John Lennon’s Song, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”

July 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm , by 

Eight months.

It’s one of the most masculine yet sensitive songs I can think of.

One of my hopes as a dad blogger is that parents will be able to identify with what is going through my head when they read my Dadabase posts; to make readers say, “That’s exactly how I feel! It’s like you’re reading my mind!”  I am a guy who loves to inspire others as much as I love to beinspired; I am always ready for that next awesome quote or motivational true story.

As a guy who loves music (I own over 700 CD’s,) I am regularly a-ha’d (to be made to say “a-ha!”) by song lyrics.  In fact, I think songwriting is one of the most vulnerable forms of communication and/or art that exists.  I can easily write a new 400+ word entry for the Dadabase every day and never feel as exposed as I would compared to if I was writing and performing a song instead.

It was the 1995 movie Mr. Holland’s Opus that truly first exposed me to John Lennon.  At the end of the movie, Mr. Holland (played by Richard Dreyfus) sings and signs the song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” by John Lennon.  I am not the kind of guy that will cry when I see a sad movie.  But… I will confidently admit to letting my eyes get a little bit watery when I see something truly moving- like the last five minutes of the final episode of Lost or the ending of half of the Rocky movies or heck… even Marley and Me.

Needless to say, since the first time I saw it, that scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus has always found a way to connect to the “truly moved” part of my brain.  It’s not just the imperfectness and realness of how Richard Dreyfus sings the song but also because the genius of the way John Lennon’s lyrics are so cleverly played out as a disconnected father reaches out to his son.

And I know that the word “genius” is thrown around pretty loosely in the entertainment world, especially when it comes to legendary Italian-American movie directors like Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorcese whose films are known for being “groundbreaking” as well as extremely violent.  But sometimes, an artist actually is genius, despite the cliché factor of the word.  And since John Lennon pulled it off perfectly in “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” I feel compelled to expose the magic behind his wonderful creation.

As a father, John Lennon touched on several major elements of the father-son connection in the 114 words of the song. The first verse addresses his fatherly role of protector:

“Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here.”

I think there’s something immeasurably powerful in the phrase, “your daddy’s here.”  Because no matter what our own relationship with our father was like growing up, every kid wants to know the presence of a positive, protective father.  “Daddy” does have the power to scare the monster away.

Next, John Lennon touched on the importance of encouragement:

“Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Everyday in every way,
It’s getting better and better.”

This verse is a reminder for me to pray for my son when I am inclined to worry for him instead.  Additionally, John Lennon paints a positive future for his son as he focuses on things getting better as they move forward, not dwelling on past mistakes and decisions.

My favorite part of the song is the bridge, which paints not only the masculine element of adventure but also the excitement of the father looking forward to his son growing up and becoming a man with him:

“Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it’s a long way to go,
But in the meantime.”

The lyrics of the song come to a close with the final chorus refrain of “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful… beautiful boy.”  And then finally John Lennon calls his son by name: “Darling Sean.”  I think for the past several decades, the idea of a father kissing his son on the cheek or forehead or calling his son “beautiful” has become pretty foreign.  In fact, those outward expressions of a father’s love do indeed make me think of old Italian culture I’ve seen in movies throughout my life.  Blame it on the ¼ Italian blood running through my veins, but I admire those ideas enough to want to replicate them in my relationship with my own son.

The last verse contains one of John Lennon’s most famous quotes:

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
“Life is what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans.”

I of all people know what’s like to carefully plan every year of my life, only to see a completely different reality come to fruition.  (Are you like so tempted right now to copy and paste “Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans” as your Facebook status update and/or Twitter?)

“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” which was released as a single on November 17, 1980, just a few weeks before John Lennon was killed and a few months before I was born, obviously speaks to me as a father.  Looking back on past Dadabase entries, I have specifically written about the same exact aspects of the father-son relationship as John Lennon wrote about in the song:

Strength, guidance, courage, adventure, direction, and the appreciation of beauty.

The song’s subtle magic exists in these properties of manhood that we men already identify with, even if we don’t realize it. And that’s why it’s dang near impossible for a father not to relate to and love this song.

John Mayer’s Stupid Mouth

Will his recent humiliation humble him for good?  We keep on waiting.  (Waiting.)  Waiting for John Mayer to change.

In November 2009 when his new album Battle Studies was released, I wrote a review that in essence said the music itself was solid as always, but the man John Mayer himself was becoming increasingly annoying and obnoxious (read it here http://wp.me/pxqBU-fj).  But I have the ability to separate the art from the artist.  I believe John Mayer will always make music that I love, but can he ever get over himself?

I remember a simpler time, in college, circa 2002, when I ironically thought to myself as I was in the check out aisle, “How weird would it be if John Mayer was ever on the cover of these tabloid magazines?  What if he dated famous stars like Jennifer Aniston?”  It was such a foreign thought regarding the fresh-on-the-scene musical Wonderboy.

So it obviously was a huge case of déjà vu when this random thought from just a few short years earlier became a reality.  And with his rock star status came a major case of “I’m too sexy for my cat”.  That brings us to the year 2010.

