Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 9, 1964

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make

The Beatles
from Abbey Road, 1969

"They look like Moe from the Three Stooges!"

Tommy Degan, age five
9 February 1964

That was my first assessment of the most magical phenomenon in the history of popular music. And yet, in spite of my initial befuddlement regarding hair longer than I had ever seen on any man, within less than a minute of the five-beat count-down into All My Loving, I was hooked on the Beatles. That night, for reasons I cannot remember, my brother Pete and I slept on a mattress that was laid out on the floor of older brother Jack's room. Possibly the bedroom we usually slept in down the hall was undergoing renovations. I distinctly remember drifting off to sleep with those incredible harmonies echoing through my mind. They've been echoing ever since. After a half century of constant exposure to the sweet sounds of John, Paul, George and Ringo, I have been diagnosed with diabeatles.

Looking back on the unison harrumphs of the establishment's music and cultural critics, it's astonishing in hindsight to realize how wrong every one of them got it. The Beatles couldn't sing, we were warned; they were lousy musicians; third-rate songwriters - and they just looked ridiculous in those silly, "pudding basin" haircuts. In a year no one would even remember their names, we were pompously assured. These rock 'n' roll ruffians from England were a bad joke. To his dying day, Walter Cronkite, then CBS's most visible broadcast journalist, would laugh at the memory of how he was able to get his two infatuated daughters backstage passes to meet the lads from Liverpool after their performance that night on the Sullivan program. While all this was going on, he was across the street at Lindy's having a drink. "The biggest entertainment story of the century right under my nose and I missed it!", he later said.

These guys were no mere "flash in the pan". The Beatles - two of whose members are long dead - were the best-selling recording artists of the first decade of the twentieth-century. Think about that. Quality is still marketable - five decades be damned.

It was the children who understood. It's always the children who are the first to catch on to anything as magical as the Beatles. Ours was a troubled generation - and the Fab Four - landing on these shores less than three months after the assassination of a beloved president, seemed a gift from Heaven. They not only had the whole world singing a joyous, electronic madrigal, these four, frustrated comedians made us laugh tears of joy. To those of us who suffered traumatic and unhappy childhoods, there was (and still is) a psychic bond with this band that cannot be easily explained. We learned early on that they, too, had had troubled upbringings. This was only one of the ways that made it so easy to identify with them on a gut level. They were indeed a bit like you and me. 

I long ago gave up trying to figure out their sociological significance; I only know that they that they were the best little pop group that ever rocked this world. That's all that matters

Fifty years later we wait in  vain for the music to show signs cultural senility. I'm happy to tell you that the Beatles still matter. I know personally too many young people to count, some born a quarter century after the band ceased to be, for whom the music is a continual presence in the soundtracks of their lives; another happy reminder that talent and substance will defy the passage of many years. The Beatles are the silly and joyful ghosts who refuse to fade into that unknowable, mysterious void. 

John, 1964
For a decade after they went their separate ways in 1970, in a break-up that was marked by its bitterness and rancor, there was always the hope, strengthened with each passing year, that they would one day get back to where they once belonged. That hope was forever extinguished on the night of December 8, 1980, when John Lennon was taken from our midst in an act of cold-blooded murder. Twenty-one years later George Harrison died. The Beatles have been cast out to the ages, forever consigned to memory. Perhaps that is as it should be. Unlike the Rolling Stones, they left us wanting more.

All you need is love. I've always believed it. I'll pass into eternity believing it.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


Four years ago, my brother, Pete, our old pal, Kevin Swanwick and I took a tour of the Abbey Road studios in merrie olde England. Read all about it:

A splendid time was guaranteed for all - and the nice folks over at Abbey Road delivered. It was one of those mountaintop moments that just stays with you, you know?


I meant to write this piece on February 9th, the actual anniversary of the Beatles' Ed Sullivan appearance. Unfortunately on that day I was stricken with a near-fatal illness while I was attending - of all things - the Annual Festival for the Beatles at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Ironies: Life is just littered with them. Have you ever noticed that?


There's nothing you can know that isn't known
Nothing you can see that isn't show
There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be
It's easy!
All you need is love....
The Beatles on the mountaintop.


At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom,
Fifty years later and I can still remember all the words to all their songs. (I say this, because I have never been able to recall, with accuracy, my Social Security number, license plate number, or most telephone numbers, including my own!)

