March 2, 2001

I grew up with the Beatles. When I was in high school, they gave me hope. When I was in college, they opened my eyes. And three weeks after Basic Training, they sang on a radio in the barracks in Monterey and lifted my own personality back up to the surface, gasping, frightened but still alive. Thirty years later, when I hear the Beatles, they can still make me feel the way they made me feel then. They can still make me happy to be alive.

But I learned something new about the Beatles today. We have two exchange students with us for the weekend; they are high school girls, one from Spain, one from Chile. Last night when we picked them up to bring them here, I had The White Album in the CD player. They said, “The Beatles! Do you have ‘Yesterday’?” So when I picked them up from school this afternoon, I had 1, the new compilation album, in and “Yesterday” was playing. I was singing along because sometimes I just have to. And then I heard them singing along too, softly, beautifully. And tonight, as we drove down West Lake Street, they sang along with “Penny Lane” and “All You Need Is Love” They even knew the harmonies and the horn parts.

Generations, language barriers, oceans and mountains, there’s nothing that can stop that music. I knew it was important to me; I had no idea how special it was to people so unlike myself.


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