Friday, December 27, 2013

Rant 1,111: Number One

Yes, today is the 1,111 Rant that I have made in this column.

It has taken us a couple of years to get to this point, and I am proud that I have been able to keep this thing going that long.

Most blogs of this type fade away after a couple of posts.

This one is not fading away, it is getting stronger.

I could go on and on and on about the significance of this number, but I won't do that.

I am going to backpedal a bit, to yesterday, December 26, which is significant in itself, as the first day of Kwanzaa, Boxing Day in England, and my sister's birthday.

But something else which kind of flew under the radar happened yesterday, 50 years ago to the day.

It is an occurrence that ultimately changed all of our lives, some more than others.

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the release of what ultimately became the Beatles' first hit single in the U.S., "I Want To Hold Your Hand," which was backed with another song that became a hit on its own, "I Saw Her Standing There."

And that is the picture sleeve of this historic 45 that I proudly have in my collection, whose "A" side hit No. 1 later in 1964.

Released on December 26, 1963, it was not the first Beatles single to be released here. There were several, but the interest simply was not there for them to be hits. And today, go try finding them ... you will have a tough time, and if you find them, you will pay a pretty penny for them.

But this release, on Capitol Records, hit the mark, but it was not a smash immediately.

Incredible as it may seem, it took the single until January 18, 1964--more than three weeks--to even make the Hot 100 here.

In England, the frenzy had started about a year before, and by this time in 1963, the Beatles had had several hits on the British chart, and the frenzy over there was in high pitch.

At that point, in the U.S., the hype was just beginning. Clips of John, Paul, George and Ringo had found their way onto some U.S. TV shows--Jack Paar, for one--and Capitol knew it had something, but really didn't know what to do with it.

The record also was starting to get airplay on U.S. radio stations--starting with Murray the K's show in New York City--but the record wasn't flying out of the stores yet.

But it was way too early in the U.S. President Kennedy's assassination was too fresh in our minds, and we seemingly needed some more time to mourn his passing.

This single would have to wait.

Of course, all of that changed when the Beatles appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in early February 1964.

As I remember it, at six years old, even I could see that the world changed that night.

Convention was thrown out the window. The look and feel of society changed that evening, and would really never be the same way again.

And Beatles records started to fly out of the stores, and all you heard on the radio was Beatles, Beatles and more Beatles.

Beatlemania had begun, and the world had never seen anything like it, before or since.

In 1964 alone, the Beatles had 30 songs make the Hot 100. We literally went Beatles crazy.

They were really the biggest thing on the scene since Elvis Presley hit the big time, and to me, the Beatles were bigger.

And the rest is history.

In this age of the Internet and digital downloads, it is hard to fathom kids running to their local record stores to pick up the latest Beatles records, but that is just what happened.

The world was literally turned on its edge, and the hype and fun that this generated has lasted officially a half century as of yesterday.

Lennon and Harrison have left us, McCartney and Starr carry on the music, and many of us look back at that time as ancient history.

But I don't.

The world changed with the coming of the Beatles,and whether it changed for the better, or worse, is open to debate.

For me, it was really, really something, and I hope it was for you, too.

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

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