Monday, August 4, 2014

Nick Rice reminisces about the Beatles

My old and dear friend Nick Rice the actor, musician and supply teacher, wrote this and sent it to me: 

Late December 1963: I was twelve years old, living in Winnipeg, making my way through Grade Seven. I was a nerdy kid – mouth packed with orthodontia, thick horn-rims on my nose, pimples everywhere, and a big wet pompadour that I sculpted each morning (and, oddly, that I re-sculpted every night before bed).  
I’d been listening to the Top Forty since I was eight. I knew my way around teen radio; I listened to all the Bobbies – to Rydell, Vinton, Vee and their ilk.  
And there was a Sunday-morning radio-show I loved, a review of the hits on Europe’s charts. You’d hear Bert Kaempfert doing German stuff, or England’s Petula Clark singing songs that were big in France.  
“And here,” said the DJ one week, “is a song that’s soaring up Britain’s charts. It’s by a group called The Beatles – that’s B-E-A-T-L-E-S – and it’s called ‘She Loves You’.” A burst of tom-toms – then, like wild-fire, the exuberant voices, the driving beat, the neatly crafted lyric that told a story, and an irresistible yeah-yeah refrain. Though I knew pop music, I’d never heard anything like it; no-one had.  It was as if the Beatles reached out of the tinny Motorola speaker, grabbed me by the collar, and tried to yank me into the song. I cranked up the dial as loud as it would go – my mother screamed from the other side off the house to turn it down, but I couldn’t. Who could? It was the greatest thing I’d ever heard and I couldn’t get enough.  
A half-century later, I still can’t. Some are dead and some are living, yet I still think of all four guys as my good friends, my big brothers, the cheeriest, most understanding souls in the world whenever I feel sorry and sad.

Beth Kaplan, just a few months older than I, has written a book, All My Loving, which recounts her own take on the Fab Four, what it was like for her to be grabbed by the neck and yanked into the small monaural record-player; what it is still like for her, decades later, to love the guys now as much as she did then.  
Her book is a literary “She Loves You”. It took hold of me and drew me in, reminding me of those pre-pubescent days when an assassin’s bullet had suddenly darkened the world and all of us kids, our whole damn demographic bulge, glommed onto the Beatles and never let go.  
I wasn’t a girl, and I never got to live in France as Beth and her family did – yet she takes me back to where I came from, to Winnipeg in 1963. She brilliantly evokes the feel of Hilroy scribblers and ten-cent ballpoints – the smell of Clearasil and Vitalis – and the sight of an orange and pink Capitol label going round and round on a fat spindle forty-five times a minute.  
More than just vivid, All My Loving is deeply compassionate. Beth reaches out to her teenage self with love and forgiveness; she’s a woman who remembers adolescent angst and understands it.
Reading her book, I could feel her urging me to do the same for this boy – for the shy gawky kid I once was.
I highly recommend All My Loving. Bravo, Beth. 

And thank you, girl.


  1. Isn't this a wonderful appreciation of your wonderful book?

  2. Beautifully written and thoughtful, Theresa. Nick is a mensch.

  3. I will let Nick know how much you appreciate his writing, Carole and Theresa. Thank you from him, and from me. He's working at a Shakespeare festival in rural Ontario these days.

  4. Nick has said it so beautifully - what a wonderful human being he is! So lucky to be his friends, aren't we? Lani