The once funny and personable musician began to realize that the general consensus of him is that he is the current textbook definition of a douchebag, even more so than Spencer Pratt, who held that title for 2008.  Realizing this, and trying to shrug off his undesirable reputation, he acknowledged the public’s perception of himself in the December 2009 issue of Details magazine, yet still ended up saying this:

“I’m in the place of greatest freedom right now- not giving a f—…  I don’t have f— you money… I have ‘that’s my seat’ money’ “

Ultimately, his attitude has seemed to be: “I’m John Mayer.  I’ve got the talent, money, fame, and women that everyone else wants.  Oh yeah, and I’m clever and witty too.  See?”

Here’s the complete article: http://www.details.com/celebrities-entertainment/cover-stars/200912/singer-musician-cover-star-half-of-my-heart-john-mayer

It didn’t seem like he really cared or wanted to change.  He just wanted people to stop desecrating his name.

Then came the interview with Playboy magazine.  To sum it up, he’s gives his biggest “kiss and tell” list ever as he sexually degrades the women he’s been romantically involved with, makes a remark about his romantic disinterest in African-American women, and uses the “N-word” in the process.  That’s the PG summary.  Here’s a more detailed recap, not the actual interview: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35334100/ns/entertainment-celebrities/

Not quite the same mindset as his hit song, “Daughters”.

Soon after, he apologized on Twitter.  And last night here in Nashville he broke down on stage in the middle of “Gravity” (appropriate song choice) with the most sincere apology and acknowledgement of his self-centeredness:  http://wonderwall.msn.com/music/singer-john-mayer-breaks-down-on-stage-1537819.story?GT1=28135

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYS_qdWy_wM

It’s one thing to be a rich and famous womanizer, but even worse to acknowledge it, then brag about it while trying to appear sophisticated, in the public eye.

Now only time will tell whether the musical prodigy/media addict will return to the 2002 version of himself.  The guy that knew how to keep his stupid mouth shut.  The guy that seemed to narrate my life the way the TV show The Wonder Years did when I was a kid.  The only other guy I knew who was equally obsessed with the year 1983.

No need for us to collect all of our John Mayer recordings and burn them in the city square like disgruntled fans did with The Beatles when John Lennon said they were bigger than Jesus, or when Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks said they were ashamed of President Bush.  I still believe in the guy, as a person, that he can get through this by getting over himself.

Back on his first album, Room for Squares, John asked the question:  “Will you love me when I’m not myself?”

Yes.  Yes, John, I will.  But I hope the real you is the 2002 version, not 2010.

Related posts by this author:

Manspeak, Volume 1: Humor  http://wp.me/pxqBU-1i

Boyspeak  http://wp.me/sxqBU-boyspeak

When History Becomes Folk Lore: At What Point Does Abraham Lincoln Become as Hard to Believe as Abraham of the Old Testament?

To some degree, when enough time goes by, the credibility and “realness” of a once-living person or actual event diminishes.  I was born 4 months after John Lennon died.  There’s no doubt in my mind he existed- I own most of the Beatles’ albums and my favorite song of his is “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”.  However, I was never alive while he was.

But going all the way back to Abraham Lincoln, there’s less information available.  None of us were alive while he was.  Books are written every year about this interesting American hero, yet ultimately anything new we can learn about him is educated speculation.  He becomes more of a mystery as time goes by.  Did he truly derive from English Jews, as some believe?  Was he really 6’ 4”?  Despite his large stature, is it true that he had a high, squeaky voice as some historians have written?

Now go all the way back to over 2,000 years ago to the life of Jesus.  Even most atheists admit that he was a real person who actually lived.  What’s up for debate are his claims to deity and the miracles the Bible states that he performed.  If Christ had lived even 100 years ago, perhaps many people would find it easier to believe in his claims.

Go all the way back to King David and King Solomon.  The Bible records all kinds of details of their lives.  At what point in time do skeptics stop believing in historical accounts? How much does the religious association affect the credibility of their lives, when seen through the eyes of skeptics?

And if we truly rewound the history of time all the way to Adam and Eve, how many people would still be on board as far as believing they both were actual people, and not a symbolic duo representing the origins of mankind?

Time fades the mainstream belief of actual people and events, at least a little.  Once a person dies or a historical event occurs (September 11th, for example), the timer begins.  The more time goes by, the more romanticized or fantasized the person or the event becomes.  Whether or not there is written evidence.  Key example, the events of the Bible.  Or if a more recent event needs to be cited, the Holocaust.  It sickens me that there are people out there who doubt it actually happened.  Despite the video footage that is available.

For many skeptics of Christianity and the Bible, Adam & Eve and Jonah and The Tower of Babel are just moral stories.  Only as real as fairy tales.

I think the exception to the rule is the invention of video cameras.  It’s hard to deny the existence of something we can see and hear, despite it happening before our own lives began.  (Though as just mentioned, some deny the Holocaust.  And there are still plenty of old timers who believe that the 1969 moon landing was a hoax.)  But the historical content of my religious beliefs were not recorded on camera and can not be found on You Tube.

A hundred years from now, we won’t be here anymore.  And that is sad.  Our lives are most relevant to others while we are still alive.  Because a hundred years from now, what proof will be left of us other than our own ancestors?  What good will we be to some random stranger?

That train of thought leaves me with no option but to believe in a life after this.  Not only to believe in it, but to seek it out.  Not only to seek it out, but to know why exactly my religious beliefs are the most believable, the most secure, and most importantly, the only truth.  And by that point, it’s not simply a religious belief, it’s faith.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on history, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one