I cannot separate the Beatles from my ordinary life. Even though I do remember a time before them, for most of my life they have been there. I cannot separate myself from the fact that I know just about every word of every song they ever did, along with plenty of songs they each did as solo artists. They have just been there.
It’s really hard to explain to people who were not alive at the time how the arrival of the Beatles changed everything. Yes, the changes were already in process, but they were the Big Bang. It is hard to look at the picture above and remember how radically LONG their hair was. Before the Beatles, everything was in perfect alignment with the universe. Afterward, things got crazy. Anything could happen. And did.
This may just be a Sixties thing. At the same time the Beatles were rocking the music scene, Pope John XXIII was rocking the Catholic scene. I started my Catholic education memorizing the Baltimore Catechism and going to masses in Latin. This changed in the mid-60’s when English became the language of the service and the priest turned around and could see us, and we could see him. Somehow, in my young, ordinary life, I have these events co-joined. I watched the world break apart, and not just in the ways that always happen with youth, but in ways that assaulted everything we ever thought we lived to do and be as human beings. Everything was challenged. All the old protocols fell apart.
The Beatles broke up when I was a freshman in high school. This coincided with the arrival of the Jackson Five and a change in what I knew as black music. The Beatles went on to do their solo projects, and we got more from them, but less as well. The music world no longer dominated by them opened up a lot of new avenues, particularly the rise of the singer/songwriters such as James Taylor and Jackson Browne. Carole King came out from behind the songwriting credit and changed women’s music with one album. Joni Mitchell became my soul mate. It was no longer a man’s world.
Even still, the Beatles will forever be with me. I cannot see my life without my intense internal knowledge of their music, their presence, their beingness. And I don’t want to.
Coincidentally, this came across my newsfeed today: