, Newburyport, MA


December 26, 2013

With a little Help! from four friends

It was 50 years ago today

First heard in the USA

A band that played a whole new style

Guaranteed to raise a smile

So may I introduce to you

From the boys who sang “Love Me Do”

That something: “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Yes, ’twas the day after Christmas, 1963, when all across the airwaves America first heard The Beatles.

Could not have been better timed.

This 12-year-old still breathed the lingering grief of an assassination just five weeks past, a young president erased from a stage returned to old men. Vigor trumped by reserve.

Promise delayed, youth denied.

Which may be why so many of us are taking our youth right into old age.

We hear that younger generations resent baby boomers, but really, they envy us. Given the increasing anxieties of growing old, who wouldn’t want to prolong their adolescence?

Could turn one into a street-musician, but it’s hardly my excuse, as I first hit the streets during a time more in tune with “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

“From Me to You” was the first non-Christmas carol I learned. Carols taught me scales, The Beatles taught me key changes.

Combined it with “Blackbird” to reward passers-by patient enough to pause for unfamiliar melodies.

A solo flautist needs songs with strong melodic lines, foregoing favorites steeped more in rhythm or vocals, such as “I Want You,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Get Back.”

And “We Can Work It Out” with an opening so riveting that NPR uses it as a bumper following reports on congressional stalemates.

On that note, has music ever been so spirited yet precise as “And Your Bird Can Sing”?

With a repertoire mostly Celtic and Baroque, my challenge is keeping several familiar tunes fresh.

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