Friday, April 11, 2008

The Unbarbershopped Quartet: Time, Feb 21, 1964

Below are some quotes from a 1964 Time Magazine article. It's one of many good examples of how the Beatles were originally a) understood to be "for girls" and b) trivialized early on by elite journalists. The two are, of course, connected. Even more "of course," this embarrassing legacy on the part of Time Magazine is kept on the d/l.

Adults may not dig, but how could 20 million teen-agers be wrong? The Beatles are fab. The Beatles are great. The Beatles are different. The Beatles are cool, cool, cool, cool, cool.

All week long, the four young British singers progressed through scenes that might have been whimsically imagined by Dante. Whether it was New York or Miami, teen-aged girls by the massed thousands closed in as if to devour them. They pressed in and literally over the Beatles' limousines, standing on hoods and tops, screaming. On a brief trip to Washington, hundreds of grotesquely clawing hands reached toward them through the massive iron bars that partition Union Station. At a sell-out concert in Manhattan's Carnegie Hall, the Beatles stood on the stage in a hail of their beloved jelly beans, while flashguns intermittently lighted the great interior like night artillery, and they boomed their electrified rock 'n' roll into the wildly screaming darkness.

Real Fuel. All this seemed redolent of flackery, and the Beatles were certainly well publicized. But no press-agent can light a blaze like that—he can only strike a match here and there and pray to the pressagents' god. The Beatles are being fueled by a genuine, if temporary, hysteria. In every part of the U.S., teen-agers are talking about little else, and superthatch Beatle-size wigs are being sold by the hundreds of dozens. But part of the Beatles peculiar charm is that they view it all with bemused detachment. If they are asked why they think they qualify as, well, four Rockmaninoffs, they disarmingly concede that they have no real talent at all.

"Why do you wear so many rings, Ringo?" demanded one reporter.

"Because I can't fit them all through my nose."

"What do you think of Beethoven, Ringo?"

"I love his poems."

What did the Beatles think of the unfavorable reviews they got in the New York Times and the Herald Tribune?

"It's people like that who put us on the map."

How do they rate themselves musically?

"Average. We're kidding you, we're kidding ourselves, we're kidding everything. We don't take anything seriously, except the money."

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