Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Measure of Time

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. --Nabokov, Speak, Memory (Putnam 1966), p. 19
I couldn’t let the week go by without acknowledging the event that took place fifty years ago, the event that has had such a profound impact on my life: the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. I watched that first show, 8 years old and not even knowing how hungry I was for that music. Tonight we re-watched that show (and the two that came after it), and as always it was a revelation. The first show was weighed heavily toward Paul; he sings lead on three of the five songs they played, and John’s mic wasn’t loud enough at first. But John made up for it in Miami, where he absolutely nailed “This Boy.” He flubbed the first line right off the bat (“this” instead of “that”), but my god, the middle eight section: he sings it perfectly, with a passion and intensity so real and so revealing that he had to undermine it, which he attempted at song’s end, trying to make Paul laugh with a high-pitched aside. It didn’t work: that intensity and beauty remains and resonates even now, fifty years down the line. Goose bumps every time I hear it. I am so glad my brief crack of light, these past fifty years which have gone by in a flash, coincided with that of the Beatles.


  1. Nice read and insight. I dare say you are in Peter Guralnick territory with your level of communication of the events, the band, the music, and the personal and emotional impact. Am I making any sense?