Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

February 7, 2014

Musical moment that changed world, my life

GLASGOW — It was 50 years ago today and Ed Sullivan asked the band to play, four lads from Liverpool who would change the world.

I don’t know what my life might have been like had The Beatles not appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964, but it couldn’t possibly have had a better soundtrack.

America needed them to come along when they did. The country was reeling from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. John, Paul, George and Ringo took us by the hand and we all rushed to join a band. Suddenly, all we needed was love.

At first I followed The Beatles because they were “the next big thing.” But my musical preferences drifted to edgier, bluesier versions of the British invasion: The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Animals.

But my mates and I would still leave school, walk three blocks to downtown Glasgow and spend our lunch money pumping nickels into a machine at Newberry’s Five and Dime that dispensed Beatle buttons rather than gum. A Paul button obtained for five cents was quickly sold to grateful girls at school for a quarter.

The Beatles were on the radio nonstop, so after buying “Meet The Beatles,” I didn’t see much need to buy their subsequent albums. Then one day, I was in the Star Discount Store looking through the music and found “Rubber Soul.” The cover photo hinted something had changed so I bought it. It took only one listen to know these Beatles were different from the “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” Beatles. I was hooked. (I’d later go back and collect all the albums and discovered what I’d been missing.)

The Beatles were expanding their minds (and ours) as well as their music. John Lennon seemed to speak directly to me, and to my angst, with the title cut from “Help.” “Revolver” followed, proving these were once-in-a-lifetime songwriters and they were talking back to the establishment. Listen to Lennon’s “And Your Bird Can Sing” (but you can’t see me).

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” shook the music world. Rolling Stone calls it the best rock album ever recorded. I was startled to hear a sophisticated adult say it was her all-time favorite music. Serious music critics raved. Leonard Bernstein defended The Beatles to our parents even as we argued with them over the need to see a barber.

After “Sgt. Pepper,” The Beatles slowly began to drift apart. Their songs became Lennon’s and McCartney’s and Harrison’s – but they were no longer Lennon-McCartney. They trudged along with three more LPs. Then they and their genius producer George Martin summoned the magic one last time for “Abbey Road.” (“Let it Be” was recorded before “Abbey Road” but it wasn’t released until afterward.) Once again, here came the sun. But too soon Lennon was singing solo: “The Dream Is Over” in which he said among the other things he didn’t believe in, “I don’t believe in Beatles.”

The dream might be over but the world would never be the same. They’ve been going in and out of style. But they’re still guaranteed to raise a smile.

(Last week I wrote that Senate President Robert Stivers’ staff was unable to break out some data about enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. But the data actually came from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services which told me they were unable to distinguish between the totals of new Medicaid enrollees under the law and those “woodwork” enrollees who signed up as publicity surrounding the ACA made them aware they were already eligible.)

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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