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!