I Should Have Been A Beatle

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Lennon and McCartney songwriting




I had a message from a good friend this week with a link to a John Lennon song. It was a simple song lyrically and musically called Jealous Guy.

I was dreamin’ of the past
And my heart was beating fast
I began to lose control
I began to lose control
I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy
I was feeling insecure
You might not love me anymore
I was shivering inside
I was shivering inside
Oh, I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

Can lyrics be any simpler?

Lennon was a Beatle a few millennia ago.

You remember the Beatles, right? If you saw the movie YESTERDAY recently, maybe I could understand that you might not know the Beatles, but I’m going to assume that you’re with me here.

The Beatles wrote some of the most complex and circuitous songs but they also excelled at simple.

Simple with a huge underlying well of emotion that struck into the hearts of millions.

Though I know I’ll never lose affection • For people and things that went before • I know I’ll often stop and think about them • In my life I love you more”

in my life lyric

When I write song lyrics I have an inner urge to evade simple and pack the lines with meaning and wordy description.

But this week, I’m consciously trying… Yoda trying… to back away from my internal push to be verbose… sparse and simple is my intent and approach.

But now, as I look over my lyric verses below, I have to say, well, it’s (I’m) a work in progress. Only my chorus seems to really attain the short and simple.

The genesis of this song relates to my difficulty through life of expressing my emotions publicly. Vulnerability suppressed.

My mother died when I was 15 and it was a surprise to my family (and strangely, even me) that I shed no tears or expressed my grief in the days and years following her death.

I’m not the Iceman now, however, I still haven’t totally thawed, but then … who wants me blubbering everywhere anyway?

So here goes:


Went to the Ex when I was a kid
summer and my energy had no end
I played every day with a pile of friends
and some are gone now beside
a million shards of memory spilled to the ground
somewhere in the darkness blind
so hard to show my tears
so hard to show my fears

You settle down and the kids all come
clocks tick on, lofty dreams unfolded
it’s what we do, it’s what’s expected
til unknown fevers called late at night
I sat singing cats in the cradle while
Salt and pepper became my colour
I think it’s OK to show my tears
it must be OK to show my fears

I’ve lost much of my hair now
Found it on the edges of my ears
That’s what happens over the years
see there are stories my father never told me
and days when Leonard Cohen took his place
when wrinkles became my face and
somehow it became ok to show my tears
I know it’s OK to show my fears


Voices grow softer
Whispers grow louder
I’m listening cuz I want to hear
It’s OK to show my tears
That took a lot of years

tears on guitar.jpg

VULNERABILITY Seems To Be The Hardest Word … Big Boys Don’t Cry


Man in war crying

It’s my life and I’ll cry if I want to …

I’ve wasted a lot of time over the years trying to hide my feelings and imperfections.

It’s a stupid exercise, but peer and society’s dictates are strong motivators to bury our intimate thoughts.

As a young teenager in the early ’70’s, I laid in the late, hot darkness of my bedroom, a thin ribbon of warm, amber hall light sneaking through the bottom edge of the door. Thick, humid air off Lake Ontario fell heavily through the window making simple breathing an effort.

My bedroom was typically psychedelic-adolescent of the era with colourful, fluorescent posters of Three Dog Night and Led Zeppelin hung out at odd angles on the walls – groovy, manly music posters of guys with long stringy hair, cool and unemotional as hell; guys I was trying to identify with and mimic in my early years at Glendale High School.

Led Zeppelin

But my attempts at exterior coolness sharply contrasted with the veiled reality I felt laying there – fretting and unsettled about the unknowable possibility of my Mom dying – with small rivulets of tears tickling down my cheek, falling gently, soaking silently into the pillow.

It was a desolate place because these feelings were something I could … would … NEVER share with anyone. Not my Mom or Dad, not my siblings, and especially not my best friends Renato, Frank, or Jerome.

