Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beatles Memories Never Fade Away

Photo February 7, 1964: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain 

February 2014 is the 50th anniversary of America's love affair with the Beatles. If you don't make me tell you how old I am, I'll admit that I was old enough to remember it well.

I wasn't one of those screaming preteen girls who fell in love with the Beatles at first sight. I never jumped up and down and cried, and I didn't work my pony tail into a sweat over those soup-bowl haircuts. I was actually pretty calm about the whole British Invasion; but even as a young girl I realized that the Beatles had something pretty special going on. That special something has never faded away.

Ed Sullivan was the man
It was 1964. Television was black and white with only three channels --NBC, ABC, CBS. They had no place to put "colored" entertainment, so it just didn't get a lot of air time. But when stars like Richard Pryor, Louis Armstrong, or Jackie Wilson made it to television, it was usually on Ed Sullivan's "really big shewwww." I loved the Ed Sullivan Show, which is probably why I tuned in on February 9 when the Beatles sang "She Loves You" for the first time on American TV.

I still recall that cold Sunday when the Beatles made their first appearance. I remember hearing all of those moaning, sighing, crying teens in the audience and thinking that a bunch of black girls could never get away with all that commotion. It was 1964. The police would have no problem snatching us up and carting us away for rioting. Like my dad used to say, they would have put us under the jail.

Dad was a Beatles fan
Speaking of my dad, in 1964 he was handsome and young-looking enough to be one of the kids. He was a die-hard blues man, so I remember how surprised I was the day he brought home our family's first and only Beatles record.

We were entertaining friends and there was something soulful playing on the stereo --probably the Temptations. We were dancing when daddy walked in, lifted the needle, removed the record and replaced it with "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."

Dad was the head of the house, and he paid for the stereo. We knew he could do whatever he wanted; so while he played his Beatles song, we smiled and watched him snap his fingers and do a little dance move. After his cool Beatles moment, he walked away with a smile on his face.

50 Years of Beatles' songs
I never really got into the Beatles --I was more a Motown Sound girl. But I have to admit, John, Paul, George, and Ringo were talented composers and lyricists. I've enjoyed 50 years of other artists doing covers of their greatest tunes and lyrics.

Jazz guitarist George Benson's "Here Comes the Sun" was a totally different sound for him. He redid the whole Beatles "Abbey Road" album as "The Other Side of Abbey Rd," and it was fabulously mellow. Michael Jackson, who purchased the entire catalog of Beatles songs in 1985, performs a harder, cooler version of "Come Together."

Beatlemania will never end. 
The Beatles broke up a long time ago, but America never let go of the fantasy. Their songs have never stopped selling. New generations know the lyrics to top Beatles hits, and if they don't they will eventually.

On February 9, CBS will reignite America's Beatles love affair with "A Grammy Salute to the Beatles, The Night That Changed America." Stars like Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry, John Mayer, the Eurythmics, Keith Urban, Alicia Keys, John Legend, and Peter Frampton will salute the fab 4.

Of course, I'll probably boycott the show that night. I'd really rather watch "The Good Wife."