black album


Inspired by a moment of profound genius in Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” I recently compiled a playlist of 39 tracks that represents my idea of the album that The Beatles might have made in the ’70s if they had been together. Comprised of solo tracks by each Beatle, it shows how close the four principals were musically, spiritually, and aesthetically, even as events in their lives and the world conspired to keep them apart.  I made it as two CDs for a long car ride, and I’ve entitled it “….neverwas….”


two masonsThe idea for this album, which reintroduces me to songs I’ve known since I was a boy with utterly fresh ears, could have been claimed by anyone in the past four decades and recognized and acclaimed immediately as a masterstroke.  As it turns out, like many things in “Boyhood,” it comes from real life: “The Black List,” as the album is known in the film, was created by actor Ethan Hawke for his own daughter.  In “Boyhood,” Hawke plays Mason Sr., father to the protagonist, Mason Jr., and  the scene in which this remarkable gift is presented is but one of many transcendentally truthful moments Linklater and company have created — not to mention a startling instance of Beatlemania at its most sublime.


Hawke has shared the story of his inspiration for “The Black Album” on Buzzfeed in a post that includes the liner notes he wrote as part of his gift to his daughter and, of course, the complete tracklist.


Here’s my version:


My Sweet Lord (gh)
Oh, Yoko! (jl)
Helen Wheels (pm)
Whatever Gets You Through the Night (jl)
Jet (pm)
What Is Life? (gh)
Junior’s Farm (pm)
You’re Sixteen (rs)
Stand by Me (jl)
Wah-wah (gh)
Snookeroo (rs)
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (pm)
Apple Scruffs (gh)
Watching the Wheels (jl)
Live and Let Die (pm)
Bangla Desh (gh)
Band on the Run (pm)
Crippled Inside (jl)
Isn’t It a Pity? (gh)


Imagine (jl)
Give Me Love (gh)
My Love (pm)
Mother (jl)
Mull of Kintyre (pm)
Hold On (jl)
Back Off Boogaloo (rs)
Let ‘Em In (pm)
(Just Like) Starting Over (jl)
No-No Song (rs)
If Not For You (gh)
Maybe I’m Amazed (pm)
It Don’t Come Easy (rs)
God (jl)
Beware of Darkness (gh)
Give Peace a Chance (jl)
Photograph (rs)
Free as a Bird
Real Love