Monday, June 11, 2012


Meet the Beatles 1962, Manhattan, KS

This morning’s cover story in USA Today featured the golden fifty year anniversary of the launch of the mop top lads with a cheeky attitude from Liverpool—The Beatles. They entered Abby Road Studios with producer George Martin in 1962 and the rest is history, including a world sales record of 600 million albums later. Our little band of engineering students at Kansas State University literally wore out the first LP vinyl record to hit the states that year! When Martin lectured the band about their shoddy equipment and then asked if they had any complaints, George Harrison summed up the groups’ persona by replying, “I don’t like your tie”.

The article attributed an incredible convergence of factors and an inexplicable charisma for their phenomenal success. Again, Harrison summed things up by explaining that “the world used us as an excuse to go mad”. I think that was extremely insightful, right up to the present day “Bieber craze". A quick search reveals hits on Justin “with a hat on” and another “with no shirt on”. But I like a quote from Beatles scholar Martin Lewis, who observed that “they left seven years of brilliantly recorded music and a perfect corpse that kept the mystique and beauty of The Beatles intact”. They “disbanded” at the top of their game and forever fixed their youthful image in our minds. Of course, not everyone follows their example. I attended a Rolling Stones concert in Raleigh about six years ago which folks were dubbing the Social Security Tour. When lead guitarist Keith Richards introduced the show, he mentioned that “it’s good to be in North Carolina again---actually it’s good to be anywhere”.

I was first introduced to the phrase “live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse” while reading the book Knock on any Door by Willard Motley in high school. This credo of a young man from the slums on trial for murder became a clarion call for disenfranchised youth. And since then I’ve observed people that become frozen in the prime time of their lives that evolve into something larger than life. We humans seem to idolize even more those notable people that exit stage right in their prime such as Vincent Van Gogh, James Dean, JFK, Martin Luther King, etc. John Lennon was shot four times in the back and murdered at age 40 in 1980. Don McLean’s haunting lyrics to Starry Starry Night were written in homage to 37 year old Vincent's untimely suicide. Billy Joel had a hit song during the Vietnam era lamenting that only the good die young. Jesus Christ was crucified at the age of thirty three. And all of these untimely departures imprinted a legacy in our minds as being “forever young”.

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