The Beatles at Atlanta Stadium – August 18, 1965
I was a pre-teen Beatle-maniac on a magical night. Fifty-plus years later, I relive it all.
Who knows how long I’ve loved you? You know I love you still.
Somehow, my best friend, Suzanne Stroud, and I convinced both our fathers to take us to see The Beatles, along with her cousin, brother and sister.
I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before. Some are dead and some are living…
Nobody was dying that night, not at Atlanta Stadium. Brand new, space age – The Braves had yet to play there. The air shimmered, hot and electric.
Outside the gates, I saw Paul McCartney laughing. I almost fainted. Then I saw Ringo. Ditto. Then I realized these were “decoys” – that’s what people called them – lookalikes to distract hysterical fans. Inside, incredibly, there were empty seats. Back then, Atlanta was virginal, undiscovered. Hot ‘Lanta and The ATL yet unborn.
The official program had a photo of Jean Shrimpton, a supermodel before the term existed, in a full-page ad for Yardley’s “The London Look.” Pigtails. Glosssy lipstick. Smokey eyes. Oh! I would’ve happily lived a two-dimensional life as the beauty in that photo. The full-page black and white shots of each Beatle, each so swoon inducing.
John with a life-size teddy bear.
George, with a cowboy hat, pensive as James Dean.
Ringo, clouded in cigarette smoke in his be-ringed hand.
Paul. Oh, Paul…I vowed to marry you. Do you think there’s still a chance?
Will I wait a lonely lifetime? If you want me to, I will.
After the opening band, “Cannibal and the Headhunters,” the Beatles ran onto the stage, on second base. They played for 45 minutes that warped the time/space continuum into an eternal event horizon. We screamed without ceasing. Dad claimed he had to restrain me from jumping onto the fields, but I wasn’t that brave, even in that altered state of mass hallucination. Shockingly, John Lennon forgot a lyric that I knew like my own heartbeat. Weren’t they as obsessed with themselves and their music as I was?
Eight days a week, I lu-uh-uh-uh-uv you. Eight days a week is not enough to show I care.
Afterward, in the traffic jammed parking lot, kids pressed programs to windows – turned to the full-page photo of their favorite Beatle, like today’s car flags for UGA, et. al. Paul, Paul, Paul – oh Paul! I pressed his image through the window, to the world.
At home, my mom, who would never have gone, said she smelled me before she saw me, the sweat-soaked wool. Crying, laughing and reportedly storming the field in August, works up a lather.
“I’m not taking them off,” I said, retreating to the stereo console in the living room. With a pencil, I circled every song The Beatles had played on back of my album covers. I love to look at those circles. I played my six (as of then) albums repeatedly, when my mother spoiled my party, well after midnight, directing me to bed.
“No!” I’ve just started “Beatles ’65 – second side.”
She left, returning with a glass of water and two yellow pills – “mothers’ little helpers.” She actually gave Valium to a minor, and she was right to do it. I may have had a seizure, exploded into space.
Can that actually be 54 years ago? I remember thinking Sgt. Pepper’s “20 years ago today,” was a lifetime the first time I heard that line.
The Beatles were a bridge between my parents and girlfriends and the boyfriends to come. Non-threatening. Boyish. Sweet. Funny. Irreverent. Innocent.
Today, all 16 American albums are framed in order, on an 18-foot wall in the main room of my house. The wall is painted the exact orange color of George’s tie on Hey Jude.
When I find myself in times of trouble…
I listen to each of them, in order, even “Yellow Submarine.” After years as a “White Album” supremacist (meaning my favorite) I had a recent epiphany. “Revolver” is ineffable, unbearable, overwhelming.
Turn off your mind relax and float downstream. Listen to the color of your dreams. Play the game existence till the end…of the beginning…of the beginning…of the beginning…of the beginning…
The Beatles are a constant. Not to offend anyone, if I haven’t already, but they are a Higher Power. They remind me that I could, and can, love with passionate, innocent intensity. That perfect moments can and do happen.
Come on now, my fellow aging, dying, dead baby boomers out there – get a grip. Rise above it. Treat yourself to “Meet the Beatles.”
With a love like that, you know you should….BE GLAD
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Yeah, Yeah. Yeah. Yeah Yeah, Yeah YEEAAAHHHH!!
P.S. I Love You