Look, I bow to no-one in my love of The Beatles but I really don’t give a shit about the impending fiftieth anniversary of the American mass market discovering them. To quote a later icon of British music, America is not the world. I get that 1964 was year-zero for The Beatles as far as a lot of people are concerned, but as far as the actual Beatles are concerned, it was anywhere between two and seven years earlier, depending on where you’re counting from. I mean, for me it was 1986 because that was when I began seriously listening to them, but nobody is ever going to celebrate that anniversary because it’s all about me.
There is actually an important cultural anniversary connected with The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, but it’s tangential to The Beatles and will probably be ignored amongst all the hype. It was possibly the first time millions of people had a shared experience of an historic event through live television in a way that became the norm from the first moon landing to September 11th. I could be wrong about that, there may be earlier examples and I’d be interested to hear about them. I considered the Kennedy assassination, but while that was covered live once the story broke, television wasn’t ubiquitous enough for everyone to switch over immediately. People were at work. I’m not saying things had changed three months later, but Sunday evening was a good time for a shared experience through a relatively new medium.
Anyway, that might be a bit too thinky to get a mention during the anniversary specials. Good luck to those looking forward to them. Some of them might tell me that I just don’t get it and they would be right. I know that a lot of people who saw the original Ed Sullivan appearance consider themselves to be The Original Fans. I also know there are still a few thousand ageing rockers from Liverpool and Hamburg who would say, “Oh really? Why don’t you tell me about it?”