I have no recollection of hearing that newfangled British music on the radio prior to Ed Sullivan’s show in 1964, but I do remember that event clearly. I recall my teenage sisters being excited about the upcoming show. They knew all about this four-man band, and of course they would. They were young adults and the entire world was in transition in 1964… one couldn’t help but know the news. The previous year saw a paradigm shift taking root. The month before the Beatles’ She Loves You came to the states, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his I Have a Dream speech to the 200,000 people marching on Washington DC for civil rights. Two months after Beatles’ music hit our shores, President Kennedy would be assassinated. Things would never be the same.
So my siblings anticipated the Ed Sullivan Show that night. To further set this scene, know ours was a Lawrence Welk and Sing Along With Mitch household. At this time, my sisters’ bedroom was being remodeled and three mattresses and three box springs were piled high in the living room. We all climbed up on top to watch these four singers from England. How strange these young men looked with their moppish hair, Spanish-heeled boots, and odd tailored suits without lapels. The screaming, swooning audience was a little startling too. My dad said mater-of-factly, “That’s not music.” and gave the TV a dismissive hand before leaving the room. I didn’t agree. It was music. It was new and unusual and had rhythm so lively it made you just want to get up and move to it.
The Beatles played in the background of our lives from that moment on. Across the country, Hi-Fi’s, and box turntables played 45’s or full 78’s of the Fab Four’s music.
More than once the Beatles’ songs hit the charts in Chicago and held the Top Ten slots for weeks at a time. And just about every house on the block had transistor radios with deejays running song marathons.
According to the Beatles’ biography SHOUT by Philip Norman, America owes that first 1963 listen to a disk jockey in Washington, D.C and his girlfriend who worked as a stewardess. She had access to records from England and he played them. There is some discrepancy as to which song played the states first and where it was played. Was it I Want to Hold Your Hand, Please Please Me, From Me to You, or She Loves you? Beats me. But I do remember them all word for word even today. These were bed jumping songs.
I had my teenaged siblings, my neighborhood friends had theirs. Teens gobbled up the records like chocolate. When our older siblings were off doing teenage things, we’d play their records loud and jump on the bed to those happy rhythms like we were jumping on a trampoline. Now that was great fun. Someone below stairs would invariably thump the ceiling with the broom handle or yell up the stairway, Turn that noise down!
I still enjoy the early Beatles, but not so much those later albums with clear Yoko influence. My male cockatiel really rocks out whenever this music plays. You’d have to hear him to believe it. An eclectic bird, he also gets into Lynyrd Skynyrd and Etta James, but nothing gets him harmonizing like Please Please Me. :D
For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Clichés.
There are 41 entries to come.
Here’s a cliché for today:
An oldie, but a goodie
Today’s Guest ~ Author Jane Leopold Quinn
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