When the 50th Anniversary edition of  The White Album  arrives, it will be my seventh or eighth copy. Why get another? Because Giles Martin ran this re-mix and there's no one with better tools and better acuity for Beatles music.  I remember buying the original vinyl version as a sophomore in high school in Iowa. I was shopping for something else at Belles Hess, a sort of K-Mart, when I spied a freestanding cardboard display absent any word or icon. It held two rows of white LPs. Up close I discovered two small embossed words, low and off center. “The BEATLES”  It was as unremarkable as the stamp of an inch on a ruler but it made my brain pop. What the blank? Below and smaller was a gray six-digit number that looked like a misplaced cataloging ID.  I followed many bands back then but was devout only with the Beatles. They were like brothers in absentia. With each release my commitment deepened despite friends hopping off at the  Magical Mystery Tour.  That I was clueless about what the Beatles had been doing wasn't my fault. There was no ubiquitous multi-level marketing, no internet share-steal-gossip, no FM rock radio, no Rolling Stone magazine.  The White Album  arrived out of the blue without so much as a single for us transistor radio users.  The album had two discs but no song list. I prayed it wasn't a greatest hits collection - a sure knell for a band's exhausted creativity. I took the chance and bought it.  I played it at home for my four natural brothers but stopped because they weren't paying close enough attention. So, I took the portable hi-fi with its fold down turntable to the basement for private listening. (Hearing an album's first play while stoned was still a year or two off.)  On previous releases, each Beatle had been gradually staking claims to his own turf. On  The White Album  each was up to defending his turf. Here the writers' POVs were distinctly evident. I was unprepared for the jumps in mood and arrangement. The music moved from disjointed to intimate to brutish. I thought the Beatles were saying, we will rend you of sweetness but from the remnants, we'll make something purer, more vital. The first listen both hooked and disquieted me.  Soon the outside world had its say. Paul-is-dead clues were deciphered and concocted. Authorship and players were misattributed. One American pop star said, "Never before have beauty and beast dwelled together so starkly and comfortably." The splintering of the four was inescapable.  In the next year there came Manson's depravities and a miracle of reconciliation,  Abbey Road . Then the Beatles disbanded. Curiosities followed.  Lennon resorted to primal screams. Starr became a vaudevillian. Harrison ceded his mantle to Jeff Lynne, an imposter. McCartney sentenced himself to playing in an average Beatles cover band.  There were two other occurrences as yet overlooked by historians. In the first, I was fired from a disc jockey job for playing "Martha My Dear." In the second, my college thesis's soundtrack included my only film use of a Beatles' song (still the best cinematic appropriation of "Mother Nature's Son").  I've listened to a ton of music in the fifty years since  The White Album 's release and it's never been displaced from the top five of my desert-island list. More than any Beatles' work, I've returned to it to receive and perceive more. It's been an important companion to me, as a teenager and as a father.  "Good Night" is an example. From first hearing to this day, tears can well when I think of all the song's associations. It was one of many lullabies I sang to my baby boy. Tellingly, it was the only one that he, in his prelinguistic state, chose to hum with me.  Every loving parent knows that ushering his child into safe sleep is a tender moment. Lennon, that caustic Teddy Boy, gave me an instrument for just that. And he gave my son a gracious portal to his dreams. The song, like the rest on  The White Album , is an achievement in timelessness.
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