Like many music fans, I was saddened to read of the passing of Beatles producer George Martin, a man many boomers first became aware of while scrutinizing the cover of Meet the Beatles in January 1964.
The series brilliantly carried viewers on a tour through the tumultuous changes in American society from the late 1950s to the beginning of the 1970s. It did so through the lens of the advertising industry, with the social, cultural and political upheavals of the era as a backdrop.
Life is mysterious in these ways; one day we are impossibly young, imagining a future for ourselves full of exclamation points; the next day, we are in our 60s, having observed that life is more filled with question marks.
The Beatles were always changing and evolving, which is why growing up with them was such a rich experience. They were always doing something new. As George Martin said recently, "They would always want to look beyond the horizon, not just at it."
When the Beatles came on the scene in 1964, they scattered seeds of change -- musical and otherwise -- onto very fertile ground. By the following year, those seeds were blossoming and became part of the renaissance called "the sixties."
Screaming teenage girls got a lot of attention in 1964 and they're the ones immortalized in the black and white footage, but the largest number of first-generation Beatle fans were actually boys and girls between five and 10 years old -- boomers born in the mid-to-late 1950s.
Beatles '65 was the grand finale of our first Beatle year. Next year's grand finale would be the paradigm-shifting Rubber Soul. EMI and Capitol continued the practice of putting out new music in time for holiday gift giving to this very day.
Looking back on this 50th anniversary of the Beatles arrival in America, music fans and cultural observers of all ages often ask, "Can anything like the Beatles happen again?" The question itself is somewhat rhetorical and acknowledges the singularity of the Beatles phenomenon.
In L.A., the deadly threat now is drought. I do not see much evidence that we have heard this is an emergency. We should be on alert. Would I were twenty years younger and I would run for governor of California.
"What Does It All Mean?" is actually a sharp turn from "What Me Worry?" and it's indicative of the peculiar direction of the '60s sensibility which danced between the desire for transcendence and a darker nihilism occasioned by the specter of the Vietnam War.
Despite the crystal-clear conclusions drawn by the Kerner Commission about why the '60s had seen so much urban unrest, and what would happen if we ignored the lessons of the these rebellions, we are right back where we were 50 years ago.