Sunday, May 9, 2010

Two of Us, Beatles (1970)

The final months of high school for your typical Class of '70 baby boomer will always have certain associations - the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the resulting widespread student demonstrations against the Vietnam War; the killing of students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio and by state law enforcement officers at Jackson State University in Mississippi; the first-ever Earth Day; the Beatles' announcement they were breaking up; and the release, 40 years ago this weekend, of their final album together, Let It Be.

I'm sure there are teenagers who didn't care one whit about the Beatles.  I'm always surprised when I talk to people today - my peers - who profess to having had no particular interest in them. I tell myself that these people are few and far between. 

For me, the breakup of the Beatles was about as traumatic as it could possibly be. It was like a death, not that I'd had any experience with death at that point.  Nonetheless, I had a very difficult time grasping the fact that four people who had clearly loved each other, were better as a unit than they were separately, and changed the world with their magnificent music no longer cared to be associated - and in fact would probably have done some real damage to each other if forced to remain together a minute longer.  I felt like I was being abandoned, truth be told.

Graduating from high school is a scary time under the best of circumstances.  From an historical perspective, this was not the best of times, clearly, to be contemplating setting foot on a college campus (when I arrived, three months later, I was treated to a recipe for a Molotov cocktail on the front page of the student newspaper), and from a personal perspective - well, my parents were going through a terrible divorce and the fallout from it was grotesque on so many levels.

Plain and simple, in my unhappy pre-teen and teen years, the Beatles had been a source of joy.  Always joy.  Pan Am flew them in at a time when we were reeling from the assassination of our President, and when I was in dire need of something that let me know there were other emotions besides the ones I generally experienced. Those four boys from Liverpool, England, were how I spelled relief.  I was in awe of them - their talent, their exuberant life force, their good looks and humor, the songs they cranked out year after year as they grew and changed with the times.

It never occurred to me that it could take its toll.  And that they were human.

Let It Be was far from my favorite album, especially because I knew they'd had such angst producing it.  But like every Beatles album, it had songs I wanted to hear.  Here's one of them.

1 comment:

Wade said...

The Beatles! Now, the Beatles I've heard of, first via their popular fake plastic wigs that my friends Donnett and Tiffany had when I was about six, and later when I heard Willie Nelson's cover of "Yesterday" on "Willie Nelson Live" when I was about nine. I'm not sure I ever heard an actual Beatles recording, other than what was on the cartoon for Yellow Submarine, until I was thirteen years old (1980 or 81.) I quickly became a fanatic. I still think John is overrated and that any group Paul had joined would have become the Beatles, but they all did make their unique contributions.