The Beatles Pleased, Pleased Me
By Judy Berman
Motown’s soul music and surfer music had me in its grasp. But like any fickle teen, my heart soon belonged to a shaggy-haired mop-top group from Liverpool: The Fab Four.
Parents had no sooner stopped gnashing their teeth over the swivel hips of Elvis Presley and his effect on their children’s morality when their attention shifted to a new threat: The Beatles.
When asked how long he thought the Beatles would last, John Lennon said at the time: “About five years.”
Even Dr. Billy Graham thought the group was just a blip on the screen. “The Beatles … they’re a passing phase: of the uncertainty of the times and the confusion about us.”
Both underestimated the staying power of The Beatles.
For me, it’s been a lifelong love affair. I loved their wit and mischief. But the closest I’ve ever gotten to them was watching their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 8, 1964.
Their upbeat love songs with harmonicas, guitars and drums morphed into complex orchestra arrangements with deeper messages.
Years later, we visited their Abbey Road Studios when we were in London. We walked over the zebra crossing as The Beatles did on their album, “Abbey Road” – their last recorded album released in September 1969.
This album cover added to the rumor that Paul McCartney had died following a car accident in 1967. That speculation was fueled by his limited public appearances after he married his first wife, Linda, and while he was contemplating a solo career.
I thought it was a hoax, but I was caught up in the mystery. I honed my sleuth-like skills and examined the evidence.
On the radio, a DJ (disc jockey) claimed, that when the lyrics were played backwards, it proved that Paul is dead. Some suggested that in the song “Strawberry Fields Forever,” that band-mate, John Lennon, uttered “I buried Paul.” McCartney later revealed that the actual words were far less sinister. He said they were “cranberry sauce.”
Then, there was the album cover itself. Some interpreted it as a funeral procession. John Lennon, in white, symbolized the preacher. Ringo Starr, in black, was viewed as an undertaker or mourner. George Harrison, in denim jeans and shirt, symbolized the grave digger, and McCartney, barefoot and out of step with the other band members, symbolized death, according to sources quoted in Wikipedia.
Fortunately, they were wrong. But the demise of the group took place the following year in 1970. They went their separate ways and onto successful solo careers.
From my teen years to motherhood, The Beatles were part of the fabric of my life. I recall playing (poorly) the song, “Good Night,” (1968) written by John Lennon and sung by Ringo Starr, to our girls when they were young.
In December 1980, I awoke to the heartbreaking news of John Lennon’s murder on the classic rock station (WAQX-FM, where I worked at in Manlius, New York). His death was devastating, to say the least.
George Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001. Paul and Ringo continue their musical careers. I thank all four for the fun, creativity, thoughtful and musically diverse offerings they played for me, my family and all their fans. They did “Please, Please Me.”
Music Video: “Love Me Do” – The Beatles ’62
Help – The Beatles – movie trailer (1965)
All My Loving – The Beatles – 1964
Please, Please Me – The Beatles (1963)
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Main Photo – The British Invasion – The Beatles – KennedyAirport – February 1964 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Beatles,_Kennedy_Airport,_February_1964.jpg
Lennon and Rev. Billy Graham quotes from: “The Beatles an Illustrated Record,” by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler (1975).
The Beatles are my favorite band. Loved reading this. I can’t believe you went to Abbey Road! I remember when John was murdered, I was 10 years old and picking up newspapers at the local drugstore for my paper route. His face was plastered on every single magazine cover on the stand. I was also devastated as John was my favorite Beatle and I loved his solo work as well.
They are/have been a thread throughout my life. So many songs touch off so many memories. Abbey Road was a blast. We had to walk in the opposite direction because of concerns about the heavy traffic. John’s death. It’s still incredible that someone would do that.
When I see pictures of the Fab Four in all of its collective glory, the lyrics of the popular Ringo solo song spring to my mind. “Every time I see your face, it reminds me of the places we used to go. Now all I’ve got is a photograph, and I realize you’re not coming back anymore.”
Thanks for making me think of the Beatles years. I discovered them as a school kid with my cousin Karen, worldly at a year older than I. Their career together was longer than that predicted five years, but still seriously too short. The music, though, oh, that music, lives forever.
