It doesn’t take much to connect The Beatles to a significant memory. They played a HUGE part in my life. So, when I read Billy Liggett’s editorial in Sunday’s Sanford Herald, I found myself running through the many, many Strawberry Fields in my mind. I could relate to Billy’s comments about how his Dad grew up with The Beatles because I, too, grew up with them.
Billy mentioned two things in this editorial that made me stop and think — 1) that it has been 40 years since their last public appearance and album together! and 2) that their reign as rock sensations only lasted seven years! Both of these seemed odd to me because they have been such icons for almost my entire life! To realize that they were only together for such a short time so many years ago took me by surprise — not that I didn’t know this, but that I never really put it into context like that before. In my mind, The Beatles never ended and never will.
My Mom and I became Beatles fans together. I was eight when we sat together and watched The Beatles take America by storm – first as we watched the news reports on February 7, 1964 when they got off the plane at JFK Airport among a mob of screaming girls for their first American tour and then two days later we watched The Ed Sullivan Show to witness their first US appearance. It was magical – the beginning of a lifetime of wonderful experiences and memories!
I remember sitting in our living room watching the Fab Four on Ed Sullivan, but the strongest early memory of The Beatles was actually a little later in 1964. The Beatles’ first movie – A Hard Days Night – came to the theater that used to be on Main Street in my home town. Mom and I went to the first matinee showing on the first day it opened! We sat in the center of the front row in the balcony so that there was no way anyone could stand up in front of us and block our view! The theater was packed – sold out! There was so much screaming going on that we didn’t hear any of the movie, but I remember sitting there crying because I was actually seeing The Beatles bigger than life on that huge movie screen with no one between me and them! I didn’t scream with the others – I sat there frozen, in tears, and in awe! We stayed for the second matinee (back then, you could stay and watch a movie as often as you wanted on one admission price) and watched it again!
I knew every Beatles song by heart and would sing along with the radio or whenever we would put one of their albums on the record player. I had a miniature silver poodle named Mimi and I would sing “Michelle” to her all the time – “Michelle, my belle, these are words that go together well, my Michelle”.
Of course, I had a major crush on Paul — what girl didn’t? But I also thought Ringo was a sweetheart and he was my favorite Beatle. Paul was the cute one; John was the serious one; George was the quiet one; and Ringo was the funny one — that is probably why I liked him so much! Also — I have always had a thing about drummers — not sure if that is why I liked Ringo or if Ringo was the reason I fixated on drummers! But, whichever fascination came first, I was a big Ringo fan and a big drummer fan!
In 1965, Mom piled me, my brother, and several other of our friends in the station wagon and we drove to the Transit Drive-In to see “Help!” on the very first weekend it was released. It was such fun!
Fast forward to the 1973-74 school year – my senior year: The Senior chorus chose “The Long and Winding Road” as one of our songs to perform for our parents at Senior Tea. It became the anthem of my high school years because every time I hear that song, it instantly takes me back to that day and all the wonderful things that happened in my senior year. This song always brings a tear to my eyes whenever I hear it — definitely my very favorite Beatles song of all time!
Then, to show how much influence The Beatles have had on me and my Mom – we are still making new memories to share that are Beatles based! In June 2006, I attended a seminar in Las Vegas and talked Mom into joining me there. We had a great trip, but the highlight by far was when we went to see The Beatles’ LOVE at the Mirage. LOVE is a Cirque du Soleil show featuring all Beatles songs and it was FABULOUS!!! And as with “A Hard Days Night” and “Help!”, we saw it along with one of the very first crowds to get to attend – we got tickets for the few shows that were scheduled prior to the official opening – the dress rehearsal shows that were shown to test the audience reactions. As I watched the show and thought about it afterwards, I compared us sitting in the massive theater at the Las Vegas Mirage with the time we sat in the front row balcony seats in the little home town movie theater 42 years earlier watching The Beatles in “A Hard Days Night”! The same feeling of awe, the same tears, the same wonderful experience shared with my Mom, and the same level of importance in my memory bank!
My favorite Beatles songs? Hard to say, exactly — I already mentioned that “The Long and Winding Road” is by far my all time favorite for various reasons. But, here are a few more that always seem to stop me in my tracks to take time to listen and sing along when I hear them (in no particular order and I’m sure NOT all inclusive of my favorites):
So, thank you, Billy – I don’t really need an excuse to think about all the wonderful memories that are tied in some way to Beatles songs, but it was nice to get a trigger, anyway!