Bonnie Hayes Blue Bear Board of Trustees
When I was 13, in the late ’60s, the world seemed like a big lie. School was lying to me about the past and future, my parents were lying about their marriage being stable, church was lying to me about what God wanted me to do, the United States government was lying about the war in Vietnam. I spent a lot of time reading intellectual novels, sassing my mom, and smoking her purloined More cigarettes in Golden Gate Park with similarly disaffected boys. The only truth, the one thing that made me feel that pure, authentic thrill of hope and inspiration was music. I played Bach inventions on piano, and tried to figure out how Cream, Janis Joplin and Stevie Wonder came up with that brilliant music, made with some kind of alchemy out of the same boring old classical notes that I was stuck playing.
One day, I was listening to the Beatles’ White Album and noticed the song “Martha, My Dear.” The song is played on piano, with no drums or other instruments except Paul’s whimsical vocal. I had developed a good “ear,” honed to a razor edge by my sneaky method of avoiding actually reading music by getting my piano teacher to play for me, more slowly, the music I was supposed to read. Suddenly it dawned on me that I could probably figure out that Beatles’ song. I went to the piano, and with a few stops and starts, I was playing “Martha My Dear.” I quickly figured out “Lady Madonna,” followed by a few other Beatles piano songs. I played them over and over, so many times that our next door neighbor screamed out his window for me to stop.
My whole life changed that day. Somehow, a door had opened into the music I treasured, that I thought came from some kind of magical power that only certain special people had. I could make that music mine, carry it with me, recreate it at will, absorb it like food. I saw a path to an un-boring future, a life that wasn’t a lie. After that day, all I wanted to do was music. And I love helping students make that same connection—it’s like being a magician.
LISTEN HERE: The Beatles – Martha My Dear