Thursday, February 17, 2011
Beatles, Bieber and the Bug
"Well, duh," you say. "We've had more than 40 years of knowing the Beatles are 'pretty cool.'"
But, you see, maybe your parents liked the Beatles and listened to them and exposed you early and often to their general "pretty coolness." Mine did not. I grew up hearing a lot of Gilbert & Sullivan, a lot of Mozart and Handel, and more folk and Celtic music than you can shake a lemon zester at; but, no Beatles. Any knowledge I had was what I could glean from what little I knew of popular culture at large. So, when Jason wanted to get The Beatles Rockband for Wii, I was indulgent and, yet, skeptical. I mean, these Beatles -- they had one or two good pop songs, right? Then they went all psychedelic and crazy. Goo-goo-ga-joob.
Well, now it's Beatles in the morning, Beatles in the evening, Beatles at supper time in my home. And, though I've learned to have a grudging admiration for their inventiveness and sheer prolificity, it is not I who is driving this latest local incarnation of Beatlemania. It is my nigh-eight-year-old daughter. Sadie has set her pre-tween sights on four mop-tops-come-hippies of my parents' generation. And, I could not be more pleased.
Because, it could surely be worse. It could be Bieber.
Here is how Justin Bieber first made his obnoxious presence felt in my life: Sadie came home from a birthday party last October, shaking her booty and singing some song whose one lyric seemed to be an endless repetition of "baby."
"Oh gawd," I moaned. "What's that wretched song you're singing?"
"Oh, Mom! It's Justin Bieber. He's so cool!" Sadie returned to waggling her rear-end and singing the mono-lyrical anthem.
"Oy." Sadie laughed at me and ran off to her room.
I turned to Jason, who was standing right there observing this atrocity in silence. "How," I queried, "Could a girl raised on wonderful, meaningful lyrics and complex melodies ever indulge in such drivel? I mean, Carolyn Arends, Bob Bennett, the Clumsy Lovers . . . and that's just the pop music! How about Machaut and Josquin and Mozart and Handel and Tchaikovsky? How about Gilbert & Sullivan, forsooth?" Apples don't fall far from trees.
"Well," said my more temperate mate, "I guess that's what the kids are listening to."
"Not under my watch," I vowed. And I kept close watch on my Sadie-Bug. Was she really interested in this Bieber fellow? I truly did not know much about him, other than this "baby" nonsense and that when I saw his face for the first time, it looked like a lovely one to punch. And then give a haircut to. Sheesh. In the meantime, Sadie took every opportunity to rub salt in my wounded sensibilities by praising Old Biebhead each time she saw his pouting mug on a publication.
I suspected, though, that Sadie was just pulling my leg. Getting a rise out of me. Taking me for a ride. And, my suspicions were confirmed when we went to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Shown in the previews was a trailer for a bio-pic that someone apparently felt was crying out to be made about this adolescent hack. I sat there, just dreading that Sadie would turn to me in the dark and insist on going to see it on opening weekend. I dug my fingernails into the arms of the theater seat and prepared myself for the brief whispered argument that was about to happen. I glanced sideways at her. She popped a Milk Dud in her mouth and chewed complacently. She said nothing.
Sadie is never one to be quiet when an idea or plan is brewing in her head. Every movie night out begins with Sadie poking me in the dark and demanding to be taken eventually to the movies that excite her in the previews. So, my suspicions blossomed into hope. "This," I thought to myself, "Is not a Bieber fan. Hurrah!" And it made watching The Voyage of the Dawn Treader even more of a treat.
After the show, I turned casually to Sadie and said, "Hey, how about we go to that Bieber movie when it comes out? That would be fun, huh?"
Before she could stop herself, she screwed up her face in disgust. "Oh no, Mom! Not that!" Then, she remembered what her official position was (it was really her eternal "default" position which is, on every subject, What Will Annoy Mom the Most?). "I mean, yes. OK, let's go."
"All right!" I beamed. "I'll be sure to pre-order tickets for opening weekend! I can hardly wait to see it with you!"
Sadie looked crestfallen. She muttered something and stalked off, toward the theater exit. I turned in triumph to Jason. "Victory is mine!" I whispered excitedly. He chuckled.
Over the next few weeks, whenever Sadie was being naughty, I would threaten to take her to see the Justin Bieber movie. It never failed to get her back on track. I finally got her to admit that she did not really like his songs and had only been acting like she did to get on my nerves. Antagonistic child! We've had a few nice months of Bieber-free-ness, now that Sadie has dropped the charade.
Anyway, she has the Beatles now, whom she really does like. And with some reason, too. She's decided to sing a Beatles song in her school's talent show tomorrow. So, we've been rehearsing "Here Comes the Sun" every day. And it is a really, really lovely song. And I'm so glad -- and I'm so glad -- and I'm SO GLAD -- it's the Beatles and not Bieber. I'll even let her put up a poster in her bedroom of the Lads from Liverpool. That's a grateful mom!