I'm so frozen in time, I wouldn't know an X-Box from a PlayStation if you smacked me upside the head with it, so I haven't the slightest idea how the Beatles Rockband game works. I was curious enough to watch some of the animated videos, however, and they are wonderful. (See them here) Besides, if I want to play a Beatles song, I'll mess it up on guitar like everybody else. But it's amazing to me that 40 years after they broke up, the Beatles are the hottest, cutting-edge group going. Consider that the remastered CDs, prepared for release to coincide with this new project, have already sold 2.2 million copies in a marketplace that barely sells CDs anymore. They topped the Billboard charts yet again and the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil "Beatles Love" show is sold out forever. Finally, younger people are realizing that Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings.
On the anticipated Rockband release date, Melody and I were surfing channels on a Sunday afternoon when we came across the Beatles' Anthology on VH1. Six hours later, we wondered how the time flew by so quickly. Recalling such sheer joy, we concluded that the first couple of years of Beatlemania were the best and last innocent times we knew. In 1965, LBJ was sending half a million men to Vietnam, and by the time the Beatles reached Memphis in 1966, the emerging evangelical movement was ready to crucify John Lennon for saying the Fabs were more popular than Jesus. At least they were on the pop charts. All those pictures you see with people holding signs saying "Beatles Go Home" were taken in Memphis, where they held a counter-Beatle rally and concert at the Auditorium while the Lads played the Coliseum. I was there when the cherry bomb was tossed from the upper balcony and John Lennon jumped as if he had been shot. The Beatles played two shows in Memphis, and there were still tickets left unsold. Had I known that, I would have attended both. But, I saw the Beatles, and despite the pandemonium, I also heard the Beatles; and it was a religious experience.
When "Hard Days' Night" was released in 1964, local theatres didn't know how to market it, so it premiered at the Malco Twin Drive-In on Summer Avenue. My sister, Susan, and I saw it in Times Square on a family vacation to New York. So many memorable moments in my life are punctuated by Beatle songs. The first time I heard "I Want To Hold Your Hand," I was driving east on Walnut Grove Rd. and immediately took a left on Mendenhall, headed for Pop Tunes, to buy the single (which I still have in the original dust cover). I can tell you where I was sitting in Knoxville the first time I heard "Day Tripper," and wished I was still in a band. Melody favors "Norwegian Wood" and insists that if I outlive her, "In My Life" must be played at the memorial service. I was thinking of "Nowhere Man" for mine, but I figured it was too self-deprecating, so I'll settle for "The End." And during the multi-year run of my lost and lamented radio show, "The Psychedelicatessen," I always started the program with two Beatle songs, just to begin where it all began. My life would have been immeasurably less interesting without the Fabs in it, and I am grateful.
George Harrison was still alive during the taping of the Anthology, and there was a scene towards the end when the surviving three were discussing the impossibility of a Beatle reunion. Answering suggestions that Julian Lennon replace John, Paul said, "Why would we wish to put him in the middle of this?" It's better to "Let it Be" and savor the memories of a remarkable era. The Rockband game offers memories in the making for young fans not yet alive when the Beatles ruled the world, and the sales and popularity indicate a whole new wave of Beatlemania, Part II in the air. These fabulous songs and wonderful melodies have come to life again for fresh listenings, or discovering for the first time. I don't intend to start playing video games now, but I'm sure happy that it's there. If I had teenagers, their Christmas presents would be already chosen.
Rather than dusty dreams of re-forming the Beatles, my new show-biz idea is to start a new band called Sons of Beatles. Ringo has two sons, Zak and Jason Starkey, who are both drummers; Zak, most notably, with the Who. Consequently, The Sons of Beatles could have double drummers like the Allman Brothers. Both Sean and Julian Lennon are artists and singers, with Julian showing a prodigious talent for songwriting. Dani Harrison, George's son, is a singer and guitarist, and surely one of Paul's children, maybe James, can be taught to play bass if he doesn't already know how. Place them all under the control of George Martin's son, Giles, who was instrumental in assembling the Beatles Rockband, and you have a phenomenon waiting to happen. I would certainly like to see it, even if they were rotten. But there's too much nascent talent there for that to happen. Since Brian Epstein left no progeny, I will volunteer for the manager's position. That's OK, fellows; You don't have to thank me.