Song 8 - The Beatles - Octopus' Garden
I love musical journeys. The joy that comes from listening to an old artist or a particular song, and following the influence through to the modern day era is untold and rivalled only by imparting little gems of musical knowledge onto others; "oh so you like The Horrors? Well you should really listen to The Cure as well." For me, every musical journey and all musical education should begin with The Beatles.
I used to be rather passionate about this, getting into arguments about why The Beatles were the greatest band ever, and such like. Nowadays, the mellowing effects of time have played their cards and I am simply content knowing that whether a person likes/loves/hates (delete as appropriate) The Beatles, there is a 99% probability that whatever tunes they do stick in their ears will have been inspired in some way by Liverpool's finest.
I could have chosen almost any song from The Fab Four to feature in our 31 Songs. From 'Strawberry Fields Forever' the song from which I have the words "living is easy with eyes closed" etched in ink on my arm, to Harrison's ballad to guitars 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', to the string led 'Eleanor Rigby', to 'Got To Get You Into My Life' a song which I danced to happily on my wedding day. Yet I begun this post talking about journeys, and my Beatles journey began with 'Octopus' Garden'.
At least it's the clearest and earliest memory of The Beatles I have. Later I would learn songs such as 'Yesterday', 'Let It Be', 'Norwegian Wood' and 'Help!' on the piano, but 'Octopus' Garden' stands out as the first song I remember listening to and knowing it was a band called The Beatles.
It was the fault of my childhood friend's dad really. Aged 10 or 11 along with many of my friends I played for a local boys football team. Sadly, much like now, I was not blessed with anything resembling talent on the football field. Rather than standing out though, I was surrounded by a lack of talent. In the two years we played together as a group, Neilston Boys Club won only one game and later had those three points struck off as the team we beat disbanded after the indignity of losing to us. Despite this, I enjoyed the camaraderie of playing in a team, and the jovial post match banter we would have. After most games I hitched a lift home with my friend Jeff, whose father, affectionately known as Big Jeff, was a coach with the team. Big Jeff, who I now know to be somewhat of a Beatles fanatic, would drive along with the car radio on. On the rare occasions that the boisterous banter of a car full of 11 years old kids lulled, his song choices would reach our ears.
The one which has always stuck with me was 'Octopus' Garden'. Far from being The Beatles best song, hell it's not even Ringo's best song, it's a carefree and joyful little number. Childlike almost and certainly guaranteed to put a smile on any listeners face. To my mind it rouses an image of a friendly smiling purple octopus, dishing out ice creams to passers by. Silly, yet fun.
Now I'm grown, the song still stays as a favourite. There are so many Lennon-McCartney numbers with deep meanings and such like. 'Octopus' Garden' reminds us of the childlike side to The Beatles, and the fun nature of music. There is also the eastern and psychedelia influences at play in the track, which was prominent in The Beatles music towards the late '60's. The bubble effect sound was added in by blowing bubbles in water using a straw, further demonstrating The Beatles pioneering of sampling and production. And further more it shows those who are not necessarily aware that The Beatles were more than just Lennon and McCartney. And it serves as a brilliant entry point into a musical journey for my own young children.