I am a Beatles fan plain and simple. My earliest memory of the Beatles came when I watched the Ed Sullivan show when the Fab Four played on national television. From that day until now, I can say I am a fan. From LP records to AM radios and now SiriusXM and the Beatles channel I have never stopped listening.
I grew up a hundred miles north of San Francisco in Mendocino County. My young teenage years were filled with 60’s music. We listened to our transistor radios to KFRC out of San Francisco. The Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan show was really the start of Beatlemania in America. I’m pretty sure my parents might have feared this was the beginning of the end of the world as teenager’s started rebelling against society while listening to music about love and then turning to sing about change and rebellion. In my family, the unrest in our young culture was directly related to the long-haired hippies and indirectly to the Beatles.
The Beatles were always in the news as they matured musically and lead in many ways the youth movement in the 1960’s. I remember hearing there was turmoil amongst the band and when “Let It Be” came out it would be their last album to be released. A fun fact, the “Let It Be” album was recorded before the album, “Abbey Road.” Abbey Road was released first and Let it Be as the last one.
I had the opportunity to fulfill one of my bucket list moments when traveling to London I walked across the “Zebra Crossing” at Abbey Road. And taking a train ride from London to Liverpool. We took the Magical Mystery bus tour and saw so many sites were the Fab Four grew up. Driving down Penny Lane and standing in front of Strawberry Fields gate in the rain was an emotional turning point for me.
As I have read a lot about the history of the Beatles, I feel like in some way I understand why they made the choices they did. I heard an interview with George Harrison recorded many years ago, but played again on SiriusXM, I’m paraphrasing here. The popularity and craziness of Beatlemania got to be so overwhelming the only sanity surrounding the Fab Four were the four of them. They were four lads from Liverpool caught up in a world turning crazy for them and their music.
Some of the other things I’ve read are back history as they were writing and recording songs. The many hours in Abbey Road Studios recording. In 1965 the Beatles had been working in the studio for about twelve hours when someone suggested they record “Twist and Shout.” The Beatles emulated the Isley Brother’s 1962 version of the song. The problem was John Lennon was sick with a nasty cold. His voice was shot after singing and playing all day. They took a break, and John sucked on a couple of throat lozenges and gargled with milk.
They recorded two takes of “Twist and Shout.” The first recording is the one you have heard all these years. If you listen carefully to John singing, you can tell he was sick. It’s in his strained voice. At the end of the recording, you can hear Paul say, “Hey” on the last cord of the song. Possibly because they got through the song with John being so sick.
The one thing that sticks with me is how much time went into writing songs and where the inspiration for the song came from. I recently finished reading the book, “Beatles Lyrics” by Hunter Davies. This was a fascinating read. Mr. Davies takes us through the early years right up to their breakup. Each album is a chapter in the book and follows in a succession of the years they were recorded. There is a lot of background and history behind the recording of each album. There are even handwritten notes copied in the book of many of the songs scribbled on all kinds of paper before the band settled on the final words and recorded it.
For me, this brings back memories as a young teenager wondering where my place was in the world with the turmoil surrounding the sixties and how that era played out not only within my family but our town and in fact the world. I was not afraid of what was going on but drawn to it. Fascinated and wishing I could be a part of it.
Yet the simplicity in my life and the semi-tolerance that my parents put up with during those years made me who I am today. Perhaps that is one reason I keep going back to that time in history and reliving and learning about those things that have influenced my life to this day. I loved the music while watching the assassination of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. Students at Kent State gunned down by the National Guard. I wondered at the time where did I fit into all this? One thing for sure as I listen to the Beatles Channel on SiriusXM today I feel secure, and I have hope in what appears to be another unrestful period in our Country. Now as a Grandfather I want to be there to help my grandchildren and tell them stories of the old days and hope they do not roll their eyes as I probably repeat the same story over again.
Like the Beatles, I have a place in history as it relates to my children and their children. The difference is, I can never be the Fab Four, but I can be a great Grandfather!
“Twist and Shout” Wikipedia.org
Beatles Lyrics, by Hunter Davies