Friday, November 22, 2013

The Other 50th Anniversary

I have nothing profound to add to today's retrospective of tragedy. But nothing heals music.

It's not part of American cultural memory. But in Britain, six time zones ahead of Dallas, millions of teens had gotten out of school, raced to record stores and were gathered around record players listing to their brand new copies of the second Beatles album, released that very day, when the news came from America.

We didn't pick up on the Beatles for a couple more months. There's been mountains of sociological scribbling that American Beatlemania was in some way a reaction to, or distraction from, the murder of the young president. Maybe. But that ignored the intense impact the Beatles were already having in their home country and across Europe.

And it ignores the timelessness of their music. An album of Beatle radio broadcasts, mainly from 1963, was just released and is sitting right now in the 21st century top ten.

I was about to be born in November `63, and thus I'm also too young to recall Beatlemania, but With The Beatles, in its American variation Meet The Beatles, was the first record I ever owned and central to so many of my earliest memories.

It's impossible to look back 50 years today without sadness, and even this joyful music is shadowed by the cruel irony that John Lennon would himself be killed by an assassin's bullets far too young. But these are the guys who a few years later said the love you take is equal to the love you make, and the love in these songs and those that followed is its own type of immortality.

So shed a tear for the Kennedys today, Then listen to this and feel alive.

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