Rubber Soul

The “Imagine” mosaic in Strawberry Fields had a halo of roses this morning. There was a whole, green apple in the middle. I puzzled on it a moment as I ran by, and then I figured it out.

I was 22-years-old the first time I visted New York with any sense of real mobility. Chris and I had driven down from Saratoga Springs to meet my mom for the weekend. I wasn’t getting along so well with either of them, so I fled the hotel with my guitar, and walked to The Dakota. I sat a while in the grass and strummed my guitar. I didn’t know any Beatles songs, so I made some up. It was the first time I remember feeling comfortable in the city. I remember thinking, ‘I could live here some day.’

I’m more of a Paul guy than a John guy (which is staggering uncool to most, I know), though I admire them in nearly equal measure. That is, I admire the mythologies of Paul and John in nearly equal measure. I’m not enough of a Beatle-ologist to know what they each contributed to the band. I don’t really know who wrote what. But I dig Paul’s apparent cheeriness, and sense of melody. And — his rapid remarriage notwithstanding — I dig his life-long (her life, anyway) love affair with Linda. At the same time, I appreciate John’s message. Peace and love’s alright with me.

But I’ve never been a huge Beatles fan. I mean, I wont’t deny that Lennon and McCartney were a rediculously talented songwriting duo. Or that their songs are a thousand times more memorable than most. I have “Sergeant Pepper,” “The White Album,” “Abbey Road,” and “Rubber Soul,” but I don’t spend a ton of time listening to them.

Last night, though, I played “Rubber Soul” as I stepped out of the office. It was nearly eight o’clock. It had been a long second day back to work. And Times Square was its usual loud, bright, relentless self. I was seeking some familiarity, some simplicity, and some beauty. And “Rubber Soul” has those attributes in spades: “Norwegian Wood,” “Michelle,” “I’m Looking Through You,” “In My Life.”

So I ran through Strawberry Fields (where John and Yoko once walked). I ran by Bethesda Fountain (where Prior, Louis, Belize, and Hannah once sat). I ran by the Reflecting Pool (where Stuart Little once sailed). And I ran past the Duck Pond (where Holden Caulfield and William Miller once walked). It was all familiar, simple, and beautiful.

And I felt just a little bit better.

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