Tuesday, March 5, 2013

No. 457 – Only a Northern Song

Performer: The Beatles
Songwriter: George Harrison
Original Release: Yellow Submarine
Year: 1969
Definitive Version: None

For a long time, whenever Yellow Submarine would be on TV some Saturday afternoon, the Sea of Science scene, which features this song, of course, was one of my least favorite parts. It was just too psychedelically bizarre.

Later, I realized that that’s exactly what it was supposed to be—for the stoners in the movie audience. When you’re a kid, you don’t care. This stuff with the faces flashing is boring. Bring on the Sea of Monsters!

If you’re my age, you might recall that for a long time, Yellow Submarine disappeared. It wasn’t on TV any more, and it wasn’t re-released, on VHS or even DVD. All of the other Beatles movies were out and about, but no Yellow Submarine. I couldn’t find a reasonable explanation, although I figured it was a problem that putting enough money in the right pockets would resolve.

That resolution happened in 1999, and when I heard that the movie and a revised and expanded soundtrack album would be released, I was geeked. The timing—September—was good, because Debbie and I were planning our biannual trip to Northern California early that month. That Yellow Submarine was coming out the day after we would get back gave me something to look forward to after vacation.

The trip itself was good, although it was probably the least memorable of all of our California trips. The one thing that stood out in 1999 was Napa Valley. I think I mentioned that 1999 was the last time I visited Napa before 2011. It wasn’t. I remember now that when Debbie and I went to Sacramento for her friend’s daughter’s wedding in 2000, we made a wind-sprint one-day trip to Napa.

1999 was the last overnight visit, and by then, I was a full-fledged oenophile. Our winery visits reflected a more-upscale taste: We hit Silver Oak and got a tour of Spottswoode that included a barrel tasting—a first. Even though it still was young, it was very full and oakey. Debbie and I made a mental note to buy the 1999 when it came out in a few years.

That trip also was when we discovered Arrowood. I shouldn’t say discovered, because it wasn’t like we just happened upon it. We knew the wine and liked it, and this time we planned a night in Sonoma, so we wanted a couple Sonoma wineries to visit. We chose Arrowood and B.R. Cohn.

We did Arrowood first, because the tasting room closed before the one at B.R. Cohn did. The tasting room is situated in this farmhouse type building high up on a hill that overlooks part of the Sonoma Valley. We did the tasting and kept noticing the front porch. Finally, we asked if we could take our last taste and sit outside. The server said, of course.

The porch was set up for hanging out, although we were the only ones who ventured outside. It provided an excellent view of the rest of the hill and the valley as the sun began to set over the far mountains. We could’ve stayed the rest of the day, but we had to leave, and we promised each other we’d be back. (We did, the next year, and Arrowood remains my favorite winery to visit.)

We went back down the road towards Sonoma to B.R. Cohn. We chose this one only because we had heard of the wine, and it was along the way. The tasting room, at least back then, was fairly small and squishy—certainly not the welcome setting that Arrowood was.

As Debbie spoke with the sommelier, I wandered around the store and noticed that on the wall was a gold record of The Captain and Me and another one of Stampede and here’s one of Takin’ It to the Streets.

Wait, what’s going on here? I didn’t recognize the name other than from wine. The sommelier informed us that B.R. Cohn, of course, was Bruce Cohn, who was (and is) the manager for The Doobie Brothers. Realy? Wow. I guess that explains the gold records in a shop otherwise loaded with wine and olive oil paraphernalia.

When we finished our vacation, I had a couple extra carry-on pieces of luggage—full wine boxes of souvenirs purchased in Wine County, back when you still could do that. It had been a good trip, and the next day before work, I scooped up The Yellow Submarine on VHS and the Songtrack album. It was a good thing I did, because a day later, I’d need something to cheer me up.

(To be continued)

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