“All You Need is Love,” The Beatles, 1967.
So we begin this 30-day, 26-song collection with what might seem a fairly obvious choice; indeed, an immensely popular, zeitgeist-entrenched piece of music that means pretty much the same thing to millions of people all over the world. But rather than attempt some lurching, musical-snob faux-hipster, high-falutin’ rationale of why “All You Need is Love” is more significant to me than it is to the rest of you posers who only got into the Beatles after they became popular, I can merely set the scene and leave the judgment to my dear readers.
What is the meaning of “All You Need Is Love”? Is it a tremendous oversimplification, cynical pablum for the forlorn masses, or is it a justifiable mantra, a truth keyed into by four Scouse musicians and shared, prophet-like, in the Our World broadcast of 1967 – in a performance where author John Lennon can be seen nonchalantly chewing gum, conveying perhaps his true opinion of its significance (or maybe just trying to soothe a dry mouth)? No matter; once the sound flies from the amplifiers it no longer belongs to its creators, but to the world. We puzzle over the strains of “La Marseillaise” leading into that undanceable 7/4 time introduction, and Lennon’s litany of pronouncements. “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.” Reminds us a little of the opening of Waiting for Godot: “Nothing to be done.” But what’s he really saying? That there are no horizons left to conquer, or that there is nothing beyond accomplishment? Does it matter? It’s still a killer tune no matter how you interpret it.
But there’s one line that gets me. “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.” It’s not the easiest of ideas to hear, let alone believe, particularly in the moments when the excrement is weighing us down to the point we can barely lift our legs to take the next step. You have to come to accept the notion that the worst of experiences are essentially mid-terms for the soul. However, the news isn’t all bad, because where you’re meant to be applies equally to the best of times. On a warm summer day, roundabouts five in the afternoon, sandwiched between a bocce tournament and a family picnic, beneath blue sky and upon green grass I looked out over the faces of sixty-four treasured family and friends, clutched the gentle hand of the woman I’d just pledged myself to and heard this song play. The first song I heard as a married man. The first song for the next step.
And it was exactly where I was meant to be.
8 thoughts on “With a Song in My Heart: A is for…”
Have you picked out anything for either X or Z? Those two would stump me
Yep, I have the whole alphabet covered; at the risk of being coy, you’ll just have to wait until the end of the month to see. X, I’ll admit, is a bit of a stretch, but I had a pretty obvious choice for Z which will hopefully make sense in the post that publishes on April 30th. There were a few others in the alphabet that were stumpers but when I broadened the selection to songs that I didn’t necessarily like but still made an impact or reflected a period in my life, it became much easier.
so true – “You have to come to accept the notion that the worst of experiences are essentially mid-terms for the soul. However, the news isn’t all bad, because where you’re meant to be applies equally to the best of times.” thank you for this post – all I needed to kick start two day translation marathon.. greetings from Brussels, Signe
Wow, I love this idea. I have always marked different times of my life with songs. Glad I found your blog through A to Z 🙂
jetgirlcos visiting via Forty, c’est Fantastique
Thanks for visiting!
Found you in Z only to begin at A; didn’t have to wait. Do you suppose Lennon would want you to realize that all that excrement is our purposed doing also? So, were you “Pressed” prior to the series?
Oh, now that’s ugly. why would the word “prior” in my comment be broken at the end of the line?
If you read his interviews Lennon was pretty contemptuous of people going to great lengths trying to figure out what his songs meant. I just take them how I receive them. But I can acknowledge that a lot of the crappy stuff I went through was my own responsibility, absolutely. Free will and all that, you know.
To your other question, yes, the Freshly Pressed designation was for a post I wrote back in January about Justin Bieber.
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