A few years ago (and by “a few”, I actually mean ten, because I just looked it up, and it was October of 2007), the film Across the Universe was released. I was originally a bit skeptical, yet also excited. All I knew was that it was a film that used music from the Beatles, in order to tell a story of some sort. While talking about it with my cousin Jared one night, he informed me that the music was not being performed by the Beatles, but by new people. That is, the music was being re-done in order to be used in the film. In a world with loads of terrible song re-makes (think of the stars’ versions of classic songs found during the credits of films [especially Disney films]), I could only expect disappointment. Many a people had already created terrible versions of good songs. What kind of disgrace would come to the names of these fabulous Beatles songs? I was distraught. Why ruin something so good?
But then,… but then… my cousin said to me, “Hannah. They’re actually good.” What? How could that be? I mean, this is the Beatles we’re talking about here. How can someone cover the Beatles and not have it be far worse than the original? Jared had been skeptical at first, as well. But he had the earliest release of the soundtrack now, and he had been listening to it. It was good, he assured me.
So, standing in the living room, we pulled up the music (I think it was on his iPod, actually). I was terrified. And then, when Jim Sturgess lulled out from a silent background, “Close your eyes, and I’ll kiss you. Tomorrow, I’ll miss you…,” goosebumps made an appearance on me like never before.
I listened with intrigue and genuine delight as the songs progressed. T.V. Carpio, a woman, sang of wanting to hold your hand (something I had always dreamed about whenever I sang along to the song, my being a girl and all). Even Rachel Wood’s crystal voice rang through the music, whispering sweet nothings to my heart. The songs. These Beatles songs. Remade. They were just as Jared had said. They were actually good.
They were totally and completely different from the originals, yet their connection and influence from their origins were completely obvious (of course). Perhaps that is why there were so good in the first place. No one had tried to copy the Beatles. They had simply taken the Beatles’ songs and reinterpreted them, while – and this is key – always keeping the original experience of the songs in mind. So these songs were and still are Beatles songs, without occurring as covers. They weren’t like so-and-so’s cover of such-and-such song. They were something uniquely different, while still being beautifully the same. They were forever linked to the Beatles and the Beatles’ music, because they were still Beatles songs, but they were their own entity. They were, put simply, the music from Across the Universe.
Even today, whenever I listen to those songs, to that soundtrack, goosebumps abound, and I am filled with this somewhat unidentifiable sensation. It is as if, perhaps, my belly and chest are filled with… well, with warm happiness. It’s cheesy-sounding, of course, but I believe it to be completely true. The Beatles singing their songs fills me with joy and a desire to dance and sing along. The Across the Universe music fills me with warm happiness, along with the natural desire to sing along and bop around and smile hugely. They are like siblings from the same family, these two sets of Beatles music – they are so much alike and from the same place, and yet they are entirely different from one another. And I love them both.