Monday, September 08, 2008

The Beatles Come to America

by Martin Goldsmith

"Yes, I was there and this wonderful, indispensable book brings it all back to life. I love it."
--Tom Paxton

On February 7, 1964--"B-Day" as one disk jockey called it--the Beatles landed in New York. As John, Paul, George, and Ringo walked down the gangway of their plane, thousands of fans, their shrieks competing with the wails of jet engines for sonic supremacy, welcomed them to America. It was pandemonium--an airport official declared, "We've never seen anything like this here before. Never. Not even for kings and queens"--and just the start of the adulation the Beatles were about to experience. Over the next two weeks, the Beatles would appear twice on The Ed Sullivan Show, play two concerts at Carnegie Hall and one in Washington, and charm reporters with witty interviews wherever they went. By the time they departed, the Fab Four were the idols of a new American generation--and would go on to have a defining impact on the music, fashions, passions, and generational conflicts of the 1960s.

In this captivating cultural history, Martin Goldsmith recreates the excitement of that first Beatles visit, which came less than three months after the tragedy of President Kennedy's assassination, and explains how four lads from Liverpool came together to create a sound and a style that would win America's heart. From the roots of John and Paul's songwriting partnership and the band's first Liverpool appearances to their grueling Hamburg apprenticeship and their climb to the top of the British charts, Goldsmith brings to life the hardships, hard work, and joy that made the Beatles' music without parallel in the twentieth century. He describes the initial difficulty they had getting their records released in America--until "I Want to Hold Your Hand" took off when a British copy was smuggled to a DJ in Washington, D.C. And he tells the story of the Beatles' most resounding American triumph--their unforgettable first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, an event that drew 73.9 million viewers, at the time the largest audience in television history.

Engagingly written, thoroughly researched, and embellished with personal recollections and trenchant reflections, The Beatles Come to America recounts a magical and important time in our nation's history. Whether you've loved the Beatles for forty years or are meeting them anew, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Martin Goldsmith is director of classical music programming for XM Satellite Radio. From 1989 to 1999, he hosted Performance Today, National Public Radio's daily classical music program. Since 1984 he has been co-host of Songs for Aging Children, a radio program devoted to the singer-songwriter generation. He is also the author of The Inextinguishable Symphony. Martin Goldsmith lives in Maryland with his wife, Amy Roach.

"Two dates our generation remembers all our lives: November 22, 1963, and February 9, 1964. One brought sudden and inexplicable death, sorrow, and tears. The other brought overwhelming joy and the reassurance of life-affirming art. That Sunday night when we first met the Beatles on Ed Sullivan's show was the beginning of something deeply wonderful for us and piercingly threatening for some elements of the older generation, an event both timely and timeless. For the Beatles themselves, it was just the latest plateau achieved in their ever-ascending mythical journey. Forty years later, it remains the greatest musical story ever told."
--Martin Goldsmith

No comments: