Please Please Me

Chapter 10

1963-10 From Me To You

Is Tony in?

Who are you?

I’m John Garnett, from Number 7, I’m a Beatles fan and I wonder if …

Does our Tony know you?

No, I’m at Harrogate Grammar School and Tony isn’t, so I don’t know him, but I heard he has the new Beatles record and I’d like to hear it, please.

What’s that name again young un?

John, er some people call me Fred.

John Fred?

Er yeah…

Tony! She shouted indoors whilst continuing to guard the door, Tony, there’s some lad your age at the door. Says he likes the Beatles.

Tony was at his front door in seconds. I’d say in his rush he managed it in about minus two of our Earthly seconds.

The door opened wide with one urgent, decisive pull.

You like the Beatles then?

Whoah, YEAH!

Big smiles from both of us. Making friends took us about six words and two smiles. No time had passed during any of this.

I heard you had the new Beatles record. My Dad wont let me buy it!

Who needed to say more than that to a fellow Beatles fan?

Come in then! Come on and listen to it with me. Then he uttered a magic incantation. “Its a double A-side”.

Double A-side? What’s that?

More mysteries from the Beatles.

Both sides are as good as each other.

That’s impossible! How do you turn the record over if it’s got two A-sides then?

Tony laughed at my naivety. But then I only owned two records. Well half of two records. Only one of which was any good. My qualifications as an arbiter of taste concerning music extended to one half decent record; mostly guitar with good drums and no lyrics. Didn’t really make me a good judge of Beatles songs and records. Tony was a great judge of Beatles records, not least because, as it turned out, he had all of them. Soon he was to become the epitome of cool amongst ALL of the twelve and thirteen year-olds in Gordon Avenue, Bilton and the neighbouring streets; all eight of us in fact. Tony was that cool.

OK! I’m going to play you a song and you have to tell me what it is.

No, No! Please play From Me To You, I can’t hear it at home at all, except on Pick of the Pops. Thank heavens it’s been number one for weeks.

What about Saturday Club? Brian Matthews plays the Beatles.

Oh yeah we listen to that sometimes; when we don’t go shopping or play football. But it’s on Saturday mornings, when we’re busy. Do you think it’s good then?

It’s really good! I listen to it all the time.

Obviously great then I thought. I made a note to try harder on Saturday mornings from now on.

Tony took the treasured single out of the soon to become iconic dark green Parlophone paper sleeve. It was the first time I had seen a Beatles single; holy plastic made flesh.

As it’s a double A-side I could play Thank You Girl.

I didn’t realise he was teasing me. He could see how desperate I was to hear From Me To You.

In fact I think that is the better song so…

How can it be better? From Me To You is the hit.

Its a double A-side, you have to make your mind up which one you like.

Then I’ll like both of them just the same.

You don’t have to!

Da da da da da dum dum da

Da da da da da dum dum da

The Beatles usual distinctively cheery opening but slightly slower paced and less urgent than Please Please Me

If there’s anything that you want

If there’s anything I can do

Just call on me and I’ll send it along

With love from me to you

Big smiles between us. We didn’t need any analysis to know that Beatles songs were great.

Tony had the classic Dansette record player. In red! We didn’t. Just Mum’s Philips that we had driven back with us from Germany. It was a good enough record player; I didn’t realise how good in fact, but it wasn’t cool like Tony’s Dansette. And we were in the Front Room. Tony’s Mum hadn’t said a word when he had dragged me into the Front Room. Which had a bunch of records and the Dansette lying on the floor. He’d taken over their Front Room to play his records!

I got everything that you want

like a heart that’s oh so true

So he was playing his Beatles records anyway before I arrived. I was just adding to the fun he was already having all on his own. Unlike me back at home. I had been right to come round.

Just call on me and I’ll send it along

With love from me to you

The lyrics are great aren’t they? Just call on me and I’ll send it along with love from me to you.

Like you did! Just call on me, I mean…

Oh yeah like I did! How funny… I hope you don’t mind?

Are you joking! It’s fab you coming round. What made you call on me anyway?

I smiled back at my fellow Beatles fan. Our instant friendship was the best answer to that question.

Well I heard you had the new Beatles single and I just had to hear it. So I thought I’d come and ask you. You had to be nice, if you liked the Beatles.

Tony laughed. I’m not sure that makes me nice, but I definitely like the Beatles. They are the best thing I’ve ever heard.

I got arms that long to hold you

and keep you by my side

We smiled across our new found friendship

I got lips that long to kiss you

and keep you satisfied

I think I’d like to kiss a girl. Have you ever kissed a girl?

One or two…

What’s it like?

A bit squelchy. But they smell nice

What kisses?

No girls. Girls smell nice. And they are nice to hold.

Oh!

The conversation was getting a bit complicated for me. And far too sophisticated; I was out of my depth here. I regretted mentioning kisses. I’d only kissed that Italian girl Anna in Germany when I was six. And only because she had tricked me into going down the cellar stairs with her on her sixth birthday. I didn’t want to be tricked into talking about that, so I concentrated on the sophisticated complications of the lyrics instead.

