Ash Wednesday: Remembering the Beatles

After my valentine and I had finished lunch out on Sunday, we went over to the Manitoba Museum to see an exhibit of 84 never-published photos of the Beatles’ first visit to North America in February 1964.  

Bill Eppridge, who was assigned to the story and has 38 images in the exhibit (the rest are from CBS archives), recalled to a Winnipeg Free Press reporter how surprised he and the other photographers were when the mop-tops emerged from their plane that day in 1964 — “four young gentleman in dark suits and ties, so neatly dressed you couldn’t believe it.” Although Beatlemania was rising, it was in its early stages and, according to Eppridge, then a 25-year-old reporter, the  four seemed “generally unaware of their importance.” The photographs show them looking truly polite and tidy, as they confer with Ed Sullivan for their debut on his show, as they practice and play. The camera also captures them having fun — “genuine” fun, it’s called — clowning on the train ride from New York to Washington, and in the ocean in Florida. It brings back, says Eppridge,  “an innocent, joyful moment in U.S. history.”  

That’s what struck me in the exhibit too. How impossibly young the Beatles look, how wholesome the entire scene! Even their songs playing in the background of the exhibit seem strangely insubstantial, almost tepid by today’s explicit standards.  I Want to Hold Your Hand!  I remember my parents disapproving of it. I suppose that what’s fresh and obvious to the young seems to their elders too blunt, too needy, especially if you already know what hand-holding is about. Continue reading