Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

As the world — or at least my corner of it — celebrates today’s 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America, the best music is everywhere.

That’s ’60s rock. Hands down.

I heard “She Loves You” the other day. It was only the squintillionth time I’ve heard that defining tune, which long ago receded into whatever part of my brain is reserved for songs I will still sing along to at 96, during my final days in a nursing home.

She Loves YouBut this time was different. Instead of bobbing almost unheard in the background, as familiar songs often do, this time I heard it with almost cosmic clarity. The joyful guitar licks, Ringo’s thumping drumming, the giddily optimistic lyrics — all rushed back, as if listening to it for the first time ever.

In fact, I first heard “She Loves You” in the winter of 1964. I was not yet a teenager, but back in those pre-helicopter-parent days I enjoyed freedom today’s kids only dream about. I rode my bike wherever I wanted; my bazillion High Point Road friends and I played outside all afternoon with no adults in sight, and when we were hungry we wandered into someone’s house and found food.

Everywhere I went, I carried my transistor radio. It was laughably large compared to today’s teeny iPods, but as 5th graders who had just discovered rock ‘n’ roll, our lives demanded a soundtrack. The Beatles — and Stones, Searchers, Freddie & the Dreamers, you name it — provided one.

I thought of all that when I heard “She Loves You.” In the winter of 6th grade, my friends and I were kings of Burr Farms Elementary School. With 11-year-old swaggers, we strode the halls certain we had all the answers to life.

In fact, we didn’t yet know who we were — or even that we should be trying to figure it out. We were blissfully clueless that — like pre-adolescents everywhere — we were ready to take off on an astonishing journey of self-discovery. Because it was the ’60s, ours was especially wild.

Fifty years ago -- on February 9, 1964 -- the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan.

Fifty years ago — on February 9, 1964 — the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan.

A couple of months earlier, President Kennedy had been killed. For a while, the nation mourned. Now we were ready to look ahead. In the chill of winter, we needed something new and bright and bold.

In 1964, the Beatles provided that breath of fresh air.  Fifty years later, half the band is dead. We’re all a bit jaded; half a century has taken its toll. But for 2 minutes the other day, the joyful energy of “She Loves You” took me back to a moment when anything — all things — seemed possible.

And you know that can’t be bad.

(The Beatles’ “She Loves You,” from their 1st Ed Sullivan Show appearance on February 9, 1964. The YouTube clip shows the English version of dates. If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)

23 responses to “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

  1. Bruce Fernie - Staples 1970

    Very, very nicely written.
    I also remember the first time I heard that song sitting in my mothers Country Squire in the parking lot of Barkers. I now have an 8 year old that knows all the lyrics and shouts them out every time it rotates through our home playlist.

  2. Scott E. Brodie

    The arrival of the Beetles was all the rage. I remember watching their much-heralded appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show with my family. Many of the comments were directed at the haircuts — daringly long, it seemed. My Grandmother, who was visiting with us that weekend, swore they must have been wearing wigs. Looking at the photographs now, they seem like such clean-cut young men!

  3. Great piece Dan.

  4. Catherine Davis

    They also played Carnegie Hall which some considered sacrilige! My father took me and a friend and brought Time magazine with him as he thought he would be bored. When we could actually hear them over the screaming, he fell for their special harmonies and became a fan for the rest of his life. We also threw jellybeans which many Beatle fans did. Not sure why….
    Going in, I was determined not to scream . It seemed soooooo dumb. But there was something about them, their music, their smiles, and I couldn’t help myself. PS. Paul never answered my marriage proposal…..

  5. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I remember that 1st Ed Sullivan show and I said to myself “they’ll never last.” Even back then, at 12, I had my finger on the pulse of what my generation was seeking.

  6. Barbara Sherburne '67

    Very well written, Dan. Yes, I watched that Ed Sullivan performance and their haircuts got a lot of attention — such long hair! I went to a concert of theirs at Shea Stadium. It was part of a school bus trip. I cannot imagine how my mom approved of it as I think I was only in 7th grade. What I remember about that concert is we were way, way up in the bleachers, and The Beatles looked very tiny surrounded by HUGE speakers, and all you could hear was everyone screaming at the top of their lungs. You could hardly hear the music. It was an exciting time to be sure. I loved them, yeah, yeah, yeah.

    • Barbara Sherburne '67

      I meant to mention the special on Sunday night, the 9th, at 8 p.m. on CBS, The Night That Changed America. It is being broadcast at the same time and date as 50 years ago on The Ed Sullivan Show.

