(Originally published in Confessions of a Serial Songwriter on BackBeat Books)
When my daughter Layla was eleven years old, our family of three “Southwested”
over to Las Vegas to see Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE. I had always enjoyed
Cirque shows in the past…the choreography, the acrobatics, the whole
visual extravaganza…but I wouldn’t have gone so far out of my way to
see another, especially to Vegas—you know how I feel about Vegas and all
that neon. The theme of this show, however, was Beatles, and that changed
things. I had been telling Adam that we’d better get up there before the
show moved on, because missing it would definitely have made me cranky.
One of the obsessions that Adam and I have shared over the years is
our insatiable hunger for all things Beatles. Driving across Mulholland
in the Hollywood Hills, if a playlist shuffles to Rubber Soul, we revel in
the discovery of a harmony we never noticed before and the discussion
commences. We analyze the Dylanesque-ness of “You’ve Got to Hide Your
Love Away.” Are we “a John” or are we “a Paul”? Who really carried that
weight? How incredible it was that their stars collided and they actually
found each other? What were the chances? How lucky for them. How lucky
for us. This is the way it has always been for Adam and me…an ongoing
never-ending exchange of which we never tire.
Now we have a kid in the backseat, chiming in. I am proud to say Layla
is as fanatical about the Beatles as her parents. I often wonder whether there
is a recessive Beatles gene, because if there is, she must have inherited it
along with the color of her eyes—our own little Fab Four connoisseur. To
have her knowledgeably participate in this dialogue is poetic, joyous, adorable,
hysterical and scary. We love it.
I was a small child when I fell. At the first sight of those skinny pants and
dangling cigarettes, all I wanted to do was get close enough to smell them,
to hold their hand, close my eyes and let them kiss me (on the cheek)…or
tell me a secret. That’s about as intimate as my fantasies got.
Layla might not have “been there,” but I believe she “goes there” retroactively.
There’s a poster of Abbey Road over her closet to which she wakes
up every morning. She has buttons and coasters and T-shirts and playing
cards. She listens to “For No One” when she brushes her teeth and plays “If
I Fell” on the piano. And she knows what I mean when I tell her “Across the
Universe” is an out-of-body experience.
The Beatles pulled us into a place we didn’t know existed—a world of
uncontrived, uncalculated delicious madness…of minor to major to minor
again, of dropped measures and bizarre segues. Yet, the absence of logic
never made so much sense. Anything was possible. They cooked with spices
we never tasted. It was like we were all virgins and we shall never get that
flower back. I miss them. I miss something having that much power over
LOVE was mind-blowing. The theatrics artfully chronicled and interpreted
the Beatles’ story, while a killer soundtrack of medleys and mash-ups
radiated from speakers in the headrest of every seat in the house. It was
like one big Sgt. Pepper’s hallucination without the LSD. I wanted it to go
on and I certainly could have sat through it twice. It was totally worth the
exposure to all the neon.
When it was over, I saw a frizzy haired middle-aged woman mouthing
the words and bobbing her head to “Lady Madonna” as the song ushered
the crowd out of the theatre. Suddenly, I felt territorial and possessive. Who
was this strange woman singing the words that were so familiar to me? How
could she possibly comprehend my personal collision and how deep it cut.
Then I reconsidered. Maybe I had it all wrong and anyone who ever fell
feels exactly the same, even, perhaps, my daughter.