For a number of people, February 9th, 2014 was nothing special. It was an ordinary Sunday night in early February—spending the waning hours in fear of work’s return, cramming in last-minute assignments for the new semester, feeling emptiness due to the void left by football’s finale.
But for those paying attention, Sunday was an important anniversary—a crucial one. It was the commemoration of the night that America and the rest of the world changed forever. It marked the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ American debut onThe Ed Sullivan Show.
The simple version—and the reason why wise people don’t dispute the anniversary’s importance—is this: The Beatles were featured on a TV show and swept the world’s most culturally powerful nation off its feet, catalyzing a craze that forced the band to expand to creative levels in music that were uncharted and unprecedented.If that performance didn’t change the world directly, then it did for this reason alone—it began many cultural shifts over a six-year period, a good deal of which saw The Beatles as flag carriers.
But the simple version doesn’t do the whole thing justice. It needs to be examined with a fine tooth comb and put into perspective. A newfound appreciation for Febuary 9th, 1964 needs to happen.
We hold that night in great reverence because of the event itself and what it accomplished, not just the 50 years thing. Some might argue that the one-year anniversary in 1965 was as important as the 50th. And while that is true—every year, no, everydaywe should appreciate The Beatles and their arrival—50 is unquestionably an important number. It’s half of a century. It’s a milestone to reach. And it’s really an “in your face” moment to all those old hags who said it wouldn’t last, all those curmudgeons who called pop music disposable. Here we are 50 years later, and not only are we still talking about it, we study it like the true art it always was, and we love it in more formats than ever. Plus, it’s catchier than celebrating the 49th anniversary.