Mary Eman

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Amanda Sowards said...

This post makes me happy on a number of levels. First, the topic... Second, that you're back posting again and third... Oh, who cares about the third level? Welcome back. Thanks for this post.

At 11:42 PM, Blogger Kevin Swanwick said...

A perfect piece.

At 12:07 AM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

I remember when the album "1" came out and outsold everything else, including Madonna and all the rap stuff. Hilarious since the newest song on it was 30 years old! All the while people around me were telling me how the Beatles were "overrated". The Beatles, along with Brian Wilson, will always be my musical heroes.

At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Ringo said...

What will Democrats say to the millions of Americans whose premiums and deductibles are higher, whose previous health plans were canceled because they didn't live up to the law's mandates, whose new plans limit access to doctors and hospitals, whose hours were cut or jobs were lost come election day in November?

At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Ron Baldwin said...

I wonder what makes people inject extraneous comments into what clearly is a celebration of a musical phenomenon.

I have commented previously about my daughter’s 2013 health insurance, for which I was paying almost $21,000 a year. A very similar Obamacare plan will cost about $8,000 in 2014 for someone earning well above the poverty line. My daughter has a very modest income because of her many ailments and her premiums for 2014will be about $2,800. Those are facts, not wildly unsubstantiated claims as made by “Ringo.”

At 12:27 AM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

Give it a rest"Ringo".

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Susie Q said...

A great article about the Beatles and it only took 5 postings before the trolls begin trotting out something completely unrelated.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

That's not Ringo. It's a "Blue Meanie" liar troll. "All they need is hate". He's probably called John Lennon a commie too.

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ringo, what have you got to say about this?
Michelle Obama: "Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, young people can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26. But once they hit 26, they’re on their own and a lot of young people think they are invincible. But the truth is, YOUNG PEOPLE ARE KNUCKLEHEADS, you know?"
2/20/14 Jimmy Fallon Show

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

Ananymous, can't you give JUST ONE blog a rest from your constant WHINING? BTW, we just got signed up for the ACA, No problems and mine is FREE. (Of course I realize it comes out of my taxes, but that's more convenient that 7 different bills for one Dr. visit.)
Also, anyone who's watched cable TV or looked at Youtube could tell you that young people ARE "Knuckleheads". They don't realize that we are "only immortal for a limited time"(THanks to Neil Peart)

At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Pajama Boy said...

Hey Mozart,

I am not going to sign up for ObamaCare right now. I am going to pay the $99 fine. I am making good money now. Why should I have to sign up for ObamaCare and pay extra to subsidize an old fart's plan like Tom Degans?

If I get sick like Ron Baldwin's daughter, then I will sign up for ObamaCare with my pre-existing conditions, and have other people subsidize my plan. Thats the Socialist way!

At 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"young people ARE "Knuckleheads"

Mozart, who did the majority of voting young people vote for in the last two presidential elections?

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous John said...


Well after a thousand posts, Pajama Boy has finally made one valid point are an old fart! I can say this because I was only 4 when the Beatles arrived. It was the start of an interesting time - musically speaking. There were many excellent songwriters who were having success while at the same time a wave of experimentation was building and the Beatles were at the crest of it. It rippled through the the music industry, which for a time promoted the experimentation. You would never know it, judging from the replication and genre-fication in much commercial music in recent years. Fortunately, there is still great music being made - just less frequently heard on major media.

Still, every so often great songwriters and musicians push aside the formulas and make a space for their sound. I, for one, would love it to happen on a large scale again.

At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Susie Q said...

Tom, this is a great article about the Beatles. Now why don't you grow some balls and delete every posting that is NOT about the Beatles?

At 12:57 AM, Blogger Chuck Morre said...


I really really like the music of the Beatles!
Especially their song "REVOLUTION". Thinking about it now makes me happy to think the anti socialist freedom loving people of Venezuela are having a revolution against their freedom crushing socialist government.
(Wonder what Sean Penn is doing?)
Ironically President Nicolas Maduro in trying to squash the revolution against his rule is limiting the freedom of the Venezuelan press and internet. Reminds me of what our FCC just tried to do here to our press and media.

"You say you'll change the constitution" Like the guaranteed freedom of our press?

My second favorite politcial Beatles's song is "TAXMAN".

"Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Don't ask me what I want it for
If you don't want to pay some more
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me."

Sounds like a pretty good description of what liberal governments want to do.

There Susie Q, happy now, I talked about the Beatles.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Susie Q....

Deleting every post that I disagree with - or veers off topic - would require time that I cannot spare. Also, I am a First Amendment purest.

Would you like them to go away?


Don't respond to their idiocy. Just ignore them. It's as simple as that.

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Employees from NBCUniversal dropped off over 10,000 petitions seeking better workplace rights, to MSNBC's primetime hosts, Thursday.

According to TV Newser, the workers requested that Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton, and Lawrence O’Donnell come down and personally receive the letters. But none of these progressive, working class heroes did, and thus far, none of them have responded to the effort.

Not even pro-union mouthpiece Ed Schultz, who was paid over $250,000 from unions in the past couple of years to be a champion of the working man, had an encouraging word for them?!

What a huge let down, huh?

At 5:07 AM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

Yeah, sorry Tom. I'm as guilty as anyone of "troll support". It just never ceases to amaze me how some people can take ANY subject, no matter how far removed from politics, and turn it into an anti Obama whinefest.
On the actual subject, I got my daughter away from "boy bands" in the 90's and introduced her to the Beatles. She's been a fan ever since. It still amazes me how timeless their music is.

At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Sargeant Pepper said...

The first of many deaths to come from Obamacare. The Sister of Doug Gramm, wife andmother of four, Julie and her family were covered by a medical plan they liked. Her family private health care policy was cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act. So she struggled through the expensive, time consuming and incompetently designed Obamacare website to find a new policy. While they waited for their new Obama-approved healthcare plan to start she fell ill. She couldn’t eat solid food. She should have gone to a doctor sooner but with the Obama economy she wanted to wait until her new coverage would kick in, February 2, to avoid a medical expense on a strained house-hold budget. When Julie finally got to the doctor they found a badly blocked gall bladder that had become highly infected. Her body went into septic shock just two days before her Obamacare policy would have kicked in. Her kidneys shut down. She went to the emergency room where, after heroic efforts, a marvelous medical team managed to stabilize her condition. Early the next day her heart stopped beating around 4:00 a.m. February 1st.

Obama lied, Julie Gramm died.

At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Susie Q said...

Sgt pepper,tough shit guy. She should have gone to the ER sooner. After all, that is what Lord Romney was suggesting when he was campaigning for president. No insurance, who needs it? That is what the ER is for.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susie Q = Dave Dubya

Harry Reid took to the Senate floor yesterday and literally said ALL of the Obamacare horror stories being told are untrue. Why are they untrue?

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Does Chuckie the hateful troll dare suggest we don't have the "best health care system in the world"?

She couldn’t eat solid food. She should have gone to a doctor sooner but with the Obama economy she wanted to wait

So, instead of taking personal responsibility for ones health and condition, "blame the black guy" is once again offered as the excuse.

Lame. Irresponsible. And verry stupid.

But she sure taught Obama and the Republicans a lesson on the need for socialized medical care for all. This sort of thing doesn't happen in civilized countries.

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous James Hansen said...

If Romney were president would that woman be alive today?

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

James -

If all of the facts presented are accurate, I'd have to conclude that should would likely. Doesn't prove or disprove the validity of ACA, but I think the answer to your question assuming facts are accurate would have to be "yes". Her health care plan would be intact and she'd have not delayed her doctor visits. Certainly a unique and sad situation.

But, if the facts are accurate, I'd hate to be so crass and insensitive as to place the blame on her back as some are for trying to be fiscally prudent for her family. Certainly, she obviously didn't feel she was putting herself at that kind of risk.

Likely none of us has all the facts and would be safest to leave it alone.

The proof-texting via isolated anecdotes is a simplistic way to approach an issue like this. Same holds true for the "success stories". Lots of folks got rich off of the two world wars, too. But, you don't see me saying they were good things...

We've made the bed - time will tell. Well, no it won't,because you have mouth-pieces inside the loop and industry bought press doing the telling. We'll never know much in reality...

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the need for socialized medical care for all"
Dave Dubya

"A better and peaceful world is possible — a world where people and nature come before profits. That’s SOCIALISM. That’s our vision. We are the Communist Party USA."

