Fifty Years Later, the Beatles Still Reign

Fifty Years Later, the Beatles Still Reign

I missed the first broadcast of “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America” but was able to see most all of the rebroadcast on CBS last week. It is an event certainly worthy of tribute; the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. Yes, I am old enough to have seen it. My memory is a bit foggy now but I distinctly remember my parents calling me into the room to view it on the black-and-white. I remember watching with some indifference as we tuned in to Ed Sullivan every week. I remember my dad making remarks about the hair—remarks he still makes regarding hair and fashion! He must’ve had his first panic attack when I insisted I would no longer be sporting a butch cut. It might have been the second broadcast a week later but somewhere along the line I decided THAT was the coolest thing I had ever seen and THAT was what I wanted to do.

The fiftieth anniversary rekindles the predictable debates about the true merit of the Beatles and the band’s effect on popular music. Those who would deny the impact of this singular event, however, have their heads in the sand, whether the Beatles’ music means that much to them or not. I remember a conversation with my friend and Sled Dogs bandmate Dunes who was talking about an exchange he had with someone about the Beatles. Apparently his acquaintance did not care for the band, and I clearly recall Dunes saying, “How can you not like the Beatles? That’s like saying you don’t like air.”

And maybe that’s the point. Undeniably the best songwriters in pop music history, their influence is so pervasive it might even go undetected in the same way you don’t notice that you’re breathing. Until it stops. But here’s what I know after watching the broadcast:

McCartney perhaps said it best in one of several taped interview segments with Dave Letterman in which they stood in the empty Ed Sullivan Theater and reminisced about that historic occasion fifty years earlier: “It took a lot of things coming together at once to make the Beatles happen.” Amen. It’s a little sad to think that history will not repeat itself, but it sure has been a privilege to live through it.