Just imagine a stuffy upstairs bedroom on the kind of June day that burns slow and bright, the sun filtering through threadbare curtains and onto an unmade bed. Tiny speckles of dust spiral through the still air; you watch as they indulgently make their way from one hazy corner to another. This is all you have to do today: watch the dust and share the stifling yet exceptionally pure air, air unburdened by age or the albatross of acquired responsibility. In one corner an older-model turntable hisses, its ugly beige-gray plastic threatening to melt like ice cream in the heat. It’s time to flip the record; you’re listening to the tail end of Abbey Road, again.
This is the only way to listen to Abbey Road. It’s June, but in July you will have moved on to Revolver, and in August The Beatles will be all that matters. The chronology is compromised in these days before the most instant of gratification; the albums were hunted down, not bought but scored; and in turn, they scored you right back. Their qualities are immutable though, even here and now, and especially then, that summer so golden in both murky memory and actuality.
Abbey Road is still the one I know and love best, and the one most necessary to listen to on vinyl; its last sixteen minutes need the room and care to flow without the harsh ineptitude of someone separating them into tracks. Those last songs—truncated, sometimes silly, unfinished and yet still perfect—somehow run the gamut of human experience and that summer, in a fit of youthful drama, I made him promise to play them on a loop at my funeral.
As you get older, deeper and more complicated things replace fleeting innocence and prized purity, but that sunny, dusty room still stands, full of someone else’s things. It’s a bright breezy tomb, a nugget of gold preserved in amber. Those dust particles are still in my lungs, those UV rays will have permanently twisted my DNA, and Abbey Road will live forever, even though I definitely won’t.
And in the end…