Ahhhh, the Beatles. Who would I be if they hadn't happened? Less independent, less bold, less passionate, less loving?
I was 13 when the Beatles came to the United States and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. I watched, mesmerized, absorbing each persona. I don't remember having favored one over the other until some time later, but collectively, they were the most dynamic and fun band I'd ever seen or heard. My parents were unimpressed. My younger brothers, in their usual way, cracked jokes amongst one another. My younger sister was 8 and probably had a good time clowning around with my brothers. But since, they "really had a hold on me..."
Within months, my girlfriends and I shared Beatles' cards which would give the hungry fan a glimpse both into their professional and personal lives. We'd wait with bated breath for the next album, of which I'd have to have. My two best friends, Ellen and Pat, and I would meet after school nearly every day to air play and lip sing to their music. It was the most relaxing and invigorating part of the day. Ellen loved and imitated Paul; Pat, George; and I, enjoyed John whose spirit remained with me long after his death. I sensed a rebelliousness with which I joined in with Give Peace A Chance and All You Need is Love -- songs having only scratched the surface of his defiance.
Over several years, every friend and myself changed as pant legs grew wider, blouses grew skimpier, and hair grew longer in both sexes. Black leather and motorcycles became more prevalent. This was the duality of the Beatles, of us, as a society sharing parallel paths.
When it was announced they would be appearing at Shea Stadium, Queens, New York in 1965, I pleaded with my parents to let me go with Ellen and Pat; a very daring feat for 14- and 15-year old New Jerseyans. But the fever had taken hold. And it couldn't have been easier to get tickets. A maximum of 4 off third base were ~ $5.00 each. When we arrived at Shea, all the buzz was how the Beatles would arrive. I've seen the images of hysterical girls, but nothing could have prepared me for a stadium filled with girls' screams as the Beatles jumped from an armored vehicle, then ran across the ball field to the stage in their beige military jackets. Not a screamer, I watched on and absorbed the surreality.
And, never, did I feel that they posed a threat to society as so many adults, including my parents, feared. Most of their songs sang of love and the human condition. Yes, while the hippie movement took hold, so did experimentation with psychedelics which were reflected in their later albums.
However, it was John, when he moved to New York, who became much more involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement with his chants of peace and love. I so appreciated how committed he became. My three brothers were very close to being drafted before Nixon was impeached and the war ended. It wasn't until years later I learned that John was on Nixon's "list of enemies." He made a difference, and changed me and so many others as we became involved with love-ins and protests at my all-women's college, Douglass, and its male counterpart, Rutgers, in addition to colleges and universities all across the United States in the late sixties, early seventies.
All affected me in their journeys to find peace in the world and within themselves, as we all try to do every day of our own lives. "There are places I remember all my life, though some have changed. Some forever not for better, some have gone and some remain. All these places had their moments with lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living. In my life I've loved them all..." From In My Life, The Beatles
Please Please Me, The Beatles, March 1963
With The Beatles, The Beatles, November 1963
Introducing the Beatles, The Beatles, January 1964
The Beatles' Second Album, The Beatles, April 1964
A Hard Day's Night, The Beatles, June 1964
Something New, The Beatles, July 1964
Beatles VI, The Beatles, June 1965
Help!, The Beatles, August 1965
Rubber Soul, The Beatles, December 1965
Yesterday and Today, The Beatles, June 1966
Revolver, The Beatles, August 1966
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, June 1967
Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles, November 1967
The White Album, The Beatles, November 1968
Yellow Submarine, The Beatles, January 1969
Abbey Road, The Beatles, September 1969
Let It Be, The Beatles, May 1970