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.


Holly A Hughes said...

Extraordinary to me to think that just as I was sitting in my living room in Indianapolis, holding my breath in wonder, you were sitting before your set in Silver Spring, holding your breath in wonder. How could a mere television show be such a transformative experience for an entire generation? And yet it was. I don't think we were programmed by the media -- I was impervious to "the media" at that age -- I simply heard the music and knew that it was good, that it was radically new, and that I'd follow it anywhere. As I have done ever since!

wendy said...

Amen, Holly!

Lee Higgins said...

Yeah, someone else also heard Carroll James introduce the Beatles!!
I grew up in DC and would listen to WWDC while studying. On December 12, 1963, I recall him talking about a young girl wanting him to play this record. When I heard "I Want to Hold Your Hand" I also was smitten. It was so fresh and basic and I've been a fan ever since. Carroll James' Obituary in the Washington Post several years ago mentions this.

We saw Hard Day's Night at the Kent Stage last night, a very good show.

Carolyn Wolfe said...

Watched The Beatles in 1964 in Copley, Ohio -- it was like a blast of wind that woke me up, and made my hibernating teenage brain come alive.
And, I must have seen it in "black and white" -- my parents didn't get a color TV until years later!