The Beatles Are Here!

The Beatles Are Here! by Penelope Rowlands Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: The Beatles Are Here! by Penelope Rowlands Read Free Book Online
Authors: Penelope Rowlands
(which I shared with my brother Roger, who had placed all his bets on the Dave Clark Five) was taped over with photos of the Beatles. It sounds like the most conventional kind of idolatry, but it was just a way of getting around the fact that I couldn’t listen to the Beatles twenty-four hours a day. Sometimes my parents needed the dining-room stereo to listen to the soundtrack of Hello Dolly! They had their own dull musical lives, it seemed.
There’s always something private in the play of children, no matter how much their play is shaped by the commercial culture around them. I was a Mickey Mouse child and a Davy Crockett child. Being a Beatles boy might just have been the next chapter, but no. What the Beatles gave me was something that bore me away from everything I had thought about myself or the world I had lived in. I was suddenly in possession of something that no one but I could ever understand. That there were millions of other Beatles fans meant nothing. Coming into the Beatles was like coming into an unknown and unexpected birthright. It was like riding an iceberg as it falls away from a calving glacier. They somehow squared the puberty I had entered, and they made music more important than whatever else puberty was supposed to be doing to me.
Two songs in particular told me that I was now in a completely different world from the one that had existed, a world to which no parent, no adult could ever track me. Those songs are “Ticket to Ride” and “Help!,” released in April and July 1965. Looking back and listening to them now, I can hear Rubber Soul coming, an album into which I have probably gazed more deeply than any other Beatles recording. And though the Beatles feel continuous right up until this moment, something changes with “Ticket to Ride” and “Help!” That change—what is about to come—remains frozen in the changing when I hear John’s voice in those songs or listen to the beautiful lag of Ringo’s staggered drumming in “Ticket to Ride,” so visible in the Beatles’ final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. I listened to those two songs again and again and again in 1965, still in Iowa, not even knowing that California—or the rest of my life—was a possibility. All I wanted when I had finished hearing them was to hear them again. They contain, each in its own way, a feeling I can’t name or describe, the languor of regret, the urgency of despair. But above all they contain the love of music.

Jamie Nicol Bowles, fan
I LIVED IN this little town of Independence, Missouri, with ten thousand people and a little record store. We listened to this radio station in Kansas City that played the Top Thirty. We were all listening to Jan and Dean. We’d go into the little record store on allowance day to buy 45s and EPs.
The radio was kind of a glimpse into another world. Independence is now a suburb of Kansas City, but back then it was a really small Southern town. It was Harry Truman’s hometown. It was lovely but limited and limiting, so any vision of another world was kind of tantalizing. And my father was very strict, being an immigrant—I figured out later that it was an immigrant thing. (He grew up in Glasgow in dire poverty and came here when he was fifteen.) By the time I was growing up, he’d become the town banker, which for me only added to Independence’s claustrophobic, small-town feel.
The Beatles were a fast craze. When it happened, it happened really fast. DJs like Wolfman Jack, who was then working from a pirate radio station in Mexico, began playing some cuts from the band illegally, before they’d been officially released in the U.S. They played Beatles stuff early and suddenly the group was all any kid in the neighborhood could talk about.
In the early sixties, pirate stations had really strong signals and they came from all over the place. If they could reach Missouri, then they had strong signals. These stations were all we listened to at night.
Radio had

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