Sunday, February 09, 2014

Late Night Thoughts on Having Watched Another Cheesy Beatles Special

About a CBS TV special called The Night That Changed America, and realizing how lame everything is one half-century down the road. So this is the future. Oh, well.

I didn’t stick around for all of it. Her fabulous foam and fireworks-shooting fun bags be damned, I was not under any circumstances going to be in the room when Katy Perry butchered “Yesterday.” It was bad enough seeing how awful Annie Lennox looked doing “The Fool on the Hill,” and hearing how sadly shot her own voice is. 

Cheesy Beatles tribute specials seem to be a staple of Sunday winter nights—I remember an especially awful one hosted by Tony Randall in 1978—but this one was especially special, as it marked the 50th anniversary of the night that sold a million guitars, when The Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Sir Paul and Ringo were there, reminding me of George Carlin’s acid observation that “the wrong two Beatles died.” No, seriously, good on Sir Paul and Ringo for not getting shot or dying of throat cancer. But watching all these top o’ the line professionals embarrass themselves trying to belt out John’s vocals and or play George’s guitar lines only pointed up how much these men are missed.

There is nothing quite like being so forcibly reminded that a), you’re old, and, b), it’s over. The Truly Greats have left the building. Poor Adam Levine was forced to reveal how thin his voice is compared to John Lennon’s, and how tinny his band Maroon 5 sounded trying to pull off “Ticket to Ride.” Watching Joe Walsh (and good on him for not killing himself, too) struggle with George’s simple guitar parts on “Something” was painful.

The best part was watching Ringo having the time of his life playing the crowd as he sang “Yellow Submarine.” Naturally, Paul had to murder “Hey Jude” one...more...time! and I was disappointed to see Ringo backed up on drums by the same big guy Paul used for his band at the Super Bowl in 2006. 

That was why I’d watched, incidentally. I wanted to see Paul and Ringo play together again. A couple of old guys singing the old songs. And that’s pretty much what I got. Hooray for old guys—but especially for the young lions they once were.

In this photo from the TV special I am reminded of the Great
Bukowski’s inquiry regarding literary writers like himself
and Hemingway: “Where are our replacements?”
We observe a half century since a TV event changed a culture, and are thus reminded nothing like this will ever happen again.

At least Paul and Ringo and all the Hollywood people had a good time. The best I can say about it is it’s a relief to get back to my own keyboard and get back to work.