All You Need Is Love – And a Time Machine


Before I was interested much in writing stories or poetry, I thought I might be a songwriter.  And – indeed – if the definition of songwriter is “one who writes a song or two” then I definitely qualify.  I wrote my first song at the tender age of eight.  I don’t remember the words, but it described a new dance called “The Rupture”.  It was a regional hit (“regional” being my next door neighbors thought it was great).  That was followed up with a tender love ballad called “If Yesterday Were Tomorrow” and a parody of “Let it Snow”. 

The first song I remember all the words to was “I Want to Know”.

I want to know

Which way to go.

I want to know

Which way to go.

I look to the left,

I look to the right,

I look up and down,

But none of them seem right.

I want to know

Which way to go.

I go on to wanting to know whether I should come or go and whether it will rain or snow.  My favorite part was the middle eight.

Don’t need a compass to find my way around

I want to know my intentions and my directions there are sound

I’m not talking ‘bout no weather forecasting.

I want to know which way to go and that’s-all-I-am-asking.

I think I was showing great improvement and versatility.  I would bang on our Wurlitzer Super Sprite organ in the living room and figure out these tunes with the electronic auto-chords.  One morning I woke up with this great song running through my head.  Before I went to school, I made sure I went downstairs to try to figure out the chords.  It turned out to be surprisingly easy.

It started with G minor.

Then went up to a C seventh,

Over to an F then a D minor. 

Up to a B flat then back to F

To E flat before going to C seventh. 

The words I put to it were “I would if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t.”  I hummed it to my fellow fourth graders before the bell rang and my friends thought it was great.  I couldn’t wait to get home to practice it; I think I ran all eight blocks.  I worked on it all afternoon, so I could lay it on my parents after dinner.  I debuted it around 8:00 that night as my parents sat on the couch.  They thought it was great. 

And that’s the true story of how I wrote “All My Loving” a mere 16 years after The Beatles released it on record.

It’s obvious what happened.  The Beatles needed a hit to shore up their flagging popularity, so they used a time machine to go forward to the year 1979 and took my song.  It’s a long time ago and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.  I’m okay with it now.  I respect Paul McCartney as a songwriter.  I let him be one of my friends on MySpace.  I even admit the words he put to “I would if I could” aren’t bad. 

It can be hard to famous one day and not famous the next.  I can imagine how it must have felt to have all those screaming girls lusting after them and the pressure The Beatles must have been under to keep it going.  Well, I can imagine, but obviously since Paul McCartney came from 1963 and stole my song in the future, I never actually experienced it.  But I’m okay with it now. 

Like I said, it’s obvious what happened.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that “Doctor Who” began its run on the BBC in 1963 around the time “All My Loving” was released.  Everyone knows the BBC back then did not have enough money to actually build props and sets.  It was cheaper for them to pick up an old time machine, probably World War II Army Surplus, and use that instead.  The Beatles – though their music was starting its inevitable slide into obscurity – were still in demand on the radio.  Back then, you played live on the BBC.  I think it’s only natural to be tempted to sneak over to the next stage during a tea break, “borrow” the TARDIS, go to 1979 and steal some poor little kid’s song.  Sure it hurt at the time, but that’s a long time ago.  I’m okay with it now.

In a way, The Beatles did us a favor.  All of those finely crafted songs coming forth in a short stretch of time; who knows how many kids throughout the time-space continuum lost their songs to the time traveling musicians from Liverpool?  Perhaps without the Beatles temporal thievery, we would still have to wait for some kid to write one of these “classics” in some far off future time and thus be denied.  The 60’s needed all the help they could get.  Without The Beatles, who would have been left?  Bobby Vinton?  Sure they put the “band” in “banditry” and stood laughing on the crushed dreams of children, but – really – it was for the best. 

Really. 

I’m okay with it now.

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