#MusicMonday – October 19, 2020

You say it’s your birthday. It’s my birthday too, yeah!

And if today, October 19th, is in fact your birthday too, Happy Birthday to you!

If you’d asked me a year ago, when I turned 37, what the year would be like, I would never have expected to tell you that I would have not only bought a house (we were under contract at the time), changed jobs, changed back again to my previous job, got furloughed from said job because of a global pandemic that basically brought everything to a screeching halt, and lost my best friend to a very sudden death. Of course, I also would never have believed that the year between 37 and 38 would bring about the discovery of a talent I didn’t know I had, ample time to work on a talent I already spent so much time fostering, and returning to a talent that I believed was over after an injury six years ago.

The times we live in, they are strange, unusual, scary, sad, and at times, quite exciting.

My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, and have spent time making this new house a home. There have ben dark spots and bright spots, and reasons to celebrate. A birthday during these times is definitely celebration worthy, as is a good song choice to commemorate the day.

Now, we could go with the standard song of birthdays, or we could go with something more fun. I opt for the latter, like today’s song, which is a classic and blows that “traditional” birthday song out of the water.

It’s a song that reminds us that it isn’t just your birthday, but wishes you a happy one at the same time. And it is sung by a classic group that arguably, has at least one song everyone likes. Perhaps this is the one?

“Birthday” is a 1968 song by the Beatles, from their double album The Beatles (aka The White Album). Writen by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, the song is the opening track on the third side of the LP. Writen during a recording session on September 18, 1968, McCartney and Lennon decided to “make something up,” and penned and recorded the whole song in one evening. The group and crew at the recording studio only took a break to go to McCartney’s house to watch the movie The Girl Can’t Help It, before going back to the studio and finishing.

You’d think there was a far more inspiring or arduous process to how songs and other artistic efforts work out, but nope. This is how it all played out.

A live version of the single, performed by Paul McCartney, was released on October 16, 1990 (October 8, 1990 in the United Kingdom), and reached #35 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock. McCartney and Ringo Starr performed the song for Starr’s 70th birthday on July 7, 2010. English singer-songwriter Paul Weller (of the New Wave group the Jam) covered the song for McCartney’s 70th birthday, available as a download for only one day, on June 18, 2012 (McCartney’s birthday), and reached #64 on the United Kingdom’s UK Singles Chart.

“Birthday” is one of those songs I’ve always known. Even when I was younger and hadn’t really listened to Beatles music extensively (something I would do in my teens – one of my friends was very into their music in middle school), this song was always recognizable. A local radio station used to play this under the announcement of celebrity birthdays, and my middle school would play it under the announcement of the 7th and 8th graders’ birthdays. I remember hearing both mine and my brother’s names both years while this song played (we’re twins), as well as the names of my friends and classmates, many of whom I’d known since we were celebrating our sixth birthdays in Kindergarten.

According to Lennon in 1980, “‘Birthday’ was written in the studio. Just made up on the spot. I think Paul wanted to write a song like ‘Happy Birthday Baby‘, the old fifties hit. But it was sort of made up in the studio. It was a piece of garbage.” (Source: Sheff, David, p. 190.All We Are Saying. St Martin’s Griffin. 2000.)

So, it was a throwaway song. Apparently the Beatles can make “garbage” sound catchy.

Have a great Monday, enjoy the music, and if you’re celebrating today, as the lyric goes:

We’re gonna have a good time! I’m glad it’s your birthday!

The best is yet to come.

Have a great day!

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