As even your average rock in Central Park knows, it has been 50 years since The Beatles invaded America and thank God, we're still not over it. Frankly it's the one bug that I've been thrilled to have and for the chronic fan, like myself, while this is a time well worth celebrating, this week isn't really any different than any other because not an average hour goes by on any average week when I'm not either listening to or reading about them.
The fact is that there is not a musician on the planet who is not channeling the fab four with every string plucked or every song sung. It's like we were one huge block soft, impressionable block of Graumann's Chinese Theater cement who have been forever imprinted by their scouser magic. Since 1964, our DNA has had a perfect joyful pitch.
Have you seen the size of the giddy throngs at Paul McCartney concerts? I'm sure that the Pope watches and says, "Hey, how do I attract a crowd like that?" The next wave of fans are already gestating in utero as we speak. This goes way beyond a crucifixion. The Beatles continue to be a tonic whose main ingredient is a rapturous dollop of sweet, harmonized love. They are the fountain of youth because in images they never age and therefore it creates the illusion that neither will we. Ever. They have made the past the present and the present the past. Time has stretched like the silliest of putty.
But here is the thing: the Beatles were simply returning a favor by coming here. Some 55 to 60 years ago America invaded them first. Our bugs included Elvis, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Lightning Hopkins, Elmore Leonard, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Smokey Robinson and every single star of the Motown Label. They most definitely had a wicked case of the American blues and were even exposed to even more than that.
Our rock and roll pneumonia and boogie woogie flu was transmitted via the 45's that UK Sailors would carry with them from America right to the port of Liverpool. It is not mere coincidence that the biggest supplier of 45s in Liverpool was the store NEMS -- which was owned and operated by Brian Epstein and family. It became a place of pilgrimage for the likes of The Beatles.
The Beatles were born into the ravages of war so they were the victims of yet another invasion and this one was not so much fun. Blitzes tend to destroy architecture and people. And then came yet another invasion: another favor returned. The Beatles boot camp was in the heart of Hamburg -- where John Lennon wore a toilet seat as a necklace and mocked the crowd with nazi salutes. He was dangerous and exciting and that thrilled the likes of Klaus Voormann and Astrid Kirchherr who would be later be responsible for early Beatles archival photographs, their hair style and the cover of Revolver.
And then The Beatles began invading the rest of Europe and the world, just like an alien invasion. After all, they looked like aliens in those days. They didn't sound like us, dress like us, act like us. They seemed so happy and bonded; so carefree, approachable and best of all they were able to soothe us -- almost tickle us with delight -- with every next song that came our way.
They were the world wide web of the early sixties who networked us with both their musical mastery and mystery. I mean in November of 1963 who heard of the Beatles in America? And yet by February of 1964 -- barely two months later -- 73 million watched the invasion on their world wide web black and white televisions and the networking began.
We were all Beatles now. The aliens had won.
We acted like them, dressed like them, sang and played like them. The invasion, unlike the one staged by Adolf, worked. We were all brain washed and happier for it.
But just like real life stars, as in way up there in the constellation, what you see is dying light.
The Beatles were already some 8 or 9 years into being when they arrived on our shores. They had invested their 10,000 hours of Outlier time well by playing around the clock in seedy Hamburg bars, o they were not only highly polished, slick and skilled, but they were ready to morph and change at an incredible rate. They had been hard core rockers forever and their transformation between 1963 to 1970, from Meet The Beatles to Abbey Road was mind boggling. It was creativity at the speed of blink.
But they were still not any more immune to even more invasions than we commoners were.
Drugs invaded them (both recreational and addictive -- including the cigarettes that killed one of them). Women invaded them. Children invaded them. Death invaded them. Religion invaded them. Money and success invaded them. Their past traumas invaded them. Music invaded them. Fashion invaded them. And that never stopped either. Cancer invaded them. More death invaded them. Jealousy invaded them. Antagonism invaded them. Hurt invaded them. Insecurity invaded them. Divorce invaded them.
And because their lives were and continue to be so out sized and disproportionate, every single moment of their existence continues to feel that much bigger than anything that we have ever experienced.
