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Old Feb 7, 2014, 05:17 PM   #1
mobilehaathi
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February 9th, 1964: The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show

Fifty years ago this Sunday (and also a Sunday), The Beatles played on The Ed Sullivan show for the first time. I'd be curious to hear from those of you who watched it then.

General thoughts and musings welcome! Broad or narrow analyses of historical or personal significance even more so.

Or you can just post a Beatles song that's particularly poignant, enjoyable, or special to you.
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Old Feb 8, 2014, 01:20 PM   #2
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Great idea for a thread, and I cannot believe that nobody else has taken the opportunity to post here yet.

Obviously, I didn't see The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show; we don't have US TV in western Europe, and, while I do have some Beatles' numbers imprinted on my soul, maybe not quite that far back.

But yes, all of that music - and not only the Beatles' - formed a backdrop, and soundtrack, to my childhood, and I do recall what seemed to be a climate of bizarre optimism, people really thought things could be and could get, better, and were more open, and positive than maybe was later the case.

As a teenager, looking back, I loved the energy and rhythm of the early Beatles' stuff - including 'A Hard Day's Night', and much else from 1964 and 1965. Now, I find I much prefer their more mature stuff - say, much of what they did from 'Revolver' onwards (though some of the music from 'Rubber Soul' would also make the cut). These days, my favourite Beatles' albums are the 'White' album, and 'Abbey Road', with 'Revolver' and 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band' next.

Re culture (which also, inevitably, means politics), I read a fascinating article recently in The Guardian. This argued that recent educational 'reforms' in the UK (reforms which have served to increase the cost of education, and therefore, ensure that access to education is made a lot more difficult and - in essence - unaffordable for those from less well off backgrounds, which is the clear intent of those in power) will have an effect not simply on enabling - or rather, preventing - working class kids to get to college, but will also have an effect on culture and the arts.

Here, the argument is that bright or creative kids from troubled or financially stressed backgrounds -who don't wish to attend university, used to be able to find a voice via art school training, or other such outlets, outlets which are now having their state funding slashed.

The Beatles' were very much the product of this sort of background, alienated bright kids who found their voice through art college (at least John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe did) and eventually migrated to other creative forms.

The Guardian piece argued that by depriving bright and creative kids from dysfunctional and poor (or poorer) backgrounds from access to such forms of higher education, especially alternative forms of education (such as art college) such policies, firstly, snuff out potential routes for kids from such backgrounds to find their voice, and vocation; secondly, it makes what passes for artistic, (acting, art, music) activity and endeavour to have much less strength in depth, and much less vibrancy, and indeed, authenticity, because thirdly, the only people - nowadays - who can afford to make a career in the arts are those who have come from relatively privileged backgrounds.

The Beatles' were a product of, not just postwar cultural & musical influences from across the Atlantic, (such as angry music, and a welcome and overdue dropping of the old habits of deference to the wealthy and powerful), but were also a product of the reforms, in education, society, the economy and politics which were enacted by the reforming Labour Government of Clement Attlee from 1945, with legislation such as the earlier (Labour influenced) Education Act of 1944.

Without such reforms, which allowed kids from dysfunctional backgrounds a chance at higher education, and thus, the voice, the vocabulary and the means to change their own lives and the lives of those their music & art in turn, influenced, the cultural revolution of the 1960s in the UK would not, and could not, have happened.
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Old Feb 8, 2014, 01:29 PM   #3
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I saw them on the Sullivan show that evening. Our whole family was sitting around a small black and white TV set to see what all the hubbub was about. This was THE show to watch. I was about eleven years old. It was mesmerizing.

I think we even made popcorn. It was so long ago. Wow. Sullivan had a bunch of people on his show but The Beatles was the reason for this show. I think there were maybe 80% of households tuned in. Two songs I think.

From that point all I wanted was some Beatle Boots. That was the thing to wear. I absolutely loved that band the first time I saw them.

Man that was so long ago it's hard to remember exactly every moment.
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Old Feb 8, 2014, 01:42 PM   #4
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That was before my time. Great moment in tv history, but I wasn't around to see it.
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Old Feb 8, 2014, 04:27 PM   #5
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I remember it. I was 13 years old, and we always watched the Sullivan show on Sunday evenings. What I most remember was my father being absolutely non-plussed, absolutely unable to grasp what all the excitement was about. And, to be honest, so was I. It wasn't until later that I began to realize that they were something special. At the time, on that night, what I most remember was the studio audience. I'd never seen young girls look that insane and blissed-out and loud before. Or since.

God bless John.

Peace.

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Old Feb 8, 2014, 04:36 PM   #6
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I was an undergrad at the time, and certainly did watch the show. (Of course, I also clearly remember when Sullivan had Elvis on, photographed from the waist up to protect our collective morality!).

