Did you catch the Beatles tribute tonight? Called “The Night that Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles”, the show ran for 2-1/2 hours on CBS. I watched it and thought it was pretty good; it kept my interest for most of the time. I enjoyed hearing other artists’ renditions of Beatles songs more than I thought I would, especially Imagine Dragons' version of Revolution (I had never heard of this group before). Although none compared to the archival footage of the Beatles themselves giving their legendary performance in the Ed Sullivan Theater 50 years ago. I never tire of seeing those clips.
Eric Idle was a hoot talking about the Rutles’ historic performance back then (and the Beatles were there, too), while David Letterman was great as always, interviewing Paul and Ringo in the Ed Sullivan Theater. I loved hearing the ladies who were in the audience that night in February 1964. I can’t believe they were able to track them down. I laughed when the one woman said how excited she was to be there and that she was certain Paul was just waiting for her to grow up so he could marry her. I can relate! (Although with me it was more the Monkees and Mark Lindsay!)
I could have done without some of the song selections, though. I'm sick of Yellow Submarine and never cared for it the first billion times I heard it (and my grandson always wants me to sing it to him before naptime!). I cringed when Paul started singing “Let it Be” and groaned at the first notes of “Hey Jude”. They’re just not my favorite tunes and I’ve heard them so many times in my 50+ years. I was tapping my toes to the more upbeat songs like “And I Saw Her Standing There” and “Birthday.” And Ringo's performance of "Boys" was electrifying, especially with the audience members singing and bopping along. It must be nice to be married to someone like Tom Hanks and get front row seats right next to Paul and his wife (except that you also would be even closer to Yoko who was doing some weird "dancing" in the aisle).
It’s amazing to see the two surviving Beatles together; they are essentially old men in their 70’s but still going strong. Fifty years ago there were parents who forbade their children to listen to that group, convinced those guys would corrupt their little darlings. If only those parents could have seen Paul and Ringo tonight, belting out lyrics such as “and I held her hand in mine” and “we all live in a Yellow Submarine.” So tame compared to many of today’s songs filled with profanity and promoting drugs, sex and violence against women.
I do wonder, however, about Ringo’s line of “I get high with a little help from my friends.” I hope he was talking about being high on life! What if he meant marijuana? Uh oh, now I’m corrupted! Those parents in the 60’s were right! These old guys have convinced me to try pot! Oh no!!! Seriously, it IS terrible the Beatles smoked pot and used other drugs, and in many ways those parents of long ago did have a point. It was almost as bad that the Rutles took tea. But I digress.
In any case, I felt it really was a good show (or a really good shoe) and a wonderful tribute to the Beatles, which I do believe changed the world as we knew it. Any group that can give us “She Love You Yeah Yeah Yeah” has got to be great!
Here is a video called “The Beatles on Ed Sullivan: 50 Years Later”, with Donovan, Peter Asher, Beatles scholar Martin Lewis and their secretary, Freda Kelly reflecting on the band’s legacy and Beatlemania in America. It’s interesting when Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon) talks about how America in the 60's was incredibly far away. “Back then, going to America was a really big deal,” he said. And as Freda Kelly added, “We couldn’t believe how America just basically opened their arms to the Beatles. I just couldn’t believe the response!”