Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Saw the movie “Yesterday” last night. Many of my friends have been encouraging me to do so, being the loyal Beatles fan I happily remain. I was somewhat skeptical, even though the premise sounded promising. Some cosmic event happens whereby one struggling musician becomes the only man in the world with a memory of those amazing songs. He then introduces them into the world as his own and achieves tremendous success and acclaim. One review suggested the movie from there devolves into a bit of a rom-com.
Which, I’ll confess, is what triggered my skepticism…
There will be no spoilers to follow, for those of you who haven’t yet seen this extremely popular movie. Suffice to say that the first third was thoroughly enjoyable to me and justified the entire experience. And then, yes - there were multiple times to come where I wish they would have turned to someone like me for some editorial input. Or at least allowed a vandal with a small set of scissors an opportunity to hack away at the final reel.
The best aspect of the movie was in showing, front and center, how truly great those songs were and how well they stand up to this day. Though I was already aware of these facts, the reminder was sweet and poignant. And worth the price of admission. Well done on many levels.
I was then inspired to revisit a Beatles-themed short story of my own named “Michelle”. This one, I’d always thought, had a good premise as well. The narrator is smitten with a woman he’s warned is “beautiful but nuts”, with her particular insanity being that she can only communicate with other humans through the words found in songs by the Beatles. The narrator doesn’t let this obstacle interfere with his pursuit. In fact, he finds a way to make great use of his inside knowledge.
Taking advantage of my own recent foray into recording a new batch of essays for an audio version of “These Stories Are True” (still working on it, by the way), I found a willing subject to endure an impromptu performance of the entire piece. I had never read the complete story aloud before. I was wondering if maybe, after all this time, I’d discover I’d fallen prey to the same type of lazy and easy resolution (ahem… respectfully speaking…) that plagued “Yesterday”. Granted, my story was much shorter and written oh so long ago. But had I also found a way to tarnish my promising premise in similar ways?
And my conclusion was…
I’m glad I wrote “Michelle”. There was no painfully long journey to a conclusion we easily saw coming from the start. I’m not saying it’s better than “Yesterday” - it’s far more modest in scope and ambition. BUT, well - there’s a much better chance I’ll be rereading my own story before another friend is able to persuade me to give the movie another chance.
And of course, “Michelle” is available as part of the “Michelle” collection on michaelaba.com. The individual story can be yours for one dollar! I may decide to feature this amazing bargain in my next monthly email.
I may even record an audio version one of these days, should I ever manage to finish “These Stories Are True”.
As always, I’m hoping to run into the Obamas one of these summer days on Martha’s Vineyard. The reason I’m adding this non-sequitur here is because “Michelle” would be the perfect gift for Barrack’s wife. Hopefully “Yesterday” - which I’m guessing they’ve already seen - hasn’t completely quenched their appetite for Beatles-related fiction.