I had my tenth birthday towards the end of my stay. I received the ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ Beatles albums. I still have them. That evening my mother took me off to the cinema for a ‘surprise’. What a joyous surprise it was. For some reason the 1968 Beatles psycadellic cartoon marvel ‘Yellow Submarine’ was showing in Ottawa. I spent the evening thrilling to ‘Blue Meanies’ and watching cartoon Beatles heroes, fighting to save Pepperland, all the most amazing and beautiful soundtracks of Beatles music. In less than a year I had gone from the dark, grey days of when my father left, to knowing that joy and love existed in the World. I had gone on journey. A journey that touched my soul.

The love in the music brought joy into me. For that and to this day I am thankful to the magic that is The Beatles.

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