The Album That Changed My Life

If you have spent more than five minutes with me, or seen any of my social media, I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that I am madly in love with Ringo Starr.

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I know baby, I know.

However… My love for the Beatles goes so far beyond my little obsession with the blue eyed Muso of my dreams.

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If we go way, way back, the first time I ever heard them was at my lovely friend Alice’s house in primary school. I remember digging it and when I got home asked Mumma about them.

“We don’t like the Beatles.”

“Oh, okay.”

And that was that until I turned twenty three. What can I say? I’m impressionable.

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I actually can’t remember what it was that spurred my sudden interest. One day I just got this urge to go looking. It was one of my first ‘digging expeditions’ (what I call it when I spend days balls deep in artist’s back catalogues searching for gold).

I found lots of hits I recognised. Lots. I had no idea how many amazing songs they had brought in to the world. I was starting to get lost in their beautiful stories and I’d chuck on an Anthology on a Sunday afternoon.

Then, while scanning the internet for Coachella highlights from my other favourite band, I came across this:

 

 

 

 

I don’t think up until that point that I had ever let a song truly move me outside of the Dreamgirls soundtrack. I. Was. Shook.

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I mean, it’s Alex bloody Turner, the greatest poet of our time, crooning along to a song that had me tingling all over. I had to dig further.

Then I found it.

The album. The most perfect album I had ever heard.

Abbey Road.

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I bought the vinyl within days of my first official listening. The day she arrived I placed her lovingly on my record player and laid on the floor between my giant speakers, only moving to flip her over; a few times.

This album, to me, is start to finish flawless.

This may be less of a review and more of a love letter to the men blew my mind and changed my life. After finding this album, I fell in love with all music. Before, I enjoyed my tunes, but then something shifted. I don’t know if I love people as much as I love some of my bands and songs. I have out-of-body experiences sometimes when I hear something I connect with. I tear up. Oh my God, don’t even get me started on key changes. Orgasmic.

I am forever thankful for every second of music they brought to us, and the passion they’ve instilled in me, but here is my run down of the best 47 minutes I’ve ever had:

SIDE ONE

Come Together
Written by John Lennon

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve ever tried to learn the lyrics to this song, well done. It’s a mess. It’s got the sexiest vibes and is definitely one of their hotter tunes. It just goes to show, when you’ve got a good bass line you don’t need good lyrics (I tease. It takes skill to write that much gibberish).

Something
Written by George Harrison

 

 

 

I absolutely adore this song. It’s my favourite of George’s across all the albums. It gets me right in the chest every time. I remember the first time I saw Love by Cirque du Soleil and their interpretation was so beautiful. Every time I hear it I’m transported right back to that arena with those stunning acrobats.

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
Written by Paul McCartney

 

Look, I know I’m weird, but this song it amazing. I mean… hey, this is probably going to be our last album, how about I chuck in a cheery tune about a serial killer? I think Paul and I would be great friends.

Oh! Darling
Written by Paul McCartney

Without a doubt my favourite vocal performance of sweet Paul. He’s got the growl, the range and the fookin passion in this absolute anthem of heart break. I adore it from start to finish.

Octopus’ Garden
Written by Ringo Starr

 

 

This is why I love him. Ringo’s one contribution to my favourite album is one of the most wholesome ditties you’ll ever hear. He is to be cherished, my God. Thank you thank you for Richard bloody Starkey and his gigantic heart.

I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
Written by John Lennon

My absolute favourite Lennon song. As mentioned above, it’s this one that started my love affair with this album. Turn it up loud and lie on the floor. You’ll go somewhere magic, I promise.

SIDE TWO

Here Comes the Sun
Written by George Harrison

Not my favourite of George’s contributions, but definitely one of the defining Beatles anthems, this song is pure beauty. It’s kind and gentle, quite like how I imagine George would have been too.

Because
Written by Lennon/McCartney

Beautiful. From start to finish this tune is a trip. I adore the simplicity of the lyrics, the harmonies, the image of myself floating above the world. It’s just unreal.

You Never Give Me Your Money
Written by Paul McCartney

‘A song written about having no faith in a person’, allegedly this song was inspired by late Beatles financial disputes and the involvement of Allen Klein. All things considered, it’s a beautiful tune and I particularly enjoy seeing clips of Paul banging it out on the piano on his recent tours.

Sun King
Written by Paul McCartney

This song shows off two things: the boy’s incredibly harmonies, and their ability to pull off absolute nonsense.

Mean Mr. Mustard
Written by John Lennon

Of  course the two most offensive songs on the album are mainly written by John. I love him, but he’s so naughty. I adore the visuals of this song though. He’s one hell of a good writer.

Polythene Pam
Written by John Lennon

Poor Pam. There’s nothing wrong with looking a bit like a man. The way this song crashes in to the next is one of my favourite parts of the album.

