by Zolton in New Illustration on Thursday 20 December 2007

Back before The Beatles became the iconic poster-group of the free-spirited generation, they had a catchphrase that they would rally around as they struggled from club to club on the tough German circuit. This was in the early 1960s, before their star had risen and well before Sgt Pepper’s was even a twinkle in their eyes. Paul McCartney hadn’t written Yesterday [original lyrics? 'Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs'. True story], Lennon hadn’t written Revolution, and Harrison hadn’t discovered the sitar. What a shame he eventually did. But anyway, there they were, four scruffy English lads, with a head full of ideas and a palm full of destiny. ‘Where are we going boys?’, John Lennon would yell in his wicked scouse accent. ‘To the toppermost of the poppermost!’, the others would reply. And so they did; to musical heights not even a composite band featuring Paul Weller, Elvis Costello and the drummer out of the Mock Turtles could ever aspire to. Although it was rooted in the hip swiveling rock ‘n’ roll of predecessors such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard, The Beatles sound was a catalytic cannon of punchy hooks and rhythms; sweet melodic gifts from restless places. Which is why I’m lying here now, on a day when the cloud hangs low over New York and the faintest gust of wind cools my weary mind, listening to Abbey Road and thinking of Mother England. That, and whether woodchucks ever need dental work. [illustration by Linn Olofsdotter]