The Beatles Can Save Us!

“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.

the-beatlesAnd 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.

50 Years of Beatles’ Memories

It was a Friday…I remember it well. My Dad, an eager, young architect couldn’t wait to see the new JFK Airport and I was excited by his enthusiasm.  We ventured into the weekend traffic to pick up my aunt at the airport and drove into history.  Hoards of screaming girls were everywhere.  Imagine if that were to happen today. They’d shut the airport down, thinking it was an army of invading terrorists.  How things have changed.

I knew The Beatles were coming to town.  We all did.  How could you not.  It was the first thing in just over two months to take our minds off the great national tragedy we had suffered with the Kennedy assassination.  As with any period of grief, it is different for everyone but when a nation shares such an overwhelming loss, the cloud of grief lingers because of the shared miasma.  When a ray of difference breaks through the cloud, there is no holding back the light that permeates everywhere.  The Beatles were the ray of light a nation in mourning needed.

Who knew what would happen next?  Come Sunday night my Dad asked, “So, are you going to watch The Beatles?”  Silly question, my family watched Ed Sullivan every night.  This would be no different.  Yeah, right.

Ed Sullivan smiles while standing with The Beatles on the set of his variety show on Feb. 9, 1964.

Express Newspapers/Getty Images

“Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles.”

That’s all it took.  We were hooked.  We were sucked into their world and they changed our world for the better.  My Mom and I laughed when the graphic under John’s picture read “Sorry, girls, he’s married.”  That’s OK, we still had three others to dream about.

Their music was inspiring and uplifting at a time when a nation needed something to drag it from the abyss.  Thank you John, Paul, George and Ringo for showing us the light. Thank you Mom and Dad for indulging my every Beatle whim for the rest of my life.

I went to Liverpool last year for my first Beatles’ journey, day trippin’ in Liverpool.  The BEST trip of my life and I can’t wait to go back.

One Degree of John Lennon – Remembering Winston O’Boogie

In that silly “Kevin Bacon Game” there are a lot of people today who can say they are within one degree of John Lennon, as I am, but there are more people who can’t place themselves within any close proximity to someone who knew him yet have been touched by his genius forever.  John entered my world on February 9, 1964 and has never left.  At first he wasn’t my favorite Beatle – Paul got that honor as “the cute one” and besides, John was married.

I went through my hippie George phase and my witty Ringo phase, yet it was John who entered my soul and my heart………and my mind and got me thinking about politics, morés, emotions and right from wrong.  I loved him, admired him, was frustrated by him and even fought with my Dad about him.  John was the “bad boy boyfriend” I wanted from a distance because in reality I knew he would be way more than I could handle.

John was my senior art project in high school.  John was the first in everything  – heck it was “LENNON and McCartney.”  So, on the night of December 8, 1980, when I was only three months into being a first grade teacher, my world was shattered by an announcement during a TV football game.  I couldn’t sleep let alone understand how I would explain my battered state and this current event to 42 eager six-year-olds in the morning.

Their eager faces got me through the day and I was able to play Lennon’s music and explain to them how bad things happen to good people.  They had heard blips of info from their parents that morning and some of them even knew who the Beatles were but as a class, we learned about life and death and how love can get you through tough days, as their little hearts kept me going that day.

There was love all around John’s passing, from strangers sharing stories to the long distance calls that came all day long, from my Uncle in Florida and my Aunt in Paris…….the late night chat with my then musician boyfriend…….and the compulsory journey to the vigil outside the Dakota.  We survived with a little help from our friends.

OK, by now, if you’ve been reading this long you are probably wondering about that one degree of separation and I have several:

  • I worked with DJ Scott Muni who did that now famous interview with John Lennon;
  • As a rock photographer, I had the same agent who represented Bob Gruen, creator of that iconic Lennon-NYC photograph;

    Photo: Bob Gruen - Thanks Bob!;

  • My ex-boyfriend became Sean Lennon’s guitar tutor and was actually able to get my resume in front of Lennon confidante, Elliot Mintz, because I really thought Sean could use a good private tutor for first grade.  I even got a call back from Elliot; and
  • As a journalist, I remember sitting in a room with Julian Lennon, just he and I talking about his life, his music, his Dad.  I felt sorry for Julian because he knew his Dad barely more than I did and had to share him with the world.

It has been 30 years since John Winston Lennon was ripped from us and I have a hard time imagining what he would be like at 70, what he would think of 911, what music he would be making.  It is funny, but this week I have finally been able to let go of the tangible things in my life which kept me tied to John – my Beatles wallet, my Beatles 3-ring binder, my Beatles trading cards.  Memories and love live on in your heart and things don’t matter.  John knew that better than many people.

Yesterday I used to imagine I would run into him everywhere when I was in NYC.  Today I never forget that dreary, dark day in December 1980 each and every time I pass West 72nd Street.