Thursday, August 6, 2009

What's In A Name?

When I was a freshman in high school, my friend Chris invited me for a sleepover party. This was mucho exciting because 1. Chris had 11 brothers and sisters, which meant parental supervision was spotty, and 2. Two of the 11 siblings were only a few years older than us, male, and HOT. Sleepover at Chris's house? Oh, yeah.

So I arrived for fun and games. But when Chris introduced me to the hottie bros, they mumbled "Get back, Loretta" and giggled to themselves. I had no freaking clue what they were talking about. Every time I saw them that weekend--passing through the hallway, eating in the kitchen, sitting on the front stoop--they'd repeat it, "Get back, Loretta", until I thought for sure I'd done something wrong, or they just didn't want a geek like me hanging around their house and were trying to get me to go home. Finally, I asked Chris.

"You know what they're talking about, don't you?"

I told her I didn't.

"It's the Beatles," she explained. "Get Back is a song, you idiot."

My parents were not music people. My mom had some Elvis albums from when she was a kid, and my dad played Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff occasionally, but that was pretty much it. I wasn't much better. There was a brief, unfulfilled flirtation with Michael Jackson in junior high. A fascination with Madonna. A longing to slip my hands in the back pockets of Springsteen's jeans after viewing the album cover for Born in the USA. I thought Duran Duran was as close to pop perfection as I would see in my lifetime. But the Beatles? I knew who Paul McCartney was (He did Say, Say, Say with MJ, right?) and I thought he was cute. I also had a vague recollection of John Lennon's death, and memories of watching Yellow Submarine on TV in the 70s. That was it.

Something told me I needed to find out more, though, so I went a-searching at Wax Trax Records in Evanston, and came home with a bunch of albums (yes--vinyl): Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper.

You know that scene in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy wakes up and everything is in Technicolor? That was precisely my experience when I first heard what John, Paul, George and Ringo had done, more than 20 years before I placed those albums on my dad's turntable. Those four boys handed me a new life, one of creativity, imagination, freedom.

Good art can do that. The door opens, you pass through, and when you get to the other side you are still you, only better, enhanced.

I can only hope my writing can do this for someone someday.

I write books for young adults because high school is the time when there are so many doors, so many chances to grow, to choose, to start building who you want to be. It's an exciting time. Much has happened in my life since then, but those experiences are so fresh in my memory, and age has given me the opportunity to see how they continue to shape the woman I've become.

So, without any more ancient stories from the 80s, I hereby inaugurate this blog, in which I will discuss writing, life, music, joy, and what-not. Mostly what-not.


  1. What a great little window into the start of your Beatles love, and your writing! Can't wait for more!

  2. You bring tears to my eyes! What a wonderful memory of discovering the Beatles! I remeber coming home from school one early December morning in 1980 to my father crying (NEVER had seen that before) and listing to Beatles records. He told me of John Lennon's death. I remember crying, mostly because he was crying, but I must say that I have wept because of that death many times since.

    I had a close friend in high school named Loretta who's boyfriend was named Joe. Just for that reason alone, I thought they were destined for eachother (Get back Joe-Joe!). If I were her, I would have married him just for the wedding song!

    Looking forward to being a Loretta Nyhan groupie!

  3. Thanks, guys!

    Alexa--If my blog is half as good as yours, I'll be a happy camper!

    Kathleen--What great stories! And I love having a groupie! Thanks for that!

  4. Ooh, this reminds me of the day I discovered my dad's vinyl collection and listened to Sgt. Pepper's for the very first time. It was like a light bulb going off or something. I spent the rest of my 7th and 8th grade years purchasing every single Beatles album and memorizing every single song. Listening to those albums for the first time felt like something waking up inside me. Probably just hormones, but still.

    So here's to spotty parental supervision and your fab new blog!

  5. As Loretta knows, I am a HUGE Beatles fan, and my earliest Beatles memory was the movie HELP! My sister and I watched that over, and over, and over, and over when we were little--that poor VHS is probably melted in an old VCR somewhere.

    I actually didn't realize that the Beatles in HELP! were the same guys that did "All You Need Is Love," "Hey Jude," and "I Want to Hold your Hand" until I was in middle school. And when I did realize that, I started buying up all of their albums. HELP! is still one of my favorites, and it STILL has a tendency to cause wild dancing around my house and lots of jumping on the bed...

  6. Here's to hormones and wild dancing!! Whoo-Hoo!

  7. Wow- Joanna told me I'd like this and she was RIGHT! The Beatles are magical, plain and simple. I love meeting people that feel the same way!!

  8. Welcome to the blogosphere! I think knowing the words to "can't buy me love" helped me snag my husband.... John, Paul, Ringo (and my personal fav. George) taught me early that low maintenance was the way to go!

  9. Hey, Lunar Amyscope & Suzanne! Thanks so much for saying hello!

  10. Love hearing the background to your writing! Looks like your blog is going to be fabulous!

  11. I found you via Lisa and Laura. Your blog looks like it's going to be awesome! :)

  12. Thanks, Sarah! Lisa and Laura rock. They're ever so gracefully allowing me to poach followers!

  13. Loretta - this one is from my dad who is savvy enough to read blogs, but couldn't quite manage the comments.

    I was born in 1954 and the Beatles came to the US when I was in 6th grade. They were a sensation and I was caught up in the wave they created. My fondest memories were traveling to California to meet my CA cousins particularly Martha. She shared my love of the Beatles and that was when Hey Jude was on the charts. I love it that my daughter Lisa of another generation, just like you, see and hear the magic and power of their music. Very COOL!

  14. SO Cool! What an exciting time! Thank your dad for me.

  15. Wow. You paint beautiful pictures.

    I have always loved music. I grew up listening to Elvis and the Beach Boys. Those were my dad's favs. I also, being a child of the 80's love everything 80's in music.

    Today, I have kept up with the times and since I too write YA (and adult) novels, I listen to the music they listen to. I don't do it with them in mind really, I just love music in all styles so I listen to what's out there.

    There is such power in music.

    Love this blog!

  16. Thanks, Sarah! Do listen to music while you write? I'm a total dork--I make playlists for each novel.