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Reference Library: The Beginning of r.m.b

Newsgroups: rec.music.beatles
From: dlm3@midway.uchicago.edu (saki)
Subject: The beginning of RMB?
Date: Sat, 24 Aug 1996 06:37:54 GMT

Mark Fonnemann <Mark.Fonnemann@riconnect.com> wrote:

After reading this I became curious about the beginning of RMB.
Any info would be great!

I joined it four days after it was created, so I'm a late-comer. :-)

Great travails attended its birth, by all accounts. Beatles fans had been congregating in rec.music.misc, and making everyone there mad with incessant questions about Beatles, Beatles, Beatles.

There was some controversy whether a mere *singing group* deserved its own newsgroup. I missed the fights. All I saw was the newborn result. rec.music.beatles was apparently the first special-interest music group on Usenet. There was no Internet then, no Web, no graphics to speak of...just words.

There was no Netscape, no friendly PC interface...you learned Unix to read news or you didn't read news.

There seemed to be only two or three posters that early on, all of them intense and vociferous. I was awed into utter silence. It took me three weeks to gather up the courage to post something. When I did, it was met by resounding silence. So was my second post. It was only a love of the Fabs that kept me here.

There were about 5-10 posts per day; on an excitable day, twenty.

There were no FAQs, because no one had written any; no one asked the same question twice, anyway.

There were no netiquette requests; exchanges could be heated but *never* insulting, at least not personally so.

There were no chain letters, trolls, flames; rmb was too remote and too exclusive.

There were no women. It was all men...odd when you think that girls had made up the majority of Beatlemaniacs early on. Instead, here were a group of men combing through the recording relics of the Fabs...whom they didn't call the Fabs (because George Harrison hadn't quite invented the appellation yet).

Lewisohn had, the previous year, published his first book, "The Beatles Live!" It was used a bit, but more often investigators relied on their own eyes and ears. "Recording Sessions" was due within rmb's first year, and when it debuted, rmb'ers bought it and predictably began to pick it apart. :-)

Topics involved basically the sessions---different mixes, mono-vs-stereo (what a surprise :-) and dates, instruments, players. We had no "Recording Sessions" to help us with all that yet. Bootlegs were discussed. Fabs CDs were discussed; the first of them had come out earlier that year; vinyl vs. CD; rare imports and international pressings.

There was nary a word about the films, the Beatles lives, or what they ate for breakfast. No one dared bother to ask how to write to the Fabs; no one dared be silly, emotional, or effusive. That emerged much later.

No one had the remotest idea that someday there would be a reunion, that new music would be forthcoming from the Beatles, that new fans would emerge and join the ranks on-line; that rmb would grow from so humble a beginning to (one historic day last year, November 20th) over 1100 posts in one day...or that so many articulate and sincere fans under the age of sixteen would perceive the beauty of the Fabs' music.

I'm curious...there seem to be few if any original rmb'ers around (though Doug Sulpy keeps threatening to publish some of my very early posts...watch it, young man, or I'll tell Joseph Nagarya where you live!), but if there are, I'd be pleased to hear their recollections too. Age may have colored mine; I'd like to see some that are more pure, and perhaps more trustworthy. :-)

**********************************

Newsgroups: rec.music.beatles
From: dlm3@midway.uchicago.edu (saki)
Subject: rec.music.beatles: our first ten years
Date: Fri, 5 Sep 1997 04:52:19 GMT

You've been here before. A day of dull consequence; a too-common pattern.

You don't know what to do. Muse...dream...imagine. There's work to do, but your mind drifts. Living is easy with eyes closed.

It's nothing new. A girl did the same over a century ago, wondering idly whether she could see a certain angle of the looking-glass world if she just found the way to travel there, if she could get the gauze of real life to lift away and reveal the wonders therein.

There are looking-glass worlds now, too, thought they're made of some different substance than glass. They're made of numbers and batch files and programs and parent-and-children processes and "...it's very like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be quite different on beyond". Says Alice....

So it was ten years ago, when we were born. Or borne anew into a realm too marvelous for words. Hence the rare presence of rec.music.beatles, ten years old this week.

To my knowledge, Usenet groups don't have birthdays all that often. You can't get the wood, you know. These days it's a mystery to some what Usenet really is---how it's different from the Internet, why it exists, *whether* it exists. What's the same as it was, ten long years ago?

Are you?

When Jim Kendall fought the good fight to launch us in September 1987, there were no other special-interest Usenet music discussion groups. Things were simpler then.

There was no Internet. There was no Web. There were no pictures, graphics files, Java-scripts. The fact that we could read each other's words in what was later known as "cyberspace" was something of a miracle. Someone designed a way for electronic mail to be posted as "news" to people who might use those words for practical purposes. Oh, all right; sometimes recreational. That's where we fit in.

