As an 11-year old girl living outside of Washington, D.C., Wendy Schweiger was among the millions who saw the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago today.
That program set Schweiger’s life on its musical path.
Since 2008, Schweiger has expressed her love of music through her blog, I estivate, therefore I am. No other performer has fascinated her as much as the Fab Four.
In one of her blog posts, she wrote about the Beatles’ song And Your Bird Can Sing this way: “It gave me the shivers then, it gives me the shivers now. Gorgeous to the nth power from the standpoint of vocals and guitars.”
Schweiger, the vice president of a marketing and communication firm and an Akron resident since 1991, answered a few questions about her love and passion for the Beatles.
Q: Can you talk about what you remember about watching the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” that night 50 years ago?
A: Ed’s jubilation at hosting them, the sonic tonnage of the audience hysteria, how thrilled they obviously were to be singing for us and just being swept away by happiness.
Q: How did that one TV show change your world?
A: That endorphin rush rearranged my molecules. From the Life magazine coverage and with I Want to Hold Your Hand broken on WWDC, we in the Washington radio market where I lived were going bonkers to start off with. Everything after that was different. Music was salvation. ... Something I’ve been wondering ... is how unglobal and isolated we were back then. At the end of the third Sullivan appearance, I was sobbing because I honestly thought I would never see them again. In my mind, they were going back to England and that would be the end of that. I couldn’t envision anything beyond this one blitz.
Q: You have a music blog and have written about the Beatles many times. Why do you think the Beatles resonated with young Americans like they did at that time?
A: They had a life force that was like a tsunami. They were cute, irreverent, incredibly poised, fab in their matching suits and Beatle boots — and they could sing as a unit like a dream. They were magic, otherworldly. We lived in a fairly repressed society at that time. They busted us right out of that.
Q: Did their popularity have something to do with the fact that it followed by just 2½ months the assassination of JFK?
A: It didn’t hurt them that we were in throes of tragedy, but I think they would have been popular no matter what.
Q: Why has the band endured a half-century later and will it be as important on the 100th anniversary of the Sullivan show?
A: Once the boomers die off, maybe not. The Beatles as a phenomenon live in us. The biggest hits have become standards and will remain so. But I think you had to be alive then to grasp how monumental it all was and keep caring about it.
Q: What does the idea of “The Beatles” and what the band represents mean to you now?
A: The Beatles gave me joie de vivre during a difficult adolescence. But I didn’t understand or appreciate how the music got made back then. Now I listen with ears that are vastly more adept at pinpointing just how exceptional they were as artists. Everything old is new again.
Q: Which Beatle was your favorite and did that change over time?
A: I was “Mrs. Paul McCartney” back then, for entirely shallow reasons. Today it’s George. His story and his work both as a Beatle and a solo performer resonate.
Q: Did you ever see the band?
A: Wouldn’t have been allowed. It was hard enough getting out of the house to see A Hard Day’s Night. I was content to see and listen to them without all the pandemonium.
Q: Was there ever any temptation to follow the Rolling Stones more than the Beatles?
A: I adored the Stones’ music, then and now. The idea of a rivalry or need to choose sides always seemed silly to me, although the healthy competition among all the bands was beneficial for us because they were always experimenting.
Q: You don’t have any of your original vinyl Beatles albums. If you were purchasing the entire Beatles catalog on iTunes, would you buy mono or stereo and why?
A: These songs have become part of my cellular makeup, so the way I first heard them is the way I want to continue to hear them — too jarring otherwise. Even though the later albums were in stereo, I think remastered mono versions are often more pleasing to the ear. Hey Bulldog is a great example of this. I have no sound engineering chops at all, so this is very amateurish advice.
Q: Top five Beatles songs?
A: There’s no top five for me. I narrowed it down to 27 once for my blog. If you must have five, I’d have to choose the high exuberance, call-and-response and/or close harmony songs such as And Your Bird Can Sing, I Should Have Known Better, Nowhere Man, There’s A Place and You’re Gonna Lose That Girl. These are songs I would mainline if I could.
Q: Top five Beatles albums?
A: Some of their best songs weren’t on any album. But in terms of albums with the greatest critical mass of essential songs? Beatles 65, A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Rubber Soul and Abbey Road.
Q: Best Beatles book?
A: The one I’m reading now, Mark Lewisohn’s Tune In, the first book in a forthcoming trilogy, is extraordinary.
To read Schweiger’s blog, go to http://estivator.blogspot.com.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or email@example.com.