By Candy Leonard
People who grew up listening to the Beatles, hearing and watching the band evolve in real time, are now experiencing the joys of grandparenting.
As the grandmother of two, Mason, age 5, and Harley, 6 months, I made a point of exposing both of my grandsons to the Beatles when they were very young. I decided to create a special Beatles “starter” playlist. Why? Because I wanted to expose them to amazing aural weaves of beautiful sounds and interesting language. I wanted their young, sponge-like, rapidly-growing brains to be stimulated by the complex simplicity and simple complexity of Beatles’ words and music.
I want these sounds, these particular songs, to become familiar to them, and to be a special communication from me to them. And as they grow up and happen upon these songs out in the world, which they will, I want them to think, “Those are the songs Grandma Candy played for me.” They’ll likely know other Beatles music too, but these songs will be special.
The playlist includes a few songs from film Yellow Submarine, which children as young as two enjoy watching. The animation is very different from what today’s toddlers and preschoolers see, but they’re engaged by it. And with grandparents and parents sitting close by and watching with them, they’re even more engaged. If they lose interest their attention is often drawn back at the musical sequences, even before they know the songs.
The other songs on the Grandkids Beatles Playlist were chosen for a variety of reasons: beauty, clarity, and simple vocabulary of the vocals; refrains that would appeal to young children’s love of repetition; beautiful, natural, imagery that would appeal to a child, and themes of love.
There are eighteen songs on the playlist, fifty-one minutes of music. All Together Now, Yellow Submarine, When I’m sixty-four, Baby It’s You, Here Comes the Sun, Dear Prudence, All You Need is Love, She Loves You, With A Little Help From My Friends, Twist and Shout, Please Please Me, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Obla Di Obla Da, We Can Work It Out, Hello Goodbye, Drive My Car, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, and From Me To You.
Introducing young infants to the Beatles is especially fun—and they don’t mind if you can’t sing! They always smile and coo when you sing your favorite songs in front of their little wide-eyed faces. They light up at your happy face.
The exuberance of Beatle music is infectious. It makes young children happy and makes them want to move—just as it made us happy and made us want to move when we first heard it, a half-century ago.
Boomer grandparents are generally younger in body, mind, and spirit than previous generations of grandparents. And of course we want to stay that way so we can enjoy life and see our grandchildren grow up. What better way to maintain our physical and mental well-being than by singing and moving as we share the Beatles with our grandchildren.
Candy Leonard is a baby boomer, sociologist, Beatles expert, and author of Beatleness: How the Beatles and Their Fans Remade the World (Arcade, 2014). See Beatleness.com for more information.