To Live And Write In L.A.: A Day In The Life

By Hassel Velasco

Currently Working On: Untitled Beatles Project
Currently Listening to: The Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”
Currently Reading: The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970, Mark Lewisohn

A Day In The Life

Recently, I was asked what my favorite Beatles song was. I didn't have an answer. I couldn't even narrow it down. Moments later, I was asked what my favorite Beatles album was and I had an even bigger issue picking just one. I did what any sane person would do. I created a Beatles playlist that ended up being about 118 tracks long. I had to find out which song out of the 200-plus songs The Beatles ever recorded was my favorite. I had to pick an album. It was no longer acceptable to answer these questions with an "I don't know" or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

So I took the long weekend to drive to some of my favorite Los Angeles spots and try to figure out this conundrum like any of the other Silver Lake/Los Feliz-inhabiting hipster hopefuls.

I started on Sunday because Saturday was taken up by work (bleh). I began with what I consider my least favorite Beatles album, “Yellow Submarine,” on my way to Iliad bookshop in North Hollywood. It's ironic that it’s my least favorite considering I have a yellow submarine tattooed on my right forearm, but hidden in this album is one of my favorite songs. See the list below.

Next, I took the short drive over to Republic Of Pie, a pie/coffee shop in North Hollywood. Here I sat and listened to some of the earlier Beatles albums (“Please Please Me,” “With The Beatles,” “A Hard Day's Night,” “Beatles for Sale,” “Rubber Soul,” “Help”) while enjoying the most bomb-ass slice of banana cream pie. The covers recorded by The Beatles in their earlier records, like the banana cream pie, are also bomb-ass. The songs are great time capsules for the music that influenced the quartet. Full disclosure, I listened to as much of these albums as I could because I couldn't stay at a pie place for long without consuming massive amounts of pie, which would lead to potential heart failure. Moving on.

The drive to The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles, like any drive in the city, featured long and time-consuming traffic measuring more than 10 miles. It’s worth it because the bookstore is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. I can easily spend an entire day lost in its maze of books. Although parking is limited to whatever you can find in the area, it’s by far the best book destination in the city. (Pro tip: use the restroom before you get here. There is no restroom in the store, and public restrooms in Downtown Los Angeles are pretty much non-existent.)

I listened to the entirety of “The White Album” while book browsing. It's unfair to compare the earlier Beatles records with the band's later work. As revolutionary as The Beatles early records were, the foursome become a completely different monster once they halted all touring. “The White Album” is a testament to The Beatles extensible, but different, musical talents, and thus the beginning of the end.

I finished Sunday night with a drink at a bar called The Griffin in Los Feliz. A mythical venue, The Griffin was one of the first bars I visited when I moved out here. You can frequently see it as the exterior shot of the bar the characters of “New Girl” frequent. It's on the way to this bar that I came to the realization that “Let It Be” may possibly be my least favorite album. I drove home that night listening to “Revolver,” which is, in my opinion, the turning point in the band’s recording process.

On Monday, I decided to frequent my usual spots. After some errands in the Northridge area of the Valley, I drove to The Americana, a shopping center with my favorite Barnes and Noble. I began listening to “Abbey Road” on my way there and continued once I was nestled into a corner of the third-floor patio. I think “Abbey Road” is to The Beatles what Quentin Tarantino believes “Inglorious Basterds” to be...a masterpiece. How George Martin managed to keep John and Paul from killing each other is beyond me, but the result is an album that I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping a single song.

Finally, I ended my Monday night by having my traditional dinner of two Guinness pints at a bar in Van Nuys called Ireland 32's. It’s an Irish dive bar with live music almost every night. After finishing “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” it was time to narrow things down. Working on this Beatles project has me focused on the pre-“Revolver” Beatles, so I haven't ventured out passed that album in quite some time. After listening to and evaluating the music as well as certain go-to spots around Los Angeles, I find myself associating these albums to these particular spots. I also painfully managed to narrow down that playlist to 20 songs.

Where You Once Belonged

Iliad Bookshop = “Yellow Submarine”

  • Underrated, filled with a couple of good surprises.

Republic Of Pie = Pre-“Revolver” Albums

  • Very good, can't have enough, but too much can potentially lead to a heart condition.

The Last Book Store = “The White Album”

  • A maze of talent and individuality you can get lost in. Can't take a bathroom break in-between.

The Griffin = “Revolver”

  • A turning point; a familiar, yet refreshing, take.

The Americana = “Abbey Road”

  • Lots of flashing lights, so much going on, but you can't help but get lost in its melody and charm.

Ireland's 32 = “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band”

  • I get by with a little help from my friends. (Guinness, Jameson, etc)

Top 20 Favorite Beatles Songs

  • “I Saw Her Standing There”
  • “Tomorrow Never Knows”
  • “Hey Bulldog”
  • “Here Comes The Sun”
  • “Don't Pass Me By”
  • “The Ballad Of John And Yoko”
  • “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”
  • “I Want You (She's So Heavy)”
  • “Something”
  • “I've Just Seen A Face”
  • “Because”
  • “Within You, Without You”
  • “Paperback Writer”
  • “Rollover Beethoven”
  • “Dizzy Miss Lizzy”
  • “I Should Have Known Better”
  • “Helter Skelter”
  • “Dear Prudence”
  • “Strawberry Fields Forever”
  • “Blackbird”

Top 3 Albums

  • “Abbey Road”
  • “The White Album”
  • “Revolver”

Essays Archive