I could take or leave Revolver. It’s a fine album, but given the alternatives – Rubber Soul‘s momentum, Sgt. Pepper‘s coherence, Abbey Road‘s ethereality – Revolver is the glass of water in a French restaurant. It’s worth drinking, but only order it if you’re broke. As I said, I could take it or leave it.
It wasn’t until February 2002 that I took it, and then only because of the intrigue I felt for two songs. “For no one,” a scaled-down pop song with quick internal rhymes and a catchy structure that, by the way, is the saddest love song that side of Joy Division. “And in her eyes, you see nothing” – it’s the frustration of every unsuccessful adolescent crush, finally catching up to a mature man and leaving him with a mouthful of blood and portents of a lonely old age. But let the disc play through and soon enough hear “Good Day Sunshine,” a bonus-prize pop song with a sing-along anthem and the done-to-death “Sunshine as happiness” imagery. It’s the most optimistic love song this side of the 89th Psalm. Because, really, do we expect Paul to stay mopey?
That February, the sun was out, it felt good (in a special way), and I was driving 456 miles to give roses to an emo girl, in whose eyes I definitely saw something. I brought Revolver, but gave “Eleanor Rigby” and “Doctor Robert” only peripheral attention. I was looking only for poles. So I skipped, back and forth – track 10 (“she wakes up, she makes up“), track 9 (“Good Day! Sunshine!“), doing it repeatedly, like hopping from spa to pool and back again.
At the time, “For No One” was what I wanted my life to look like. For two months, the girl had rejected me, but all along I felt like part of the game. I loved her, she loved me, and shucks if it takes her a while to see what I see in her eyes. I took solace in the pain, I acted sadder than I felt, I mimed melancholy but gleefully planned our wedding. (Four hundred visitors would sing “Good Day Sunshine” as we scurried and ducked out of the church.) I loved my simple feelings of heartbreak, but “Good Day Sunshine” was my soliloquy. It was easy to believe that God and love and the optimistic sun would soon shine on me.
So I drove 456 miles, singing to my reflection in the rear-view. I snuck up behind her in her bedroom, where she was listening to Joy Division on headphones and messaging a boy who would later that night kiss her and drive home with his fly down. She saw my shadow, started, saw the roses – smiled – shrieked with apparent happiness, but in her eyes, nothing. No sign of love.
Kinks – Face to Face
Apples in Stereo – Tone Soul Evolution
3/4 of your record collection