“Don’t forget The Beatles are coming on in half an hour.” My Dad, delighted to remind me despite being locked in Beatles gridlock at Idlewild Airport (yes, folks, it wasn’t JFK just yet!) just two days earlier.
“Oh Daddy, we’re already watching TV.” I quipped back, annoyed that he’s already taking my attention from the TV at T-minus 30 minutes!
“Don’t miss The Beatles,” he continued noodging, as only a Dad can do.
And so began a decades long love affair with four men I would sadly never meet, yet who continue to influence my life to this day.
And it seems that love affair was shared by director Ron Howard who has delivered a tour de force in “Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.” It is a documentary that is nothing short of the perfect homage to The Fab Four as seen through the eyes of an adoring fan and not just a filmmaker. Their music was truly the soundtrack to our lives and it’s so beautifully woven seamlessly throughout. The emotion of the frenetic energy that landed on our shores mirrored the social unrest and the awakening of a generational social conscience. We were raw and ripe for something fresh when The Beatles landed in America. The Mop Tops were as cute and charming as our late President and when he was cut down too short and the Vietnam War escalated shortly thereafter, The Beatles were our sounding board. The world placed great weight on the shoulders of The Beatles and they eventually buckled under the strain.
It was a time of innocence amid a time of struggle and strife. The Beatles were our antidote, social messenger and Dr. Feelgood all rolled into one.
“Well, who do we love this week?” My Uncle would ask, seeing me weighed down in Beatle Buttons. I loved them all but my closest connection was to John. Oh, John never knew it but his voice led to many spirited political discussions with my Dad. While his music led my Mom to hide her two tickets to Shea Stadium until the morning after the famous concert. She couldn’t very well take only one of her two Beatle fanatic kids. So she made the ultimate Mom sacrifice – she didn’t go either. We loved them all. We changed with them and we grew with them. Their lyrics were timely and raised our social awareness without vulgarity or inhumanity. They were a global force for good.
“Eight Days a Week” brought me right back to those days of innocence. Those days of Beatle sneakers and sweatshirts, school binders and pencil cases, and yelling at Dad to play them on the car radio. I sat in a theater of strangers with a shared sense of memory, a shared sense of how we’re all connected.
In the game of “Six Degrees of Separation,” I am lucky enough to be within one degree of John Lennon at least three times over:
- In my days at NBC, I interviewed his son Julian. We had a long, candid chat about life, music and his Dad……and I also interviewed Harry Nilsson who spent many a long, drunken hours with John in a delayed misspent youth.
- I enjoyed a business lunch with Sid Bernstein and my Mom, thinking the whole time that he, in fact, would tell me, of all people, that The Beatles were reuniting for beaucoup bucks. Ah, to dream!
- The love of my life was Sean Lennon’s guitar tutor at a time when I assumed that Yoko would be looking for a private school tutor as well. My resume was secretly passed along and imagine my surprise when Elliot Mintz, John and Yoko’s confidante, called me personally to say that I didn’t get the gig. Who cared? I didn’t even know I was in the running at that point.
I was one degree away from Lennon’s memory. Just one degree from a voice who changed the world with his three best friends. One degree from a global connection that had a theater full of strangers laughing together last night.
How the world could use The Beatles right now. Thank you, Ron, for giving them back to us and introducing them to a generation who desperately needs them now.