Fifty Years On: Still the Best [With Comments by John]

It was fifty years ago that The Beatles took the U.S. by storm, culminating in their February 9 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show (supposedly the most watched TV show in American history at that point).  Here’s a short highlight reel

And here’s “The Rutles” spoof (and if you’ve never seen The Rutles, well, order it on Netflix tonight.  I’m convinced The Rutles was the Inspiration for This Is Spinal Tap.  And Eric Idle has Paul McCartney’s mannerisms down cold.)

A knock on The Beatles was that they weren’t very good as a live act, but these two recordings from 1963, posted on YouTube, suggest otherwise:

There’s a few more of these, and additional commentary, at The Atlantic.

JOHN adds: Fifty years ago? It seems like only yesterday! Well, not exactly yesterday, but not quite a half century, either. I do recall how the Beatles swept away, for a while at least, pretty much all popular music as it existed at that time. One evening in a church basement after a high school football game (I was in junior high at the time), someone played “I Want to Hold Your Hand” over and over again because no one wanted to listen to anything else.

Ah, the music of our youth. I have never understood why today’s teenagers don’t seem to fully appreciate the Beatles. But then I thought: the Beatles are now 50 years into the rear-view mirror. When I first listened to them in 1963, what music was then 50 years old? Here is a list of the top songs of 1913. (1913!!) Al Jolson figures prominently; “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” was number one. If you had asked us, in 1963, to appreciate the music of 1913, our reaction would have been–to put it politely–negative.

Still, there are rays of hope here and there. A few years ago my youngest daughter’s dance group was working on a routine for their next recital that they danced to a Beatles tune. She wandered into the living room where I was working on a Power Line post and asked, “You remember the Beatles, don’t you?” I said sure. She asked, “Do you know a song called ‘Yesterday’?” I said I was pretty sure I recalled it. “It’s a really good song,” she told me. True enough, but I never could get her to see the merit of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”


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