It Was 50 Years Ago Today...
How can I resist?
Okay, so it wasn't precisely 50 years ago for me -- Beatlemania didn't hit these shores until late 1963, when "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" came blasting out of my little tan transistor radio. "Love Me Do" wasn't resurrected for us for months, not until April 1964. (Trust Capitol to squeeze out every golden egg they could from their new prize geese.) But history tells us that fifty years ago, on the 5th of October 1962, the Beatles released in the UK their first properly recorded single, as opposed to "My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean," recorded when they were Tony Sheridan's back-up band. "Love Me Do" wasn't the hugest of hits at the time -- it only made it to 17 on the UK charts -- but it sure paved the way. Very soon the Beatles would OWN the #1 slot on the charts. And in my heart, they've never yielded that position.
One of McCartney's schoolboy compositions, and it shows -- those simplistic lyrics! "Love, love me do / You know I love you / I'll always be true" -- I'd probably ridicule those lyrics if I heard them today, delivered by a hip-hop artist or rapper. Yet there was a peculiar genius even to this. No one before the Beatles understood so powerfully the value of the personal pronoun. Every "me" and "I" in their songs stood for Paul McCartney (at least in my viewpoint), and every "you" stood for me. Paul was singing directly to me, ladies. And yes, he was also singing to you, Lori, and to you, Nancy, but in my pink bedroom with my Barbie diary on my lap, all that mattered was that Paul was singing to ME.
Okay, so that's Genius Thing Number One. Genius Thing Number Two: The urgency of the harmonies on that next line -- "So plee--ee--ee-eeze" -- cut off abruptly by an instant of silence, before Paul dips down into his lower register (what I like to think of as his Ramon Suavez voice) to coax, "Love me do / Oh yeah, love me do." Grr-owl...
And Genius Thing Number Three: The middle eight, so full of raging hormones. "Someone to love / Somebody new / Someone to love / Someone like you" -- man, this kid has got so much testosterone, he can barely figure out what to do with it. I submit that this middle eight was the piece that spoke to the male audience -- surely they could identify with its restless, inchoate need to plant seed somewhere. There's just a hint of past hurt and resentment in that "somebody new" -- ah, yes, the neurotic John Lennon touch! -- but basically he's up for anything, so long as it happens soon, preferably now.
Genius Thing Number Four: The tempo may sound draggy today, now that our internal metronomes have been permanently revved up by the punk era, but once you relax into its bluesy lope, its very laidback laziness is seductive. Why hurry when you know you've got the goods to deliver? On top of that is layered a backbeat syncopation that absolutely insists that the pelvis respond. Unh-HUNH!
And let us not forget Genius Thing Number Five: John's raggedy braying harmonica, much more Muddy Waters than Bob Dylan. It hits our ears from the very beginning, pulsating and edgy, and it wheezes back in again at the end of every chorus. Somebody here is about to explode, and it's up to you (me!) to make it right.
And in 1962, 1964, whatever -- a girl would have to crazy not to volunteer for that tour of duty.