Can’t buy me brains

The Fab Four arrive in New York.

On this day in 1964 The Beatles came to America.

Two days later they appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and I was watching, like 74 million of my fellow Americans.

My parents were appalled. My sister was entranced. And me? I remember thinking something along the lines of: “Hmph. These guys will never be as big as Elvis. And look at those silly haircuts.”

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14 Responses to “Can’t buy me brains”

  1. Pat O'Brien Says:

    All I remember was screaming. Old Ed was getting pissed, but the screaming continued. They got too much airtime, and I started to get sick of them. Then I grew up and discovered their song writing. Genius.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’m not sure what tipped me over the edge. Might’ve been “A Hard Day’s Night,” which was great fun. Could’ve been the album “Yesterday and Today,” which I think was the first album I ever bought for myself, at the base exchange on Randolph AFB. The rise of FM radio and affordable, good-quality listening gear sure helped. Put on the headphones and get weird.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    You shoulda seen my 4th Grade classroom on Monday morning after the Ed Sullivan’s Really Beeg Shew. Mrs. Wagner had to work pretty hard to calm things down.

  3. mike w. Says:

    My folks wouldn’t let me watch…

    My dad called it Jungle Music. As a Scotsman, he wasn’t a big fan of the British Invasion scene.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ours let us watch, but they were so very much not into it. They were Big Band types — Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and so on. And Mom liked musicals, so we had the soundtracks to “South Pacific,” “Sound of Music,” and whatnot blaring around the house.

      • SAO' Says:

        Glen Miller sold some albums. Somewhere I heard that in the late ‘30s, one-quarter of all juke box discs were Miller’s. Wikipedia says he put out 266 singles (78 rpm) in six years before going off to war.

        Music as an industry fascinates me. Before Edison, the only ways to make money were concerts and sheet music. TV was a huge medium for music when fidelity of the home entertainment system wasn’t any better. When recordings became popular, the best sources were the places where folks had already rehearsed a ton, and therefore could put it together in the fewest takes. So big band and Broadway were the obvious choices. But then was discs came out, and we settled into a rut that has lasted for 75 years: 3 1/2 minute songs, and a dozen or so per album. It’s a bit bizarre that why styles and genres come and go, the packaging has remained the same.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      My grandfather gave me an old console tube radio phonograph with a bunch of 78 rpm records. I wanted it because it had shortwave bands on the radio. Anyway, one of the records was Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue. I loved it. All I wanted at the time was a Zenith Transoceanic shortwave radio. It was very expensive, so it never happened.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’d forgotten about “Rhapsody in Blue.” That was on my folks’ playlist too. They had this big-ass Telefunken console stereo with everything — turntable, AM/FM radio, even shortwave, if memory serves. Did everything short of invading Poland.

      Whenever they were out of the house I used it for my own nefarious purposes, treating the neighbors to impromptu concerts by Black Sabbath, Iron Butterfly, and Led Zep. That Telefunken would make the windows rattle.

      • SAO' Says:

        The Telefunken … Thirty inches of thigh-slapping, blood-pumping, nuclear brain damage! Big as a Subaru and costs as much! But you’ll never have to trade it in! It’s gonna be with you for the rest of your life! And when you die, they can BURY you in it!

  4. Dave Watts Says:

    Was at my grandparents to celebrate my sister’s birthday. At sometime after 7pm, I left the dinner table, went into the living room and turned on their TV. This was not allowed, but I did it anyway. What was so important, they asked? The Beatles were on live. Not a good enough answer. I was afraid the Beatles were going to begin while the TV was, you know, warming up for a minute. They begged me to turn it off (while they played, no less) and asked again why. I told my mom that it was really really important because of history. Of course that wasn’t a good enough answer either and the family didn’t speak to me the rest of the night or the following day while I was grounded before and after school. Was plenty worth it as I looked back.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Had it not been Ed Sullivan we’d never have seen ’em. Ed was a ritual around our house. Until he started inviting beatniks, hippies, and other undesirables into America’s homes.

      It was all downhill from there. “The Lloyd Thaxton Show.” “American Bandstand.” “Hullaballoo,” “Shindig” and “Laugh-in.”

      And of course, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” Commies.

      • SAO' Says:

        Laugh-In was so ahead of its time.

        Pretty sure my kids are the only people on planet Earth in K-5 who will see something unusual and say, “Very interesting!”

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