The Beatles, and the revolution they brought to rock music is a very clear and dramatic memory. They did push the rhythm and blues based rock - Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and their ilk off the radar, which was a shame, but they brought an amazingly original (for the US) sound.

And Elvis was singing pretty much exclusively crap at that point...Blue Hawaii!?
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Old Feb 9, 2014, 05:00 AM   #7
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I did not see that particular show, the Beatles were the first major Pop stars that had a link to real life of young people in a non USA.

Up until that time Elivs, Chuck Berry, Little Richards etc, had all focused on the American teenager, driving at 16, drive in movie houses, prom dances. It was nothing like life here in Europe.

Then along came the Beatles and the rest of the English groups and re wrote Pop Music, as they say the rest is history.
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Old Feb 9, 2014, 08:17 AM   #8
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Was not around yet

But I can imagine the impact this had.

I was a huge Beatles fan early in life (due to older sister and mom) and I appreciate what they brought to music and the world as a whole.
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Old Feb 9, 2014, 12:53 PM   #9
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Thank you all for your thoughts!

Although this event, and the Beatles entire career, was before my time, I have to admit that their (and John and George's) music played an enormous role in my childhood and adolescence.

Because of my youth (John was assassinated 4 years before my birth), I was introduced to the music well out of order. My first recollection of/introduction to this music was not even The Beatles:



My mother loved to play traditional Christian Christmas music during 'that time of the year,' but she would always play this John Lennon song too. From a very young age I had started to register some awareness that, within the mix of Christmas music she would play, 'one of these things was not like the other.' (I blame Sesame Street!)

When I was in Grade 1, during Operation Desert Storm, I remember listening to the background chorus and thinking, "Wow, it sounds like they are saying, 'War is over, if you want it.'" I dismissed that interpretation though. My classmates were blithely repeating the hate they overheard at home, and I was utterly perplexed by their apparent madness. (Sometimes I wonder if parents don't realize just how much their young children listen, observe, and internalize.) And so at the age of 6 (apparently having already turned into a cynic) I rejected that interpretation of those lyrics, as much as I wanted them to be true, because I felt most adults thought the same (excluding my parents), and why would an adult sing about war being over when it seemed clear they didn't want it to be over.

(The above is not intended to start a political discussion.)

By the time I got to high school I was up to my neck in The Beatles. Sophomore year I listened to the White Album on repeat. Junior year it was Revolver. Senior year it was Abbey Road.
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Old Feb 9, 2014, 02:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by mobilehaathi View Post
Thank you all for your thoughts!

Although this event, and the Beatles entire career, was before my time, I have to admit that their (and John and George's) music played an enormous role in my childhood and adolescence.

Because of my youth (John was assassinated 4 years before my birth), I was introduced to the music well out of order. My first recollection of/introduction to this music was not even The Beatles:

YouTube: video

My mother loved to play traditional Christian Christmas music during 'that time of the year,' but she would always play this John Lennon song too. From a very young age I had started to register some awareness that, within the mix of Christmas music she would play, 'one of these things was not like the other.' (I blame Sesame Street!)

When I was in Grade 1, during Operation Desert Storm, I remember listening to the background chorus and thinking, "Wow, it sounds like they are saying, 'War is over, if you want it.'" I dismissed that interpretation though. My classmates were blithely repeating the hate they overheard at home, and I was utterly perplexed by their apparent madness. (Sometimes I wonder if parents don't realize just how much their young children listen, observe, and internalize.) And so at the age of 6 (apparently having already turned into a cynic) I rejected that interpretation of those lyrics, as much as I wanted them to be true, because I felt most adults thought the same (excluding my parents), and why would an adult sing about war being over when it seemed clear they didn't want it to be over.

(The above is not intended to start a political discussion.)

By the time I got to high school I was up to my neck in The Beatles. Sophomore year I listened to the White Album on repeat. Junior year it was Revolver. Senior year it was Abbey Road.
Lovely story. Thank you for sharing that.
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Old Feb 9, 2014, 03:11 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by mobilehaathi View Post
Thank you all for your thoughts!

Although this event, and the Beatles entire career, was before my time, I have to admit that their (and John and George's) music played an enormous role in my childhood and adolescence.

Because of my youth (John was assassinated 4 years before my birth), I was introduced to the music well out of order. My first recollection of/introduction to this music was not even The Beatles:

YouTube: video

My mother loved to play traditional Christian Christmas music during 'that time of the year,' but she would always play this John Lennon song too. From a very young age I had started to register some awareness that, within the mix of Christmas music she would play, 'one of these things was not like the other.' (I blame Sesame Street!)