    • Barbara Sherburne '67

      Excellent post, Fred. And, actually, I was in 10th grade when the Beatles played at Shea Stadium. My mistake.

  7. Amen

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  8. Alan M. Beasley

    For those willing to listen to some, or all of the source of “She Loves Me”, as performed on Broadway by a real singer, Barbara Cook, and the cast of this musical, it’s available on a CD. It is,admittedly a bit old-fashioned, but grand!

    Cook is still singing, incredibly, at +/- 84 years of age. At 89, I have some years on her, we are both still carrying-on.

  9. Nancy Powers Conklin

    Dan, you hit it out of the ballpark with this post! I seemed to live the same things that you did, although the Beatles hit when I was in 7th grade at Long Lots. I watched the Ed Sullivan show with my family and my parents did have a few comments. My father thought their hair was unruly:) But, it is a time in my life when everything was right with the world! Long live the Beatles!! I am a forever fan.

  10. I think the Beatles’ phenomenal instant success and impact in America can be attributed, in part, to the more limited entertainment and news choices we had back then. There were only three primary TV channels in 1964 and that was most likely a significant factor in the Beatles’ first Ed Sullivan appearance being viewed by over 40% of the American public. Of course, the Beatles were the complete package: immensely talented songwriters and performers who were also engaging personalities. But they were also the right band in the right place at the right time. (And I’m happy to say I still have my “Meet the Beatles” album, which I play occasionally on an old-fashioned record player.)

  11. This song is my childhood in Westport. First grade, in my best friend, Patty’s house on Richmondville Avenue– in her basement listening to this song on a little white record player. This song along with I want to hold your hand. Patty had all of the 45’s from her teenage sisters. I must have listened at this song 300 times that year alone. We 6 year olds were quite sophisticated in that basement is all I can say.

  12. I was at the Ed Sullivan Theater to see them courtesy of my boyfriend,s father who was a CBS exec. I had no idea how special it was and couldn’t hear a thing except for the screaming girls. But there they were, The Beatles. I think now that for a few more days this month I am 64.
    Something that seemed so far in the future.

  13. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    My brother, Jack Scott, went with friends to see the Beatles at Shea Stadium 1974 also? I’m sure they couldn’t hear anything with all the screaming. I imagine a lot of other Westporters were there.

  14. Jill Christerson Lundgren

    Dan, I read your posts constantly, and I love them all. But this one made my heart stop. Riding bikes everywhere, walks to the beach, flashlight tag after dark, leaving the house at 8am and coming home before dark and no parents interference. No cells phones, pagers. Just living life and the Beatles were definitely a part of it with our transistors and Cousin Brucie or Wolfman Jack. Excellent article Dan, good memories.

    • Me too, Jill. I was thinking that 06880 should plan a throwback day with a bus rental, music, photo presentation, for all of us who pine away for our childhood/teenage days in old Westport. All who remember the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, foods of the Westport that is pretty much gone but we get to have it back for one blissful day. Of course, many stores and restaurants are gone from those days but we could still have drive-bys of the locations. The rules would be 60’s clothing, 60’s food, 60’s music, 60’s attitudes meaning no cell phones, ipods, laptops.., and just one throw back day in Westport. The bus tour could include places, venues, foods, etc. that everyone who signed up wishes for. I would hope one summer or fall day I could be there for something like that. Probably cost a fortune though so each participant would have to pay some money for it.

      • Jill Christerson Lundgren

        I am game! Still have a lot of friends up there! I actually went to Kleins and the Y before that closed. The Y still smells the same, like chlorine. Fun memories! Keep me informed!

    • Jill, since you were unable to see the video attachment on Facebook I was telling you about, I’ll post it here–it’s contained within the link to the article by Dan below: http://blog.ctnews.com/woog/2014/02/05/fresh-meadows-gets-a-multi-generational-westport-boost/

  15. Barbara Sherburne '67

    All of these comments made a memory come back. Wendy Seller was in my homeroom, and we became friends. She was a puppeteer and at some point after The Beatles came to America, she either bought or made puppets of the four of them. She taught me how to manipulate the puppets, and we each handled two of them while playing their music on a record player in her basement. We had a great time with those puppets!

  16. Nancy Powers Conklin

    Bonnie, the Beatles broke up and never toured again in 1970, I am pretty sure.