I have to confess to you, dear reader: I am not what one might call a “Beatles fan.” I know. Call the music police. The generation police. Maybe The Police, featuring Sting. Cue the sirens. Ready the torpedoes to launch out of your yellow submarines. Hear me out. I respect them, a hell of a lot, sure. I understand their place in music history, but that love is just not there (that’s all I need, right? Right). It’s a missing piece. Don’t worry, I’ve gotten into so. Many. Arguments. Mostly with ex-boyfriends, who refused to believe I dared go against history itself by being neutral towards The Beatles.
Listen, I grew up in the house of a musician. A house that blasted Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on ridiculously huge German speakers that took up half the room—subsequently sending my 7-year-old self running away frantically to get away from the heartbeats, ominous ticking clock and maniacal clown laughter at the end of “Speak to Me.”
So it’s no wonder I’m screwed up. I was never exposed to The Beatles. I do not have fond memories of listening to the White Album or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band while sipping hot cocoa and working on a science fair project. Never happened. The music or the science fair project. But for all my lack of Beatlemania, I do appreciate highbrow jazz and have oddball knowledge of recording techniques specifically used on Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. We don’t get to choose our childhoods, y’all.
All that to say, a few days ago my better half forced me to suggested I watch Yesterday, a film by Danny Boyle (one of my longtime director crushes after becoming obsessed with Trainspotting in high school). This film takes a young struggling musician (played by Himesh Patel) and places him in a world that loses power for about 10 seconds, then afterwards some really important shit never happened. At all. Like Coca-Cola. And The Beatles. But it seems that our protagonist, Jack, remembers every Beatles song ever written (nearly). So he pretends he wrote them all and becomes excessively famous.
Oh, and Ed Sheeran plays himself, and he has a lot more to say than his bit part in that one episode of Game of Thrones. Hilarity ensues.
This isn’t a movie review, though. What Danny Boyle (bless him) has done here is make me think about time; specifically, what is lost and what should be carried on forever. In 50 years (I mean, that’s assuming we haven’t all turned into dust, because we’ve destroyed everything around us), we will most definitely remember The Beatles. And Coca-Cola. And, I don’t know, Harry Potter.
Here’s what I would like to forget about, in no particular order, if we experience some unexplained international blackout: Student debt. Taylor Swift. Dirty chai lattes (seriously, gross, what is wrong with you, espresso does not belong in chai tea). Donald Trump and his progeny (that’s a given). Fireball whiskey. Del Taco chili cheese fries at 1 a.m. The Kardashians. Any book written by a YouTube sensation.
I’m sure a few of you disagree with one or two of these things (hey, you might love dirty chai, you lovable weirdos), but I feel like we are in a generation of things that won’t be worth remembering on a global level. I mean, the last few Avengers movies were great, but were they really? Nah. And I love David Lynch, fiercely, but will people still watch Twin Peaks reruns on whatever wall/TV/smart screen in 100 years? Yes. Yes, they will. I will haunt them if they don’t.
It’s the old argument that writers have been having for decades now: everything great has already been done. And I think about it. Most of the bands I listen to now have borrowed from other bands. Sampled this and that. They’ve all been singing about the same manic pixie dream girl since like … well, The Beatles. I think this means we need to learn how to be less right now about our pop culture. What is actually worth taking with us?
Just like Jack in Yesterday, it is up to us to carry important music and movies and literature into the future so they live on forever. Even if that means scaring the shit out of your kids with Dark Side of the Moon on fancy speakers that will probably be built into the walls of your smart house. But whatever you do, do not tell them about dirty chai.
**This piece first appeared in print on page 9 of issue #301 (Sept. 25 – Oct. 9, 2019)**