Dare I say they appear to be God like? As popular as Jesus?
We, the fans, we merry band of fanatics, have used the British invasion as a template for our own existence; a personal guide on how to live our lives.
For many of us they are our faith, our spiritual center, our core religion. They invented both an industry and a way of life by bumbling their way through the unknown and we were always one step behind them, watching, learning, imitating.
And of course it's all been an illusion.
All of it.
It was all a dream that was eventually over.
In case you didn't notice, in reality, two of the Beatles are now dead. We ironically began with an assassination and ended with another one. But try explaining that to a six year old watching and delighting in "Yellow Submarine." And how much time have you spent watching "Let it Be?" We have even romanced that trainwreck all the way up to the roof tops.
The truth is we can never end our love affair with the Beatles anymore than we can ever get over our very first love. ( I still haven't. I will be in love with Carol Schwartz to the day that I die...and after).
Most of us have never met a Beatle so therefore we have never experienced them as humans. On two successive nights in LA, I brushed shoulders first with Sean and then improbably, with Julian Lennon in the very same sushi bar up on the Glen in Beverly Hills and what immediately struck me was (A) there before me was the living DNA of John Lennon and (B) they were so... HUMAN. Real skin. Real bones. Real hearts. Real blood.
We humans, we like -- no -- we NEED and desperately cling to our fairy tales, our myths, our make believe in copious amounts -- but not as mere life lessons for how to conduct our individual lives.
Many of us. Most of us, accept our world wide bibles as fact, Jack.
Actual, real hardcore life facts mean little to us on a day to day basis. If we see a UFO, for example, we immediately assume it's an alien spaceship -- when in truth all we really know is that it is UNKNOWN.
Our brains are simply wired to reach the wildest of conclusions especially when we simply cannot understand the icy cold reality of death or the universe at large.
I mean, when is the last time that you stared up at the stars and tried to figure it all out? I am willing to bet that most of your life has been spent with your gaze either focused on your Nikes, or in the general direction of that rather unpleasant but no less critical part of your waste eliminating anatomy.
Our most meaningful universe tends to be the ones that we carry around deep inside us. And how great a distraction is that? Let the scientists and religious figures do the dirty work, clean it up and make it nice and palatable for us.
Like mom cooking up a nice home cooked meal we like a nice presentation that goes down easy.
The most effective invasions seem to work by introducing us to wonderful fairy tales that the masses are dopey/happy to follow.
And that begs the question: is that necessarily a bad thing?
Well on one level I'm really happy to let the theologists and scientists and science fiction writers fight it out a universal cage match for me and with periodic updates. I'm really okay with that. I'm an American and I get to make my own decisions like is Chris Christie really guilty and why can't I stop eating MacDonald's french fries by the barrel?
But when it comes to The Beatles my decision was made firmly some 50 years ago and I'm perfectly find with that.
New music comes and goes and you can all Twerk it Out as you seem fit. I actually like and listen to a lot of it. Pop is still, well, pop and popular for a reason. Watching a kid with stage four cancer miming Katy Perry's "Roar" or Sara Bareilles' "Brave" or Frozen's Elsa belting out "Let It Go?" How can that not grab your heart? Thank you Adele, for getting me through the next paralyzing break up or daily, sometime hourly rejection.
Music at it's best is curative. It is its own exact science, has its own language and tone and has it's own unique constantly changing and often thrilling form of delivery system that lives in it's very own universe and if that gets you through the hardest of times, what's wrong with that, I'd like to know?
So let all the invasions continue I think. Incoming! We can cherry pick what we need and throw the rest of it away as we see fit.
For this writer I am comforted by the fact that Mother Mary will always come to me. And so will St. Jude.
At the very end of the "Abbey" Road, Pope John Paul George Ringo offered up the final message: "And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make." If my heart could have a tattoo, that's what it would read.
And after they were gone I was happy to received informative, solo updates and maybe I was amazed that love was real and real was love.
I was assured that all things must pass.
And when things get really bad: maybe bugaloo should just back off.
And to that and to all the shared musical prayers that I will receive, I say: amen.
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