I just realized the other day that the Beatles have been in my life for 57 of my 65 years. My older sis was a fan when they first played for America on the Ed Sullivan show. I was 8, going on 9. Little did I know that our bedroom would soon be filled with the sweet harmonies of John, Paul and George.
My sister bought every album with her allowance money. I shared a room with her and our younger sister for six albums. I know all the words to every song from Meet the Beatles to Rubber Soul.
In junior high I bebopped to Build Me Up, Buttercup by the Foundations, Sugar, Sugar by Tommy James and the Shondells, and Daydream by the Lovin’ Spoonful.
In high school, I switched my allegiance to Led Zeppelin, the James Gang, and Grand Funk Railroad. I discovered J.J. Cale in a Des Moines head shop that made my hair smell like incense. There was always Simon and Garfunkel for a lighter touch. Somewhere in there Abbey Road came out, and I was in love with the Beatles again.
But then college came around, and the Beatles had broken up. Elton John had my heart with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The Doobie Brothers figured into a ski trip of two to Colorado, and the Eagles surfaced, as well. I studied with James Taylor, and I saw John Denver on a blind date.
Then I went abroad for the better part of 1977, and I lost track of American music. American Pie came out that year, and I am the only one I know that doesn’t know the whole song by heart. I came home and then the next year got left on the top of Breckenridge Mountain after the last ski lift ride with no glasses, no map, and no one to ski with as I made my way down the long, winding frontage road, singing Hey Jude in the growing darkness.
Rod Stewart reminds me of teaching in Nebraska. I went on a date with a guy dancing to If you want my body and you think I’m sexy . . . I didn’t, and no, I did not.
Disco was creeping onto the scene, and I spent many a late night in the bars dancing under the mirror balls. One Omaha bar always closed down the night with New York, New York. Another signed off with Shout!
Then John Lennon was shot and killed in 1980. I don’t remember feeling sad or anything about it. Queen was coming onto the scene and Michael Jackson dropped his debut solo album, Off the Wall.
A few years went by and I married a huge Jim Croce/Gordon Lightfoot fan. He had no time for the Beatles. That should have been my first clue.
By this time, I was nostalgic for John, Paul, George and Ringo and felt pangs of envy when my older sis saw Paul perform in Iowa (I had moved to California by then).
I had lots of homemade tapes from my days selling books door to door during college summers. Many Beatles hits ended up on those tapes, along with Barry Manilow songs, Motown, and more Beatles.
My oldest child used to sing Eight Days a Week with me in the car. She knew all the words and could carry a tune perfectly.
Then Paul came to Oakland to perform. By then, I had two kids, and a husband who didn’t want to go. I felt a pang of sadness, another Beatles connection lost to me.
In 2001, George died of cancer. I remember thinking he was too young.
In 2012, my youngest said good-bye to her high school choral director with the packed auditorium singing In my Life.
In 2016, my choral director announced a semester of Beatles-only songs. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My small jazz group would sing a gospel Joe Cocker rendition of A Little Help from my Friends.
The day the concert dates were announced, I was crushed. Two of the three concerts would be the same weekend that my youngest would graduate form her college in Boston.
The contractor had poured my new driveway that day. I was so distraught that I wrote the first lines of Hey Jude into the back edge of the drying cement. I later decided to take the red-eye and sing half of the Saturday night concert, getting me to the Sunday at 9:00 a.m. graduation looking rough, but I was there.
Here I am, much older with grown children and an older sister whose bedroom is filled with Beatles posters. I got to wondering the other day if she even cares about them anymore. She was always the biggest fan, but now, I don’t know.
John, Paul, George and Ringo are still bumping around in my brain. I am trying to sell a book for kids about them with a new twist that no one has done (can’t tell you).
We shall see.