Marti's Theory

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today…

Posted on: February 10, 2014

I was a fourth grader, and had spent Sunday at my grandparents’ farm.  I didn’t care whether we left and got home BEFORE The Ed Sullivan Show started, or whether we watched it at Baba’s and left after.  All I knew was – my ten year old self just had to see what the hype was all about.

By this time, I already was aware of how influenced we could by our friends or the cumulative roll of public opinion.  I couldn’t articulate it in those terms, but it made me cautious.  Excited but cautious.  Like … all this hoopla could be a crock.

So I waited.  Ed did his introduction, calling them “youngsters from Liverpool.”  I remember that he pronounced their name funny – everyone else said it was though it was spelled Beadles, but he said it, either as Bea Tells or Bea’les,  I found that odd.

Girls screamed their way through the intro, while my parents and uncles cracked jokes.  The camera switched to the performing stage and there were the Beatles. Weird hair (for the times) combed forward, matching suits, looking pretty much like they did in photos we’d seen.  Okay, let’s see what this —

“one, two, three four…”

“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you, remember I’ll always be true…”

From the first three words, I was transported.    Where?  I don’t know.  It wasn’t just that I developed an immediate crush on Paul. It was about the whole experience.  All these years later I still cannot explain it.  The best I can do is say this – some gut-deep part of me that I didn’t know existed was opened, awakened.  It was exciting.  Scary exciting.  We had laughed at the photos of British teens fainting in a state of hysteria but as I watched them, I understood.  As dramatic as this might seem to those who were not “there” – it was a true paradigm shift.

And the first of many such shifts, I have to say.  For the next six years, they did it over and over again.  Every Beatles album took us someplace new, someplace we hadn’t even imagined.  And the musical world followed.

As the band broke up, I continued to listen to them individually.  Loved Plastic Ono Band, thought All Things Must Pass was heaven. Switched loyalties among the four of them over the years (yes, Ringo, too), thought they all went on to great individual careers but I always missed the alchemy of “The Fab Four.” When I later learned what the word synergy meant, I understood it by thinking, “oh, like the Beatles.”  Alchemy, yes.  The universal elixir, turning base metals to gold.  That’s what it was.

In the past twenty years or so, younger friends have asked in in total earnestness:

“What was so great about the Beatles?”

When asked that, I pause.  I can tell them that everything they ever did, they were the first ones to do it.  I can site classics like Yesterday and rattle off a dozen tunes from the Lennon/McCartney song writing team.  I can point to George’s superior guitar skills, even at the young age of 22, or John’s cutting edge insights or Paul’s ability to know an audience.  But the truth is, I can’t explain it.

You had to be there.  You simply had to be there.

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15 Responses to "It Was Fifty Years Ago Today…"

Timelessness is next to Godliness. . . . I ❤ the Beatles too!

I’m watching a tribute to them as I read this and absolutely love these songs as much as ever. More, in fact. It amazes me – they were so young when they wrote these timeless words…

I caught some of that! I LOVE how Beatles songs have become 21st century standards. And how about those guitars on “My Guitar Gently Weeps”?!!! And the crowd—they were in Beatle heaven! (BTW, did you see that guy who could have been Ron?) ❤ ❤ ❤

Beautifully written Marti and I like the look of the blog. I love the Beatles too. My favorite song is Come Together. I’ve also been fascinated by their lives post Beatles including Yoko Ono’s influence on John Lennon. Since becoming interested in learning how to shoot (photos that is), I can’t get enough of Linda McCartney’s images of her family life either. When asked what show I wanted to see on Vegas trip a few years ago, Love was the immediate response.

Mahalo, Tania. When I listen to the lyrics of a song like Yesterday, it just blows me away that McCartney was only 23 when he wrote it. Man…

I love their music. Such interesting people, too. I Wanna Hild Your Hand is one of my fave songs. 🙂 thank you for sharing your experience with their music over the decades.

Hold not Hild (autocorrect)

And thank you for stopping by, Jennifer! 🙂

I’ve always been a Beatles fan. Back in the day, you were either a Beatles fan or a Rolling Stones fan. For me the Beatles were it. It’s true, you just had to be there.

Yep. I liked the Stones but there was a bit of “they’re not the Beatles” resentment from our camp. About a decade later, it was the same with Clapton vs. Hendrix.

What a wonderful memory! You’ve truly captured the time and, yes, I’ve been one of those “youngsters” who didn’t get the hype. But this helps me understand. Thanks Marti!

Yay! Then I succeeded! lol

Awesome! I was there. 🙂 Actually got to see them in person as a pre-teen. Yes, I am SURE George made eye contact with me though I was one of tens of thousands. You just don’t make a mistake on that sort of thing at that age in that kind of environment. Somewhere buried I have a box of memorabilia. I’ve been saving my large red, white, and black button for decades.

You saw them IN PERSON???!!! I am retroactively jealous. I nevertheless agree – George surely made eye contact with you. No doubt in my mind. He “knew.”

“Retroactively jealous” – hysterical!

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