Sunday, February 9, 2014

50th Anniversary

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of what musical event? As nearly every media outlet is informing us, it is of the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. I actually vaguely remember this. It was before my musical consciousness actually awoke. I was living in a very tiny town in northern British Columbia at the time, no more than 800 inhabitants. I remember that when I went to school the next day, I was in grade six, I believe, and the teacher set up a debate in which we were to argue who was better, Elvis or the Beatles. I don't even remember which side I was on!

This was the song that kicked off the show:

There is just so much that is good about that. First of all, the band are really tight in terms of ensemble. The shuffle drums, walking bass and crisp sextuplets on rhythm guitar are integrated just right. Starting with the voice is a nice effect. Do people notice how much care the Beatles took over how songs started? People, and by people, I mean theorists like Walter Everett in his two volume book on the Beatles's music, rave about George's rockabilly guitar solo, but that, to my mind, is the one element that doesn't quite fit.

In retrospect, to listeners in 1964 who were alert (probably not me!), this was an electrifying experience.

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