History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Friday, May 10, 2013

Come see my Morris Public Library exhibit!

I bought my copy of "Meet the Beatles" at the old Johnson Drug Store. It's where City Center Drug is now. The purchase didn't seem particularly special at the time. Oh, it was an enjoyable vinyl record to listen to (33 RPM, if you remember the old terminology).
The Beatles had become quite the rage. I certainly didn't buy this or other records with the idea they'd be collectibles. Nor did I drive my 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado with the idea it'd become a classic. That car was an extension of my identity.
We never dreamt vinyl records would disappear. We never dreamt Oldsmobile would disappear.
Remember Dripps Oldsmobile in Morris, right downtown? We can be comforted that the Dripps name is still part of the local auto sales/service scene. It projects continuity. But the Oldsmobile has tooled into the ether of history.
My vinyl Beatles record jacket is currently in the collector's display case at our Morris Public Library. That case is a wonderful feature of our library. My exhibit is the one for May, following the April display which was Beatrix Potter books owned by Judy Bluth. What's next? Collectibles span a very wide spectrum. Vicky Dosdall showed her Pillsbury Dough Boy items.
I'm told the case is booked through September. Please let Library Director Melissa Yauk know if you have a collection of interest. Our public library is being wonderfully managed.
The "Fab Four"
I believe I first became familiar with the Beatles on morning TV. That would have to be NBC's Today Show, as we got no other network at that time. These little video clips were being shown of teenage fans going berserk while the Fab Four performed. The clips showed the fans as much as the musicians.
We got the impression that a truly new phenomenon was bursting forth. The first song that made a big impression on us young USA boomers was "I Want to Hold Your Hand." This was on "Meet the Beatles."
The Beatles ended up with myriad hits covering myriad styles and lyrical messages. But the song that put a clear stamp on this group as being "the real deal," I feel, was "I Want to Hold Your Hand." (It's OK to type "Wanna.") A close second might be "She Loves You" (yeah, yeah, yeah), but this was not on "Meet the Beatles."
Let's get our chronology right: First there was "Please Please Me," then "From Me to You," "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
There was little indication of how deep the Beatles' music would become. Bob Dylan would eventually "take their hand," as it were, and lead them in a more substantive direction, if that floats your boat. But heck, what was wrong with the one-dimensional stuff the guys were writing in 1963? That's what we hear on the album I have showcased at our public library. We hear cliche-ridden expressions. The songs reflect puppy love and adolescent drives.
The audiences as seen on the TV news and on a key Jack Paar program were enthralled, not even being able to contain their emotions and enthusiasm. Girls were at the head of the line. We see one retrieving binoculars as she jumps up and down.
Note the personal pronouns in a lot of the song titles: "From Me to You," "Please Please Me," "She Loves You." The group truly connected with the young people who discovered and who were devouring it. As for me, I loved the sound, the melodies, the harmonies and the rhythm. There was something very dynamic and new about it.
A couple years ago there was a visiting Driggs lecturer on the UMM campus who shed a little light on the so-called "British invasion." It wasn't just a matter of quality music, he pointed out. This visiting scholar, who spoke on the theme "The hippies and the 1960s," said the British recording industry was more advanced than in America. Yes, there is a lot of unseen craftsmanship behind all of this. He pointed out one impediment in America: Young men who might be interested in this industry couldn't just plunge into it, as they had to be worried about being drafted into the Viet Nam War. I think we have largely forgotten what a horrible and intrusive distraction that was. It was a distraction that could literally end your life.
Songs and their origin
Music fans probably didn't think much about the circumstances under which songs are actually written.
I have been fascinated for years by the simple, momentary impulse that can take over a creative mind and yield a classic in the most humble of circumstances. At a museum in Nashville TN once, I was mesmerized at a display that shows scraps of paper or even napkins - candidates for the garbage - on which were scribbled lyrics to tunes that would become timeless, like "Oh Lonesome Me."
The Beatles' "She Loves You" was written by the boys on twin beds in a Newcastle hotel room five days before it was recorded. The chorus is primitive in its simplicity. It includes that "yeah yeah yeah" refrain that would become a trademark of this early chapter. Schoolkids all over the U.S. would sing it impulsively, all started by a few moments of inspiration in a Newcastle hotel room.
Music is wondrous in how inscrutable it is. What if I, as a would-be aspiring songwriter, wrote the following for a demo to be submitted to a publisher: "She loves you yeah yeah yeah, she loves you yeah yeah yeah, she loves you yeah yeah yeah yeah." Talk about getting a door slammed on you.
My father Ralph was a successful choral music composer with 70-90 published works depending on what list you consult. I'm sure he could tell you about the vagaries of the music world. Me, I had a demo recorded of a song about Kirby Puckett once. I'll try to get it online sometime but it's on cassette tape. I'm told the process might be a little involved. We'll see. I actually wrote quite a few songs, mostly in the 1990s, but I'm not holding breath over achieving fame or fortune.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote songs both separately and together. They were fully collaborative on some of the early classics such as "She Loves You," "From Me to You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand." The "Hold Your Hand" song was written in the cellar of a private home. The boys meandered along crafting the melody when Paul came upon a particular chord that John felt really made the song. In my mind what makes the song is the full-chord leap in the melody at one point! Very unusual and effective, sort of like a leap into hyperspace. We hear handclaps accenting the beat. Guitar riffs are well-positioned. We are prompted to wonder if the listener is led to hold more than a girl's hand!
"I Want to Hold Your Hand" spent seven weeks at No. 1 in the U.S. The rest was history. Come see a little bit of it at our Morris Public Library.
Click on the permalink below to read a post I wrote about the Beatles performing at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, in 1965. This post is on my main website, "I Love Morris." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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