A Hard Day's Night
seen on TV @ TCM
I was a schoolboy when I heard my first Beatles song; "Love Me Do," I think it was. From there it wouldn't take long... Oh wait, lemme start over...
Actually, I'm not quite sure which Beatles song I heard first, but I do remember at what time in my life their music began to have an impact on me - high school. It was my buddy Eric who introduced me to classic rock in general, and the Beatles in particular. I clearly remember afternoons after school rummaging through Tower Records, comparing albums - and I do mean albums, the big black discs, though by this time I was more into cassettes for my newly-bought Walkman and wondering about the future of these strange new golden platters called compact discs.
Fast forward a bit to 1995. I spent that summer working as a sleepaway camp counselor, and there was a ton of Beatles hype in the air, in anticipation of the Beatles Anthology. Campers as young as seven and eight knew the songs, and I remember being shocked that they were not only as familiar with them as they were, but that the music spoke to them like they spoke to me almost a decade ago.
There have been numerous essays describing what the Fab Four meant to America, England, and the world at large, and chances are you've read a fair amount of them. What do they mean to me? I imagine my story's not too different from yours. The unpretentiousness of the music. The phenomenal creative output over such a shockingly short period of time that made them far more than a trendy boy band. The hair.
A Hard Day's Night captures the Beatles during the early days of their successful arrival in America, and while it may have been a cash grab designed to capitalize on their immediate success, the Beatles themselves don't come across as fabricated. You can tell that they're amazed at being at the center of such a phenomenon and that they still don't quite believe it's real.
Fame these days comes so cheaply. We take for granted how relatively easy it is to get noticed, and not just through the traditional media of music or television or movies, but new media like the Internet. Someone makes a video (or gets captured on video) and it's put on YouTube and a million people watch it and boom! That person is famous for a minute or two. But it's hollow, and it's fleeting, and ultimately unsustainable for 99.9% of those involved. How many of us could cope with real fame, like the kind the Beatles enjoyed for so long? This movie, fictionalized as it is, provides a clue, and while we know now that the four of them weren't always as buddy-buddy as they seem here, we still accept the legend.
Music has always been a big business in America, and it's a completely different one today than it was fifty years ago, but the music of the Beatles have remained a constant, whether it's used to sell sneakers, mashed up with modern rock bands or rappers, heard on a scratchy LP or an MP3. I think that in one way or another, they'll always be a part of us.