Oh, What a Joy for Every Girl and Boy


Back in September, my friend Amy wrote a post on the Beatles’ Abbey Road in honor of its fiftieth anniversary. I had meant to write some kind of reply, but I never got around to it, so I’m doing so now. While I’m hardly the Beatles enthusiast she is, I am a fan, and I remember Abbey Road being one of the first, possibly THE first, proper albums I owned. From what I remember, my parents bought it for me after I talked about my music teacher playing “Octopus’s Garden” in school. It’s actually a bit of an odd example of the album format, since a lot of it is a medley of short songs that were never completed on their own. I remember wondering why some of the songs just ended and others went right into the next thing, although even then I noticed some of the connections between them. There’s quite a bit on the album I appreciate more now, but there were a few songs I know particularly grabbed me as a kid. I recall trying to work out the lyrics to “Come Together” (the cassette I had didn’t have the lyrics in the liners), and my mom telling me about the connection to the weird but persistent rumor from the time that Paul McCartney was dead. I had no idea at the time that I think “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” was my first exposure to a song with cheerful music and dark (if absurd) lyrics. Looking back on it, I’m not sure why someone who’s “majoring in medicine” in the first verse is given the elementary school punishment of writing lines in the second, unless that’s just a difference between American and British schools. I know I liked the somewhat nonsensical words to “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” while the ones to “Because” were just weird to me. The Beatles largely have the reputation, at least in retrospect, of being a band for kids, which isn’t entirely unfair, although I also don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. That is to say, there’s a lot of bad kids’ music, but that seems to be largely because the artists are trying too hard to make it child-friendly. I remember when I bought The Annotated Mother Goose, I was surprised to find “Golden Slumbers” in there, only to later learn that it was an existing song to which Paul wrote his own music. I always appreciated the contrast between the ending “And I will sing a lullaby” with “Carry That Weight,” which is very much not something you’d use to put someone to sleep. Hey, is the weight being carried the related to the woman who was so heavy? Actually, “All Good Children Go to Heaven” was in the Mother Goose book too. There’s a definite nursery rhyme feel to a lot of Beatles songs, and in addition to the direct references here, “Hammer” is very sing-songy, “Here Comes the Sun” has a beautiful simplicity to it, and “Octopus’s Garden” is pretty much unabashedly a children’s number. I think the love songs on the record, like “Something” and the aforementioned “Because,” are more the sort of thing I grew to like, but that didn’t do as much for me as a kid. So it’s hardly ALL kiddie music, but there’s definitely a catchiness and goofiness to a lot of it that kids can really appreciate.

This entry was posted in Albums, Beatles, Music, Nursery Rhymes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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