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
Written by Paul McCartney

This song speaks to my soul. Written about an infamous groupie gang the Apple Scruffs and Diane Ashley who once did in fact climb in through Paul’s bathroom window. This is the anthem of our star-crossed youth. You’ve got to embrace your inner groupie guys. There ain’t nothing wrong with being a lover.

Golden Slumbers
Written by Paul McCartney

This song has shaken me out of many a bummed out stupor. Paul’s vocals are so strong, and the beautiful lullaby flows perfectly in to the next.

Carry That Weight
Written by Paul McCartney

A sing-along anthem if ever I knew one. I love the whole final medley and I think it’s incredible the way so many strong small songs can blend to take us to the greatest album finale of all time.

The End
Written by Paul McCartney

I get sad every time this song begins, because I know what it means. I’m going to have to get up and flip it soon. From the stunning little solos to the final words to live by, this song is perfection.

‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.’

Her Majesty
Written by Paul McCartney

Oh how I used to hate the way this would pull me out of my final note shudders. It’s an irritatingly catchy little ditty but you know what? I can’t hate anything Paul does. This is a hidden track and he’s a wonder.

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They are all a gift that we do not deserve.

Thank you for the music.

Thank you for everything.

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If you haven’t already, you must watch their films. Their quick wit and young faces are magnificent.

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Forever yours,

Harleigh Q

xo

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An Epic Ending

I’m going to start this one with a brief explanation for those who might not know me very well about just why the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio was such a spiritual experience for me.

I was raised on music. My most vivid memories from childhood are my first album (B*witched) and how bashed up my Spice Girls one got. I heard Lighthouse Family croon as we drove the Yorkshire countryside in search of adventure. I heard Papi singing Paul Weller to perfection at the top of his lungs. Mumma loved Simply Red and Style Council, Sade and real soulful RnB. Papi put Eminem’s Encore album in the car and I cheekily learnt all the lyrics in my room at night while I drew and Mumma questioned the language. My sister bopped in her walker to Will Smith and my Nan taught me about the incredible Tina Turner and Elvis Presley. Papi heard about England’s next big thing, Arctic Monkeys. That album is part of my life story, man. As well as everyone one that followed.

I love music. When I lost myself music found me. I fell in love with the Beatles, INXS, the Stones, Plan B, Steely Dan, Prince, Bowie, Sticky Fingers, Johnny Cash, Elton John, The Specials. Too many more to mention.

I found my bands and learned what it’s all about to live and breathe it. I connected with people who showed me even more new magic and let me share in the love of theirs.

My favourite guitar solo of all time is Prince during While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Paul’s speech for John, again for Ringo. Mick’s for the Beatles. Epic Clapton declaring ‘Music is all you really need. Love and music is all we need’.

I love travel, but music is the love of my life.

And this is the home of music.

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Johnny Cash was the featured artist. His old tour bus was sitting outside. It made me long for days I never spent on tours I never witnessed. I must have been a GTO in a past life… there’s just something in this soul longing for it all and I can’t explain it.

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I could have spent days there but I was emotionally vulnerable and feeling incredibly overwhelmed with love when I walked out (20 minutes late, but I did navigate the gift shop at record speed.)

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Cleveland was a beautiful city, and to top off my best day I got to go see one of the best films I’ve seen in years. The last time a movie I watched jumped instantly in to my top five it was Lost in Translation.

Baby Driver was a musically driven, beautifully written and actioned packed dream from start to finish, taking place in a world I wish I belonged. The gentle dialog and tune connection between Baby and Deborah is the stuff of my wildest fantasies. I could curl up and live in this film. Watch it, please.

Moving far away from my whimsical reminiscences let’s jump right in to next destination.

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We stopped briefly at an Amish village for lunch on the way to Chicago which honestly creeped me out. It’s just so isolated. It hurts my heart every time someone looks in my eyes with longing when I tell them I’m from Australia. I know I am beyond lucky, but I made a choice to dedicate my life to travel. To me, to travel is to live. I really hope some of these lovely people get to explore my home one day the way I am with theirs.

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Happy 4th!

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We spent the day the most perfect way, at the baseball! The beers went down too smoothly, and everyone was in the highest of spirits. Especially our Contiki team.

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It was like walking around with minor celebrities.

That evening we all relaxed in a park by the beach with chilly bins (hah) and lots of American apparel. We danced and drank and laughed as we waited for the fireworks. It was a very memorable experience.

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Our drive from Chicago to Madison was one of my favourite drive days. We went to a fresh food market, and I found my future husband.

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That afternoon we got merry at the Coopers brewery which had the most fantastically camp and fun presentation. I’ve switched beer loyalty purely based on it.

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I dug Maddison. I was super unwell while we were there but the dinner spot had one of my main men on the wall, a fabulous play list, and there was a Beatles themed bar there! I am returning when I come back to cover the middle states, that’s for sure.

