Song 334: John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” (1980)

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I got a new nephew on Thanksgiving Day. The event made for a very exciting holiday, and even though the baby’s mom and dad didn’t get to join us at the table, we all raised a glass to the new addition.

This all got me thinking about songs written for kids, and the pickings are slim. Well, not exactly—it’s more that there aren’t many good songs written for kids. The only great one that comes to mind is “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”, which John Lennon wrote for his son Sean. In typical Lennon fashion, the song is lyrically simple and straightforward: “Have no fear, the monster’s gone,” sings Lennon. “He’s on the run and your daddy’s here.” Because of Lennon’s credibility, those words don’t come across as mushy or overly sentimental. In Lennon’s hands, they’re fact.

The song appeared on the record Double Fantasy, which was released only a month before Lennon was killed. Because of this timing, some of the lyrics are heartbreaking, such as “I can hardly wait to see you come of age/But I guess we’ll both just have to be patient.” The sad irony of this line is made even sadder when considering a lyric that pops up later: “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” Man.

I always think of John Lennon this time of year. Not only because he died on December 8, but because “Happy Xmas (War Is Over!)” is one of my favorite Christmas songs. His matter-of-fact voice just seems like a good fit for the season, and I think that voice also makes “Beautiful Boy” such a good song. Sean is his son, and he’s damn happy about it. It’s a feeling that every parent can relate to, and his straightforward delivery nails the simplicity of the message.

I’m so excited that my sister and her brother-in-law get to experience that simplicity. Welcome to the world, little man. It’s a good one, I promise.

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