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Monday, February 25, 2013

There were the Beatles and Then, There were the Beatles

DECEMBER, 26 1963.

That was when my new clock radio went off unexpectedly. It was the exact moment that would change the course of my life. The new Christmas present that I had received the day before was not yet under my command, and it began blasting music in the middle of the Pennsylvania night. The rude awakening had me up and running to the radio before I was fully awake. I quickly turned down the volume and stood there in a sleep deprived stupor, staring out of the window at the flashing lights of the Naval Air Station far in the distance.

As I was about to turn the radio off, the D.J. said the most unlikely thing, "Here's a new record by a Rock and Roll band from England." At 13 years of age I was skeptical that any white person could play R&R, let alone a person from England. I asked myself, "What could people from England possibly know about R&R?" I was about to find out! A moment later I heard the distinctive voice of Paul McCartney, "One Two, Three, Fah!" My heart went Voom as I heard the powerful driving guitar sound of "I Saw Her Standing There!" Back to the sound of the basics; guitar, bass and drums. This was not the overproduced 'wall of sound' that had been dominating the airwaves. Youth culture had reinvented itself, as it would time and time again.

The next morning our family loaded into the Country Squire station wagon for our bi-annual road trip to the state of New Hampshire. We traveled two lane black top for the next five hundred miles. Every time we passed through a small town in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont I would reach over from the back seat to take control of the radio dial in an effort to locate this new sound. Normally my parents would have forbidden it, but it was already apparent that I was obsessed. Somewhere in the pine forests of New England I found it. The DJ's voice came booming out, "here's that new song by the Beatles you been calling about!" But to my surprise, it was not what I expected, It was the raw sound of John Lennon, I Want To' Hold Your Hand" The close harmony refrain of "I can’t hide, I can't hide", would haunt me for many years to come.

When we arrived in New Hampshire at the end of the day, I asked my cousin if he had heard the new band. He said, yes, but to my surprise he said, the song he heard was called, "She Loves You."

In the course of the next few days I heard, Please, Please Me, Twist and Shout, Love Me Do, P.S.I Love You ,and countless others, everyone a gem. It wasn't just good R&R, it was a cultural revolution. I began combing my hair differently, even though I had never seen a picture of them. It was a pivotal moment, not only for me, but for a generation. A full scale British Invasion was taking place. In the next few months The Rolling stones, The Dave Clark Five, The Animals, the Kinks, The Yardbirds, and many other English bands would take over the American airwaves. Youth culture had broadened its perspective and would never look back. I had found the soundtrack to my life, and a new way of seeing the world.

Now Fifty years later I have the complete works of The Beatles on my computer and I'm listening to it while I type this story.

Twin Falls, Idaho
February 17, 2013

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