With The Beatles All These Years Later
Written by Chris Ramos on February 26, 2019
(All Photos By Chris Ramos)
On Feb. 7, 1964, The Beatles arrived at the JFK International Airport in New York.
As they filed out of the plane to hordes of screaming fans, seemingly unable to control themselves in the slightest bit, it was evident that something special was unfolding in front of the public. Two days later, 73 million people tuned in to the Ed Sullivan Show to watch the four lads from Liverpool.
The rest was history, as they say.
Beatlemania resurrected and swept through Kent this past Friday, as the 6th annual Beatlefest was held. 21 acts were scattered across 18 venues. I had the pleasure of speaking to a few of the acts in the name of The Kent Stater. In fact, there were several reporters and photographers from the Stater making their rounds on Friday.
In the midst of all the excitement downtown, I could feel the magic of the music. I saw it on display with each child that sang along. Meanwhile, faces of the old beamed with smiles. It was the eternal effect of music. The torch was being passed to yet another generation, again, by the generation that first bared it.
I saved these feelings and observations for this piece because I knew I’d have the chance to appropriately express it.
Whether you’re a fan of The Beatles or not, there is no denying that they’ve been a part of all of our lives. We’ve definitely heard of their name, and for some us, we’ve recited their music in elementary school. I remember vividly my obsession with the McCartney composed “Can’t Buy Me Love”. From the boisterous rhythm that begged for movement to the jangly guitar solo, I couldn’t get enough of it. In due time, I would explore the depths of the infectious, tight-knit harmonies in which The Beatles created.
The Beatles changed contemporary music and influenced so many bands. That’s not to say that they’re the only band to have any influence, nor do I think that they’re solely the best band in existence. I’m just stating the obvious. The group shared artistic exchanges with their American contemporaries such as Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, and The Byrds. This exchange and inspiration elevated all of them to churn out great music. Aside from the music, The Beatles’ image and the evolution that it went through helped to immortalize the band.
From clean-shaven, mop-top youngsters to bearded, messy hair hippies.
One of the things that I especially enjoyed about BeatleFest was seeing each act put their own twist on the music. Dig A Pony expressed the erratic “Tomorrow Never Knows” through an acoustic guitar, while Across The Universe dished out an explosive rendition of the filler track “You Can’t Do That”.
When I interviewed the acts prior to the fest, my favorite question that I asked them was what did The Beatles’ music mean to them. It’s an easy question but it provoked beautiful responses. For example, when I spoke to the drummer of Liverpool Lads, Joe Koch, he started reciting the lyrics of the Lennon penned song “In My Life”. It was the sincerity. Meanwhile, when I asked that question to B.C Hudson, guitarist for Dig A Pony, he stated that their sound was exciting. Growing up in the sixties, he emphasized the fact that their style was groundbreaking to him. They seemingly pushed the boundaries.
The streets were flooded with music crazed nomads, as every venue downtown was packed. Seriously, I can’t even begin to imagine how much coffee Tree City must have sold. They’re probably begging for BeatleFest to happen again next weekend. There were lines wrapped around the bars, but I couldn’t be apart of the number. The misfortune of not being 21 years old struck me again. I could only watch through the windows of Venice Cafe for a few minutes before I decided that it was time to call it a night.
The celebration of The Beatles didn’t end there; however, as Hard Day’s Night performed in front of a packed house at The Kent Stage on Saturday. Aside from their use of Rickenbacker guitars and authentic wardrobe, the tribute band spoke with an English accent for the entire duration of the show. Furthermore, the band exchanged witty dialogue amongst each other with the same dry humor that could be found in interviews with The Beatles. Talk about staying true to the image.
In regards to the Rickenbacker guitars, the band told a story about how their instruments were stolen following a show in Columbus. Thankfully, they were able to retrieve them. Rickenbackers are pretty expensive and that’s putting it lightly.
Their setlist consisted of a healthy mix between singles and album cuts. They performed “Twist & Shout”, “I Feel Fine”, “Nowhere Man”, “Help!”, “And Your Bird Can Sing”, “Hey Jude”, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, “In My Life”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Fixing A Hole”, and several other tracks. My personal favorite was the haunting yet powerful “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. George Harrison wrote many fantastic songs, but that one has always stood out the most to me. It is also the only Beatles song to include a featured artist, that being Eric Clapton.
The night was a home run and served as the perfect closer for the weekend.
I enjoyed every second of it.
The impact that The Beatles have had on me personally goes beyond words and the memories that I share with friends that involve their music are plentiful. They are the first band that I got into. From their early career that consisted of energetic Motown covers and love songs to the middle years when they started to change their sound with folk rock and psychedelic rock to the full-circle maturation of Abbey Road, I love it all.
If I had to pick an era that I cherish greatly, it’d be the Rubber Soul/Revolver era. I’ve always said that both records are interchangeable when it comes to being my favorite. The studio techniques displayed on both albums were so progressive at the time and the songwriting reached new heights for the band. Nothing beats hearing “Norwegian Wood” or, “She Said She Said” for the first time. I’d like to say that Ringo’s drumming on “She Said She Said” is fantastic.
Even at the ripe age of 20, “In My Life” initiates reflection. It also sounds different to me now than it did in high school. I’m sure it’ll sound different five years down the line too. One thing will stay the same though; The Beatles’ music being a constant in my life. It’s timeless. This past weekend proved that. People of all ages (the majority were older folks) were brought together to celebrate the brilliant discography of a brilliant band. There was a sense of comradery, a sense of warmth that radiated among performers and audience members. Performers were happy to bring the songs to life and see the smiles, while the audience was more than willing to lend their hearts and ears.
The display of genuine embrace was priceless. It can be summed up within the lyrics that the four lads from Liverpool left us with.
“And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make”