Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Beatles Let Us Be

By Wendy Murray

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Beatles on American soil. On that Sunday night the universe tilted. They took the stage on the Ed Sullivan Show and gave us "All My Loving," which at the time was passionately reciprocated and still is.

In a way that is impossible to track definitively this band defined a generation -- the baby boomers -- who came of age with Ringo, Paul, George and John harmonizing in the background. As The Beatles grew up, we grew up. When they dissolved, a corner of the heart of an entire generation dissolved too. They gave expression to our times during an age in transition and in turmoil, though they began as mere sheepish lads from a working-class town named Liverpool.

The sheer force of the "whole" took everyone by surprise, including its respective parts, the boys didn't know what hit them. (George Harrison would write about it in his song, "Wah Wah": Bein' there at the right time, cheaper than a dime.) Does anyone remember the indignation aroused when they shockingly claimed aloud they "Want to Hold Your Hand"? Only a few years later we see the image of a naked John Lennon tangled in bed sheets and curled in a fetal position in the arms of Yoko Ono.

In the end there was no place else for them to go but into inevitable chaos. When you've got that much talent and genius coming together in conjunction with their human side:  John's neediness, Paul's effervescence, George's mysticism and Ringo flamboyance; it is bound to trigger something. To borrow the phrasing of Chesterton, they came together from four directions at the top of their energy; all burning, all at once and all thoroughly. It generated the perfect storm: the ship rose, pitched, banked then blew. Since then, we simply have had to let it be. They taught us that, too.

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 Let It Be: the song written and performed by Paul McCartney; the album and the film with the same name were released on 8 May 1970; the Beatles had already broken up by that time. 

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The Beatles' last live concert: On a rooftop 30 January 1969 in London on the roof of the Apple building (The Beatles' record company).  It was a cold day with a bitter wind blowing. To cope with the weather John Lennon borrowed Yoko's fur coat and Ringo wore his wife Maureen Starkey's red coat. The concert lasted for 45 minutes  before the police intervened and literally pulled the plug, ending an era.
"We were playing virtually to nothing -- to the sky, which was quite nice." 
--Paul McCartney