Mark Evanier has started a retrospective series on The Beatles, which got me to thinking about when I first encountered them.
I was not much of a fan of rock music back in the 50s and early 60s, my tastes running more to Broadway show tunes. I’d hear an occasional rock or pop tune from time to time, but I didn’t listen to any rock radio shows. And of course, there were juke boxes in restaurants in those days, so I’d hear some of the latest hits when I went out to eat.
But when Ed Sullivan snagged the latest British sensation for his TV variety show, it was promoted six ways to Sunday, so I got caught up in the hype, even though I really didn’t know anything about The Beatles.
I do recall watching that first program and finding the screaming girls very odd, and I was surprised to also find that I really enjoyed the Fab Four’s music. They played some very attractive tunes like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You”.
So when I saw their album Meet the Beatles, I bought a copy. I think it was the first rock album I ever bought.
Now I know that we had a copy of a Chubby Checker twist album, but I think my mother may have gotten that as something of a joke, or maybe it was me, I’m not really sure. I vaguely recall a gathering in our living room where my aunt Joan was doing the twist and getting some of the rest of us to join in.
As I said, I enjoyed some of the Beatles tunes. They were tuneful and different in a way I wouldn’t have been able to describe. Much later I found out that many of them were based not on the usual major/minor scales but on the old medieval church modes.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see that one of the tracks on the album had Paul McCartney singing a show tune: “Till There Was You” from The Music Man. I didn’t care much for his version, but I was still glad to see it there.
So although I still didn’t listen to any rock radio stations, I did follow The Beatles off and on from then on. It was next to impossible not to, as they were nearly always in the news.