When I find myself in times of trouble,
Mother Mary comes to me
speaking words of wisdom:
Let it be.
My phone rang right at noon one Sunday a few weeks ago and it was my daughter calling from Los Angeles. It was 9 a.m. there and she was cruising along the freeway on her way to brunch with a few girlfriends.
Dad, she began, I just had to call you. You know I've been lucky enough to live in some pretty fabulous cities (she was referring to Savannah, Georgia; Boulder, Colorado; Austin, Texas; and now L.A.). Well, in every single one of them, I've always been able to find a radio station on Sunday morning playing their version of ‘Breakfast with The Beatles.' And that's what I'm listening to right now. I knew you'd like hearing that.
She was right.
When Greta lived and worked in Boulder, she and my son Michael shared an apartment and worked at the same advertising agency. I always refer to that firm as the place that brought us the creepy Burger King King.
It was an exciting place to work but, to me, the demands were almost too much to bear. More than once my son called me at 9 or 10 in the morning (Boulder time) to tell me he had worked on a project all night long, more than 24 straight hours.
The job was exhausting to be sure, but I think both Greta and Michael would also call it invigorating. In fact, I'm sure they would. Invigorating and fulfilling.
Trying to imagine that level of intensity, I once asked my son, When it's 3 or 4 in the morning and you've been on the job since 9 the previous morning, how do you find the motivation to keep going.
Dad, he said, I can tell you in two words. Abbey. Road.
His strength came from a Beatles album … one that happens to be my favorite by the way.
I didn't try to make my children into Beatles fans, but it seems to have worked out that way. Good.
I've often told my college students one of the big differences between my generation and their generation is that when I was their age, we listened to song lyrics like: I want to hold your hand. They listen to song lyrics like: It's getting hot in here, let's take off all our clothes.
I'll take the innocence of those Beatles songs any day.
When Michael was in college, also in Savannah where his sister went to school, he called me one day raving about the lyrics of The Beatles' song Let it Be. He said if he was having a bad day, all he had to do was lie down on his bed and put on Let it Be and everything would seem better.
He would always add, If I ever get a tattoo, it will be simply Let it Be.
Time went by and Michael moved to Boulder and experienced something I had hope neither of my children would ever have to: a broken heart. It was his first, which made it worse. He immediately swore off women – a good strategy but one I knew wouldn't last – and enjoyed being a bachelor for about a year. Then he met Ashley.
He proceeded with caution – a lot of just walking and talking at first – but I could tell he was smitten. One day as he and Ashley chatted over coffee, The Beatles came up. Turned out Ashley, too, was a Beatles fan.
Michael told her about his love of Let it Be' and how someday those words might be tattooed on his body.
Oh, you mean like this, Ashley said. She raised the leg of her jeans to reveal the words Let it Be tattooed on her ankle.
That was two years or so ago and Michael and Ashley are still together. They just noted their first anniversary in their apartment in Chicago.
And, yes, Michael has a Let it Be tattoo. It's on the inside of his forearm. Greta designed it.
Last fall, I told that story to one of my classes. Last week a student from that class ran into my office with a story he just could not wait to tell me.
Mr. Ackerman, he said, you'll never believe what happened. I was pulled over for speeding the other day. I rolled down the window waiting for the policeman but I forgot to turn off the radio. The song Let it Be was playing. Well, the cop came up to the window, stood there for a minute listening and then just said to me ‘Let it be.' He went back to his car and drove away.
Bet that policeman knows where to find Breakfast with the Beatles on his radio Sunday mornings. He might even be listening to it right now.