One thing I love to do is just sit around a listen to music. New music, old music, rock music, or classical, it just depends on my mood. I’d call them listening nights. Usually I’d pick a night when Aya was out late, and I’d park it on the couch with a stack of CDs and listen. Pretty loud too. But with Ellie around, I don’t really get to do it as much as I used to. I have music on a lot, but it’s different. I love taking drives by myself now just so I can crank the music. Even if it’s a short trip to the gas station, I bring my iPod and put on a song and jam. I might not even get to finish the song but I don’t care, it’s still that short moment when I can remember who I am. Anyway, I’m really lucky to have Joe, a next door neighbor who loves listening nights just as much as I do. And on a recent visit to his house, the subject was the Beatles, and the volume had no limits.
Joe mostly listens to what he calls “the great American song book,” but on the night I visited, we listened to four Beatles albums from cover to cover. What I realized while listening to that music is that I have a special place for the Beatles in my heart. I remember when I was in elementary school, my dad brought out all his Beatles records and put them on tape. After that it seemed like the Beatles was the soundtrack of the house for months. I remember driving up north for a family vacation with the windows down blasting Abbey Road and the Rubber Soul albums. Everyone was silent but we were all listening. When I hear Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, or When I’m Sixty-Four, that’s what I think of.
And then my dad told my brother and me about that whole Paul is dead conspiracy. He brought out his old albums where he and his friends had circled clues when they were in high school. He explained the hidden messages in the songs, one in particular on Strawberry Fields Forever. At the end of the song during the voodoo music a guy says, “I bury Paul… I bury Paul…” (at 3:56 to be exact) I couldn’t hear it at first though. So he’d play it again, but louder. And then again and again. And then I finally heard it, and at 9 years old late at night, it scared the crap out of me. Once I heard it, it was so loud. “I BURY PAUL” AAH! I still get a little creeped out when that voodoo music starts.
The Beatles even played a role at my wedding. You know that part when the dad dances with the bride and then the mom dances with the groom? Well, my mom and I danced to Your Mother Should Know. She really wanted one of those more typical sappy wedding songs, but no, I needed something different. So I picked the Beatles, Your Mother Should Know. My mom really didn’t want it, but she went along with it anyway. I thought it was a good idea. But sitting there listening to it with Joe seven years later, listening to the lyrics, maybe it wasn’t the best idea.
Let’s all get up and dance to a song
That was a hit before your mother was born.
Though she was born a long, long time ago
Your mother should know (Your mother should…)
Your mother should know (…know.)
But I gotta love my mom for letting me have it. If I could redo anything on that day, I would dance to the song my mom wanted. Sorry mom.
The good thing about music is that it’s a global language. And luckily so are the Beatles. With having in-laws that are Japanese, sometimes it’s difficult to carry on a casual conversation. But since Aya’s dad and I both like music, we can talk music. During our last visit to Japan he bought the Beatles box set. And they we were, both sitting on the couch singing I Saw Her Standing There. You gotta love the Beatles for bridging the gap.
And now, with Ellie, the Beatles have been a major player. We discovered very early the powerful affect of the Beatles over Ellie. For one, I used to sing Yellow Submarine to her every night while I was trying to put her down. Then one night during one of her mid-night freak outs I tried playing Baby’s in Black and it soothed her, and it soothed me.
Oh dear what can I do?
Baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue
Tell me, oh what can I do?
Soon after that, we discovered a song that would help us out in any situation. You Really Got a Hold on Me from the With the Beatles album. According to iTunes, we’ve played that song 935 times in a year’s time and it’s by far the most played song in my iTunes music library. She could be flipping out and screaming, but as soon as that song started, she’d stop. It’s when that song didn’t work did we know we were in real trouble.
After a while, we didn’t need the Beatles to soothe Ellie. But every once in awhile she’ll get one of her crying fits when she’s overtired, and John and Paul are the only ones that can calm her down. You gotta love the Beatles.
So yeah, that’s why I like listening nights. Sittin’with a friend, sharing moments. It’s as much about listening as it is remembering, wishing , and dreaming.