"We Communists believe that socialism is the very best replacement for a capitalist system that has served its purpose, but no longer meets the needs and requirements of the great majority of our people." Gus Hall

"We are, after all, the Communist Party and socialism is at the core of our identity." Sam Webb

"If you lie down with dogs, you'll get fleas." My Grandmother.

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

I wish the facts of that woman's situation could be known, but this originated at Ann Coulter's Right Wing propaganda site. If ever we needed a fact check, this is it. When the writer takes up more space spewing his Right Wing ideology than the facts of the case we cannot help but suspect ulterior motives and truth stretching.

We wonder where this man's sense of righteousness was over the thousands of needless deaths of uninsured Americans BEFORE his sister died. What would you bet "Go to the emergency room" would have been his advice for the uninsured? Where's the "conservative compassion" for others less fortunate? More double standards.

Even if this woman died, the "blame the black guy" excuse is clear. Shame on him for politicizing his sister's preventable death. We remember the guy who blamed Romney for his wife's death too. That was no more Romney's fault than Obama's fault in this case.

This brings out my inner conservative. Where do personal responsibility and family values fit in here?

When a family member can't eat solid food we take them to a doctor. We don't think of "saving money" in a medical emergency. If that's the priority, then life and health are secondary to cash...once again an apparent characteristic and "value" of the far Right.

And again, this wouldn't happen in any other civilized country with universal health care.

Aww, Fascist Chuckie wants to call me a commie again.

Better call every country with socialized medicine commies too. That goes for the VA and Medicare here.

You lose again, Chuckie.

Better run and hide from all those "commies" you see out there, Chicken Chuckie. I bet they're watching you from black helicopters too.

Bwaack buck buck!

At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sooo cold I saw a Democrat with his hands in his OWN pockets

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Study by Northwester University: Only 48% of Democrats Know Earth Revolves Around The Sun, 61% of Republicans Know It.

At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Eleanor Rigby said...

Rest In Peace Julie Gramm

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous James Hansen said...

Harley, It seems to me that Republican politicians want us to believe that we are on a life boat at sea with just a gallon of water to drink. They do not want us to look behind us at the barge of fresh water we are towing, that is for the elite among us.

About 25 Republican Governors are impeding millions of people from benefiting in the ACA, and extending Medicare/Medicaid in those states. And all of it at very little cost as the federal government picks up 95% of the costs.
The story of that woman dying will be repeated thousands of times, that's what happens with millions with out health care.

ACA is not the best we could do but Conservatives act like it is equal to promoting pedophilia.

With the GOP pushing to cut S.S. Snap, unemployment benefits,ACA and other programs, they are exposing themselves to be insanely hypocritical. The cutting of subsidies for big oil for one year alone could fund unemployment benefits for three years. We are giving 85 billion a month to the banks, that's the barge I was talking about.

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...


You bring up some good points, but I would probably look at them with a slightly different angle.

The barge of fresh water analogy would more aptly be put that all politicians are trying to make us believe there is, indeed, a barge of fresh water behind us, when in fact there is not – it is a mirage. And the 85 bil (“Quantitative Easing”) you refer to is indicative of the substance of that mirage. To be sure, the reserve bankers are the ones benefitting, because the QE is effectively being pumped into the banks to launder the toxic debt that has been circulating underground. No one is (directly) giving them the $85bil/month – it is created out of thin air. In the process, though, they are debauching our currency and our “wealth” to pay off their debts (so indirectly, yes, they are or will be taking from us).

So, we can argue ACA or SS all day long, but if our currency and our monetary system are on such shaky ground, those instruments should be the least of our concerns – or at least very secondary to the fact that economic devastation and possibly hyper-inflation could very easily become a reality in the not-so-distant future. Fiat currencies have historically always resulted in massive bubbles with massive bursts – 2008 was the tremor. We are seeing massive market manipulation by the Fed at all levels – stocks, bonds, precious metals. The establishment of a central bank run by private bankers with the power to issue and manipulate our currency – you have established a master/slave relationship that is going to end badly for us I’m afraid.

ACA, while theoretically not a great design in my book, is NOT the issue we need to worry about. Take your salary and multiply by about 30 or 40x and imagine you are now in that much debt. That’s about where we are in real terms…

All the politics is smoke and mirrors - they are most all complicit at worst or at a loss for a solution at best.


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