Saturday, October 9, 2010


Because my older sister already had Paul, there really wasn't an option, but even if I'd had a choice, it always would have been John. Articulate, with a rapier wit and that wonderful accent, not to mention boyishly-charming good looks, John remained my first true love. It was an easy transition for my bff, Lizzie, to take over Paul duties during our teen years (it was always clear to us which in a pair of guys was meant for each of us, even if the guys did not always get with the program--the more fool they). And it didn't really matter that my love for John was, in cold daylight, unrequited, because there were the songs we knew by heart, for every occasion and emotion. I have only a vague toddler's memory of sitting in my housekeeper's lap, watching JFK's funeral, but I can recall every detail of the terrible night John Lennon died -- the silently mourning boys sitting in the stairwell in my dorm, calling up to my boyfriend's room and having others throw open their own windows to hear the dreadful news, calling Lizzie in Atlanta and crying together.

Most of my memories, however, are happy ones. My very first memory is of standing in my crib, yelling "yeah, yeah yeah" while my sister sang, "she loves you." That is my only memory of my crib, other than when my twin bed came in through the door of our apartment, covered in the striped bedspread it would bear until replaced with a loudly-animal patterned quilt when I was nine. The Beatles played a very important role in the games my sister and I played. With plastic tennis rackets serving as guitars, we would BE John and Paul, unless some older friend showed up and demoted me to George, at which point I generally lost interest in playing. My sister and I also choreographed other games to the Beatles -- the second side of "Introducing the Beatles," for example, was a day in the life of Ole and Mal, two entrepreneurial babies of our creation. And the White Album (along with "Hair," and, I am ashamed to admit, "Godspell") was a constant accompaniment to our marathon sessions of Monopoly and Masterpiece.

The Beatles have remained a consistent soundtrack to my life. At two, for example, Bathsheba would squeal "vanish in the haze, mommy, vanish in the haze" while she listened to "Help," and the Rockstar sang "Imagine," accompanied by his guitar, in place of the standard bar mitzvah speech.

Because these were the songs of my childhood, however, I was often somewhat stymied by the lyrics. The night before what? I always wondered. Why did she laugh when she told him "she worked in the morning"? And, more generally why were these men always singing to little girls, or even babies? When you aspire to be a grown-up, it is incomprehensible that a woman is being addressed in such a manner (something some adults might do well to keep in mind, for a variety of reasons).

So -- however we might feel about Yoko -- it was meaningful for me when "Woman" was released posthumously, as part of "Double Fantasy." My boyfriend gave me a copy as a means of making up from a tiff the circumstances of which I no longer recall, but, although I loved the song, I don't think either of us was as yet fully cognizant of the significance of John's word-choice, in his final and finally adult love song.

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