If New Year’s is supposed to be for personal reflection, then I think Christmas should be about personal reminiscence. Guys like my dad and my high school track coach have instilled in me a genuine sense of tradition and sentimentality, so I can’t help but sit and watch my daughter unwrap her Christmas presents and think about my own childhood; I had a very happy childhood.
And if there’s one thing that always takes me back to the happiness, innocence, and endless possibilities of my youth, it’s the music of the Beatles.
Of course, most people who know me would automatically assume (especially after reading “Discography”) that my reminiscent musician of choice would be Vanilla Ice. But not the case. While I do possess an extensive catalog of information about Vanilla Ice, my love for the Beatles is unmatched.
The music of the Beatles – and specifically, John Lennon – has always been a solid soundtrack for my life.
During the summer of 2005 when my wife was pregnant with our daughter, I was randomly Googling things to buy for my future daughter, and somewhere I’d heard that after John Lennon died, many of his paintings were used as the foundation of a whole line of baby products. Late in his life, he’d begun creating paintings of animals like elephants and lions and other animals, which were turned into characters on blankets, baby clothes, and even a mobile that played “Imagine.” And I bought it all. I absolutely wanted my daughter to be raised on the music of John Lennon and the Beatles, and as far as I was concerned, that was going to start from the moment she was born. I guess it was just my way of wanting her to be as happy as I was, and the Beatles have grown into somewhat of a family tradition.
One early morning, the following October, around 4AM, I woke up and looked around in a groggy middle-of-the-night fog. After staring at the ceiling for a moment or two, I stood up and walked into the dark living room, strolling to the window and peeking out at the chilly October morning. “What are you doing?” a voice said from behind me. I gasped a startled inhalation of oxygen as I spun around to see my wife sitting on the couch. She was 9+ months pregnant and looked a bit uncomfortable as she sat upright on the couch. “You scared the hell out of me!” I said with a laugh as I attempted to lasso my pulse back into submission. And she, in a very nonchalant and matter-of-fact voice, she says, “My water just broke.” I’d always assumed that the breaking of the fabled water would be a production of dramatic quiescence as we raced to the hospital in a mad dash to beat the clock – because that’s how it is in the movies. But it wasn’t like that at all. Trying to stay calm, I said, “Okay, what do you need me to do?” We had a pre-packed bag (stocked with our John Lennon blanket, John Lennon newborn onesie, John Lennon bottles, and even a John Lennon pacifier – the John Lennon mobile was already assembled and set-up above her crib) so we were ready to go to the hospital at a moment’s notice; there was no lack of preparation. “Give me a few minutes,” she said. To this day, I have no idea what she did for the ten minutes she asked for, but as I waited to take her to the hospital, I sat down in the computer chair at the desk in my home office and waited with patient excitement and nervousness. I checked the date and thought to myself, My daughter will be born today; I wonder who else’s birthday is today. Google knows all, and Google told me. I entered the search “October 9 Celebrity Birthdays.” I clicked on one of the results to find out that my daughter would share a birthday with: Quantum Leap actor, Scott Bakula; The Osbornes realty TV wife, Sharon Osborne; Home Improvement actor, Zachary Ty Bryan; singer Jackson Browne (best known for “The Pretender” and “Running on Empty); and finally, she would be sharing a birthday with the legendary John Lennon.
I was floored! After growing up on the music of the Beatles, and especially John Lennon, my own daughter was about to be born on his birthday. And as I read further, I saw that John Lennon’s son, Sean, was also born on his birthday – John Lennon and I both have a child born on his birthday. It was just too cool. So, as I sat there reading these amazingly cool facts, I said a quiet prayer: “Lord, please let my daughter be born today, because that would just be too cool.” And a few hours later, our daughter arrived in our lives, on October 9, 2005, the day that would have been John Lennon’s 65th birthday.
The music of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison has been an integral soundtrack in the lives of countless people, and I am no exception. This year for Christmas, my dad and step-mom gave my daughter a full-size keyboard on which she wants to learn to play piano. And she loves it when I play songs like “Hey Jude” or “Let It Be” or “Imagine” for her. She calls them her “night-night songs” because ever since she was born, those songs (and other similar Beatles and John Lennon songs) have been on a CD that that she listens to almost every night as she goes to sleep. So she thinks it’s just the coolest thing that I can play those songs on the piano. And now, she will learn too.
The music of the Beatles isn’t just classic and popular music. For my family – and many others – it is music that bonds us through a mutual love of the songs and how they bond us to one another. My dad taught me to love the Beatles – and I do. And now, it’s my turn to teach my daughter the same thing. Because I believe in being sentimental; I believe in being traditional; I believe in being reminiscent; “I believe in yesterday.”