So I Sing A Song of Love
Written by Jonathan Alingu
November marks fifty years of the Beatles' White Album. We asked some of our writers what the record means to them.
I was twelve when I moved from Freeport, Grand Bahama to Brooksville, Florida. It was a cultural shock to me in every way. Looking at the United States from outside, you have ideas of what it is, and you imagine all the things you can achieve. Brooksville was not what I had envisioned. I went from majority to minority and I was now the fascination of the fledgling eyes of middle school students. I was a full year younger than everyone in my class, had a "funny" accent, and had to answer a series of ridiculous questions. I had to be the ambassador of the country I left, and adjust to life quickly to this new country. I didn’t know how I was going to cope.
Thankfully, I was not just a source of exotification to all, and I made friends with a guy named Tim. We bonded over music. This was 2000, and I was introduced to Limp Bizkit, Eminem, and P.O.D. In my mind, this was how I was going to fit in. I listened to Cash Money Millionaires and No Limit Records, but I’ll get into these folks. Tim was also into older music, classic rock particularly and there was this one band that he would listen to called The Beatles. He talked about them just as much as Eminem, so I thought I’d investigate myself. That was the beginning of my lifelong adventure.
I wanted to understand why The Beatles were so adored. I only knew Paul McCartney because of Michael Jackson, and he was merely an afterthought. I’m a Taurus, obsession is natural to us, so I listened to album after album. Tim influenced me to buy Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon, the third official compilation album of John Lennon's solo career. Wikipedia didn’t exist until later, so I was using MSN Encarta to learn every single thing about John, Paul, George, Ringo, Pete Best, Stuart Sutcliffe, Hamburg, and the list goes on. I can tell you who wrote and sang every Beatles song from every studio album. As a college student at the University of Central Florida (UCF), I did this with my friend Becky and her sister Danielle at the great Wackadoos restaurant on campus. The album I asked to be quizzed on as we were enjoying Wackadoos great chicken tenders was my personal favorite, The White Album.
I was in London in 2017 and was at Amy Winehouse’s favorite bar The Hawley Arms, wondering what she and her peers were thinking about life in their late 20s. I imagine The Beatles asked themselves the same questions in 1968 and wrote about it in their album. Their very public diary. "I’m So Tired" and "Revolution 9" are my two favorite entries.
I loved the story about this album’s process. It was the necessary direction after its predecessor, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Sgt. Pepper’s was experimental and outrageous. The White Album was softer and calmer. I was obsessed with their trip to India for a Transcendental Meditation course which their experience inspired the songs on the album. In context, it seems like peak appropriation, however at the time, I loved the intention. It was their form of self-care. They lost Brian Epstein, arguably the glue that held the band together. The late 1960s were full of political turmoil to say the least. It was a trying time in age for John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The 25 to 28 age range is a very unspoken of and important part in our development. We begin to try less instead of trying hard and our relationships begin to grow and shrink naturally. They were rich as hell, but that reality hits everyone. It was John’s direction that moved me deeply.
John Lennon is floating in my favorite artist solar system with Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse as the Sun. We did not exist in this world together yet we have a weird, loving connection, as I do with Libras. “I’m So Tired” and “Revolution 9” are the songs that connect with me on a professional level and personal level. Our political reality can leave me doubtful and frustrated. I’m grounded in the fact that it will change, but sometimes the days can kick your butt. I’m So Tired gives me the chance to acknowledge my limits and my feelings. Changing the world for the better is tiring, and sometimes I don’t know what to do. The song helped me talk myself out of unhealthy coping mechanisms (although John didn’t quite figure that out until later in his life, I interpreted "NO NO NO" to him pondering fixing himself a drink to checking that). I’m an earth sign so it’s important for me to have peace of mind, peace for our communities, and in my personal relationships. I began to really actualize that in my world at 27, the same age John was when he wrote the song.
Revolution 9 is a mysterious, out-of-left-field, creative masterpiece of a track to me. I’m into noise and including different sounds. When I have time to make music, I try to get noise and hip-hop samples to come together to create something magical. Revolution 9 was the chance to be magical. Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, said that this work is his “personal vision of the contemporary world.” I love that and it’s the best way I can describe my connection with Revolution 9. 1967 and 1968 were noisey years; there was a lot going on in the world and in John’s world. In 2018, there’s a lot going in on in the world and in my world. Revolution 9 is what it sounds like when you have many great ideas, and you’re frustrated that you can’t work on them all. “RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT...RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT, RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT” made me feel cool including wild adlibs and finding beauty in that. Yoko Ono made me want to add conversations into music. I was in a place at 27 and 28 when I didn’t know how to bridge creativity in my public and private life. I didn’t want to show my creativity to anyone but myself and was scared of being judged. Revolution 9 showed me I can be creative and different when everyone else is in the status quo.
The Beatles and The White Album have a special place in my heart. They helped me relate to a new world I was walking into as a pre-teen, and navigate through life understanding their historical relevance. It gave me the opportunity to analyze the world they were in and to appreciate so many other musical geniuses. I was in London in 2017 and was at Amy Winehouse’s favorite bar The Hawley Arms, wondering what she and her peers were thinking about life in their late 20s. I imagine The Beatles asked themselves the same questions in 1968 and wrote about it in their album. Their very public diary. "I’m So Tired" and "Revolution 9" are my two favorite entries. The movement I’m involved in will be captured in history, and if I’ve left an impact on anyone, we will be indirectly connected by these two songs, immortalized in our world forever.
Growing up in several places, Jonathan's journey to music as mysterious as his aliases. Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse are his North Star, and he navigates the music world exploring multiple genres. His trade is in community organizing with Central Florida Jobs with Justice, and when there's time he records his podcast POST GODS and even DJ's and creates music as Velvet Hoop, the Sweet Baby Angel, or Zaddy Long Legs, depending on his mood. Likes: Being creative, comfort, food, and dedication.