#307: The Beatles, "A Hard Day's Night" (1964)

over this music / I make my first real friend / we agree to keep one another’s museums under development / at thirteen when being in agreement has never been more crucial / this band really rings our bell / though we aren’t like those weeping fans in the movies / we appreciate them / the lungs on them / their real face-gripping hurt seems to ache them / to pound the pavement / on the living room floor by the speakers / I love my new friend just for loving / what I love / enough / what makes a person / into a fan / what part of the heart gives over / to what part //

the first chord on this album is a famous alarm clock / its title is a famous mistake / my loyalty is single voiced and simple / like how there’s only one the Beatles / nobody brings this up at parties / in adherence to the rules of discourse at parties / that non-controversial subjects need not be mentioned / unless they can be posited as a guilty pleasure / and defended in a way that makes a person picture sex / as an argument about a band / simple with love / I persist in having nothing to add / but that 1960s teenage feeling / in the 1990s / I’d like to add the feeling the floor makes / when it’s by the speakers //

too green to have met myself yet I stashed some clues about myself inside my friend / for safekeeping / until I could be held accountable / I walked too many times to the record store to prowl the castaways / checked out that one book from the library / that broke each song down into its parts / spelled out who wrote which percentage of “And I Love Her” / clearly mostly it was Paul / I can’t yet be trusted with an idea about process / the idea of people in a room in the past / perhaps with sandwiches / making something that can crawl towards me in time / is also far away from me in time / closer is the considered image of my friend loving the same sounds as I am loving / and that this experience can be repeated / though I’m on a linear surface that only rolls forward beneath me / I can share it also now with you / when I land on a train decades later singing to myself / as long as I have you near me / I burst into it as if predetermined //

loving the Beatles was always absent effort until it wasn’t / until I vowed to learn to play “Blackbird” on guitar the real way / better than the boys / in this way the Beatles also taught me / when you love something long enough you build it a bed beside yours / inside your body / and compete with it //

when I’m feeling young everything I like is a study of seeing myself in it / the art or the enterprise of sitting beside someone else’s work / asking it for answers / this lasts and lasts / though I do in time devote myself to new sounds / with a studious diligence / I try to love “Guerilla Radio” / which is how I learn that sometimes love is work / when I use my mind to lift things / at first / my mind is weak / it wants to use what it loves best to explain itself to itself / what it wants is a vegetable it doesn’t have to try at / but that will contribute nutrients like anything planted / sown in rows for me to pluck easily with my small arms / in my sleep / unaware of much / though I would have said I wanted / everything at infinite capacity / what I was after / was to be surprised by how easily I could love //

this album makes a sound that’s more like the feeling of listening / one experience of a song enters at a time like a single voice / is that why those fans were always crying / because trying to understand how many events is one event / is impossible / kaleidoscopic / it breaks apart and becomes too numerous / in a stadium / where side by side / we recognize ourselves //

I’m uncomfortable with time and assessment / with the bland tyranny of my thinking / but these songs are good because they’re good / and because I love them / I collapse into an uncritical pile of shut up and because I said so / it’s a stunningly bad wedding vow that asserts love is fascist / love is authoritarian / still this hill is where I will live out my days / still whenever I love it’s the same as I want you to know what I’m able to love without trying / without process or the effort of the act / or how I learned to find others by sharing / as long as I have you near me / and how I’m dumbly flammable //

and what is it that makes me pair an ease of loving with an urge to dismiss it / O! I am an underappreciated appreciator of nothing nobody else doesn’t already appreciate / O! I fucking love the Beatles / and listen to them all the time / meaning nothing less than these tunes are in the walls of my body / its spongy absorbent bits / its twig sculpture on the forest floor / the sticky hellos it sends out of its mouth as it passes / to a future more complicated / fortified by this first simple giving over / hello, hello //

—Laura Eve Engel