Remember This? February 9?

Last year, this date kept popping into my head and I didn’t know why. Why was February 9 such a big deal to me? It’s a day in the middle of cold, boring, depressing February, so what’s so special about February 9?

Ah-ha. Last year, February 9 marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first Ed Sullivan performance.

That live telecast was a benchmark event in my childhood. I’ve often wondered what the event meant to others. Did girls everywhere really scream when they saw the Beatles sing? Did adults hate them? What did boys think of the group?What do children of those who saw it that night think of the Beatles now?

Remember that night?

With just one enthusiastic yell and sweep of his arms, Ed Sullivan proclaimed, “The Beatles!”

girls scream Beatles 002A roll of screams overtook Ed’s voice, a cavalcade of shrieks that nearly obliterated Paul McCartney’s opening lines, “Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you ….”

As the four Liverpool lads sang  “All My Loving,” a camera cut to the audience: girls jumping, some pulling their hair, one crying in abject misery.

Cutting quickly back to the stage, the world got an up close and personal view of all four Beatles, each with their first name superimposed on the TV screen. The lads wore matching dark suits, white shirts, black ties, and tight pants. Their hair, completely straight and dry – nothing like Elvis Presley’s – was combed down to their eyes and over their ears, but their handsome faces bore striking differences – John’s long nose, Paul’s pouty lips, George’s angular jaw, and Ringo’s hawkish eyes.

A few minutes later, a close-up zoomed in on Paul as he crooned, “Till There Was You.” How could one guy sing so beautifully and have such great hair? It seemed unfair. Just as any girl wanted to be alone with the Beatles in any way possible someday, this boy – sitting around the old Silvertone TV set inside the basement of his unimportant little Silver Spring, Maryland house – wanted to be them. I, too, wanted to pull my hair out, but couldn’t. Not in front of my family.

I looked behind me at Cathy, my thirteen-year-old sister, sitting on the ottoman, keeping appropriate control of her emotions while watching the cuddly mop tops perform (or was she really leaning in closer and closer with each second, about to slip off the ottoman and crash on our hard, carpet-less floor).

Next to her sat Don and Doug, my seventeen-year-old twin brothers, flopped all over the couch, as if bored by the Beatles. But deep down, what were they really feeling?

And Mom rested in her chair, completely unmoved, except for a quivering upper lip, no doubt brought on by a view of John’s tight pants and crotch area as he led the way on the next song, a rollicking “And I Saw Her Standing There.”

Then I saw Dad standing there, just behind Mom, his arms folded, flattop haircut flat as ever, with not so much as one hair rising over the Beatles’ electrifying act.

What was wrong with my family?  I wanted to jump, kick, twist, shout – anything – but wound up having to wait an hour after the show to even tap my fingers. Finally, in private, while lying in bed, I patted the pillow, but that was all. How pathetic I’d look doing something outrageous like twisting my hips or dancing on the bed.

From that night on, I knew I wanted longer hair. Until I got it, I was a nobody to girls at school. Convinced I’d have hair like Paul McCartney one day, I rocked myself to sleep, savoring images of walking to school with my long hair flying about while I sang, “Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you ….”

That was my take on the Beatles performance from the Ed Sullivan Show February 9 so many years ago. What was yours?

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Blog, Remember This?

6 responses to “Remember This? February 9?

  1. I was seven and don’t remember the broadcast ( although I’m sure we watched – I had a 12 year old sister) but remember the months and years that followed. I too wanted to be a Beatle. The Beatles are why I started playing guitar, the Beatles are why I am a musician and songwriter, and The Beatles are a big part of why our generation became the people we were and in so many ways the people we still are.

    Great post and great memories. The question for the day now that you’ve brought up this topic of these four lads from Liverpool; do I listen to their albums today, watch the The Anthology DVDs, scour You Tube for old clips, or just contemplate the phenomena called “Beatlemania” and wonder if there will never be another time like this again.

  2. Michael – Interesting to read your memories of the event. Thanks for responding. I, too, picked up a guitar because of them, maybe even hoping I’d be as great as they were (a boyhood fantasy). I went on in adulthood to play music for years, inspired by the Beatles in a multitude of ways I was probably unaware!

  3. I wasn’t born until 1970, but I discovered the Beatles early on via my moms records that she got as a teen (she was 21 when I was born). I remember sitting in my room hour after hour devouring those LPs she had bought when they came out. In fact, I still have them right here in this room as I type, in the same boxes she stored them. (That might sound a bit weird, but to me it’s about hanging on to a bit of music history.) There will never be anyone like them again.

    But I wonder how much of your family’s reaction was due to the their specific situation and how much was due to the overhype. Is it possible that

    • oops. Is it possible that there was some overhyping of it back then? Just wondering.

      • As per over-hyping, Walt, it was nothing compared to what would have been hyped for a rock group today. Truly, nobody really knew who they were at that point but another pop group with a Top 40 hit. It was because of Ed Sullivan and his his huge influence through his show that the Beatles caught on so quickly here. As for my parents, they wouldn’t have gotten excited over anything (save for an organ recital my father might have approved of after a glass of beer).

  4. Understood. I never considered that that might have been the case until I read your post. Just that something about your description of your family’s reaction reminded me of how my family reacted to things when I was growing up, and how my wife and kid’s react to things now. The image of people unmoved by what they were viewing made me curious. Back then it was maybe a lack of interest or understanding, or perhaps a sense of being threatened by these wild kids with the long hair. Today it might be a sense of “whatever.” Or of a more sophisticated audience suspecting they were being manipulated in some way. Thanks for the post.

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