When I was in Grade 1, during Operation Desert Storm, I remember listening to the background chorus and thinking, "Wow, it sounds like they are saying, 'War is over, if you want it.'" I dismissed that interpretation though. My classmates were blithely repeating the hate they overheard at home, and I was utterly perplexed by their apparent madness. (Sometimes I wonder if parents don't realize just how much their young children listen, observe, and internalize.) And so at the age of 6 (apparently having already turned into a cynic) I rejected that interpretation of those lyrics, as much as I wanted them to be true, because I felt most adults thought the same (excluding my parents), and why would an adult sing about war being over when it seemed clear they didn't want it to be over.

(The above is not intended to start a political discussion.)

By the time I got to high school I was up to my neck in The Beatles. Sophomore year I listened to the White Album on repeat. Junior year it was Revolver. Senior year it was Abbey Road.
Great story, beautifully told. And thanks a lot for sharing it.

And yes, the three albums you have mentioned, (the 'White' album, Abbey Road, and Revolver) are also my favourite albums made by the Beatles.
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Old Feb 10, 2014, 10:38 AM   #12
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I've always felt like I missed something about the Beatles.
Their music has always sounded awful to my ears. Really, the melody (save for a few songs), the lyrics, the voice(s), everything is unbearable.

I'm thirty, so they are way in the past, but so are many musicians I like (actually, most of what I listen to is from the 50s to the 80s).

I'm not trolling, I'm just perplex. What am I missing? Is it because to me the Beatles are only the music they left behind, whereas you guys take into account their cultural impact?
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Old Feb 10, 2014, 10:45 AM   #13
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I've always felt like I missed something about the Beatles.
Their music has always sounded awful to my ears. Really, the melody (save for a few songs), the lyrics, the voice(s), everything is unbearable.
Seriously? That borders on the unbelievable. Not to your taste, perhaps, or overrated, but unbearable? Unbearable?
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Old Feb 10, 2014, 11:10 AM   #14
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Seriously? That borders on the unbelievable. Not to your taste, perhaps, or overrated, but unbearable? Unbearable?
Really, I'm not exaggerating. Unbearable like I'll-turn-the-radio-off-as-soon-as-I-hear-one-of-their-songs. To be honest, some songs are okay at a very low volume, but most produce in me the same knee jerk reaction*. I find the lyrics childish but English is not my first language, so with some songs, I can last the whole song if I'm not paying attention. The melodies, however, are too "bland" (the best example of that is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds: two seconds, and I'm out, although Michelle is a close second). Maybe it's just too "pop-ish" for my taste? I used to spend a lot of time in the car with my boss, and he LOVED the Beatles, so I'd always hide his cds so I didn't have to endure them.

*Edit: it's not only the Beatles, but with them, it's pretty much all the songs.
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Old Feb 10, 2014, 02:18 PM   #15
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Really, I'm not exaggerating. Unbearable like I'll-turn-the-radio-off-as-soon-as-I-hear-one-of-their-songs. To be honest, some songs are okay at a very low volume, but most produce in me the same knee jerk reaction*. I find the lyrics childish but English is not my first language, so with some songs, I can last the whole song if I'm not paying attention. The melodies, however, are too "bland" (the best example of that is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds: two seconds, and I'm out, although Michelle is a close second). Maybe it's just too "pop-ish" for my taste? I used to spend a lot of time in the car with my boss, and he LOVED the Beatles, so I'd always hide his cds so I didn't have to endure them.

*Edit: it's not only the Beatles, but with them, it's pretty much all the songs.

Each to their own. Personally, I cannot abide Elvis, detest heavy metal, loathe rap, and, do not even begin to understand why Boy Bands exist - musically, that is; I get the commercial argument, depressing though it is.

Re The Beatles, they were grammar school and art school lads - mostly from the lower middle class, (at a time when class barriers had become a bit more porous), from a provincial city (Liverpool) in a country where, traditionally, almost everything began and ended with London, who took US versions of rock and roll music (as already adapted by Buddy Holly and indeed Elvis) and crafted this to appeal to a British sensibility at a time it became possible to express a desire for change through the medium of music.

By the early 1960s, postwar norms and elites were being viewed with less deference, (rather than the awestruck admiration which some still considered their due) while the concept & reality, and recognition of what it was to be an adolescent, or 'teenager' was beginning to have a transformative effect (social, cultural, economic and political) on a society where traditionally, you left school and started work if you weren't a part of the leisured classes for whom university and a berth in the professions awaited you as your inevitably inherited part of the windfall afforded you by the fortuitous lottery of your birth.

