A Hard Day’s Night

“I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?”
― John Lennon

Music at the Brewery Tour

I was worn out, innervated and wanted to watch something that didn’t take a lot of thought. Cruising through The Criterion Channel’s streaming potpourri, and chose the Beatles’ 1964 chestnut, A Hard Day’s Night.

I remember when I first saw the Beatles, in about 1963, I was six. They were at the airport in New York, on their first trip – it seemed to be a big thing back then when a band crossed the ocean… I’m not sure why. On the news, I thought they were women. It was a different time.

I did enjoy the film. First, the music, you forget how good the early Beatles were. It still sounds great today.

I saw the movie sometime… maybe a year or so after it came out. What I remembered the most was the character of Paul’s Grandfather. He steals every scene he is in. He is such a clean little old man.

But what really stands out to me is the (more or less) subtle, absurdist humor. The film is really just a bunch of Beatles songs, strung out like a string of pearls, interspersed with little funny bits. The funny bits are strange, though. Today, the film would be full of slapstick and broad humor… but here, everything is a little off.

And a lot of fun.

For example here are a couple more scenes. One, with the brilliant character actress, Anna Quayle, trying to figure out who John Lennon looks like.

Or there’s this extended scene with George Harrison – a comment on fashion and trends – still relevant today.

They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

A Hard Night’s Day

I am old enough, just barely old enough, to remember when the Beatles first came over to the States. Back then it was a big deal when a band, a British Invasion Band, actually crossed the pond… I’m not sure why – they had airplanes, after all.

At any rate I remember them getting off the plane at the airport in New York. We lived only a few miles north of the city then. It was covered on the evening news. I had no idea who they were… and am afraid that when I first saw them, I thought they were women. I was only seven years old and I had never seen men with hair that long.

That didn’t last long – even at my age Beatlemania swept everybody up. At that age, I remember the Beatles cartoon on Saturday Morning more than anything, but I was familiar with their music.

Oh, one other little tidbit. I remember when they flew back to England – it was like we would never see them again. Someone was talking about, “Now they are gone, there is this other band, you need to see them.” So I remember watching this “other band” on some variety show. I was too young to understand completely, but even at that age I could tell there was something different about this other band. Especially the lead singer. I didn’t know what, but I knew this guy had something … something different, something a little dangerous.

It was, of course, Mick Jagger and the Stones… and I guess I was right.

Watch this clip of the Stones from Mike Douglas… it’s pretty amazing. Check out the interview at the end (starting at about six minutes). It’s like something from another planet. The world would never be the same after this.

For someone of my age, the music of the Beatles, as much as anything else, set the stage for everything from my earliest memories up through middle school. When I hear anything from them now it brings back memories that are almost visceral, rather than the more specific memories of music that came after.

So even as something as pedestrian as a Beatles tribute band will have a reaction in my noggin’ – bring back the past in a way that’s a lot of fun.

There’s a pretty decent Beatles tribute band in the Metroplex, A Hard Night’s Day. They have been playing around Dallas for fifteen years now. They have five members, which actually makes for a more realistic, if not accurate, recreation of the sound. They usually play two sets – one of the earliest stuff from the sixties, and another of the more psychedelic later Beatles’ fare. Until you sit through one of these long concerts you forget how wide a swath the fab four cut through the music of the decades.

We’ve seen them many times and saw them again when they played on Saturday afternoon at the Cottonwood Arts Festival. It was, as always, a ton of fun and a lot of old memories for some of us and new memories for a few others.

A Hard Night’s Day

A Hard Night’s Day

Every band has their groupies.