NOTE from OurValues creator Dr. Wayne Baker: This week, please welcome journalist and educator Charles Honey for a thought-provoking series based on classes he has taught about the impact of the Beatles’ music. Here’s Charles’ first column …
When I first saw the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964, they were singing a language I didn’t get, at that point. But even at age 11, I sensed it had something to do with excitement, sexuality (still latent in my case) and unrestrained joy.
More than 50 years later, the Beatles’ music still speaks to me, in ever-fresh ways. The songs’ sonic ecstasy endures, but their meaning has deepened with new bends in my life’s journey.
That’s one reason the Beatles remain so popular, with U.S. sales of more than 178 million albums. Their songs continue to speak to us across time, with spiritual resonance and personal messages.
I have seen this in a short course I teach on the spirituality of the Beatles. From 20-somethings to retirees, participants speak of how deeply Beatles songs have touched their lives. Besides the songs’ sheer musical appeal, people find sustenance in their values: the celebration of beauty; the authenticity of inner experience; and, especially, the power of love as an agent of change.
We hear this power full-force in their early hit, She Loves You. A legendary performance at the London Palladium in 1963 is marked by many as the birth of Beatlemania. The shrieking, weeping girls are old hat by now, but listen to what the boys are singing:
She said you hurt her so,
she almost lost her mind.
Now she says she knows
you’re not the hurting kind.
She says she loves you,
and you know that can’t be bad.
This is not the needy love of most boy-girl songs of the era. It’s love delivered as good news, unselfishly, to a friend. Whatever caused the rift, he says, get past it. Pride can hurt you, too. Apologize to her.
The advice anticipates Paul’s encouraging words in Hey Jude:
You have found her,
now go and get her.
Love is a gift not to be squandered. Be brave and go for it.
With a love like that, you know you should be glad.
What emotions do this song stir in you? Does it still excite you? Why? What might you see in its message now that you might not have seen then?
For me, the comment a breathless teen made to Newsweek at the time still says it well: “Oh dearie me, they just send the joy out to you!”
Care to see the 1963 London Palladium performance?
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Charles Honey is a freelance writer specializing in faith, education, music and baseball. He wrote a religion column for The Grand Rapids Press/MLive for 20 years, is a staff writer for School News Network and writes a blog on everyday spiritual experience, Soulmailing.com. He teaches a short adult-learner course called “Love is All, Love is You: The Spirituality of the Beatles.” Recently, Charles was featured in a ReadTheSpirit Cover Story about his new book Faith on First.
ALSO THIS WEEK, our section on Holidays, Festivals & Anniversaries looks at the many ways the Beatles reshaped popular culture in the second half of 1965—a golden anniversary in 2015. Plus, to help you sense what it was like 50 years ago, this column includes two short videos of the Beatles taking the stage at Shea Stadium and then performing A Hard Day’s Night on that historic occasion.
- The Beatles: ‘Sending the joy out’ for more than 50 years
- The Beatles: Do you still long for Yesterday?
- The Beatles: Do we still believe love can change the world?
- The Beatles: There are places I remember all my life
- The Beatles: And, in the end … Let It Be.