I have this very clear memory -- it must have been the summer after eighth grade. I'd biked over to Jason & Jeremy's house. I remember Goldy being there (Yes -- we had a friend called "Goldy." He was a good Catholic boy who was actually named "Brian Goldschmidt" who became enraged one day when we decided his name was now "Goldstien," since in our very small town we hadn't any Jewish friends. Another time.), so we must have been playing Dungeons & Dragons. After we were done, I found Jeremy in a good mood (sometimes, gaming would end abruptly because Jeremy was absolutely not in a good mood -- again, stories for another time), and so I politely asked if I could borrow his Abbey Road album. It was an original Apple Records album, probably not first edition, but in pristine condition -- the gem of his Beatles collection. Jeremy agreed, but just for a few days -- long enough for me to tape it and get it back. I rode slowly home, clutching the album to my chest. That's the part that is so crystal clear to me -- that slow ride home. I can't imagine why Jeremy agreed to let me take it -- he knew I'd ridden my bike to his house and, though I lived only a couple of miles away, he must have know that, had I hit a big rock or taken any kind of spill, his album could have been destroyed. Still, his desire to share with me the music he so loved was greater than his protective instincts for his record, and I thank him. It was Jeremy who introduced me to the Beatles. We were both too young to have heard them the first time around -- too young even to be really affected when John was killed. But Jeremy truly loved them and their music, and he was kind enough to share it with me.
Anyway, when I heard this weekend that George Harrison had died after his long, painful struggle, that memory was the first thing to pop into my head. Like so many others, mostly from the generation before mine, the Beatles conjure up in me a feeling of a different time -- one simpler, more free -- a time when I was discovering who I was. For a few minutes, I was once again that gangly, unsightly 14-year-old, pedaling my beat-up ten-speed, clutching that valuable record with all my strength.
I haven't yet been down to see the tributes to George at the Beatles' star on Hollywood Blvd. I'll probably go tonight or tomorrow night and pay my respects. It is silly, I know, but the Beatles are part of who I am. Thanks to Paul and John and Ringo and George. And, of course, Jeremy.