Saturday, February 8, 2014

She Loves You, the Beatles (1963)

Ringo Starr drum roll, please. The time is upon us. Tomorrow, February 9, 2014, it will be 50 years to the day since John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr took possession of the molecules previously known as Wendy Schweiger and rearranged them into a Wendy Schweiger whose veins suddenly coursed with more endorphins than she had experienced in all of the preceding years. 

I wasn't planning on it, being the morose sort, but I was powerless against it. Just be in the presence of a song like She Loves You, the third of five songs the Beatles sang on their first Ed Sullivan Show appearance - and tell me how it is possible to maintain the status quo after that.

This is a song that, after all this time, and with all of the sophistication that later developed in their repertoire, still represents the best of what the Beatles had to offer humanity. It started for me with their singing - a force of nature that shook me to my core. In those early days, the boys could sing in perfect unison, and then shift to vocals laden with counterpoint, where you can, say, pick out Paul's voice over John's though they are very interdependent and unison-like. It was - and is - like an elixir.

As regards Ed Sullivan, the anticipation had been building for months. I lived in Silver Spring, Maryland, where it happened that another girl in town, Marsha Albert, begged Carroll James, a DJ at WWDC, to get a hold of I Want to Hold Your Hand, after she saw a segment about them on CBS News. Somehow James managed to snag a copy of it from the UK before Capitol Records released it in the U.S., and the song took off like wildfire, putting Capitol in a bit of a pickle as they'd been dragging their feet on the domestic release. Although they'd set a date, it was a month away and they were royally hacked off at being scooped.

Between that and the news that the exotic Liverpudlian lads were coming to America in February, I was going a bit bonkers with excitement. To this day I'm not quite sure precisely what happened to cause such a furor in advance; whatever it was, though, I lapped it up like a person dying of thirst. It was a life force - the salvation of music that underpins my life to this day. 

Truly, what do you say about a song that you first heard when you were 11, and 50 years later, it makes you feel exactly the same as you felt then? That's She Loves You. Everything about it explodes with greatness - the vocals, the drumming, the guitars, the lyrics, the yeah-yeah-yeahs, the woos. They are so locked into each other, so tight as a band - they were just kids but beyond their years by the time they hit U.S. soil. And we paid them for their efforts in total adoration. When you listen to the performance on the show, the audience hysterics were at their peak for this song. Absolute pandemonium.

Yes, there were hormones involved. But 50 years later, with considerably fewer hormones in play, nothing has changed. NOTHING.