All nostalgia. All the time. Yes, the last few days have been about The Beatles and the 50th Anniversary of their first live US television performance.
We’ve all seen the clips of Ed Sullivan introducing them. He stiffly waves his arm and these neatly groomed Rock n’ Roll rebels in suits and ties break into “All My Loving.” According to an article from Time, “60% of American TVs were tuned to CBS” to watch The Beatles that February 9th. In addition, “The crowd outside stretched over eight blocks, giving the place the revved-up energy of a Broadway opening.”
So, the Beatles were a phenomenon before their first performance. And that performance and their catalogue of work have solidified what people sensed before hand.
They clearly remain a phenomenon so based on the 312,000,000 results (0.26 seconds) from Google when typing in The Beatles.
Last night I was talking to BR – my 9-year-old about The Beatles. By the way, for the record, I like The Beatles but am not a fanatic.
Anyway, after confirming that he had heard of The Beatles, we had a discussion about the band.
“How old are The Beatles now?”
“Well, there were four of them but only two of them are alive now.”
“What happened to the other two?”
“One of them was shot. It was very tragic.”
“December 9th, 1980. I kind of remember it, but it didn’t mean that much to me at the time.”
“Why did someone shoot him?”
“I don’t know. He was a crazed fan.”
“What about the other one who died?”
“What about him?”
“Well, was he killed?”
“No, he just died of old age.”
“How old was he?”
“I don’t know but think about it. If The Beatles first played in America 50 years ago and they were a group for a few years before that. They have to be at least in their 70’s now and he died a few years back. So, he was like 60. ”
“Wow, they’re almost as old as bubbie (Yiddish word meaning grandmother).”
Yes, these men who made teenage girls scream, captured the attention of the world, affected the destiny of music are now either deceased or old men.
Do you realize The Beatles were only together for 10 years? The band officially broke up in 1970 or 6 years after the famed Ed Sullivan show performance (and the year of my birth).
Yet, they remain a force today.
The Beatles are Shakespeare, Beethoven, Robert Frost, etc. They are artists, creators whose work is bigger than themselves.
So, while people are happy and feel nostalgic to see Paul and Ringo together, the music goes way beyond their physical presence. It’s the Beatles music which lives on to future generations and continues to affect others.
That’s truly the power of art.
Pic is courtesy of gOOGLE Images
I’m always amazed by how some individuals can transform a culture. The Beatles certainly have done that. Even my youngest went through a “Beatles” phase. Pretty impressive considering it was in 2012!
I think people will continue going through Beatles phases for many years to come. To affect the culture to that degree, especially if you consider how short their run was, is amazing.
Oh, I love your post – and I think you’re a great writer – but I can’t stand the Beatles… I hope this isn’t too bad. *sigh*
Can’t stand them – wow! I like, not love, them. Well, they are doing just fine without either one of us.
Popular culture rarely makes a blip on my mom’s screen. She had little awareness of the Beatles at the time but the 50th anniversary hit her consciousness and I had almost the exact conversation with her that you had with BR! Now she’s looking up their songs and enjoying them. Thanks for the fun post.
Glad you liked it.
That’s funny to think of your mom now discovering them cool. We could have used them during carpool.
Larry, like you, I’m not a fan of The Beatles… but I’m nobody’s fan. I grew up with their music, and what I truly love about your brilliant article is “The Beatles are Shakespeare, Beethoven, Robert Frost, etc. They are artists, creators whose work is bigger than themselves.” Art forms change as time passes, but universals will survive. Although many of their songs were instrumentally simple and lyrically poor, others reflected issues that still trouble us. Case in point: Nowhere Man, Elinor Rigby, Let It Be. Thank you for an insightful, most timely article.
I do like them – just don’t love them. By the way, Let it Be is one of my favorites.
Yes, it is amazing that some pieces of art stand the test of time and live on way beyond their creator(s). Imagine that!
An enlightening post, Larry. It’s amazing how short the amount of time the Beatles band was together. I didn’t realize that before you brought it to my attention through your post. I could see the wonder in your son’s eyes at the thought of this “band” playing long ago. Yes, that’s what “art” is. Thanks, Larry.
I think some day he’ll enjoy some of their music too even though they are long gone.
Amazing to think about the impact some things have
It warms my heart to hear parents teaching their kids about good music – and especially the Beatles!
A few other factoids that might interest you – on the night that the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, NYC experienced its lowest crime rate in 20 years. Also, the albums they released during their years together amounts a scant ten hours altogether. Ten. And yet here we are, 50 years later, ruminating.
OK, I’ll be shutting up now, before I start sounding like a fanatic.
I saw your blog post title but did not get a chance to read it yet..
I think I heard the fact before about the crime rate – still interesting though. That’s influence!
Yeah, imagine what they’d be like if they all were still alive. Would they be like the Stones and doing that “I swear, this is our LAST tour together” or would they just get together for those rare moments to perform together. Kinda makes you wonder …