And thanks, too, Judy for reminding me of when 95X was a rock station out of Manlius.
Lovely tune, Mark. So many create photographs and memories (Jim Croce’s song). I do wish that they had created more music together. But, you’re right, what they gave us was such a beautiful gift. Their music was always evolving, fun and thought provoking.
Where is 95X now? The location was far from the maddening crowds, but it was a lovely studio.
95X is on James Street, part of the Cumulus group, Judy.
Perfect Judy! It’s snowing here and I needed something to perk me up. Even my husband came over to watch the video. Oh they were so young….and so were we.
Kate, I’m glad you both enjoyed this. There’s a whole catalog of Beatle tunes I wanted to post … but I didn’t want to overdo. 😉
You can’t overdo the Beatles! At least for Beatle fans.
There’s no one quite like them, is there, Judy? And the characters they created have stayed with us: Eleanor Rigby, She’s Leaving Home….they still have the power to move me to tears.
As I said in a previous post that you commented on, “Mersey Beaucoup” for the Fab Four. Eleanor Rigby was a really sad soul, and their creation was quite memorable. In my heart, Kate, no one has replaced them musically.
I loved the memories this brought back, Judy!
I remember both John L’s and Billy Graham’s predictions about how long the appeal would last, and weren’t we all thrilled when they were wrong!?!
The Beatles’ appeal went deeper than crazed teens, though. My first all-night babysitting job was for the children of our church secretary. She swore me to secrecy when she gave me the contact telephone number of her brother. She and her sister-in-law had tickets to a Beatles concert! Her brother thought they were crazy, but he knew how important it was to them–he bought them the tickets!
Wow! What a lucky break for her. I’m betting she had a great time. I’ve never been to one of their concerts. It was either that I had too little money, or the concert sold out too quickly. Thank heavens for their movies and albums, CDs, etc. 😉
I was watching that February night, too. My parents had gone out and my older brother and his girlfriend were keeping an eye on me, and the show. I was using my wood-burning kit. I can’t really remember hearing the music, but I do recall the screaming girls in the audience.
Great post, Judy, as always.
I always wondered how any one could possibly hear The Beatles with all that screaming going on. I would have been annoyed if I couldn’t hear what I’d bought tickets for. Thank you for your comment, Charles.
I’m always amazed at how quickly a song can transport me back in time.
That’s true, Paprika. If I close my eyes, I can easily visualize a teen me rocking out to their music.
I remember now how many times I was sent to the front office of my so so catholic school during my first year of high school in Colombia. The ‘black book’ must have pages full with my name. I was posses according to the nuns by singing the demonic songs of The Beatles and Monkies. 1971 Colombia. South America.
When I left my country in 1980 my cousins were fighting for the albums. No. Their music will never go away and it will always bring a smile and the memories of great times.
Just imagining you in any ‘black book’ makes me chuckle, Sonia. Looking back, some of my teachers were probably aghast when I danced to Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.” Pretty tame by today’s standards … and even back then I thought. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbK0C9AYMd8
Their music has endured because it was fun, energetic and creative. Let the good times roll!
Your blog is like a time machine that transports me to happy places Judy. Thank you for another wonderful post that brings back many memories 🙂
As long as I don’t get stuck in that time machine, it’s all good. 😉 Madhu, I’m glad you enjoy the music, the movies, and the memories of yesteryear.
I love the Beatles, although I was too young to notice them when they were together. I was a teen when Paul and Linda were doing the Wings thing. (Band on the Run, etc)
I’m sure in my own mind that the reason they were NOT a passing phase is that when you compare them to other groups of the era, their poetry and musicianship, like Bob Dylan’s, always hovers near genius. All four of them singly were simply amazing, and when you put them together–magic happened.
Tracy, I can’t think of another group that’s held my interest like The Beatles. I’ve enjoyed other groups and solo acts, but The Fab Four … you’re right, magic did happen.
Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and others also have created music that resonates even decades later.
I agree, but it’s so rare that a whole group has that kind of chemistry. And when it happens, it’s almost like it goes exponential (I’m thinking of the French Impressionists–the collective energy was revolutionary).
