A flower child in the 1960s, my mother’s personality embodied the essence of that era. Positivity, love and optimism radiates from her soul, which is the same thing that permeated through the sounds of The Beatles. I remember, vividly, riding along in that Camry as she placed a cassette of their “Blue Album” (aka “1967-1970”) into the stock stereo and turned up the volume.
The opening track was “Strawberry Fields Forever,” a distorted melody that was playful, carefree and filled with sounds I’d never heard or been exposed to. The record rolled along as our vehicle did the same down endless pavement. “Penny Lane” into “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “A Day in the Life” into “All You Need Is Love,” “Across the Universe” into “The Long and Winding Road.” I was captivated, mesmerized, stupefied — what was this? So, I, being the little kid I was then, asked immediately for clarification.
“Mom, who is that?”
“That’s The Beatles, hunny. Do you like them?”
“Yeah,” I responded with a grin ear-to-ear.
And that rabbit hole exploration of their music only got deeper and deeper, and deeper. When I was sad, I listened to “In My Life” or “Ticket To Ride” and reflected on whatever situation, femme fatale or unexpected fall from grace was pulling at my heartstrings. When I was happy, I listened to “Love Me Do” or “Come Together.” Those songs remind me of when the sunshine above my head never seemed to shine brighter, and anything seemed possible, with the world at my fingertips as long I always remembered to keep reaching for it.
As a music journalist, writer and utter sentimentalist at heart, this past Feb. 9 brought forth lots of memories. Fifty years ago that very evening, four English gents calling themselves “The Beatles” performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, and nothing was ever the same again. Ever.
Watching the CBS special this past week commemorating that immortal night, chills ran up and down my body as I sat there and listened. The music spilled out of the television, which posed as a time machine, where I was transported back into the passenger seat of that navy blue 1991 Toyota Camry, where my mother was smiling, I was smiling, as the car cruised towards destinations unknown.
“Fifty years. Fifty years, can you believe it was that long ago when that show happened?” I kept saying to my friend while watching the program.
Yes, 50 years ago in the history books, but it is also yesterday, today and tomorrow for mankind and the rest of the universe.
Each and every human alive then, born since, and who will be birthed until the end of time, will know, appreciate and love their music. If you’re 9 years old or 90, you know the words, the riffs and the joyous harmonies of the Fab Four. They were the first band I remember falling in love with, and I think that can be said for pretty much every man, woman and child walking this planet. I had all the albums, knew all the songs, and played them, constantly, almost to the point of obsession, also like pretty much every man, woman and child on this planet.
Their influence on humanity can never be overstated, and will never be equaled. Fifty years ago the world changed, for the better, because the power of music prevailed.
The songs remain, and always will, for eternity.
1: A benefit concert for the Feline Urgent Rescue will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at The Colonial Theatre in Canton.
2: Musician/storyteller Lee Knight will pay tribute to the late Pete Seeger at 3 p.m. Feb. 15 at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.
3: The Irish production “Rhythm of the Dance” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin.
4: “Mosaics and More,” a children’s art program, will be at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.
5: Country singer Dylan Riddle will perform at 9 p.m. Feb. 20 at No Name Sports Pub in Sylva.