For some of us boomers, the ‘60s are just a memory. But for writer Larry Lefkowitz, they are more. They still course through his blood. That’s why he remembers the era as a collaboration of John, Paul, George, Ringo … and Me.
Like so many baby boomers, The Beatles hold a very special place in my mind and heart. My affection is for their music and the whole Beatlemania craze, which happened when I was the age of its prime target audience. I never knew a whole lot about the lives of the individual lads, and knew of the band’s history only in an overall sense. The phenomenon, it seems to me, grew from a certain coalescence of time, history, age, and cultural evolution.
There was a massive generational group itching for something to call its own; a tsunami of creativity in the arts overflowing western shores; The Beatles, while not first, proved to be the most unique and enduring. Recently, I began reading biographies of the band. And in a related way, I read Eric Clapton’s autobiography. My perspective on the music and what it has meant to me has changed as a result, but in an unexpected way. I now feel even closer to it. I always mourned its end, and now, that feeling is even more intense, for while like a lot of people I have long attached music to different periods of my life, Beatles music has always been the most significant. As only Paul and Ringo remain with us, I feel a greater sense of loss of not only the music, but my ability to reach for my memories. Oh, they are still there, and I can still reach them, but they are losing their depth with passing years.
The books I have read have reminded me of what a special time my growing years were; the special hopes; the wonderful evolution of music and beliefs and possibilities. If you have not yet become completely jaded and cynical, you can identify. The events of the last 40 years—yes, FORTY — have hardened many of us. The times have snuffed out our optimism and bruised our spirit and made innocuous that which is truly fascinating. But for me, somehow, holding onto the music of The Beatles and others of that era, allows me to feel the world instead of running from it.
I have never traveled overseas, but in the words of the late Beatle George Harrison, “The farther one travels, the less one knows…” I journey every time I hear Beatles music to places I have been, places I have imagined, and places I have experienced. How rich is this music to still be able to affect me this way? How much of it is just me and my personality? My guess is that many of you feel pretty much the same.
My older brother Jack and I lived together in the summer of 1967. He is nine years older than I and is much closer to music of the ‘50s than The Beatles. However, that summer when I was 14, I bought Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as soon as it arrived in the stores. I packed my bags and jumped on a train to spend a week with Jack, which turned out to be the entire Summer and part of the Fall.
Each afternoon and evening our ritual was to play the album repeatedly, discovering new sounds and changes each time that intrigued us. It made us hunger for more music, even though we had been playing instruments together since I was eight. We now needed to explore more, and in the late ‘60’s there was always more. But Sgt. Pepper’s expanded our outlook about what we wanted to hear, and play. It was our own creative revolution and has continued to this day, as we gather twice a month to play songs that we knew and those we continue to create.
Now that I have gained the perspective of the lives of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, I am more impressed and, frankly, astounded at the volume of work they created. The phenomenon of Beatlemania and the cultural revolution that was the ‘60s, coupled with their own maturing and distraction with illegal substances, almost runs contrary to the enduring musical legacy that remains with us nearly a half century later. How were they able to write and perform? As it turns out, with great difficulty, though you would never know by the quality of their music.
I am completely jaded, of course, and do not expect others of my time to be as passionate about the band and its music as I am, but I realize that my life as a baby boomer and this music are intertwined. The human aspect of the boys’ lives adds to the depth of my relationship with my past. It saddens me that only Paul and Ringo remain, and, that respectively they are 66 and 68 years old.
But I know how fortunate I am to have this music to hold on to, and how much more music theirs has given me. Even now I am discovering something that would give my Greatest Generation parents some satisfaction: the richness of their ‘30s and ‘40s music. As with all quality creative material, it will long survive its creators.
Category: Boomer Lifestyle