Hey Jude

Sir Paul McCartney closed the Olympics Opening Ceremony last night by singing “Hey Jude”.

I thought the show would close with all the athletes, performers, and audience linking arms and singing together, tears streaming down their cheeks, in a mellow moment of love and affirmation.

It didn’t happen, even when McCartney moved from the piano to a standing mic and did his very best… gents first, again, just ladies, again, now everybody. It fell flat, although apparently there was some spontaneous singing later as people waited for trains at crowded stations.

So I asked why. McCartney looked old, and tired, but animated by the music and the need to perform. His voice is not the same… but how could it be? I looked it up. “Hey Jude” came out in 1968, 44 years ago, the year my oldest son was born!  The song was an anthem for my generation, not his, and certainly not for my grandchildren, who despite the song’s fame and their broad awareness of pop culture, may never have heard it before! The athletes and audience from other nations and cultures… probably the same. Perhaps they did not recognize James Bond (my grand daughters probably would not) or Mr Bean.

The term nostalgia describes a sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. It is also defined as a mental illness.

Seeing McCartney last night made me feel nostalgic. Where have the years gone? The Beatles made their first North American television appearance on Ed Sullivan in 1964.

Wikipedia repeats the famous story: When Ed Sullivan’s plane was forced to circle London’s Heathrow Airport in the middle of the night in order to permit something called The Beatles to land first so that they could be transported safely through thousands of their screaming fans, he decided then and there to sign them for his television show.The Beatles left the United Kingdom on 7 February 1964, with an estimated four thousand fans gathered at Heathrow, waving and screaming as the aircraft took off.  At New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport they were greeted by another uproarious crowd estimated at three thousand.  They gave their first live US television performance two days later on The Ed Sullivan Show, watched by approximately 73 million viewers in over 23 million households,  or 34 percent of the American population. According to the Nielsen rating service, wrote Gould, it was “the largest audience that had ever been recorded for an American television program.” 

I was in my second year of teaching and the girls in my grade nine and ten classes were immediately swept away by Beatlemania. I could not admit it at the time, but so was I. On You Tube I found that program… look at the simplicity of the staging, their appearance and demeanour. You can understand the words. “Please, let me hold your hand”… what a bold and naughty request… at a time when first dates, first kisses, first loves still had enormous significance, and nothing “serious” was supposed to happen until after marriage. “Going steady” was a slippery slope and “living together” was known as “shacking up” and only for the most depraved.

Dear reader, I have no idea who you are. Were you there? Were you even born yet? I have to think probably not.  So do yourself a favour and watch the programs. The group performed three weeks in a row… I have included the first two.

Not all changes are for the better… and this was really not so very very long ago!

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4 Responses to Hey Jude

  1. Oh, my. It’s such a very good thing we can’t see the future. They (& we) were so young…

    • motleydragon says:

      Good to hear from you, Debbie,

      It is humbling to look at McCartney now and realize that he has aged along with all of us! He was so sincere and so beautiful… those soulful eyes! Most of the girls in my classes liked Paul best, although the renegades who wanted to be seen as Cool always voted for Ringo. It was one of the topics they would write about or in which I could engage them “en francais” for conversation. As Miss Carter, teacher of grade nine French and English, I tactfully refused to name my personal favourite… (I taught at the very excellent High School of Commerce in downtown Toronto, an all girl school).

      It is also humbling to follow the blogrolls and hear people wonder who he is, or why such a “has been” who “could hardly sing” and had to go nah nah because he forgot the lyrics, had been given such a key role at the climax of the show! Ouch!

      Would they remember Harry Belafonte, or Judy Collins, or Sophia Loren, Joan Baez, or even Elvis Presley?

      Have they ever heard of Betty Friedan or Henry Morgentaler. Or the Bay of Pigs scare, or the the Watts riots, or…

      Yes, they and we were so young. I wonder what to-day’s kids will have to remember!?

  2. I haven’t a clue what today’s kids will remember, Ellen.

    Bill & I were discussing this just the other evening. I’ve met several young people (late teens, early twenties) recently who haven’t given a thought to the world around them – climate change, injustice, or anything else. When we were their age, we were protesting the Vietnam War, our parents huddled under the threat of WWII or the Cold War, our grandparents dealt with the Great War or the Great Depression.

    And we became culturally literate about the issues of our parents’ day: the standards that Sinatra crooned, or big band sounds; what happened in concentration camps, who Senator McCarthy was, and so on. Where is the ongoing cultural literacy of our society if people don’t know Paul McCartney or ‘Hey Jude’ (Seriously.)

  3. motleydragon says:

    We live in an age of self-indulgence and distraction. I was appalled, watching the athlete’s “march” into the stadium… tweeting, taking pictures of themselves, mugging in front of the cameras, generally horsing around and not paying much attention to the event or their role in it. They expect to be taken seriously without any serious attempt on their part to behave in a serious and responsible way.
    It shows in other ways as well. So much personal attention seeking… e.g. demanding that rules be changed to accommodate one’s individual needs or ideas. Why is there an expectation that the larger whole… organization, tradition, etcetera… conform to an individual, rather than the other way round? And when that accommodation is not provided, there is an outcry of moral indignation… if I can’t have MY way, I will go home… and take my friends with me! So sad! And the media plays in to it.
    The symbolic gesture of handing the torch on to unknown and unproven youngsters was not reassuring… and if the athletes are to be taken as ambassadors representing their countries, well, enough said!
    Mind you, a certain presidential candidate did not do much better.

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