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Friday, March 31, 2006

The Beatles never left

I ’ve been trying to think of the modern-day equivalent of The Beatles’ arrival United States in 1964.
With the ubiquity of today’s anytime everywhere media along with marketers and managers staging every single move, there’s little room for spontaneity. Maybe things have never been quite the same.
I was 6 at the time, and I also remember that historic Ed Sullivan show on Feb. 9, 1964 that writer Douglas Stewart mentions in this week’s cover story on the world’s youngest Beatles tribute band, Stockwood (a play on the name of their hometown, Woodstock, Ill.)
My older sisters, Linda and Beth, were teens at the time. They led the hysterics as we gathered in front of the TV. My mother sat on the floor, folding my younger sister’s diapers.
I remember my brother pointing out the length of Paul’s hair and arguing everybody was wearing it that way now.
I have no memory of my father being there. He was probably hiding in the garage. Even without him there, the revolution had begun, and apparently still continues today, if Stockwood is any example.
The real Beatles are long gone. John Lennon was murdered, George Harrison died of cancer. Paul McCartney continues to record but Ringo Starr has faded from the spotlight.
But what remains influences musicians today, just as every generation’s music is built upon the accomplishments of those who came before them.
The topic came up last night with my teenage son, who was playing “Need for Speed” on his PS2. The soundtrack in the background was a Snoop Doggy Dog remix of The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm.”
My son’s familiar with Snoop Dog, but figured Doors’ lead singer Jim Morrison must be some up and comer that Snoop discovered. He was surprised to hear that the Doors influenced the direction of rock music in the ‘60s, just as Snoop influenced the direction of the modern days of hip-hop.
I explained that you can’t really understand rap and hip-hop unless you understand the blues, and you can’t understand the blues without knowing the spiritual music of African-American slaves.
In time I’m sure he’ll get it. Top 40 music today is filled with echos of the music of previous decades. Sometimes through simple inspiration, other times sampled directly.
This week’s cover harkens back to earlier times as well. Designed by news intern Stephanie Foelker, it was inspired by the design of early 1960s Beatles posters.
Hurray to the four lads from Woodstock for keeping Beatles music alive.
They say that without an understanding of the history, we’re doomed to repeat it. In the case of the Beatles, however, musicians do it every day.

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