Global Beatles Day: How Their Familiar Songs Bring Comfort and Reminiscing

Jun 25, 2024 | Main Blog | 0 comments

About a month ago, my dad, my brother, my dog, and I were sitting in our respective places in our living room. Though we’ve never spoken of it, we all sit in the same places on the couch, at the dining table, and in the car. We always have.

Interrupting our new family show, Parks and Recreation, my dad asked if we had heard about the birds in Berkeley. My brother and I exchanged a look before replying that we hadn’t. He went on to explain that there were four Peregrine falcons that hatched in UC Berkeley’s bell tower, but the volunteers and scientists were unsure of what to name them and took to social media to cast votes.

Quite quickly our living room rose in volume, and I was begging my brother, who had the TV remotes, to pause the show while we brainstormed different names. We started with bands, yelling out Ringo, Paul, John, and George. Though with two girl and two boy falcons we started leaning more towards ABBA. I volunteered One Direction after Zayn left but found myself too upset as I remembered my own depression when Zayn actually left. We discussed naming them after our four family dogs, but decided Petunia, Buster Posey, Teddy, and Winnie weren’t as cohesive as we thought. Eventually, our creativity dwindled and we started watching our show again, quickly forgetting about the Berkeley birds.

A couple weeks ago, I was driving with my Beatles playlist on shuffle, when their song “Michelle” came on. While my mom picked out my first name, Hannah, my dad picked out my middle name which is Michelle. Both my dad and brother have the middle name Michael, from my paternal grandfather and Michelle was close enough that it became my middle name.

As the song played, I questioned why my dad didn’t choose Michaela for my middle name when I remembered that I still didn’t know the names of the Berkeley birds. They had decided on Aurora, Eclipse, Equinox, and Solstice and I found myself more upset than I thought I would be that they didn’t choose The Beatles.

When I was younger, my dad was driving our family to the beach boardwalk in our green Prius when “Yellow Submarine,” played on the radio. My feet were pressed against the back of my mom’s seat on the passenger side, knees close to my chest. The car smelled of sunscreen and the sun came beaming in through the windows in a way I feel nostalgic for now as my whole family sang along. I still remember how loved I felt as I looked out my window at all the redwood trees.

I also remember the day I found out that I did not actually know the lyrics to Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” My whole life I thought he had been singing “Sydney’s having a wonderful Christmastime,” and I was upset that I wasn’t named Sydney.

When I was in middle school, my music teacher had a corner of her room dedicated to The Beatles. Her guitar strap was from Abbey Road Studios as were most of her picks. During the winter recital in seventh grade, she gave me a duet for the second verse of “Blackbird.” I was beyond nervous to sing in front of a crowd that large, but I never forgot that performance.

Only two years later, I started high school at a new school. I was one of 50 new students entering an existing class of 150 students, some of whom had known each other since kindergarten. I was terrified and I felt like prey among only predators. But on my first day, I walked into my math class to find a Beatles corner in my new classroom. I still sat in the back, but I felt a lot less scared.

My freshman year of college, my roommate and I planned each other’s weddings, even discussing first dance songs, father/daughter dance songs, and entrance and exit songs. During this process, we discovered we both wanted The Beatles “In My Life” to be a part of our big day. Two years later, my freshman year roommate and I studied abroad in London together, marking our third year as roommates. On one of our last days there, we ventured to Abbey Road to remake the iconic album cover as well as visit the studio.

Today, on Global Beatles Day, I remember all the times the Fab Four have brought me comfort. A lot in my life is going to change this year, but I know for certain the presence of the Beatles will not.

P.S. As it turns out, he chose Michelle instead of Michaela because of the song.

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Hannah Sobczyn

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