Monday, February 09, 2009

Where Were You 45 Years Ago Today?

I was just 4 years old on this date in 1964. I don't remember much about those days, but I do know that our family didn't have a TV set until a couple of years later, after I had started school.

A few months earlier, our family spent several days at our neighbors' house to watch the news reports from Dallas and Washington following the assassination of President Kennedy.

And I vaguely remember, in February 1964, being back in that neighbors' house, for the first live TV appearance of the Beatles.

But I could be wrong. During the days following the Kennedy assassination, my parents were riveted to the neighbors' TV set, but the only thing I remember for certain is that most, if not all, of my attention was on the cool toys the neighbors' son had to play with.

In the years that have passed, I have come to the conclusion that most of my "memories" of the Kennedy assassination are actually film clips that I've seen repeatedly and I've convinced myself that I remember seeing them as they happened.

It may be that way with the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The Beatles certainly went on to become one of the greatest cultural influences in modern times. Their songs have become so familiar to most people that even those who weren't born while the Beatles were still together know their names and the songs they wrote.

Few people in any human endeavor can hope to wield the kind of influence that the Beatles did. A good example was the release of the CD "1" — a collection of the Beatles' number 1 hits — in 2000.

The CD was released to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Beatles' breakup in 1970. Each song in the collection was at least 30 years old, and most were older than that. Yet it became the biggest-selling recording of the year, a blockbuster phenomenon.

It sold more than 3 million copies in its first week and more than 12 million copies in three weeks worldwide, and it became the #1 recording in nearly three dozen countries, including the United States and the Beatles' native United Kingdom.

Half of the Fab Four — some might consider it the best half — are gone now, and the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, are in their 60s now.

But even after all four Beatles are gone, their influence will continue.