Contrary to the times Mr. Herbert, he 60s began with (a) the Black
sit-ins at lunch counters in the South in 1960 and (b) the same year,
the movement against HUAC launched by the student outpouring against it
in San Francisco. The movement against the death penalty was in high
gear. So was that, led by women and by Linus Pauling among scientists,
to end nuclear bomb-testing. By 1963 the Montgomery Bus Boycott had
demonstrated an entirely new mood in the South. Incidentally, the
Beatles never made a ripple among the Black population.
I'm not anti-Beatles. I like their music and think that A Hard Day's
Night is, most surprisingly, a truly great film.
> Thanks, Beatles, for the '60s - And Get Well, George
> by Bob Herbert The New York Times
> Friday, July 13, 2001
> NEW YORK -- Nineteen-sixty-four was the year the '60s really began. The
> earliest years of the decade were for the most part an extension of the
> conventional, Cold War, black-and-white '50s. Dwight Eisenhower was
> president through 1960, which was the year the U-2 reconnaissance pilot
> Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Soviet territory. When John F.
> Kennedy was inaugurated in 1961, the men participating in the ceremony wore
> morning coats and top hats. For a decade known for its excitement, the '60s
> got off to a decidedly slow start. Doo-wop music was still around in the
> early '60s. And dreamy songs of widely varying quality - "Moon River,"
> "Where the Boys Are" - were among the biggest hits. It was a quiet time.
> The average annual U.S. salary was $4,700, and a favorite pastime was
> bowling. There was no reason to think radical changes were brewing when
> 1964 debuted. America was still in shock over the murder of President
> Kennedy the previous November. The tranquilizer Valium was catching on.
> Mary McCarthy had a best-seller with "The Group." Herbert Hoover, Douglas
> MacArthur and Cole Porter were still alive. "Bonanza" and "Candid Camera"
> were big hits on television.
> And then in February, suddenly and without warning, the Beatles came to
> America. The word this week from overseas is that George Harrison, the
> so-called quiet Beatle, has suffered another setback in his fight against
> cancer. Mr. Harrison is 58. He is said to be frail and fatigued from the
> disease and the treatment.
> He is also, apparently, indomitable. "I am feeling fine," he said in a
> prepared statement. And he apologized for any grief he may have caused his
> fans. "I am really sorry," he said, "for the unnecessary worry." If you
> spend just a little time reflecting on the Beatles you come away astonished
> by the changes they wrought, or came to symbolize, in what seemed like a
> split second of real time. They blew in like a sudden storm and permanently
> altered the cultural landscape. One night they were singing to an audience
> of shrieking teeny-boppers on that quintessential 1950s television program
> "The Ed Sullivan Show," and in the next instant, it seemed, the Sullivan
> era had been left behind and the ^A'60s had blossomed in brilliant, even
> blinding color. It wasn't just the music. The Beatles were a perfectly
> timed phenomenon. Their charm, spontaneity and offbeat humor, and above all
> their easy acceptance of life's myriad pleasures, sliced right through the
> fraying bonds of the uptight '50s and early '60s. For better or worse, they
> helped get us to where we are now. They spread the word to a generation of
> largely inhibited young people that it was all right to have fun.
> There was no need to take anything too seriously. When a reporter asked
> John Lennon what he would do when Beatlemania subsided, he replied, "Count
> the money." Ringo Starr, commenting on a trip to Florida, said: "Now, this
> was just the most brilliant place I'd ever been to. People were lending us
> yachts, anything we wanted."
> Within a year or two the '60s that most people remember - some with
> fondness, some with loathing - were well under way, and the most dominant
> cultural framing was provided by the Beatles. People dressed differently,
> wore their hair differently, danced differently and approached that
> treacherous triumvirate of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll with an openness
> that surely had been accelerated by John, Paul, George and Ringo.
> The fun, as people soon learned, was laced with madness and a fair amount
> of tragedy. Among other things, drugs took their toll on the decade and
> played a significant role in the Beatles' lives. You get a sense of the
> breakneck pace of events when you consider that George was only 27 when the
> Beatles officially broke up in 1970.
> More than three decades later it seems a miracle that so much happened in
> so short a time. The music remains remarkable, often beautiful. As for
> George's fans - well, they are worried. But no one is looking for an
> apology. They just wish him well.
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