You ever come across something totally foreign to you and yet you distinguish it? You know of things even if you have never physically interacted with them? I’m not talking about watching commercials for amusement parks or other famous locales and then going to them. I mean something more personal and yet something more physically removed than having seen or heard whispers about an item and then having it thrust on you by chance.
Friday night excited me and confused me in more than one way, starting on an impulse listen to Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 classic, “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.
Memory from the past and seeing the video brought me to thoughts of Robin Williams and the impulsive question of how Robin Williams got tied to Bobby McFerrin and “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. Another web search came up and this is where I was slammed with surprise and an iota of knowing.
One of the lead results for a Google search of Williams and McFerrin turned up a VHS-to-YouTube video that tied the two men together with… George Martin, historic producer of the Beatles during the 1960s. The two men performed “Come Together”:
This surprised me, this shocked me. When the hell did this happen??? I’m a big Beatles fan, I immersed myself in the pop culture during most of my life and I didn’t recall this at all… And at the same time it was oddly familiar. A tad bit of research led to “In My Life” – the last album that George Martin was planning to produce, which came out in 1998.
Familiarity with the sound and yet knowledge why I wouldn’t know the song or of the song came to pass: I went naturally deaf on December 16th, 1997. Being a sufferer of Neurofibromatosis Type 2, I had an acoustic neuroma (a tumor at a dangerous position in the head and of the hearing nerves) removed and my world fell silent. I was also implanted with a variation of the Cochlear implant during the operation – a tool that gives hearing to deaf people – but I would not begin using it until October 2001.
So, here I am, almost 20 years later and I’m listening to a song that was released while I was deaf. I didn’t know it but I knew of it? I never heard it but there was familiarity with it? How? Why? I listen to a shitload of tunes now and have been listening to music again since I-don’t-know. Had I listened to this 3 or 4 years after it was released (in 2001 or 2002)? Very unlikely if not impossible; I may have regained sound but I did not take up musical exploration or general listening until the later 00s.
Saturday morning I checked on the album, going to Wikipedia to get the track listing and… well, basically not only was I impressed by the late-90’s assortment of professional musicians and actors who participated in the album… I got smacked again by knowing the songs but having never heard them. Specifically, from the track listing, Jim Carrey performing “I Am The Walrus” and Sean Connery’s version of “In My Life”. I knew these; Carrey goes nuts and Connery doesn’t sing, he recites. I knew this and… how?! Date of release I couldn’t hear a damned thing, by the time I regained an iota of hearing, this album was not on my radar. Add to it the fact that 2001 – 2005 or so there wasn’t online streaming as we know it today. The iPod came to be around the same time I regained hearing, but Apple, iTunes and the iPod would not hold any hint of favor for a long time to come for me.
Yet I knew these songs and had never heard them. This album yet I had forgotten it. I had never heard these performances but I knew of them in general and… how? Was it family that showed me this stuff at some date in the past? No, no… my brothers had different listening habits than me and it’s not like they showed off albums they bought. My extended family isn’t in my life (no pun intended) often enough to make an unveiling of something they know I’d like. My internet use from ’98 through the early 2000’s was a lot of chat/forum banter.
Then it slipped in, could it have just been a reading reference? Did I read about the album in a source…? Maybe. Heck, that Connery-reading-“In My Life”-song had popped into my head at times over the years but I’ve only imagined it. I learned of it where?
Answer: Entertainment Weekly. I don’t know how long I was a subscriber but in the late 90’s I was beholden to the magazine much like others in the pop culture are beholden to Rolling Stone or other reading material. I only stopped reading EW when I found their coverage too watered down and bland. 1998? Oh, I read that thing while silence abounded in my life. It’s part of what influenced me to become a DVD owner, to check out The Truman Show and so much else that I’ve since forgotten.
And yeah, Entertainment Weekly covered the “In My Life” album release and in another shocking and stunning fact, happens to have the damn thing online after nearly 20 years of publication and current general irrelevance:
COME TOGETHER “Here’s another clue for you all,” the Beatles sang on “Glass Onion,” “the walrus was Jim Carrey.” Okay, that’s not exactly how it went, but on an upcoming Beatles tribute album from the group’s producer, George Martin, Carrey really is the walrus, half-goofing his way through a rendition of “I Am the Walrus.” “We needed somebody who could get [his] tongue around the lyrics, which are difficult to sing, and also someone who’s really crazy,” says Martin, explaining how Carrey came to do the song. The album—titled In My Life, to be released in the U.S. in October—marks Martin’s retirement from record production. In keeping with his lesser-known work as a comedy producer, the record features such unlikely performers as Goldie Hawn (crooning a vampy version of “A Hard Day’s Night”), Sean Connery (solemnly reciting “In My Life”), and Robin Williams (spazzing his way with Bobby McFerrin through “Come Together”), as well as familiar music names like Phil Collins and Celine Dion.[…]
Did I hear the covers of the tunes? Nope, not until I (re)discovered the Williams/McFerrin cover of “Come Together” by the Fab Four. What I did do in my time of silence was imagine what I was reading about… It was something I was missing and something that’d fade away from the mind with the progress of life and the re-invocation of hearing years later.
It still stuns me though, to hear something I’ve never listened to before and know of it and what to expect but the way I knew it was from an idled sense of sound taking knoledge and applying it in a creative way in my head.