If there’s anything that you want

If there’s anything I can do

Just call on me and I’ll send it along

With love from me to you

Phew, no kisses there!

There is that magic harmonica again!

From Me

I love the way they use harmonica. That’s the secret to Please Please Me you know.

To You

Oh there are lots more secrets in Please Please Me…

Just call on me and I’ll send it along

We smiled again at the reference about me calling on Tony.

With love from me to you

So who is your favourite Beatle then?

Paul of course, he’s the best.

Why do you like Paul?

Well he’s the best looking. He’s even better looking than Cliff.

At this point I’d spent more time looking at pictures of The Beatles than actually listening to them, which was partly why I’d invited myself over to Tony’s.

My Mum likes him the best too. I bet he gets loads of girls.

Do you like Cliff then?

Yeah and the Shadows! My brother and I like guitars and drums.

And The Beatles are really good at guitars and drums.

And harmonica too! They play so many instruments. The Beatles are the first beat group I’ve really liked. I think I like them just because they are The Beatles. Who’s your favourite then?

John Lennon.

John Lennon? Why? What’s so special about John Lennon? My Dad hates him. Well I am pretty sure he does.

Tony laughed again. I frowned, what was wrong with Paul McCartney? Sometimes this Pop Music was even harder than Biology.

Well John Lennon has loads of confidence. That’s the secret of life you know; Confidence.

But Paul’s a better singer, listen…

I got arms that long to hold you

and keep you by my side

I got lips that long to kiss you

and keep you satisfied

That’s the two of them harmonising. That’s another of their secrets.

But John’s voice is harsher. Paul’s is really sweet and he sings nicer.

It’s both of them singing together, that’s what makes the Beatles special. Its not just Cliff or Elvis with some backing singers. Its all the Beatles, as a group, working together. Listen to it carefully.

If there is anything that you want

If there is anything I can do

Just call on me and I’ll send it along

With love from me to you

He was right! Their voices dropped in and out in various ways that emphasised almost every syllable in a different way. You could hear John and Paul both together and alone throughout the record. Blimey, such subtlety; no longer just a simple lead singer to worship and adore.

Do you think we could become Beatles too?

We’ll need guitars and drums. And a harmonica!

We laughed at the complexity of it all.

My brothers got a guitar, he likes Hank Marvin.

Oh, good! What about drums?

Um, well I’m a drummer.

Have you got any drums?

Er, I’ve got drumsticks.

No drums then?

Oh yes I’ve got drums. Not real ones though.

Not real drums? What does that mean?

Um, biscuit tins. I’ve got two biscuit tins. But I know how to hit them properly!

Tony laughed. Again! The record ended, cleverly reprising the opening whilst changing it into punctuation.

To You

To You

And out in less than two minutes this time; by tiny fractions…

Can I look at it please Tony?

Yeah, here have a good look. The label design is really interesting. How long have you liked the Beatles then?

Since I first heard them silly!

What since Love Me Do?

No! Please Please Me, of course. Their first hit record and and their first number one.

Love Me Do was their first hit record. Tony corrected my ignorance.

Love Me Do? What’s Love Me Do?

Their first hit record. I thought you liked the Beatles!?

I love them, but I’ve never heard of Love Me Do.

I’ve got to play it for you then. Its their first record, its great.

Is it as good as Please Please Me?

Not really. But if you heard it first, like me, then it’s really special.

Oh! What’s this Northern Songs on the label?

Only their publishing company; wait a second what about this instead?

1!

2!!

3!!!

4!!!!

Well she was just seventeen

You know what I mean

And the way she looked

was way beyond compare

Blimey that’s good! What is it?

I Saw Her Standing There. It’s from the album.

The album?

Please Please Me!

I raised my head and a sharp look passed from me to Tony

You’ve got the Album?

Tony lifted up the sleeve to show me

You’ve got the The Beatles Album!

Yeah!

The only albums we’ve got at home are The Pyjama Game and South Pacific. How on earth did you get it?

I’d never known anyone who wasn’t a grown up own an album before, not even Caroline.

Tony, the seriously cool Tony of Gordon Avenue, Bilton, Harrogate, located on the very same latitude as Liverpool, and so part of all songs Northern, let out his radiantly secretive smile

Listen, Do You Want to Know a Secret?

Of course I do!

That’s my secret!

And he laughed

Magic word secret.

I was in awe of Tony from that day forth. He played me loads of Beatles songs over the next hour before I had to go home for supper. I’d never heard so much good music in my life before. Gordon Avenue suddenly had its own oracle of all things Beatle.

I knew then that I only had to like The Beatles for everything to be alright in the future.