So, in essence, the Beatles represented extraordinary social & cultural change, and their music (which grew in complexity and confidence during the 60s) reflected and articulated that change. In some ways, they were both (artistic) engine and some sort of mirror which reflected those changes.

I love a lot of their stuff, especially some of their later albums, whereas I can take or leave The Rolling Stones, a handful of songs excepted.
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Old Feb 10, 2014, 02:36 PM   #16
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Each to their own. Personally, I cannot abide Elvis, detest heavy metal, loathe rap, and, do not even begin to understand why Boy Bands exist - musically, that is; I get the commercial argument, depressing though it is.

Re The Beatles, they were grammar school and art school lads - mostly from the lower middle class, (at a time when class barriers had become a bit more porous), from a provincial city (Liverpool) in a country where, traditionally, almost everything began and ended with London, who took US versions of rock and roll music (as already adapted by Buddy Holly and indeed Elvis) and crafted this to appeal to a British sensibility at a time it became possible to express a desire for change through the medium of music.

By the early 1960s, postwar norms and elites were being viewed with less deference, (rather than the awestruck admiration which some still considered their due) while the concept & reality, and recognition of what it was to be an adolescent, or 'teenager' was beginning to have a transformative effect (social, cultural, economic and political) on a society where traditionally, you left school and started work if you weren't a part of the leisured classes for whom university and a berth in the professions awaited you as your inevitably inherited part of the windfall afforded you by the fortuitous lottery of your birth.

So, in essence, the Beatles represented extraordinary social & cultural change, and their music (which grew in complexity and confidence during the 60s) reflected and articulated that change. In some ways, they were both (artistic) engine and some sort of mirror which reflected those changes.

I love a lot of their stuff, especially some of their later albums, whereas I can take or leave The Rolling Stones, a handful of songs excepted.
Excellent explanation/summation of their historical context.

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Really, I'm not exaggerating. Unbearable like I'll-turn-the-radio-off-as-soon-as-I-hear-one-of-their-songs. To be honest, some songs are okay at a very low volume, but most produce in me the same knee jerk reaction*. I find the lyrics childish but English is not my first language, so with some songs, I can last the whole song if I'm not paying attention. The melodies, however, are too "bland" (the best example of that is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds: two seconds, and I'm out, although Michelle is a close second). Maybe it's just too "pop-ish" for my taste? I used to spend a lot of time in the car with my boss, and he LOVED the Beatles, so I'd always hide his cds so I didn't have to endure them.

*Edit: it's not only the Beatles, but with them, it's pretty much all the songs.
O.K., I understand (I think). I hope I didn't offend you.
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Old Feb 14, 2014, 02:45 AM   #17
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Throughout high school I knew the Beatles most famous songs, and I acknowledged what they did for music but I never was super into them. Early last summer (I was 21 at the time) I was sick of the music in my current library so I decided to buy a random Beatles album I hadn't heard to see if they were really that good. I bought Rubber Soul and I was hooked instantly. I couldn't imagine that I was actually hearing these sounds in my ear.

My dad was born in 1954 and grew up in Liverpool so he is probably one of the biggest Beatles fans as he grew up with them, but he never really pushed his music tastes on me. My Beatles obsession grew and I bought an epiphone casino a few months ago and I'm having a blast learning to play guitar and eventually will learn Beatles songs. However, the one specific thing that really showed me how big the Beatles were was my moms reaction when I was playing A Hard Day's Night.

My mom grew up in India and she really has no interest in any music other than some classical indian music, let alone rock. As she was walking by my room I heard her singing a verse to A Hard Day's Night which surprised me. Turns out even she knows a bunch of their famous songs (I Want to Hold your Hand, She Loves you, A Hard Day's Night, Eight Days a Week etc.) This honestly put the whole thing in perspective as to how big the Beatles were.
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Old Feb 14, 2014, 09:24 AM   #18
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I'm not trolling, I'm just perplex. What am I missing? Is it because to me the Beatles are only the music they left behind, whereas you guys take into account their cultural impact?
I don't know if this will help you understand or not, but here's perhaps the best explanation I can give.

These guys started out playing when they were teenagers. They hit it big with what some might actually be described as bubblegum pop back in the Please Please Me/With The Beatles era, progressed into a more experimental sound around the time of Beatles For Sale/Rubber Soul, psychedelic rock during their Revolver - Magical Mystery Tour phase, and back into what would develop into modern rock and roll from The White Album - Abbey Road.

They're one of the first bands credited with writing their own music. Many credit them for the first real concept album (Sgt. Pepper), the first backward masking ("Rain"), and for influencing nearly every rock and roll act from that period of time forward.

All of this took place - think about it - in the span of only eight years. Some of them weren't even thirty years old in the end. It's pretty impressive, when you take it all in.
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