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The next night we spent in a cute little spot called Sioux Falls. This began the beautiful run of mellow country towns.

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Apparently corn worship is a thing in this place.

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One of the coolest places we checked out was Badlands national park. This was the first of many incredible natural wonders we were about to explore.

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Mount Rushmore was next on the agenda. The town we stayed in was so picturesque. I loved it. Night one was spend curled up in the spa.

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Mount Rushmore is just as spectacular as you’d imagine. It really took my breathe away seeing it in real life.

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The highlight of the day for me though was witnessing to the gradual progress of the Crazy Horse memorial. It’s a gigantic tribute to a hugely important Native American war leader and historical figure. A multigenerational family have dedicated their lives to carving him in to the rock face on native land. It’s no small feat and who knows if it’ll be finished in our life time, but they accept no government funding. Tourism is the main income for this project, and they also run a school for local native kids on site. It’s all pretty incredible.

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That afternoon we had a family picnic by the lake. It’s so special to be out in nature and relaxing with friends.

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That night was movie night! Spot batman pants.

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Next we headed to the cowboy town of Cody. I gracefully bowed out of the rodeo this time but the next day was without a doubt one of the best of my life. Yellowstone National Park.

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The pictures speak for themselves. Certain spots smelled like Rotorua but the natural beauty of these formations was unparalleled. This is my favourite National Park.

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We even saw a bear!

The next day was a treat and a lot like popping over to Switzerland, Teton National Park!

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We had lunch at the tiniest brewery ever.

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That afternoon I made a bold choice and went for a trail ride. My horse was called Toughie and was a total gentleman.

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This was followed by an epic cook out and some interesting party games.

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It was a truly stunning place.

A brief city stop brought us to Salt Lake City, and we got to check out how the Mormons do things. Most of the state of Utah are Mormon!

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Kanab was our next stop and along the way we checked out Bryce National Park. We wandered the rim and wondered at her beauty. Each park is so unique.

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I loved the next. This was my third time at the Grand Canyon in just over a year but first time at the North Rim. I spent most of the day with my tunes on relaxing and absorbing the serenity. It’s way more chilled on the North end so it was perfect for just being for a while.

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The next day was wild. Zion National Park blew my mind. We did a few little hikes to pretty running rocks and drank in the fresh water. This was our final day with nature so we enjoyed her fully.

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Finally, here we were. Almost two months down and well and truly ready to go out with a bang. Hello Vegas!

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I absolutely love Las Vegas. Every time I’ve been (which is now four times) I have a different and brilliant experience. I love the happy people on holiday, the bright and vibrant casinos, the shows that leave you on the edge of your seat, the next level night life. Night one we played on Fremont street as we were staying downtown.

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I was in groupie heaven as we discovered two excellent 80s tribute bands, one for the pop hits and one for the spandex boys with long curls and rocker voices. Oh my.

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Safe to say the free day was a rest day. We checked out a few bars but it was aaaaall about day three for me.

We started with the Neon Museum, a collection of old Vegas neon signs. They all had a story and the place was magical.

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Next it was my favourite things, Bubba Gumps and fried chicken before a second viewing of the greatest show of all time… Love by Cirque Du Soleil. Rin and I toe tapped and gasped and swayed to the best songs remixed to perfection and yet again I danced giddily out with some merch.

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Our final night on Contiki involved party buses and the one and only Ghost Bar. I even ran in to one of my gorgeous NSW agents from my Brissie days. Only in Vegas.

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We danced and cuddled and tried not to get emotional about the end of our epic journey. Ten of us started this together. It’s a long time and there’s a lot of love there.

Our last day was hungover and sad, but it’s okay. I’ll be seeing you.

My flights home were entirely uneventful, unlike the ones there, so that was a relief.

I’m in heaven being at home with my family. I missed them, as I always do. Especially my little man.

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So now we begin my transformation year. I have worked my bum off and now I’m allowed to work from home. This means I can smash the savings and get back to Brissie as soon as possible (one year is the goal). Until then, it’s me time.

I’m going to read, play my instruments, write my stories and enjoy my family. Most of all I’m going to focus on my health and happiness. When I figure out a miracle cure for a fucked up relationship with food I’ll let you know! 24 and 25 were magical exploration years, now at 26 I’ll cocoon before the butterfly returns.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of my adventure.

An important message I want to put out there is that if you want to travel, explore and live a nomad life, just do it! Don’t succumb to the pressure of getting on the property market or buying expensive things you don’t need if that’s not where your heart is. You don’t have to study something you aren’t passionate about. You don’t have to have a brand new car or expensive clothes.

Make a choice, and then go after it with everything you have. It’s the only way to live. Never do anything by half.

I’m not doing anything that you can’t. 

Remember, our stories are only just beginning…

Harleigh Q

Xo