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13 Comments

  1. July 13, 2009 at 9:42 am

    […] released on March 22nd 1963, in chapter 10 of 63/68. You can read about that in the story called From Me To You. You can also access it by clicking on Please Please Me in the Pages section on the […]

  2. July 17, 2009 at 10:28 am

    […] the story indicates I actually went to someone’s house to listen to the current No1 single, From Me To […]

  3. August 3, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    […] heard With The Beatles the day after it came out because my friend Tony was already buying everything Beatle on the day it came out; which was extra-ordinary in early 63, […]

  4. August 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    […] 1-2-3-4 PLEASE PLEASE ME […]

  5. Russ said,

    August 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Fred,

    Soz to be a bit slack of feeding back on 9 after 909. Things have been rather up in the air for me and I need a break. But trying to get back into my writing and will start reading through and commenting on how this gets me thinking about informal / self directed learning.

    Nice intro. I like the way the boys are bought together through a shared interests but also how this interest grows and develops as they start to listen, discuss and share music. At a system level it hints at the way the music starts to draw in boys from around the street into a tight knit affinity group and start to co-construct the figured world of Beatles fandom. However, on a more individualistic level this chapter also shows how Fred exercises ‘relational agency’ as he actively seek out other human and material resources that can help him expand his interest in Beatles music.

    I’m particularly interested in the way the shared passion in Beatles music helps to align the two boys. The line:

    Big smiles from both of us. Making friends took us about six words and two smiles. No time had passed during any of this.

    Powerfully suggests how quickly friendships / learning partnerships form when individuals are commited to the same goals.

    Interestingly, it also suggests how the barriers to entry are relatively high compared to today’s media culture. Only one boy – Tony- on the street owns the album and the tools capable of playing it. Access to the music depends upon actually befriending Tony and gaining entry into his house. Further, the bedroom provides an essential informal learning space that allows this interest to develop. In one respect, the barriers might inhibit the growth of this kind of informal learning. For example, could we expect all the boys on the street to be as proactive as the young Fred in tracking down a potential learning companion. However, they may also act as a form of enabling constraint that binds the two boys together. Once overcome, it seems to be that the two boys perhaps more invested and committed to the relationship than two people who might have met through an online fan site. In this respect its interesting to compare fandom then and now. Does new media only foster participation in informal learning cultures as Jenkins claims or have we also lost something? Perhaps the higher barriers to entry associated with old media actually foster a sense of belonging and commitment to the process and relationship involved. Ummm.

    .

    • fred6368 said,

      August 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm

      Russ,
      many interesting points and nice analysis thanks. In posting this I am also trying to understand my own learning arc. I’ve just realised that Billy, the next media gatekeeper in my stories, behaved in the opposite way to Tony. You had to demonstrate the right taste and he was very superior, not inclusive at all.
      Like the informal learning analysis 🙂

  6. January 7, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    […] stories, all of them are on Scribd and they start with From Me To You inspiring me to make friends; story here, song version on YouTube (live at their first concert in the US in […]

  7. October 4, 2010 at 8:10 am

    A really inspiring story…one I can relate to too.
    It also made me think about the need of connecting to other people to achieve our goals. Important too is also how both characters ‘perform’ their roles to create a trusty, friendly environment.
    I think in learning it is crucial we brave ourselves in exposing our curiosity openly and that the fear of ‘feeling silly’ or less expert disappears with the positive response of the peers we interact with. Although we can argue that all learning is personal, it is not an individual deed. The learning relationship is a two way road which requires trust, commitment and respect from each single individual. Only then can we say and feel we belong to that environment. The sense of identity is key to any learning relationship. It gives us purpose and fuels motivation.

    Loved the story. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. fred6368 said,

    October 4, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Nice observations on identity Cristina, that is Russell’s interest too! It is important that we take brave (perhaps heutagogic?) decisions to act on our curiosity, especially if that helps us develop our identity; express your curiosity and develop your identity!
    This self-directed development of our identity is usually what gets suppressed in formal education, and conversely gives a very personal and emotive power to the relationships that often characterise informal learning

  9. fred6368 said,

    October 4, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    If you liked the story you might like the story about HELP! which is about assessment regimes and rewards at Secondary School.
    https://fred6368.wordpress.com/help/
    I went to 11 schools and was always trying to work out how to fit in at each new school.. Rule 1, don’t stand out; which I spectacularly failed to do in this (true) story.

  10. July 25, 2012 at 8:28 am

    […] https://fred6368.wordpress.com/help/ (about fitting in at school, role models and being assessed) https://fred6368.wordpress.com/please-please-me/ (about self-organising, making friends and peer-learning) […]

  11. July 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

    […] https://fred6368.wordpress.com/help/ (about fitting in at school, role models and being assessed) https://fred6368.wordpress.com/please-please-me/ (about self-organising, making friends and peer-learning) […]

  12. January 13, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    […] the UK the breakthrough single for the Beatles was Please Please Me, which, to my ears, was the first recording that captured a Merseybeat sound. Originally an attempt by John to write a […]


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