“Honey, come take a look at this!” said my soon to be absent father. I sat down on a little rug in front of our black and white TV, and on came the Beatles playing the Ed Sullivan show. Like a kaleidoscope clicking into a new rotation, the aural colors of my life shifted into an enhanced reality. Fifty years later my daughter and I attended a tribute concert for that very event, and I was finally in the Same Space with Paul and Ringo, John and George having passed into the great next chapter.
When the old sorrows rise up, the press of a button can send a rich honey of harmonies and voices to pour over my scars.
I don’t know if my child self gathered this experience so dear to her heart because it included my father’s voice, or if I was truly swept away by the music and energy, but all things worked together to turn me into a pint sized Beatlemaniac. When I was seven, I gave my mother the 45 of Yesterday for her birthday, paid for with my own money. What could be a more amazing present? Our family life disintegrated into a series of truly terrifying and sorrowful years, but I had my Beatles. We mail ordered The White Album on our Emporium credit card, and I can still feel the rough texture of my bedroom carpet as I opened the cellophane wrapping, drawing out the four heart stopping 8×10 color glossies and the puzzling collage poster. TWO albums. My hand gently lowered the needle down onto that small strip of black, lighter in color than the grooves to follow. I think I stayed on that floor for a couple of weeks straight … safe, distracted and uplifted.
For my fiftieth birthday my family of four and a few stalwart friends accompanied me on a pilgrimage to see LOVE, the Beatles Cirque de Soleil show. Jaded and sophisticated friends sat laughing and weeping a little bit when it was all over. Months later I had to pull my car over when George Martin’s acoustic mix of While My Guitar Gently Weeps came on the radio, a special version made for that show. There was an extra verse! How beautiful.
Life is much better now, radiant in fact. When the old sorrows rise up, the press of a button can send a rich honey of harmonies and voices to pour over my scars. Sometimes this and other music allows me to recapture the lightness and giddy joy of youth. Either way, this soundtrack is woven into the fiber of my being, a foundation for all the music and healing which came after. Thanks Dad.
Beautifully expressed Ruth! I too sought solace in music at a young age, but for me it was Peter, Paul, and Mary. I’d listen for hours until the pain subsided, picking out each part in turn. They taught me about the power of harmony–that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
Gorgeous details in this, like lowering the needle down onto the record. How lucky you were that your father “got” the Beatles, when most parents of that generation dismissed them. Of course, they’re mainstream now. Patti and I saw LOVE with my parents on my 60th birthday, and I had to remind them that this was music they distinctly disliked the first time around—plus they thought their moptops were silly and girlish. Now “Imagine” has become an anthem, despite being perhaps the most subversive song ever written. Thanks for sharing this.
As one Beatles fan to another, I loved the detailed memory you shared here. And the “rich honey of harmonies” is brilliant. The Beatles got us through a lot back in the day, didn’t they?