Was It 1964 Or 1965?

Originally posted August 14, 2009

Memory is a slippery creature. I read or heard somewhere about recent research into memory, and the theory was – and this is necessarily a paraphrase – that when we remember an event, our brain overlays the original memory with our new memory of that event, so the next time we recall that specific moment, we’re processing a second-generation memory and creating a third-generation memory. (Without any irony, I have to say that I cannot at all remember where I read or heard that bit of information.)

That seems to make some sense, even though it means our memories eventually become thinner and possibly distorted, like a favorite recording that’s seven generations removed from the original tape.

I got to thinking about this after Wednesday’s Vinyl Record Day post about the development of my LP database. Art D., a reader in Michigan, emailed me that afternoon and asked if I had the right date for Beatles’ ’65, after I said my sister and I received it for Christmas in 1965. He said the record had been released in December 1964. I nodded to myself, having verified that date at All-Music Guide that morning. I emailed back.

I said, in part, about Beatles ’65, that my sister and I got the record in 1965, about a year after it came out. I added:

“That’s what the red ink on it says, and that inscription dates from the day I began marking my LPs in 1970, and I suppose I could have erred then, and we actually got the album in 1964. At this point, we’ll never know for sure. I think, though, that I would have remembered – given the way I recall odd details – the paradox of getting a record titled Beatles ’65 when it was still 1964.”

And writing those words – “I think, though, that I would have remembered . . . the paradox of getting a record titled Beatles ’65 when it was still 1964” – triggered another memory, a recollection of a very young whiteray looking at the record jacket that December night and wondering about that very paradox. It’s not the kind of memory that jumps up and says, “Here I am and here you were!” It’s more like it’s dancing on the edge of clarity, so I’m not sure about trusting it.

Earlier this week, when recalling the day I began marking my LPs, I wrote “I knew for certain that Beatles ’65 came to my sister and me for Christmas 1965.” Well, we all, at one time or another, know things for certain that just ain’t so. This could be one of mine. I imagine that on that summer day in 1970, I looked at the title of the album and just assumed it came out in 1965 and thus showed up in our house that December. I might have been wrong; the record might have been there a year earlier.

But I’m going to be gentle with the kid I was back then. I examined the record and its jacket this morning, and there’s no copyright date on either, no hint of the year of issue. Beyond that, I would have had no idea in 1970 where to go to find out when Beatles ’65 was released. As I think of it today, I probably could have gone out to Musicland at the mall or to the library at St. Cloud State and learned something in either one of those places. Knowing the correct release date might have changed my mind about when we got the record. But at sixteen, I didn’t think of that. I did the best I could.

There is one thing I do know for certain about that December night when we found Beatles ’65 next to the stereo. I’ve seen the photographic evidence: Somewhere among all the slides in Mom’s storage unit is a slide showing me sitting in Dad’s chair, wearing my Beatle wig, holding Beatles ’65 in my lap and quite possibly putting my fingers in my ears as a jest.

I wrote to Art D. that “we’ll never know for sure.” But we might. If I ever find that one slide among the thousands in the storage unit, and if Dad wrote the date on the cardboard, we’ll know. I do have a hunch that, if I ever find that picture of me and it has a date on it, I’ll be changing the acquisition year in my database to 1964. But that’s just a hunch, so I’ll leave it for now.

Note from 2022: We do know now. The photograph – a print, not a slide – turned up in a package of things I got from my sister a few years ago, and the date on the back of the picture – in my dad’s hand – clearly says “Christmas 1964.” Here it is:

Given my preoccupation for the past few days with Beatles ’65, it was easy to decide what to post today. The album was, of course, one of those created by Capitol Records here in the U.S., in this case by taking portions of two Beatles albums released in the United Kingdom and adding two sides of a UK single not released on an album there. So it’s an aberration, although it was a popular one; it was the No. 1 album for nine weeks in the U.S. during early 1965.

It was also the first Beatles LP I owned, and the sequence of songs on it lingers inside me. When I play Beatles for Sale on the CD player, I start out hearing Beatles ’65 because the first six tracks are the same on both. But I’m always startled after “Mr. Moonlight,” when Side One should be over, because here comes “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!” And Side Two of Beatles ’65 – cobbled together as it was with two tracks from Beatles for Sale, the lovely “I’ll Be Back” from A Hard Day’s Night and the single mentioned above – exists in modern form only on a CD that’s included as part of the 2004 box set The Capitol Albums, Vol. 1.

So I decided this morning to drop my mono copy of the LP (stereo cost more in the mid-1960s, and Dad was a thrifty man) on the turntable and offer Beatles ’65 as two mp3s, Side One and Side Two. There are a few pops and snaps, but hey, it’s forty-five-year-old vinyl.

Tracks, Side One
No Reply
I’m a Loser
Baby’s in Black
Rock and Roll Music
I’ll Follow the Sun
Mr. Moonlight

Tracks, Side Two
Honey Don’t
I’ll Be Back
She’s a Woman
I Feel Fine
Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby

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