The Beatles in My Life (I Love Them More)
Image from Apple iTunes
I have a confession to make: I didn’t know about The Beatles until I was in 5th grade.
I grew up with Paul McCartney and was obsessed with his (at the time, vinyl) album All the Best, so I was rather familiar with Paul, Linda, and Wings. I’d also grown up listening to Beatles songs on the Lite FM station but I’d never actually paid attention to who they were. But I would know Paul if I heard him.
One day as I’m talking about my obsession with Paul McCartney and his music, a classmate looks at me funny and says sarcastically, “Um, you do know he was part of a huge band called The Beatles, right?”
That revelation changed my life.
For most people, The Beatles are a band. For some people, they make good music; for others, the music is lousy no matter what. Some people hate the Beatles just to hate on a popular band (“OVERRATED!”); others love the Beatles because they are a popular band. But for me, The Beatles have been there through thick and thin ever since I discovered who they were.
I have a lot of artists I grew up with: Madonna, Neil Diamond, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson (he’s just as influential in my life but in a different way), and Cyndi Lauper to name a few. But the music of The Beatles has resonated with me a way that no other band has been able to. While The Beatles were an iconic group (and perhaps still are), their music means something to me and each member of the group holds a symbolic place in my life:
John Lennon: clever, witty, troublemaker. He was never content with status quo. He liked to challenge the system—music industry or politically—and shake things up. We disagree on belief systems but his spunky attitude continues to inspire me.
Paul McCartney: (Let me just say I would have treated the man better than Heather Mills, okay?) One of my first crushes ever but simply one of my favorite songwriters ever. Songs like “Yesterday,” “Blackbird,” and “Lady Madonna” just can’t be beat. I saw Mr. McCartney live in concert to open Citi Field (the new Shea Stadium) and it was simply one of the most fantastic experiences ever. I also loved how he honored his vow to love Linda McCartney till death did them part.
George Harrison: Mr. Harrison was so spiritually minded that he still managed to be earthly good. While I might disagree on the type of religion to pursue, I can’t deny that my journey to born-again Christianity was piqued by Mr. Harrison’s interest in spirituality. Hey, if transcendental meditation was good enough for The Beatles, at one point, it was good enough for me too!
Richard (Ringo Starr) Starkey: funny, goofy, witty. As a teen, I didn’t like Ringo much but as I’ve grown older, I’ve appreciated his ability to poke fun at himself and witticisms that one would normally expect more from John. He is simply fantastic in Help! and the only high point of the abysmal Magical Mystery Tour movie and Paul McCartney’s 1984 dull Hollywood flop, Give My Regards Broad Street.
As a younger child (when I knew Beatles songs but not the group itself), I loved the early “Boy Band” stuff, for example:
But then I hit my teenage years and virtually shunned anything the group created before 1965. I was drawn to their slower, sadder songs. The White Album became my favorite album in particular because of its gritty, honest lyrics while I began experiencing depression, but several other songs on different albums spoke to me as well.
- “Dear Prudence” reminded me of hope beyond my depression
- John Lennon basically sang my feelings when he said “yes, I’m lonely / wanna die” in “Yer Blues”
- I felt the pain of heartbreak in McCartney’s “For No One” after a bad breakup in college
- “I Me Mine” reminds me how positively greedy I am
Just like Paul the Apostle quoted the philosophers of his day because they spoke truth, The Beatles have instances in which they speak truth to me. They speak, on different levels, with a reality I’m dealing with. Or sometimes, The Beatles speak to a fantasy I’ve always dreamed of.
- “Let It Be” reminds of the joy and hope people can share when they work together and care for one another
- As George Harrison croons out “Something,” I always envisioned a guy being so completely enamored with me that he just can’t put his finger on why he loves me
- Okay, I admit, I pretend to be Annette Funicello-like when I rock out to “Back in the U.S.S.R.” (How The Beatles managed to get away a “Surfing U.S.A”-type song about communist Russia, I’ll never know.)
I have cried to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and fallen asleep to “Golden Slumbers.” I’ve woken up to “Good Morning Good Morning” and analyzed symbolism in “A Day in the Life.” I could almost eat, live, sleep, breathe Beatles music.
That being said, I’m not such a die-hard fan that I love everything the band has created. I’m not too much of a fan of their very early work that were mostly cover songs. (However, Lennon’s rendition of “Twist and Shout” borders on near brilliant in my mind.) “Chains” is a rather dull song for me, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” was a song The Beatles phoned in (ha), “Revolution 9” is simply odd, and I could have lived my entire life without “Blue Jay Way.” But most likely, if it’s Beatles playing on the radio, I’ll like it.