*rec*.music.beatles.

From the beginning, so legend has it, there was great controversy. Folks were clingy back then. We ought to cleave unto our compatriots, it was argued, and all stay within rec.music.misc, where all music fans belonged. Segmentation and categorization would obviously signal the imminent demise of the Net.

Yet Mr. Kendall fought for us, tooth and nail, the better to have a haven for Beatles fans to vent their spleen. Spleen we had a-plenty. We were not short on opinions and factious in-fighting. I guess we haven't changed all that much.

I didn't know that, my first day here. I was like Alice, wondering what was meant by all those mysterious commands I could see in the process table of my computer workplace. In the Unix world (as many worlds were back then), you couldn't see precisely what your workmates were doing, but you could see what commands they used to get there. And there was a strange command that launched a program of news, and groups, and people, and....

Beatles.

The looking-glass gave way, and I was in a new universe.

People like me, who liked *them*. Who were nuts about them. Who wrote about them. A group dedicated to my own fave raves! Was life not wonderful? I thought it was, as I explored the vistas of r.m.b. for the first time.

Yet everyone in r.m.b. (all two or three of them at the time) knew more about the Fabs (as we didn't yet call them) than I did. Now I'd been a serious fan in olden times. Here I was up against something new. I knew their favorite colors and foods, and a bit about their lives (who was tallest, who was left-handed...you know, the essentials).

But all I could do, those first few days reading here, was marvel. I was out of my league. *These guys knew their stuff*. They discussed sessions and instruments and concerts as if there was no tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow never knows. But r.m.b.'s original regulars *did*.

There was no Lewisohn in those days. This was before true Beatles scholarship had been launched. We had the old guard---Davies and Norman and Schaffer and Carr & Tyler; we had our ears; we had vinyl and new CDs and the enthusiasm of an unconcerned band of regulars who vociferously argued the details of recordings and sounds.

I had no hope among their kind. Their prowess was far too daunting for a neophyte like me. At the last moment, I decided that I would have to learn, and would have to persevere in a galaxy full of Beatles mavens. If I couldn't do it by knowledge, I'd do it by prose. Soon the two elements melded into one. Knowledge is inevitable, particularly after you look up the details of the "I Am The Walrus" sessions once too often!

This is the wonder of learning.

This was the amazing moment---the point of transformation. Had it not been for the fellows (whose names would be unrecognized by most of those who lurk today) who pressed their point so many years ago, I might now be where I was in the past: an appreciator of my Boys, but silent and on the sidelines.

If there's one thing r.m.b. has always done for me, it was to challenge me to be better than what I was---yesterday, last week, a year ago...a second ago. It's all the same.

No matter what you *knew*, you had to know more. Someone might ask you, challenge you...and you'd best be right, or called on the carpet for your sins. Don't know flanging? Don't comprehend the significance of Leslie speakers? There's hope for you yet. Whether you're new now...or new then, ten years ago----there's hope.

r.m.b. has been very kind to me.

This newsgroup has made me think; taught me patience; encouraged me to be cordial. The knowledge and obvious perspicaciousness of my Internet pals has pushed me to learn more, the better to meet my challengers on their own level.

I have made friends here. I have relationships with people a world away, whom I know only by email, but whom I find I love because of their love for the Fabs. It's a great unifying force. The ties that bind us are profound, and insoluble. "Real" life should be so real!

There's something unutterable about loving the Beatles that makes us all of one world. Identities aside, nationalities aside, genders aside, ages aside...their music has made us one. I don't know of the Boys anticipated that. But it happened. It happened, in part, because our medium forced us to write about them in a newsgroup that stripped away our real name, our personhood, our generation. We share one thread. It's a thread that never frays.

It's a thread that binds us...the fragile binding, "all soft" (says Alice) "like gauze, so that we can get through...." to the world we hope to comprehend.

This connects us, the men and women who revere the boys from Liverpool, whose lyrics are subtle and soft and sensual (like gauze), so that we are wrapped and enveloped and embraced in the words of love that emblazon our hearts with the message our own sweet Boys have sung to us.

This is the message that we (in our own sweet way) have tried to parse and presage and presume. We try our best to figure out what they may mean. Every controvery here in r.m.b. is a reminder of the love we share with each other for the players who make our music divine.

This has been, for me, a wonderful ten years of interchange.

If you have memories of what it's meant to you, I would be delighted to hear what r.m.b. has done for you.

I don't think I have words to describe how special all of you have been to me. But if we put on a Beatles album tonight, we may come close to knowing what it's all about.

--------------------------------------------------------------
"All the people, so many people, they all go hand in hand...."
--------------------------------------------------------------
saki (dlm3@midway.uchicago.edu)


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