If you were one of the most famous musicians on the planet, how would you tell your kids about it?
When I read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography recently, I was struck by how reticent he was to make — not just a big deal but — any kind of deal about his day job with his kids. He told the story of encountering a young man who showed his son a large tattoo featuring a lyric from “Backstreets.” Sam had no idea what the words meant, because his dad hadn’t really exposed him to his music.
Then I came across this quote the other day from Dhani Harrison, son of George:
“I came home one day from school after being chased by kids singing ‘Yellow Submarine,’ and I didn’t understand why. It just seemed surreal: why are they singing that song to me? I came home and I freaked out on my dad: ‘Why didn’t you tell me you were in The Beatles?’ And he said, ‘Oh, sorry. Probably should have told you that.’”
In some cultures the father teaches his sons the ins and outs of their trade; not so much here. Come to think of it, my own dad didn’t talk much about what he did in his day job, and I’m a bit clueless about what most of my friends’ fathers did for a living. I could tell you Dad loved jazz and big band music, and he was a ham radio enthusiast and could fix about anything, especially if electronics were involved, but I have precious little knowledge of his life once he left the house in the morning and before he came back at night.
So rock gods apparently are that kind of father. Springsteen wrote that he wanted his kids to find their own way in the world and didn’t want to impose his celebrity on them, and that makes some sense. I imagine Sam often encounters “Oh, your name is Springsteen; any relation?” anyway, so there’s enough of that going on.
Still, Dhani is right, George probably should have told his son that he was in The Beatles. The subject will probably come up from time to time.