Love this group. Their music is timeless. Years from now I bet my son will enjoy their music as well. Their music is also shares a certain optimism and hope, of embracing love and peace, something some of our new musicians can learn from. Have a blessed day.
When my youngest was a teen, she argued that New Kids on the Block would outlast The Beatles. I laughed. Many groups thought they would replace The Beatles and have since slipped away. I agree, Island Traveler. The Beatles’ music is timeless, optimistic, hopeful, and filled with love and peace. It’s something that some musicians today have not latched onto. Too bad. Blessings to you and your family.
So cool to hear Paul and Ringo at the Grammy’s!
Lisa, I’m embarrassed to admit that I did not watch the Grammy’s. Except for Project Runway, which I confessed I was hooked on, I rarely watch TV. I’ll see if there’s a wrap up on them. 😉
Ah, those moptops and cool collar-less jackets– who could resist?? I always liked their early stiff best.
My most unusual Beatles memory: 4 girls in my high school freshman English class asked the teacher if they could give us a Beatles concert. Our teacher, Mr. O’Brien was tough as the proverbial nails, but thoroughly unpredictable– you never knew. He said yes.
The girls brought in a record player, put on Meet The Beatles, they all combed their hair down into bangs, stood in front of the class, played air guitar and drums, and each one mimed a Beatle based on what they’d seen watching them perform on Ed Sullivan.
They had all the moves down pat, and spent the whole class miming the album, with the record player blasting away. No one could quite believe it! One of my favorite h.s. memories. : )
Wow! I would have loved that class, Mark. I’m glad Mr. O’Brien caved. The performance was perfect for an English class – creative, fun, presentation skills, etc. 😉
As for The Beatles … I did love those guys, moptops and all.
I sometimes wish I was born fifteen years earlier than I was just so I could have experienced the sixties pop, especially the Beatles, it must have been an exciting time! 🙂 I have my enjoyable memories of my 80’s teenage pop era, but there was an underlying depressing feeling in that time especially some of the songs. Fade To Grey by Visage comes to mind, still a favourite of mine – but how depressing were those lyrics?!! Was the 60’s as happy as it looked on film, or was that a bit of an illusion?
I’m not sure what to make of that story about Paul McCartney having died in a car accident. It sounds like something created just to keep interest in the Beatles for a very long time ahead. One of those stories that can be pulled out of a deep filing cabinet and retold all over again. It must generate sales every time a story like that appears in the papers. But I guess I can’t say for sure as I wasn’t born until the very end of the 60’s – I missed out on all the fun! 😦
So you went to Abbey Road?! Did you realise you not only walked the same path and crossing as the Beatles, but also the same crossing my grandmother was a lollipop lady on in the mid to late 60’s! 🙂 (This is a lollipop lady by the way, in case you don’t have them where you are.) http://static3.demotix.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/a_scale_large/1200-3/photos/1337106810-a-lollipop-lady-helps-children-to-cross-zebra-crossing-after-school_1216323.jpg
When she told me about working on Abbey Road and the recording studios nearby, I was shocked – and so was she. She knew there was a recording studios there, and saw many famous singers walk by on their way to the studios, but she had no idea that zebra crossing ended up on a the front of a Beatles LP, or how famous that crossing became. I don’t think pop music was a big interest of hers, so it’s not surprising really that she didn’t know about the Beatles front cover picture. Those revelations of where she worked gave us some real laughter that day! 😀 Do you recall seeing a lollipop lady on your visit? 😉
Suzy, I think we tend to glamorize our past. The 60s were cool – given the British Invasion and all. Loved that era of music. But it was also a time of political upheaval. At least in America. Civil unrest. President John F. Kennedy assassinated in 1963. His brother, Bobby, and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated in 1968. Our involvement in Viet Nam. Watergate. On and on.
Yes, the Paul McCartney “death” was more than likely a clever marketing scheme. I’m so glad it was not real.
So cool that your grandmother was a “lollipop lady.” (Thanks for the link.) My family was just tickled that we got to cross where The Beatles did. Way cool!
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