Nick and I met in the spring of 1979 when we were both on either side of fourteen. I was taller. My voice was deeper. A short-lived era I still like to bring up every now and then. You know, for fun. Just like Nick faithfully reminds me I’m the elder by six months every year on my birthday. You know, for fun.
A kid from the neighborhood introduced us, as Nick and I shared a “strange” obsession — the Beatles.
That may not seem so strange now, but back in 1979, most teenagers considered the Beatles passe and old-fashioned. The late 70s were bizarre. We took a fair amount of shit for it, unbelievable as it sounds. Can you imagine getting ragged on for loving the Beatles?
But Nick knew the deal:
“Someday they are going to look like the complete fucking idiots they are, and we’ll have the last laugh”
And he was right, of course.
So our friend made a point to hook up the two oddballs, figuring we could enjoy social ostracization together while we were either listening to our uncool music or talking about it endlessly.
Coming from a time (the 70s and 80s) and place (Boston, specifically Roslindale) where kids still roamed the streets and hung out on the corner or in the schoolyard, I met Nick standing in the middle of Glencliff Rd. It was June, and kids were swarming everywhere like little obnoxious gnats in track shorts and tube socks.
Not us, though. Nick was wearing an Army jacket and a Red Sox hat. I was sporting cut-offs and growing out my much-despised Dorothy Hammill haircut. Our faces still hadn’t coalesced into their adult configuration.
It’s an awkward age, let’s face it.
Our friend had told us both beforehand we were on an equal playing field as Beatle scholars. We reflexively scoffed at the very notion. So we instinctively circled each other, sizing up the competition.
Finally, Nick fired the opening salvo.
“What was the date of the Beatles' first recording session, and for what label?”
“Decca January 1, 1962. Don’t insult me.” I think a moment. “What was the name of Mona Best’s Liverpool Club?”
“The Casbah. That the best you got?”
This went on for hours. Then years. Then decades. I’ve no doubt it will continue through this life and many others.
It really is impossible to exaggerate our all-encompassing devotion to the Fab Four, then and now. We lived and breathed Everything Beatles with an intensity that comes easily to teenagers, but we elevated that shit to an art form.
Until Nick and I met, we’d never met a peer who was delighted to watch “Help!” a gazillionty times in a row, and discuss all the “Paul is Dead”(28IF!)clues in exacting detail. No Beatles-related trivia, no matter how arcane, escaped our notice. A decade or so late(much to our mutual sorrow,) but we were happy to live in our cozy time warp.
So, having immediately clicked, we whiled away most of the Summer of 1979 sitting on a neighbor’s stairs (our ass imprints are still there) singing the entire Beatles catalog (in harmony, of course) trading books about the Fabs, and talking in Liverpudlian accents.
Our shared obsession kept us out of trouble (well, Nick anyway. I would’ve needed nothing short of an isolation bubble) and cemented a lifelong friendship. We spoke our own (demented) language that no-one else was, or is, privy to. In-jokes were spawned that have lasted decades. We were a very exclusive club of two and proud of it.
Well beyond music, we were soulmates. It’s that simple. And nothing has changed. When Nick and I are together, on some level we are perpetually 14, and the world is a safer, happier, funnier(ha-ha funny, not ha-ha yeah, good one, god) place.
It’s amazing how music can bring the most incredible people into your life. Four men we’d never meet enriched our lives in countless ways and gave us each other. Thank you, John, Paul, George, and Ringo for the gift of a friendship that has sustained us both for over four decades.