January 8, 2014

Contemporary Classics: Twist and Shout

August 15, 1965 Live at Shea Stadium "Ladies and Gentlemen, The BEATLES!" Wait for it. Full screen and cranked speakers for two and a half minutes will be time well spent.

“Honored in their country, decorated by their Queen, and loved here in America, here are THE BEATLES.”

At this distant remove, it’s difficult to grasp what an impact this tour, by this group, at that time, in that summer of 1965, as the war was beginning for real, had on the American nation. But it was profound and penetrating. It was one of the hinges on which the history of then and of now turned.

Evocative and iconic, this clip from nearly 50 years back remains both powerful through its haunted previousness and its reach still beyond the present, still able to signal somewhere in the future. The now aged, slightly blurred, and tinted quality of the original technicolor contributes to this impression, giving the performance a mythic sheen. One can both extrapolate and project layers and shadows explicit and implied in this short film, but somewhere chief among them has to be the awareness that one of the most profound reasons the democracies fought and won the Second World War was so that mass cultural expressions and confirmations like this, celebrating liberty and freedom, would be able to continue without end.

Looking back, that's been worth at least 55 years so far. Not bad when you think about it. Not bad at all.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at January 8, 2014 2:57 PM
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I turned eleven a couple days before that show.
That vid just gave me a little joyous chill.

Posted by: tao9 at January 8, 2014 9:06 PM

I was eight, and saw it at my Aunt's house in b&w. My cousins who were in high school at the time, were going nuts. None of the adults were impressed, but I doubt they had any inkling of the terrible decade that was to follow.

Posted by: Will at January 9, 2014 6:15 AM

Admiration of the Beatles and/or their 'music' is a sad, sad, sign of the decline of the west.

The Beatles are village banjo pluckers, no more.

Posted by: Fred Z at January 9, 2014 7:26 AM

Fred, yer a dope.


Posted by: jwm at January 9, 2014 7:36 AM

The sound of freedom. It had a HUGE impact on people living in dungeons behind the iron curtain. Hearing sixty seconds of such truth negated lifetimes of propaganda.

Good rock music is liberating. The problem is, the other 98% is just stupid, patronizing, and soul-deadening.

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at January 9, 2014 8:04 AM