Sophie B. Hawkins on why fans still trust the Beatles: “They didn’t exploit us”

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins joined host Kenneth Womack to talk about the “beautiful space” that the Beatles create, the intimacy of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” her new album and much more on the season 5 finale of “Everything Fab Four,” a podcast co-produced by me and Womack (a music scholar who also writes about pop music for Salon) and distributed by Salon.

Hawkins, the artist behind such ’90s hits as “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” “As I Lay Me Down” and “Right Beside You,” says her grandmother was a pianist who wanted to take her to lessons when she was a child, but her parents wouldn’t allow it. As she explained to Womack, it wasn’t because they didn’t want her to play music, but because “they listened to the Beatles and the Stones, and they wanted me to be free — without the confines of lessons.”

She credits her parents with “playing all the great songwriters in our house via the record player. I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but I absorbed it … the Beatles became part of my family. I grew up with them as if they were the food I was eating.” And to this day, she says when she and her son and daughter “turn on the Beatles, that’s when we dance and smile and be together. We forget all the world.”

Growing up in Manhattan (and realizing “John Lennon lived just down the street!”), Hawkins spent “all her time” in Central Park, where she took an interest in the street musicians there and in particular, African drums. At 14, she began working with a multi-instrumentalist instructor and learned to play. “I didn’t want to just be a singer,” she said. “I wanted to be a song. And I felt the drums were the best way to express that.”


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As she expanded into writing her own music, as is evident on her new album “Free Myself” as much as her well-known hits, Hawkins told Womack, “Until I hit that point of magic in a song, I don’t want to let it go. … Songwriting is all in the way you let someone in. We humans have let the Beatles into the purest part of us. We don’t trust everyone, but we trust them. You know you can trust them and you just let them in.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Sophie B. Hawkins on “Everything Fab Four” and subscribe via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, or wherever you’re listening. “Everything Fab Four” is distributed by Salon.

Host Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-volume biography on Beatles producer George Martin and the bestselling books “Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles” and “John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life.” His latest project is the authorized biography and archives of Beatles road manager Mal Evans, due out in November 2023.

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