Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Was It the Hair or Was It the Music?

My son Andy alerted me to a ticket giveaway that he thought I might be interested in for a show at the Civic Auditorium called "YESTERDAY & TODAY: The Interactive Beatles Experience" (click here)

All I had to do was submit an entry about one Beatles song that is attached to a memorable event in my life. I had finished writing what would be my entry and checked the flyer again only to discover that it had to be 50 words or less. Well, I couldn't tell you how to thread a needle in 50 words or less. Editing what I had to say only got me down to about 242 words, so I decided to submit it here on my blog and forget about sending it to Folio Weekly. Final word count: 697...Here goes, Andy....


In 1965, I tried my best to convince my mother and father that I should be allowed a short five minute reprieve from the television restriction I was on in order to watch Paul McCartney sing his new song from the latest Beatles album “!HELP!”. The song was “Yesterday”. I can’t recall why I was on restriction, but know that this was not a punishment taken lightly or dealt out frequently by my parents. They would not give in. No TV. No Beatles-period.


I am sixty years old and my parents are no longer living. The magical mystery called McCartney has captured my heart with his music and poetic lyrics and is the only performer I have not been able to see in a live performance. But when I hear the song “Yesterday” what stands out in my memory is that night in my room spent crying because I would not be allowed to see him on the “The Ed Sullivan Show” to witness what was the biggest event on the planet short of a space shot. If you experienced Beatlemania first hand, then I don’t have to explain it. It is something not easily put into words. It was all consuming, unimaginable and looking back on it now, just plain crazy. Was it the hair or was it the music?

I would spend endless hours playing my 33⅓rpm record “Meet The Beatles” and studying the album cover fixated on the faces of the four clean gorgeous boys in black turtle necks. In contrast, when the cover of ”!HELP!” containing “Yesterday” was released, the album cover revealed the Fab Four doing semaphores sporting longer hair and still not winning any points with my Dad. They called it “looking grubby”.

It was the hair.

I did not have a record player of my own and my father’s prized Garrard turntable and it’s HI-FI components he bought separately and assembled himself was entrusted to me under the condition that I not manually move the needle, but rather let the mechanical mechanism that lowered and lifted the needle be allowed to do its thing. My father loved good music and introduced me to the great vocalists, jazz musicians and band leaders of his time. He loved Ella, Ellington, Shearing and Vaughn. My father disliked the Beatles and was never one to carry on a conversation about them. His car radio homed in on WKTZ Jones College Radio and I don’t recall ever having the nerve to change the station. John Lennon was the only Beatle Dad ever talked about and you can only imagine what he had to say about him.

I resigned myself that I would miss seeing McCartney sing my favorite song and at the top of the hour I buried my head in my pillow mad at the world. Thirty seconds before McCartney was up to perform, my father knocked twice on my bedroom door and released me to watch our small portable television in my room advising me I could watch Paul and only Paul and not a minute more of the broadcast. Since our television in the living room was considered “the big screen”, allowing me to watch Paul on the small portable was still punishment because if you touched the volume knob, the set would crackle and sometimes never calm down. There were also sensitive horizontal and vertical issues with this TV besides being black and white.

I lingered on every word of ‘Yesterday’ as the perspiring Paul McCartney sang by himself looking as if he was singing to me and only me having no clue millions of girls were holding on to every note. I did not sing along for fear of missing his voice.

When I hear ‘Yesterday’ (video) I am reminded of my father, his moment of weakness and his concession to his crazy daughter who loved The Beatles. Had I only known that someday I could see the same performance on YouTube in the year 2010, I would not have wasted those tears. 

I know my Dad would never believe that Paul keeps my Starbucks card loaded for me.
It was the music.