Laura Haley-McNeil

6/18/17, Happy Birthday, Paul!

The Beatles

Hello, Everyone!

Happy Father’s Day to the wonderful fathers out there! On days like these, I miss my own father, who was wonderful to his 6 children, but I’m grateful for the memories he gave me.

I had another topic I wanted to write about today, but when I saw the date, I remembered a famous person I have always admired, whose birthday is today and whose birthday I have remembered every year. I have a friend with the same birthday though she is lightyears younger than the person I’m remembering today, but because of the date of my friend’s birthday, I always remember her birthday.

The famous person celebrating a birthday today is Paul McCartney. Maybe some of you are too young to remember who he is. He was a member of the rock band, The Beatles. He and his fellow musicians absolutely fascinate me because of their talent and their perseverance. I also thought Paul was very handsome. The other band members are also interesting, but because today is Paul’s birthday, I will focus on him. I’m sorry to say I don’t know the birthdays of the other members.

I was very young when The Beatles became a sensation and though the musicians went their separate ways in 1970, people talk about the group as if they still performed together. Each member went on to have successful careers as soloists, but we still think of them as The Beatles. I can remember friends, and we were still quite young having barely learned how to read, who would buy the teen magazines and pour over the articles about The Beatles. And looking back at this now, The Beatles were young, still in their teens and early twenties, though as someone who was still celebrating single digit birthdays, they seemed ancient, as old as my parents, though they weren’t. It took me awhile to become part of The Beatlemania movement. Although my parents enjoyed contemporary music, and would go dancing whenever they could find a babysitter who would babysit 6 children, the records, yes, I know, records are ancient, in our house were opera. My dad made a cabinet, which was primitive, and all the records were stored in this cabinet beneath a phonograph in the living room. It was years before my parents bought a stereo system.

In elementary school, my girlfriends would bring their teen magazines to school and at lunchtime on the playground, all my friends would gather around and the magazine owner would read the latest interview of one of The Beatles while the rest of us listened. I didn’t get it. These men lived in another country. Why would anyone care? But their marketing made them a sensation and every girl, teen and young woman, maybe even some older women, had crushes on these men. I never saw them perform, but if you look at videos of their performances, you’ll see girls and women crying. The phenomenon was overwhelming. I can’t imagine anyone behaving that way today.

The Beatles filmed a few movies. One of them was Help, based on an album they released. My mother drove a friend and me to a downtown theatre to see the movie. I never heard a word spoken during the film. The theatre was filled with girls and women who started screaming during the opening credits and screamed until the movie ended when we were forced to exit so the next viewing could begin. I’m sure those girls screamed, too.

The Beatles also filmed a movie called A Hard Day’s Night, based on another album. While both movies had a plot, AHDN followed them from one performance to another. This movie I saw in a smaller, local theatre. When the film rolled, the audience, again mostly female, began to scream. The film stopped and so did the screaming. The theatre owner came on stage and announced that the film would not be shown if the viewers were going to scream during the performance. The film started again. There was no screaming.

What fascinates me about these young men, The Beatles, is their belief in themselves. It had to be a hard life, sleeping wherever they could as they traveled from club to club throughout the UK and the continent. They didn’t receive much money let alone enough to live on and they came from modest backgrounds so their parents weren’t doling out money to them whenever they needed it. It was a different time back then. When their music finally traveled across the pond, Americans loved them. They were different, not just their music, but their appearance. They’re hair was longer, though nothing like what became fashionable later on. At first, they all wore matching suits with boots which became popular. When they were on the stage, they seemed to stand in predetermined places and didn’t move. They stood in front of the microphone, sang and played their instruments. Now performers bounce all over the stage.

There was a television variety show called The Ed Sullivan Show. I wasn’t allowed to watch the program because it was on Sunday night, a school night, and my parents forbade television watching on a school night. Most of the time I didn’t care, and so I knew nothing about the programs my friends watched during the week, but somehow I found out that The Beatles would perform on TESS. I sneaked into the basement where the black and white television sat and turned it on. I had to keep the volume low so my parents wouldn’t hear anything. I know. That was wrong, but I desperately wanted to see the program. I had a black and white camera that I took with me and took pictures of The Beatles performing on the television. Again, the audience was filled with young women, who screamed during the entire performance. I took eight pictures with my camera and took the role to the drugstore to have them developed. The pictures didn’t turn out. Instead, I had pictures of a television set that looked as if it weren’t broadcasting a program, that it had never been turned on.

Of course, The Beatles went their separate ways and music styles changed. I had always been fond of classical music, I had studied piano and ballet which encompasses contemporary compositions, but they didn’t interest me, and so I rarely listened to contemporary music.

Now when I see a photo of Paul McCartney performing, I can hardly believe that the handsome young man millions of girls had a crush on is now a grandfather. In 1967, The Beatles performed a song called When I’m Sixty-Four. Back then, who thought The Beatles would age? I didn’t even think I would age. I have to give him credit. He truly believed in his dream and still does. Kudos to him to still want to share his talent the world over.

Happy birthday, Paul!

And if you are celebrating a birthday today, I wish you happy birthday as well. Paul McCartney is in good company!

I hope you all have a wonderful week and are enjoying your summer!