I like to pretend I don’t like the Beatles. Why on earth would anyone do this? The thing is, I don’t know how else to put this feeling I have. It’s true that on most days I feel like I have heard enough Beatles songs to last me for the rest of my life. I don’t ever need to hear another one again, I think. And that’s partly true.
But on the other hand. A very early memory of mine is asking my stepfather what his favorite album was. He did not hesitate: “Abbey Road, Side 2.” When I asked him what he meant he said you had to listen to it to understand. To this day, that part in the song “You never give me your money” (you know the part: “out of college, money spent”) stuns me with a kind of electric jolt, just as it did when I was in high school, listening to Abbey Road, Side 2. Repeatedly. What did music sound like before this? I had wondered.
Because the fact is, I listened to the Beatles all the time in high school. Constantly. I feel almost embarrassed to admit this because it sounds so…obvious. Or ordinary? Or hopelessly uncool, considering how much my parents loved them. My mother told me that when she was younger, the coolest girls liked John best. I didn’t know how to respond to this. It was practically a relief when, in college, I ended up liking music entirely unknown to my parents. I rejected the Beatles as soon as I could. Frankly, I was sick of them.
And to this day, I cannot bear to hear any Beatles song, which sometimes happens in a store or while flipping around the car radio dial (I don’t actually flip around my car radio dial these days, but you get the idea). Mostly because I overplayed nearly all of their songs, but also because of that weird feeling of liking music that belonged to my parents (a quirk from having such young parents). (Though I will confess a weakness for certain George Harrison songs, which I don’t think is quite the same thing.)
When my older daughter was in first grade, she had a friend who was crazy about the Beatles. Jeez, it was still going on. At some point, I felt the need to introduce my girls to them so I put on, I think, Abbey Road. This is okay, said my younger daughter (then around five), but I’m not crazy about them. This seemed satisfactory. Their father and I have played all kinds of music around them, and they do like some of the bands we like (both could easily identify Johnny Cash’s and Jack White’s voice at a young age, for example), but they definitely like their own music, which delights me (and is thankfully not awful).
My older daughter (14) listens to music all the time and I still remember when she snapped at me for asking what bands she liked. I don’t like music the way you like it! she said. Like, it’s not this huge deal to me, okay?? I simply smiled to myself. And just as I expected, it’s now a big deal to her. But here’s the thing. The other day she was telling me that instead of just downloading songs, she started downloading entire albums, and listening to them like that. And she was very excited to discover that if you listened to an album like that you could hear the way all the songs went together in a certain way! Sometimes one song led right into the other! she was excited to discover. (This conversation seriously took place.) And I found myself thinking of Abbey Road, Side 2. There it was again. And I mentioned the way on that side the songs led into each other, but added, Well, you really have to just hear it for yourself.
But I suspect she won’t. The Beatles must seem like old-timey music (though apparently one of my daughter’s friends really loves classic rock, which is considered noteworthy!) or at least not very interesting. This is fine. We can move on now. Right? Can we? Should we? I can never decide. Sigh. (Pick up the bags and get in the limousine.)