50 Years of Beatles

L. R. Laverde-Hansen By L. R. Laverde-Hansen, 7th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Music>Music History

Fifty years ago, on February 9, 1964, four young men performed on a television program. Rarely has one show had such seismic cultural importance.

Since February 9, 1964

Once while I was in a tavern, the Beatles's song, "Let It Be" played on the sound system. Clearly moved, I remarked to my colleague, "Could they have done any better if they tried?" She smiled and said, "No." I didn't need to explain who "they" were--anyone a little bit older than MTV understood the subject of my rhetorical question. And every time a Beatles song plays somewhere, especially a great one (of which there are so many), people remember not only the songs but the collective sound and images the Fab Four unleashed upon the world.

Being younger than a Baby Boomer has given me a different perspective. I was born well after the Beatles disbanded, so I am not someone flooded with nostalgia for such things as mop tops, psychedelia or the excitement surrounding the release of each new record. I had to learn about them--and see what all the fuss was about.

It's not that rock music--let alone all music--began or ended with them. They clearly had influences, and they interacted with their times. But even if later bands sold more records, or had bigger shows, the Beatles was the first original and long-standing phenomenon of the modern musical era. Elvis Presley was rock's first outsize personality: its first global ambassador. But Elvis and his talented peers only began a movement. It took the Beatles and a few other artists to not only give rock renewed energy, but to connect it to the highest levels of songwriting and showmanship.

Detail

The Beatles themselves often spoke of themselves more as artists than mere musicians or entertainers. Though they worked in a very popular vein, they incorporated numerous experimental influences into their music and look. As a result, there seems to be this driving, relentless quality to their albums and singles, which avoided the stale, repetitious rut other groups tended to fall into

Though personal reasons were the leading factor in the breakup of the band, the desire to preserve artistic integrity mattered to its members. It really is astonishing that half a century since, the change wrought upon the musical world is everywhere. Though corny, cheesy pop crooners are still out there, the place of the innovative yet charming singer/songwriter and his or her solid band is established and assured. That is why the arrival of John, Paul, George and Ringo on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964 is still such a pivotal event.

Composed in New York
February 7, 2014
Completed
February 11, 2014

Tags

Beatlemania, Beatles, History, Pop Culture, Rock And Roll

Meet the author

author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
Poet, playwright, commentator. I write wherever I can. Currently I reside in the City of New York.

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Comments

author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
12th Feb 2014 (#)

The legend and phenomenom of the Fab Four for Liverpool hasnt been surpased by anyone. Still U2 and teh Stones been a little close still too big of shoes to fill! Beatles Forever!

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author avatar Delicia Powers
12th Feb 2014 (#)

Great article....thanks L.R.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
12th Feb 2014 (#)

they were the best indeed and still are...

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
12th Feb 2014 (#)

You all are, so right (esp., you, Fern). "Rock is dead--long live Rock!"

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
14th Feb 2014 (#)

They were one of a kind - a true phenomenon. Thanks for this nice post, L.R - siva

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
14th Feb 2014 (#)

I love the story that in 1966 when George Harrison went to India to study, he was mobbed upon arrival. Truly they were globally adored. An amazing time!

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