Fears and vulnerability were an inner war to be fought on a minute-to-minute basis. No battle in this realm could be lost, for if even one clash was forfeited, then the war was over. You were a “girl”… none of us boys wanted to be a “girl”.

In my sissy-free mind, I had to be bravely perfect, or close to it.

At my own Mom’s funeral when I was 15, not a single tear escaped my eyes in public.


I’m a so-called grown-up now and I can let my hair down (oh wait, sadly I can’t do that the way I could as a ’70’s long-haired kid).

But I’ve found that shedding the cloak of tough guy is not so easy.

Childhood rules are locks and chains with strong forging. Can’t you hear the early voices of your parents, grandparents, and friends warning you to be this, or not to be that?

We want to please our parents, right?

Mommy, watch this … aren’t I good, aren’t I special?” –  “Yes Daddy, boys don’t cry …

These are the RULES.

Correction: Those WERE the rules.

Vulnerability and a willingness to look foolish are first cousins.

Vulnerability ties itself to the post that is perfection. If we have strong knots holding our weaknesses to that post, we’ll never risk losing face. We can always maintain the illusion of perfection, if only the knot holds.

With time, I’ve tried to be more honest about my mistakes and emotions. Even if I’m afraid of what people think.

Yes, I may no longer look as smart as they thought I was. And yes, for a small moment I won’t be the spinning top that never falls.

That’s ok. I’m human. I can be vulnerable and foolish.

And Praise The Lord, ’cause I look foolish a lot these days, and finally … I don’t care. I feel like Forrest Gump gallumping down the road with my leg braces snapping and breaking and flying madly off in all directions. There’s a refreshing wind blowing through my hair and a smile in my heart.

Years ago – maybe I was 18 at the time – I approached a young bikini’ed blond sitting by herself on a beach in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I’d never tried picking up a girl in a bar or on a beach ever ever in my life. But, what the hell, I thought. She looked good, and no one knew me there. I could be foolish in camouflage.

Risk versus reward … Heart thumping in my throat, I went for it.

Mr. Smooth Operator (NOT!!!), I sat down beside her beach towel and introduced myself. We talked and did the ritual animalistic checkout of our ancestors. A quick two minutes later – my jittery breath returning – I think we both knew there was no chemistry happening, no likelihood of making beautiful babies together.

So I stood up, smiled, said goodbye, and walked away… sad that nothing would come of it, but happy that I’d unlocked my vulnerability and exposed myself to potential ridicule and rejection and went for it anyway.

But unfortunately that moment of brave vulnerability was the exception and not the rule for me then and for many long years after.

Now I realize that losing my vulnerability pays dividends just like my stock portfolio and my beloved Tim Hortons’ (er … em … Burger King) shares.




Creativity doesn’t exist and thrive in houses overstuffed with rules.

This is why I sometimes, really just occasionally, say things that might seem a bit outrageous in this blog. I’m trying to cast off the rules – society’s shackles that hold me back from molding something that approaches “new” (I know that little is truly new, but “idea sex” allows a fresh take on the old).

If I follow all of the rules of life, I’ll live a carbon-copy existence to everyone else. Then I’ll wake up, stuck in a lousy traffic jam cursing the guy in front of me, who’s cursing the guy behind him (that would be me). Give me a wide open country road with wind-blown sand in my teeth and gravel under my wheels.

To be creative and set in motion a billowing mushroom-cloud of ideas, I have to forget about macho perfectionism and playing one or more of the roles thrust on me by others. As a strange consequence, I even think that people like me better when they see how foolish and imperfect and vulnerable I can be.

The time is past due to boldly consider breaking rules. Crossing some boundaries is exponentially exhilarating and joyous.

Sorry, dear friend, but I’ve gotta come clean here.

This blog? I’m really just using you as my analyst.

Thank you for your service! Oh, and your cheque is in the mail!

PS. One last thing.  I still can’t shed a tear in public … some locks were just forged without a key.