Monday, December 1, 2014

How it feels to watch a Beatles concert

So I have been digging through a lot of Teen magazines from 1966-67, looking for any bits of information about the Beatles concert in St. Louis.   And I found this writing in Teen Screen about what it is like to see the Beatles in concert.   When I first read it, I thought it was some strange poetry and didn't give it much of a thought.    Then I read the next issue of Teen Screen and in the editorial section, fans were writing in raving about this story.   Saying how the writer perfectly captured what it was like to see the Beatles in concert.    So I gave it another read, this time with an open mind and while I still found it to be a bit silly, I could picture the girl in the audience and her feelings and thoughts while at a Beatles concert.    And in some aspects they parallel how I felt seeing Paul in concert.   That whole feeling of disbelief that he is there....walking around, singing the songs that have been part of your life.     And so maybe, if you read this and look past of the silly parts, you too can feel what a Beatle fan might have felt between 1963-1966 seeing the Beatles in concert.

How it Feels to watch a Beatle Concert:  an extremely unusual but rather Haunting Thing
By Garret North
Teen Screen Magazine
October 1966

It begins the day you stop just hoping.  They day you will let yourself believe you are finally going to see The Beatles.  Not on a page (Permanent paper smiles).  On a stage. (Moving. Breathing).  When you know this for sure, something new begins…

Then that something begins to tighten.  Like a spring.  It winds slowly, slowly while you wait for the utterly impossible.  At first you think you can’t wait any longer.  Then you know you can’t.  Then you don’t have to because you find yourself walking into the place where it will happen.  You look at the ticket.  But you can’t see it.  You find your seat and try to chatter with good friends whose names suddenly escape you.  You’re like a drum (taut).  Like a cobra (coiled).  And you sit for one hundred years.   You’re lucky, though.  You have to look back to see the maze of faces.  You’re near the stage.  But that’s not so lucky.  It’s empty.  It always been be.  You’re asleep, dreaming.  Or awake, wishing.  The Beatles?  Ridiculous.  They don’t exist.  They’re flat things on an album cover.   Without sides and backs.  Just faces (more faces).  They’re not going to be on that stage any more than they are somewhere behind it.  Going through motions as humans as your own.   Looking in a mirror?  Coughing?  Laughing?  Lighting a cigarette?  Using the bath?  No. (Of course not).  Pictures don’t do any of those things.  Suddenly the lights dim.  There are people on the sage (moving, breathing), Is it them?  No. (Of course not).  An emcee, then a group.  Music blares.  You try to listen.  You can’t.  Something keeps washing over you (in waves).  Thousands of tiny needles jab at all your skin.  The music stops.  You try to applaud.  Your arms won’t work. 

I’m sorry….I’m sorry.  You think those words again and again as the parade of others never seem to stop.  You’re very good.  You’re looking fine.  I’ve bought your records.  But go away (hurry).  Get off the stage (run).  They don’t hear you.  They stay and stay.  Then you know.  You know it just before it happens.  Is it time?  Is it?  Yes, it is (I tell you).  The lights go down, all the way down.  The audience stops squirming and goes breathless.  Emcees multiply in a pool of light (very bright).  Then they say it in several voices.  The words you thought you’d never hear.   “And here they are--- THE BEATLES!”  And there they are.
For a split second , your eyes scrape them just to be sure.  Then several thousand voices roar about love (a kind of welcome).   Yours is one of them.  They answer.   They smile and gesture and straighten guitar straps across strong backs. (They do have them).  Not pictures.  People.  Real enough to touch.  So real you have to.  Your hands reach out but it’s too far.  They are talking to each other.  You strain to hear.  You can’t, so your hands come back.  They cover your ears to shut out everyone’s love but your own.  Soon they’re reedy.  You can tell form fingers poised, prepared to skin knowingly over strings and reach steal to talk.  Then the spring inside you winds a final round.  You want to scream for it to stop (too tight).  But before you can, the spring breaks at the sound of the first chord.  A crash of music.  A collision of you and them as you meet each other half way. 

It’s easier then.   You can think again.  You can hear them better.  They give you music.  Well-worn songs.  Warm familiar  words.  Not coming from a record.  Coming from mouths (lips) and hearts (pounding).   Melodies that are memories as well because they have been the background music of your life.  You can see them better, too. 
 John.  His feet planted defiantly.  Moving with and to his sound.  Peering at you.  Daring you to think he doesn’t know what you’re thinking.  Cool, confident, almost brusque.  But holding a guitar as gently as a lover.
George.  Keeping time with a long, tight-clad leg.  Genius at work (and play).  Straight forward intensity tempered by a quick and crooked grin.  A lean, hard shoulder to press your face against in dreams.

Paul.  So alive you know he will never be old.  Loving you back with a laugh, a wave, a wink.  The fresh-scrubbed cheeky innocence of a boy.  Hair like dark smoke at the crest of a volcano where the fires of a man burn.

Ringo.  A flash of flying sticks and swinging hair.   Completely at home behind a set of drums.  Not so much at home behind a microphone.  Too gentle for that.  The dear man from Dingle.  Tapping out a rhythm that has become the heartbeat of our generation. 

There.  All of them.  Then gone.  All of them.  All of you, too.   It seems that way as they make their famous bow while the screaming begs them to stay (please).  It seems that way when you stare at an empty stage and walk away on someone else’s legs.  But it isn’t that way at all (my friend).  You find this out soon.  All of you is not gone.  There’s more of you instead.  And you can never pass the place where a dream came true without wanting to say thank you.  That something new which began because of them.  Part of it was excitement.  A balloon of anticipation that was destined to burst (and it did).  But part of it was something there are no words for.  Something very quiet and private that made you new, too.  And that part never ends.  It never ends.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Once again, it's like you rescued a puppy from the pound. Thanks for posting this, this piece of writing now will last forever! The photo is beautiful also. Blown away. Just when I think it can't get any better.....Saracadabra.....something like this pops up.