My Turn: Beatles memories? I’ve got more than a dozen!
Upon first hearing the Beatles’ chirpy early music emerge from the car’s AM radio, my sister and I amused our parents by singing along in childish mimicry. After seeing them drive the audience wild on the Ed Sullivan Show and take America by storm, my father urged us to keep singing – we too could be a big hit! Surely if these amiable Liverpool lads could do it, anyone could.
My sister and I knew our limitations so we never really tried a musical career, but thousands of people from my generation and beyond would try to follow in the Beatles’ footsteps to pop stardom. Some would achieve a level of success, but few would ever come near the Beatles’ lofty pinnacle. The voices, vision, talent and work ethic of John, Paul, George and Ringo were hard to match. The constant creative striving by the Beatles and their many followers would expand and enrich music for many years to come – much to my own and countless others’ pleasure.
In the early 1960s John Lennon would rally his bandmates by urging them to reach “the toppermost of the poppermost.” They came to rule not only the top of the pop charts but also influenced millions with their music and embrace of life. A gift that keeps on giving.
Here are some of my other Beatles memories, in rough chronological order:
∎ Seeing A Hard Day’s Night in the local movie theater and realizing just how funny and cool these guys were.
∎ Hearing the standard icebreaker: “Who’s your favorite Beatle?”
∎ Relishing how the Beatles and the Rolling Stones would spur each other on with their singles and albums, slugging it out hit by hit on the radio and raising the musical bar higher and higher.
∎ Watching the first live worldwide broadcast (thanks to the recent satellites in space), which included the Beatles performing a new song, “All You Need Is Love.” It was June 1967, and the Beatles – playing live to the whole world – provided the inspiration and anthem for the Summer of Love.
∎ Listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with my friends as we tried to figure out the significance of everybody and everything on the record cover.
∎ Inspired by Beatle fashion, I had my 1968 yearbook photo taken while wearing an orange Nehru jacket (causing me to cringe whenever I look at that photo).
∎ Running a Super 8 light show in a bowling alley while my buddies in a band called the Sadistic Uprising played Beatles tunes.
∎ Enjoying an AM radio DJ premiere every song from the Beatles’ double White album, even “Revolution #9.”
∎ Enduring 7 minutes of slow dancing to “Hey Jude” at a high school dance.
∎ First sighting of the newly released Abbey Road, proudly clutched in the hands of a pretty, mini-skirted neighbor girl.
∎ The dismay and confusion caused by the Beatles’ messy breakup, somewhat cushioned by a flood of solo records.
∎ Becoming disappointed with their solo efforts and hoping throughout the 1970s that the Beatles might reunite, possibly even accepting Saturday Night Live’s reoccurring offer to perform on the show for $3,000 (the others could decide how much to pay Ringo).
∎ Sitting alone in a Los Angeles apartment in December 1980, and hearing Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News announce: “The death of a man who sang and played the guitar overshadows the news from Poland, Iran and Washington tonight.” The dream was over.
∎ Being with my Beatles-loving daughter as we saw Ringo perform in Boston in 2012. As we stood and joined Ringo singing “Yellow Submarine,” I noticed that the song’s original sound effects track was running, complete with John’s spoken asides. Observing my daughter’s (and everyone else’s) delight, I thought: Maybe the dream does live on.
(State Rep. Rick Watrous lives in Concord.)