One of my New Year’s resolutions was to clean out the cabinets in the garage, but I only worked 15 minutes before I found my collection of ancient record albums. Like a giddy archeologist with an amazing discovery, I reverently opened the dusty box and gently sorted the cardboard folders. It was almost a spiritual experience when I retrieved Meet the Beatles! The album was released January 20, 1964 – fifty years ago – and I remember.
I was just a little girl but I’ll never forget the anticipation of that first album that Rolling Stone Magazine ranks as 59 of the greatest 500 albums of all time. I had saved money I earned from my paper route and bought the record. I daydreamed in my bedroom as the record played on my portable player. My favorite song was This Boy and my favorite Beatle was Paul McCartney. I knew he was singing just for me, the gangly, frizzy-haired, glasses-wearing goofball living on an Idaho farm.
I also remember The Beatles first appearance in the United States. It was Sunday, February 9, 1964 on the Ed Sullivan Show. My family always watched the show, so we crowded around our one black-and-white television set. I felt pressured to contain my excitement. I still recall Sullivan’s introduction: “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beatles. Let’s bring it on.”
The four young men began a rousing rendition of All My Loving and I could tell my father was getting irritated. We begged him to listen to one more song. He relaxed when the next song was the tender Till There Was You. But when the Beatles launched into She Loves You, my father had heard enough. He jumped up, turned off the television, and said the noise would stop. I was crushed because I wanted to hear I Want to Hold Your Hand. That was the final song on the show. I retreated to my bedroom and listened to the record over and over.
The Beatles were paid $10,000 for three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. That’s nothing compared to the obscene amount of money wasted on today’s mediocre performers. I predict that the current crop of crappy crooners won’t be remembered five decades – or five years – from now. But somewhere a young girl will hear an original rendition of I Saw Her Standing There and she’ll sing in her room and imagine a lover singing, “We danced through the night, and we held each other tight, and before too long I fell in love with her. Now I’ll never dance with another, since I saw her standing there.”