With all the nostalgia this past week over the 50th anniversary of the Beatles landing in America and appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, I tried to reminisce about my own reaction to those first Beatles songs, only to recall that it was all a fraud.
At age 3 and a half when the Beatles first broke in the U.S., I was too young to notice. Later, the Beatles stopped appearing on Ed Sullivan in person, and sent him their music videos instead. These songs — like “Penny Lane,” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” — I relished, recorded on cassettes, and played over and over. Wherever I could find a jukebox, “Hello, Goodbye” would get a workout.
But the earliest Beatles hits were the ones I learned from a cherished record album that my dad had somehow brought home. The white album cover featured four moptop haircuts, the words “Beatle Mania!” in red, and songs like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You.”
Only years later did I realize, to my horror, that the music on the album was actually performed by a thrown-together Beatles cover band dubbed The Liverpools, one of the typically cheap releases on the Wyncote record label.
I remember walking to first grade along the railroad tracks, headed for St. Mark’s School with my neighborhood friends, all singing Beatles music together. Somehow, though, they never got the “yeah yeah yeahs” exactly right. And when I would bust out a deeper album cut like “Did You Ever Get My Letter,” my friends didn’t know that Beatles song at all — because the Beatles never recorded it.
My dad was a loyal Ed Sullivan viewer, but no rock and roller. His music was Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Louis Prima. Talking to my mom today, she figured he was probably given the bogus Beatles record by some salesman calling on him at his Ace Hardware store.