I have realised recently that I could watch old clips of The Beatles hanging out in one studio or another in the 60s until my eyes pop out and roll away, and my mouth starts speaking in nonsensical, droll Scouse tongues. It is endlesly fascinating. 'Look, John Lennon's drinking a cup of tea. Tea! John Lennon! Just drinking tea! Isn't that amazing? Amazing.'
I am trying to understand why and it's giving me a headache. It is to do with seeing someone who has become untouchable, who now inhabits a symbol or has assumed their own kind of mythology, reduced to a state of utter, unguarded humanity. A version of their life flashes before your eyes that you never fully considered before, and it is the version that includes schoolfriends and nicknames and family and falling in love and feeling tired and feeling better and showing off to make people laugh; it is bones and muscles and blood and tissue; it is the realisation that they were once as young as you have ever been.
Now, when I see Lennon pretending to fall off his chair, Harrison shuffling through pieces of paper, the four of them chatting before a take, it makes me smile, but also gives me the overwhelming urge to cry. It is how I feel when I hear someone refer to my dad as John, and not as 'your dad'.
If you count up the years The Beatles had together releasing records, it's not so very many. Girls Aloud will have overtaken them before too long. Yet The Beatles seemed to age disproportionately during that time. Maybe it is because they did not have the same access to teeth whitening and eyelash extensions. Maybe it is because we know what came after and when we look at them during the darkening of the 60s, we're trying to etch some Hollywood-movie harbingers on to their faces. Maybe it is simply due to the transformative power of facial hair.
It is scientifically impossible to nominate a favourite Beatles song. It simply cannot be done, yet the world is full of the blindly self-confident who claim they have a definitive answer. I am a fool for their cover of Till There Was You (imagine if I was standing on a hill – I would be the fool on the hill for Till There Was You. HILARIOUS). I know it's as twee as a merry-go-round, and if they played it for Simon Cowell, he would probably say it was a bit cabaret. [It can only be a matter of time before someone in charge of an advertising budget gets Frankenstein-like with footage of The Beatles and The X Factor until it appears JPG&R are auditioning in front of Cowell& Cole. 'Lads? Four yeses. *Smarm*. I like you guys.' I'm stuggling enough with the advert for Rock Band]. But I love Till There Was You because McCartney's voice sounds like it's made only of youth and innocence and promise, and because if you cut me in half, I pretty much read 'twee' all the way through.
[Pre-clip warning: Macca's Head WaggleTM is in full effect during the following item, and may trigger a neurological episode in the same way as a flickering strobe.]
What kind of barbarian salutes The Beatles with a song they didn't even write? The kind of person who will do it again. I am also in love with Twist And Shout, because I spent Friday night dancing to it, and because it features in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which I saw at the cinema a few weeks ago. And Ferris Bueller's Day Off, like pretty much anything by The Beatles, comes at you with such absolute and untainted freshness, it is very nearly possible to forget all the things that have have gone rotten and got lost in the intervening years.