Here, There, and Everywhere: My Panamanian Beatles Story

Last week I wrote an article titled "5 Underrated Beatles Songs That You Should Get to Know". A few days later, a good friend asked me how it was that I became such a fan of the four lads from Liverpool. Once I realized that it took a three-minute voice note to tell a summarized version of the story, I decided to share it with the world.

The Beatles are timeless. That right there is the understatement of the century. Almost 45 years have passed since the legendary quartet from Liverpool separated, yet their music and influence remains more than relevant in the 21st century. The most surprising aspect of this phenomenon is that it is in great part due to the generations that have grown up after their breakup that they remain popular. In the same manner, the personal connections that each fan has to the Fab Four differ with every individual.

My story with the Beatles begins 14 years ago, on Sunday December 3, 2000. It was the eve of the 20th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. More importantly for me, however, I was traveling to New York City to undergo an orthopedic surgery. It was my fifth time under the knife in 11 years of life at that point, and it would prove to be an important event in my life.

I remember sitting on the plane next to my dad, who was reading the newspaper. At some point right before takeoff he asked if I would like to watch a movie about Lennon's life and the rise of the Beatles that was premiering on TV that evening. I agreed to watch it not really knowing what I was getting myself into, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. A few years later, while reading one of several books about John Lennon, I finally learned the name of the film (In His Life: The John Lennon Story).

At that point in my existence, I was ignorant as to who the Beatles were and as to their impact on society and culture. I did have an inkling, however, as to who John Lennon was. All I knew, though, was that he had performed in The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus and that was thanks to one of my uncles and my godfather being huge Rolling Stones fans, and they in turn had made me fall in love with their music.

That evening, my dad and I sat down to watch the film. He fell asleep soon after it began, as he tends to do whenever we watch a movie in the evening (still happens to this day). I, on the other hand, was enthralled from the very start at the twist and turns the Beatles' rise to fame took, from their beginnings in Liverpool, to their crucial development period in Hamburg, culminating with their invasion of America in early 1964.

One of my greatest flaws during my childhood was that whenever I garnered an interest in a topic, it would be my only subject of conversation for several months. As anyone could probably guess, that is exactly what happened with the Beatles. It did not hurt that on top of it being the week prior to the 20th anniversary of Lennon's passing, yet another compilation album, 1, which consisted of The Beatles' 27 recognized number one songs had been released on November 13, meaning that there were advertisements for it all over the place. All these factors only helped fuel an already growing obsession.

There is no better way to define my link to the music of John, Paul, George, and Ringo than as love at first sight. The first Beatles song I ever listened to was "A Hard Day's Night" and I can still remember how I felt when I first heard the tune's legendary and electrifying opening chord. It was pure bliss.

While growing up, I was very active in athletics, participating in a variety sports. I loved basketball above all others. Having had surgery in December, which was right at the end of the Panamanian school year, it meant that throughout the entirety of my summer vacations, which ran until March, I would be in recovery and unable to play the sport that I adored.

Under normal circumstances I probably would have been upset about the news, but luckily I had a new interest to keep myself busy that summer: the Fab Four. Those first few months of 2001 became a special period in my life, where I submerged myself in the Beatles' history and music. I listened to every record I could find on the Internet and read any book or piece of writing that I could get my hands on. Had it not been for the Beatles, I would have been quite the unhappy camper during those few months, and there are few things worse than a moody and bored 11-year-old with a lot of time on his hands.

Throughout the next few years my interest in the Beatles and their work kept growing and growing. I began collecting both their albums and records from their career as Beatles, as well as their solo work, particularly John Lennon's, whose life story had first sparked my interest in the band. These days, though, I do not bring them up or talk about them as often as I used to. When they come up in conversation, however, I get as excited as I would have back in those early days.

My story with the Beatles finally came full circle a few months ago. In May 2014 I got to complete my lifelong dream of visiting Liverpool, their hometown and the birthplace of their legendary careers. While in Liverpool, I visited most if not all of the landmarks of their history, including but not limited to St. Peter's Church (which is where John and Paul met on July 6, 1957), both Lennon and McCartney's childhood homes, and the legendary Cavern Club. That pilgrimage was the missing piece to my link to the Beatles, the awesome foursome that played such a crucial part in my childhood.