The boys from Liverpool

The 50-year mark has just passed since the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Undoubtedly, most of us are well aware of this fact and tuned in to “The Night That Changed America,” a CBS-hosted look back on the Beatles, who they were, and where they came from.
It is an understatement to say the Beatles’ music changed us. As a youngster, I wasn’t necessarily a Beatles’ fan, certainly not of the screaming and shrieking variety, but as I listened to the program and to the many artists performing the music of the Beatles, I was tremendously moved.
That’s the thing about music; it speaks to us in a language that has no barriers—in a language that everyone can understand.
Those melodies that form our own personal play-lists are the treasures that link us to our past, and the music of the Beatles may have spanned more play-lists than any other band.
Although my parents balked at the Beatles’ hairstyles, they admired these young men for their talent and their music and, likewise, my children appreciate the music of the Beatles.
I found it interesting that none of the members of the Beatles came from particularly easy childhoods. Paul McCartney, for instance, lost his mother when he was only 14 years old. He wrote “Let It Be” in her memory, to honour her.
John Legend’s and Alicia Keys’ performance of the song was the evening’s favourite for me.
John Lennon lost his mother when he was 18. But in some ways, he already had lost her as an infant when his care was passed over to his mother’s sister, whom the powers that be thought would be more suitable.
Some say Lennon’s mother was his muse.
Life was precarious for his mother, which often is the case for the creative soul. Lennon was a troubled young man, but his music may have been his creative release.
George Harrison’s family was just a dollar or two above poverty and he came from very meagre beginnings, yet this mother encouraged his music.
Life was even tougher for Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey), who had appendicitis at age six that left him with peritonitis and in a coma for three days. His recovery took a full year, limiting his days at school and he fell behind academically.
Then he contracted tuberculosis and spent two years in a sanatorium. It was here that the drums became his companion and his passion.
His alcoholic father left his family and his mother had real difficulty making ends meet, but she still encouraged her son to pursue music.
The common denominator in the childhood of all four of the Beatles was a strong connection to their mother. A coincidence? I don’t think so, and it may have been what brought them together in the first place; what made them click, other than their keen enthusiasm for music.
The CBS program highlighted many fun facts of the Beatles’ journey to stardom, and the screaming passion of adoring fans seemed almost absurd. The Beatles’ music has spanned the decades and resonates just as clearly with young fans today.
Their journey certainly has been remarkable, and we felt real disappointment when the band decided to break up and go their own ways.
We wanted to assess blame, place the responsibility for the end of an era in the hands of Yoko Ono, but the truth probably had many, many layers.
John Lennon’s death came far too early and tragically, and George Harrison’s death was premature. I was disappointed in the coverage of these men’s lives that no mention was made of the lives they created.
Perhaps it wasn’t the time and place, and maybe it really is none of our business. But I felt a turn in my heart when I saw George’s son at the guitar looking every bit like his father.
Maybe we want to know that this special talent can live on; that some things never really do end.
wendistewart@live.ca

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