On February 9, 1964, TV demigod Ed Sullivan spoke five words that sent teenage girls into a high-pitched, eardrum-splitting euphoria. It seemed that some mop-topped lads from Liverpool played good rock & roll music and Sullivan wanted part of the action. He and the rest of America received more than they had bargained for. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles!
Cognizant of the Fab Four’s anniversary, many news outlets have been hit with a bout of Beatlemania. Sullivan’s old network, CBS, held a concert that starred Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and other music stars playing classic Beatles hits. CNN’s “THE SIXTIES: The British Invasion” was released on January 30 and is one part of ten documentaries that chronicle that most tumultuous of decades. USA Today lists its “8 magical” Beatles moments, including the appearance on Ed Sullivan, the bittersweet Apple rooftop concert, and my favorite album of all-time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Two things amaze me about The Beatles. First, The Beatles’ sound varied from album to album, so no matter my age or mood, I could always listen and be satisfied. When I was 5 or so, I received a brand new Sony Discman and “the blue album.” I listened to the album back to front and front to back, and I’ve been listening to Fab Four ever since.1 No matter my musical and cultural phases – grunge to metal to classic rock to jam bands back to metal then to trashy pop – I always enjoyed The Beatles. Their versatility and tendency to – ahem – experiment (or whatever was going on with “I Am the Walrus”) led to a unique, constantly evolving sound.
Second, The Beatles played a type of music that I could safely listen to around my parents. My folks weren’t exactly down with MTV when I watched it incessantly as a boy. Same went for the car radio. Yet when I popped our Beatles mix tape into the car stereo, my parents and I could bond over music as we sang along, air guitared, and simply enjoyed each others’ company.
If CNN, CBS, USA Today, and I have an opinion about the Beatles, then surely others must as well. What are your favorite memories of The Beatles? Do you have a favorite – John, Paul, George, or Ringo? Favorite album? Leave your thoughts in the combox below. And don’t worry if there are disagreements – we can work it out.
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Cover image from Flickr user RetroLand, USA via Creative Commons