‘Can’t buy me love’ — but can buy me an elementary education

I was introduced to The Beatles at a very young age — and reintroduced to The Beatles as a young adult, jumping back into their music after works like “Across the Universe” came out. The Beatles are everywhere, a part of the world psyche as much as anything can be — I even distinctly remember passing “Strawberry Fields 4 Ever” scrawled in red marker in a stairwell at my college, smiling to myself each time I climbed past it on my way to a poetry workshop. I should have taken a picture of it.

Obviously, I will never be the last to talk about the Beatles’ lasting influence on music — and I doubt I have anything insightful or new to contribute to this dialogue . . . but suffice it to say that, on a personal level and to millions of other people, some things truly are timeless.

In my suburban elementary school in the early 1990s, I had a truly outstanding music teacher — Mr. Louis Cate — who introduced us to all sorts of classic music. Going to music class was the highlight of my day. At the end of a long, winding hallway, we played bells, sang loudly and off-key, danced around to funny songs Mr. Cate wrote about Thanksgiving turkeys and learned Beatles tunes like “Hard Day’s Night,” “Ticket to Ride,” “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Help!”

A few times a year (twice?) we put on recitals for our friends, parents and neighbors. I started taking piano lessons after Mr. Cate’s encouragement, and my parents would help me lug that giant keyboard to school so I could camp out on the floor with all the other fifth graders. We all looked forward to these shows with great anticipation — even when I was consistently rejected from the on-stage chorus (hey, it’s okay — the man had an ear. And I’ve never had any vocal talent.) I’d play along to “Ticket to Ride,” jubilant, and feel just as proud as he seemed after it was all over.

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I will let go if you will let go

I picked up Ben Folds’ new album Way to Normal earlier in the week — after I’d earned my Borders Bucks! I really became a Ben fan after meeting my boyfriend two years ago, though I’ve loved the Ben Folds Five song “Brick” since I first saw the disorienting video for it sometime in 1997. There’s something beautiful and haunting about his music — something real. I know I’ve blogged about it before, but it always bears repeating.

I’m loving “Cologne” — it’s such a beautiful, simple song. And, as always, it’s like one swift kick to the heart. I can’t get enough of those moments where you’re listening to something innocently — maybe driving along in your car, maybe on your iPod at work — and a tiny bubble of realization hits you: this is a song that could very well change your life. I know other people feel like that, too. This song will change the way you see yourself, the way you see others — this song will change the way you view relationships past and relationships yet to unfold.

Ben Folds has a lot of songs like that.

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