- Entertainment and Media
Beatles Fans Forever
From Great Britain with Love
The Fab Four: Why Them?
I experienced Beatlemania firsthand and read up on the subject. I still cannot understand it. Very possibly, the times themselves gave birth to this pandemonium. John, Paul, George, and Ringo were this very good thing in the midst of so much doubt and despair. But skies were not all that cloudy, were they? Or were they? It gets harder and harder to remember. However, it was good to learn how many hundreds of thousands of I Wanna Hold Your Hand 45s were sold in a month because I bought one, too. I played it until its molecular structure changed. The more I encounter the facts and figures of Beatlemania, the more astounded I am. This was big business, to be sure, but it also touched many, many lives as well.
Three by Air, Maybe . . . .
In my last hub, I dealt in a slipshod fashion with World War II. But here was an invasion of a different sort. It really seemed for a while, at least in my own head, that the airwaves only required a single group. What was the point of Billy Joe Royal or Tom Jones even trying? There were other groups and soloists who also became "charity cases" overnight. Henceforth, they would merely fill time in between Beatles songs. But then, I used to feel that way about the entire top forty when the Animals were singing and playing The House of the Rising Sun. Favorite songs are like that. They also conquer, just like the Generals I wrote about, and their luminous predecessors. Moreover, cultural conquerors do not simply take up temporary residence; they stay.
Meet the Audience
1964's Rude Introduction to Gender Studies
I was also glad to read how others found the noise at Beatles concerts absolutely unbearable. Security at Shea Stadium held their hands to their ears. So it was not just me at Comiskey Park, wondering what I was doing there. The girls were relentless. As soon as the Beatles began to play, they chimed in, and the screaming never died down throughout any of the songs. That was all I heard the entire set, minus a couple of chords or lyrics at the very start. At college, years later, the idea of actually hearing a Beatles concert was still a vibrant topic. A writer for the campus newspaper theorized, if memory serves, how the sound could be captured elsewhere, reconstituted, then piped in. At least we saw them before returning to our collections of vinyl.
I was learning to play the violin when the invasion went into full swing. There was a piece by Mozart I particularly liked and wanted to master. But this was an activity and existence off to the side somewhere that simply did not relate. Before long I switched to the guitar, not fully aware that practically everyone young enough and musically inclined did likewise. Naturally, it was classical guitar that I signed up for, since a parental factor was involved in this sneaky enterprise. Later, I was able to purchase a Fender Jaguar and Vox amp after having been told that these were what the Beatles used. Later still, it became common knowledge that they also used Rickenbacker and Hofner.
The computer revolution along with the proliferation of video changed everything. Among the things altered was the way in which musicians were filmed or taped. At one time, it was hard to catch a glimpse of a guitar logo, as well as exactly what the player was doing on the fingerboard. Cameras pulled sharply away. Shots were as fast as lightning. Obviously, the tools of the trade were hardly the only or even the most important factor. But this was something wanna-be's were always curious about. To get relevant information, they had to ask, or comb through music mags.
From Me to You -- 1963
The British Invasion
Was the British Invasion a major or minor event?
Songs are music and lyrics. Lennon-McCartney were a dynamic duo. There is no going back in time. Yet, I still play the music of the Beatles almost the same as I did nearly fifty years ago. I don't have a clue. They are great tunes. Chronologically, the songs started off relatively simple. A cover player did not have to possess a large repertoire of chords or an involved understanding of music theory. After a while, it became apparent that other songs, too -- non-Beatles songs -- were composed the same way. Get a guitar and in fairly short order, you could be playing the Shadows of Knight or the Kinks, too, as well as choice pickings from that long list of incredible one-hit wonders. In fact, in the mid-1960s, I could not understand why anyone would take a guitar lesson, unless it was to satisfy the requirements of a suburban childhood. Then, songs became more and more complex. Now, the situation is diametrically opposite. One has to be very slick and knowledgeable to be a guitar player, as distinct from a singer-songwriter, who might only hum and strum, or arppegiate .
Love -- just a word?
The Beatles used this word a lot. It always worked, too. Further, it was totally transparent and readily understood. It was meaningful. Now, I wouldn't know. I'm probably not the one to ask. Love? It just doesn't seem vibrant or even newsworthy. Ours is a society characterized by consumption. People love organic food and referendums. What else? Oh, lots of things. Upgrades are good, regardless of what they are for. The genuine article still exists, however, and the channels leading to it are always open. Many think that music is the fastest way in. There are also ways out, but that is an entirely different subject.
Not Yet Over?
Shameful? Maybe. But it is difficult to steer clear of upward mobility. Everyone seems to think that natural disasters and war-related atrocities are signs predicted in the bible of the arrival of a new age. This is getting to be too easy. They happen all the time. But what about the nicer things? What about a great piece of music that grabs one's attention when all else fails? Couldn't such a phenomenon measure up, too? I don't want to be the one to say. But the sixties were sort of messed up and the Beatles -- again, to my mind -- at least went well against that trend. I agree that the hype was excessive. But it happened on its own accord. Tremendous efforts now go into the attempt, with varying degrees of success, to match an otherwise singular event.