The Beatles, my father, and I


One of my colleagues was in my office the other day and asked me, “So, do you just sit here and listen to The Beatles all day?”

“Well yes, I do,” was my reply.  “Is that bad?”

In fact I listen to many things, but I have found this online Beatles station that I will sometimes pull up on my computer and keep up for days and days and days.  Weeks, even.

I was the child who, at eight years old, cried real tears upon hearing of John Lennon’s death.

This is one way that I am absolutely the daughter of my father.

My parents had married and then separated by the time I was two.  Romantic relationships that are begun at the age of 16 are not usually meant to last, and the if these relationships produce a child, that does not normally improve the chances for the union’s longevity.  And so it went the way they normally do with these things…my parents each went their own way, putting many states between them – Mom and I in Connecticut, Dad in Florida.

My first visit to Florida was via a flight at the age of six.  As an “unaccompanied minor” – that’s what they called me – I was ushered to my connecting flight in Atlanta by a “stewardess” – that’s what we called them.  I wasn’t scared for a minute.  For years to come I always regarded flying with wonder and awe, because it always reminded me of going to see my favorite person in the world.

Florida and summers with my father were like Heaven on earth.  Dad, unfettered by the daily responsibilities of caring for a child, was relaxed and ready to enjoy each moment with me.  He didn’t just speak to me, he related to me, and on many levels regarded me as equal to him.  I was just this tiny person, and yet he treated me with great respect.

So it began during these very early visits that my father would venture into his stack of Beatles records and play music for me, telling my what my mom’s favorite Beatle’s song had been, telling me anecdotes about the Fab Four, and trying to express just how rapidly the world was changing when the Beatles were making records.

Much of our time together was spent listening to Beatles music, and when our time drew to a close each summer and I returned to Connecticut, I was both comforted and overwrought to hear a Beatles song, for I was reminded of precious time with my father and also of how very long it would be until I could see him again.

My father told me that the question had once been asked, how had The Beatles been so successful?  The answer was that it was because two of the greatest songwriters in the world had grown up within one mile of each other.  In a depressed, working-class city in England four very young men came together and made music that was so rousing, penetrating, and transformative that today, several generations later, I have students in my office noting my Beatles calendar and remarking that they too love the music.  In fact I had a kid in my office recently who spent a half an hour making his case as to why John was the better songwriter than Paul.

Just think, for almost 35 years I have been listening to these songs and have not yet tired of them.  Even today I hear these songs and I feel love for my Dad.  Either that speaks for the timeless and incomparable talent of the group, or it speaks for the indestructible bond that I have with my father.  I believe that it speaks for both.


About Joyce

40-year-old university advisor, 10-years married with two small children, trying to do it all and have it all and still manage the occasional social interaction through the wonderful world of blogging.
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15 Responses to The Beatles, my father, and I

  1. I love this!! My husband is a HUGE Beatles fan as well! He began singing Beatles songs to my daughter when she was just a baby. She now absolutely loves the Beatles too! We have bought her Beatles t-shirts and my husband found Beatles songs sung by children for her! She always listens to it! I hope she has such strong memories and fondness like you do!

  2. Joyce says:

    Reblogged this on Relax and Float Downstream and commented:

    Amid the 50th anniversary commemorations of The Beatles arrival in America, I have been trying to think of some words to say that could capture my feelings about the band and just how infused my heart and soul are with their music. But then I thought, this post I wrote a while back captures it all best…my memories of the music wrapped up with memories of my father. Happy anniversary, fellows.

  3. You just described how I feel about The Beatles perfectly. It’s hard to explain how/why I adore them, their music, and their creativity so much… but these words are perfect 🙂

  4. yet another common thread. I was 10 when John Lennon was shot. I remember very well, I cried too because my mom cried and it was also a time when my great grandma was having brain surgery, I remember driving on the freeway and seeing spray painted graffiti that read “John Lennon Lives” I also traveled on a airplane to see my dad in the summers where a stewardess would watch over me, give me those wings and smile and be so very helpful. I was 3 when I began my alone flights. I loved reading each word, it flooded me with my own memories. I adore the Beatles and I can listen them day in and day out too. My mother-n-law hates them. Yes hates them. She thinks they are the devil. I don’t understand why? We agree to disagree when it comes to the Beatles but my father-n-law we dig them, he listened to them a lot when he was in Nam and he and I, we sing some songs on road trips. I better stop now, I’m practically blogging on your page!

    • Joyce says:

      You were 3 for your alone trips?? You’ve got me beat. I just had another memory…my first career aspiration was to be a stewardess. That’s how great I thought those ladies were.

      On very rare occasions I run into people who don’t like the Beatles, and I don’t get it. I definitely don’t trust Beatle-haters. 🙂 I’m sure some old-school people didn’t care for their drug references and other behaviors, but looking back now it all seems so innocent, doesn’t it? At a time when we have Miley doing her thing and all the other little twits doing what they do, the Beatles seem so wholesome.

      Feel free to blog in my blog any time, love 🙂

  5. Great post!
    I love how the music reminds you of your father and those wonderful visits and how the discussion and feelings go on today. Music can evoke powerful memories and images.
    I was waiting to hear your favorite song.

    • Joyce says:

      Beatles’ songs are like my children – I can’t pick a favorite! I suppose they’ve all been my favorite at one point or another. I am rather partial to “Dear Prudence”, though. That is, until I hear “Here, There, and Everywhere.” That’s Paul’s favorite, as he once mentioned in an interview.

      Then again, the second half of the Abbey Road album stirs me.

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