50 Years of Beatlemania
Knox County — Beatlemania. All you Biebermaniacs out there listen up. You will never make it this far. The Beatles will forever be the biggest musical and social phenomena to ever hit the United States and the world for that matter.
Recently there was a special 50 year retrospective of the Beatles on T.V. Paul and Ringo were there as well as Yoko Ono who rocked out in the front row with her signature dark glasses on. Her son, Sean stood next to her looking like he needed a bath and a haircut badly. No sign of John’s other son, Julian. I wonder why? I watched part of the show along with others I was watching that night. It was quite a night.
When the Beatles hit the United States in 1963, I was a college student. I grew up on Elvis and to me and those of my age he was the King of Rock and Roll. However, the Beatles did forever influence our views of the world and of the new wave of Rock and Roll music. I was later to meet the biggest Beatle fan in the world and I’ll tell you about her later.
There is so much information out there about our Fab Four that it is daunting to even think of writing my own story on the group. I decided to include my own experiences with the Beatles along with my own opinions and observations as I lived through that era of war and mayhem and psychedelic movements. I will try to keep it in a manageable state, but I may have to continue with my thoughts in another blog. We’ll see how it goes as I continue to write. I feel I must at least try to pay homage to the Beatles in my own way. I will also give you some references if you want to peruse at your leisure.
Whatever you may think now of the Beatles or how you thought about them as they progressed from four boys from Liverpool who looked to us like their mothers put a bowl on their heads and cut around it, to the days they spent with the Maharishi, you have to at least admit that they had a huge influence on our lives. They still do. Their body of work alone speaks to that. Their music has survived the test of time. We all have a favorite Beatles song and quite possibly can identify a song on the radio as belonging to them when we hear the first few notes.
As inspiration for this story I put the 60s channel on my Sirius radio to see if I could catch a Beatles tune. I’ve heard nothing so far. I searched the channel list for Sirius and did not see a dedicated channel for them. Why? Elvis has one, by the way. However I did listen to the lyrics to “Revolution” and “Hey Jude” on YouTube. “Hey Jude” is not only my favorite Beatles song, it is the most favorite song of my life. I have told everyone who will listen that I want it played at my funeral. I’m hoping that those in attendance will get the message of the song and think of me when they hear it. I suspect that you can find the lyrics to any Beatles song on YouTube. Try to find your favorite and see what happens.
Why the Beatles?
So what is it about the Beatles that sticks in our unconscious musical soul so much? I think the main word is “surprise.” You never knew what they would come up with next. From Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to the White Album, who knew? Their existence among us at one time or another had an air of mystery; controversy; tragedy. Simply said, they were one huge Rock and Roll phenomena.
Their music was unique, different, something we’d not heard before. Their lyrics created characters for us; told a story. It was not all about teenage angst and puppy love. Who can forget what is probably the saddest song they ever wrote and sang, “Eleanor Rigby?”
“I look at all the lonely people
I look at all the lonely people
Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near.
Look at him working, darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there
What does he care?
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved.
Sounds a lot like a Dickens story, right? Did you know that during the 60s a state college in Maine actually had a credit course on the Beatles. I believe it focused on the poetry of their lyrics, of which there was much to study about for sure.
Why the Beatles?
At first we thought the band had named themselves after a bug; but it turned out that they were talking about the beat of their music. It does have a distinctive sound. If you really listen, you can usually tell it is a Beatles song.
Their career began in Liverpool, England. At first there were three; Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon. They were wedding singers and went under several names, one of which was the Quarrymen. Their music was called the Mersey sound after the Mersey River in Liverpool.
They progressed to singing at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. They added Pete Best as their first drummer by then. They were so popular that after they left other pop musical stars performed there. Among them were The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, The Who, and Elton John.
Today Liverpool is a cultural mecca for the group. There is a wonderful Liverpool site which keeps track of the latest in Liverpool as regards to the Beatles. There is a museum there called “The Beatles Story.” There is also an “Elvis and Us” exhibit which was cofounded by Graceland and The Beatles Story. Here’s the site: http://www.beatlesstory.com.
The Beatles recognized Elvis as a big influence in their music. When they landed in America, Elvis sent them a welcome message and the boys did eventually visit with him at Graceland.
There is also a Hard Day’s Night Hotel in Liverpool, named after that song, which opened in 2008. Because of their song “Penny Lane” which talked about Liverpool, the Penny Lane street sign was stolen so many times by avid fans that they finally decided to just paint the name on the stones at the corner of that street. I suspect someone will eventually find a way to dislodge those stones too.
You can also find some great pictures from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at:
The Beatles in America
Although their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was their first gig in America in 1963, where they sang “I Want to Hold your Hand” to an audience of screaming fans, their first mention was actually on NBC news, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, as reported by Edmund Newman on November 18, 1963. The video is on YouTube. Type this in to get to it:
“The Beatles first appearance on American TV-NBC News”
Face to Face with the Beatles and the Biggest Beatles Fan I Know
Nanci and I went to New York City for her appearance on the Millionaire show with Regis Philbin in March of 2001. We had two Beatle experiences while we were there. If you want to see the pictures I took on that trip, please go to this story at www.southendstories.blogspot.com.
As for the biggest Beatles fan I know it is my very good friend, Iris Mirles, who lives in Connecticut. She is several years younger than I and was certainly a Beatlemaniac. She has every album they ever made including the rare ones. When John was killed she actually went into mourning for several days. She introduced me to “Hey Jude” and I was surprised she didn’t call me and sing “When I’m 64” from the Sergeant Pepper album when I turned that age.
More to Come
I can see that this blog is beginning to be unwieldy so I’ll stop and bring you more later on. I would like to discuss their vast catalogue of music and delve into the many facets of the Beatles which concerned us at the time, mainly, how their lives and their music overlapped; the mystery of Paul’s supposed death; the reason or reasons for why they broke up as a group; the controversy over some of their music and their political views; the tragedy that came from some of their music, particularly from the likes of Charles Manson. I would certainly like to hear about your own views of the Beatles, pro or con. This blog is open to any or all views you may have. If I have made any mistakes here in my facts concerning the Beatles I do apologize. As I said before, the references out there are overwhelming. I hope you did enjoy this part of my homage to the Beatles.
Thanks for listening.