The Beatles
(excerpt from Chapter One of Rock & Roll Medicine©)




I Want To Hold Your Hand...The Beatles

I am the consummate Beatles fan. My parents, though a little jarred by the loudness, don’t think it’s the worst music they’ve ever heard. But I am indulged and my dad takes me out to get the latest Beatles album as soon as it is in stores. John is my favorite.

On Thursday, September 17, 1964, the Beatles appear at the Athletics’ baseball stadium in downtown Kansas City, and Tod and Peggy purchase the most expensive seat possible for me, a whopping $8.50, unheard of in those days. None of my friends can afford to sit with me. My parents come along purchasing $1.00 tickets at the door. I am the designated, self-appointed explorer who will enter the eye of the storm, down on the field near the stage.

As the designated one, surfing the electric wave, down on second base, I find myself loaded down with cameras and film as if to capture the experience and transport it back to the outside world.

John, Paul, George, and Ringo are escorted onto the stage by what seem like hundreds of uniformed policemen. A wave of hysterics, like a high-pitched symphony of cicadas, washes over the stadium as they enter. Bursting into song, the amplification of which is dwarfed by the ceaseless roar that only escalates in volume and pitch. In the frenzy, I am trying to capture every moment in pictures. So consumed am I by the act of juggling the Kodak Brownie and Super 8 cameras that the show is over before I know it and the residual trauma hits me on the way home. I am inconsolable, sobbing as I did nine months earlier. My parents simply looking ahead are slightly dismayed by my total loss of composure, but they quietly smile to each other as we disappear into the dark form of hills that wind us back to Argentine.

I will see the Beatles again in St. Louis in ‘66. As the band reinvents itself with each new album, the experimental process opens us up. Beatles 65, Rubber Soul, and Beatles VI all come out after I see them the first time. But the album that really shows a radical shift in consciousness is Revolver. The movement is provoking development and stretching the horizon.

It is during this period that John stirs up controversy with the statement that the Beatles are bigger than Jesus. Taken out of context, the Fab Four are scrutinized, opposition is polarized, and records are burned. Parental pressure tempers Beatlemania, as if to put the genie back in the bottle, though my parents were essentially irreligious, though not unconcerned. John retracts the statement. But the genie is already out and the very fabric of the Judeo-Christian ethic is challenged by the prospect of a spiritual-intellectual revolution that is in the hands of a new irreverent generation.


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