Editorial: Day Tripper

9 August 2016 Amy Hetherington

Editorial: Day Tripper

The Beatles in 1964

We jump in Dad’s un-trusty Ford Laser, heading to his place out of the city. The every-second-weekend pilgrimage of kids and their divorced dads. I’m cross-legged in front, as always. My younger brother is sprawled across the back seat, a long slip of freckles.

In those days, we were all a bit fragile, raw. Trying to navigate the unfamiliar terms of this part-time parenting. The two-hour car ride from the outer edges of Melbourne to Dad’s place warmed us into each other, and out of the bewildering space of a new shyness between parent and child. The hatchback is a motorised cocoon bringing us back together as it lurches up the highway.

I rattle around in the glove box, flipping through Dad’s cassettes. I flick past his latest hits, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Madonna’s Like a Virgin album (my brother and I flub the lyrics to ‘Dress You Up in Milo’). I’m looking for the musical gold, the best-ever singalong compilation cassette: The Divorce Tape.

Love songs for the broken-hearted, affectionately composed by Dad’s sisters – all six of them – with a huge dose of irony. The soundtrack of their adolescence now reimagined as a cheeky reminder of the divorce; drollery between close-knit siblings that gave us so much joy. I jam the tape into the deck, and it kicks off. We smile, anticipating the first sweet notes: “Help, I need somebody/Help, not just anybody/Help, you know I need someone, heee-eee-eeellpp.”

The three of us belt out The Beatles song – charmlessly, tunelessly, with volume. Grinning madly at passers-by, heads bopping, taking turns at backup vocals, boom-boombooming the descending bass line and singing the final
“whooo” with relish.

John, Paul, George and Ringo follow up with ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Love Me Do’, and who are we to deny them our off-kilter harmonies? Their songs are followed by a catalogue of 1950s, 60s and 70s heartache: ‘Lucille’, ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’, ‘Stand By Your Man’. And, because it’s 1984, Divine’s ‘You Think You’re a Man’. You get the drift.

I can still sing along to most of The Beatles’ catalogue, thanks to those long drives to the bush. Their songs take me back to childhood, and a real sense of place.

Triggering this Beatles nostalgia is the upcoming release of Ron Howard’s documentary on the original boy band, titled The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years. The film has inspired this issue, just as The Beatles continue to influence us musically and creatively. The Fab Four remain relevant almost 54 years since the release of their first single, ‘Love Me Do’.

Writer and timetraveller Anastasia Safioleas (‘Bigger Than Jesus’, p14) takes us back to 1964 to explore the enormous impact of The Beatles tour of Australia, heralding a wave of mop-top rebellion and social change. Self-confessed Beatles tragic Alan Attwood (p19) writes about his life-long love of the music, from ‘She Loves You’ to ‘The End’. We’d also love to hear your Beatles stories and memories, so please give us a shout out on social media, email or in the post (contact details on Your Say, p46).

In this issue, we say goodbye and thank you to our crossword creator Rachel Kelly after three-and-a-half years. Our new crossword team of Siobhan Linde, Chris Black and Steve Knight begin next issue – what is the collective noun for cruciverbalists: a conundrum, a riddle, a solution? – in our annual Fiction Edition, which promises to be a fantastic read.

Amy Hetherington, Editor

This article first appeared in Ed#518 of The Big Issue