Monday, June 17, 2019

When It's '64

Don't ask me how, but I just got a copy of Collier's Encyclopedia Yearbook for 1964 (published in 1965, of course).  This comes from the time when such compendia weren't created afresh each day, so an annual update was helpful.

I was particularly happy to get the 1964 volume, since that was the year Beatlemania broke in America--while there's a lot of fascinating stuff in its pages, forgive me for concentrating on the Fab Four.  The band is discussed at some length twice: in an overview of that year's popular music, and in a section on "Personalities Of The Year."

The musical discussion includes a full-page picture of the Beatles performing in a Seattle auditorium, so even Collier's, which would rather discuss classical music, knows they're a phenomenon.  The tone, as you might expect, is amused condescension.

They make the mistake--common at the time--of believing Paul wrote the music while John wrote the lyrics.  Understandable, in a way, since so many composing teams then, especially on Broadway, split those tasks.  They also get the title of one of their songs wrong, calling it "She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)."

From their description of the group:

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Beatles is their physical appearance, which to some observers suggested a contemporary and youthful version of the overdressed British dandy of 18th- and 19th- century tradition.  But the most recognizable aspect of their appearance is the quartet's long hair, somewhere between Elvis Presley's and Little Lord Fauntleroy's.

To be fair, Collier's is impressed with their talent, praising the tunefulness of Paul's balladry, the wit of Lennon's book In His Own Write and the comic quality of their movie A Hard Day's Night.

The discussion of the band in the personalities section is similar.  It starts thus:

Beatles, The (1940/1943-    ), a hirsute four-man English rock 'n' roll group that twice invaded the United States in 1964, producing epidemics of Beatlemania, a malady that afflicts teen-age girls especially and can be recognized by outbreaks of shrieking, swooning, twitching, police-line stampedes, predawn airport vigils, and other forms of collective hysteria. Taken together, the Beatles look alike--the body is encased in a collarless Edwardian four-button jacket and tight pants, the characteristic "yeah-yeah" sounds are emitted from beneath a mop of shaggy hair to the eyeballs.

The article ends:

The importance of the Beatles is not well understood by the adult population, but the group has undoubtedly been beneficial to makers of records, wigs, T-shirts, collarless suits and other stigmata of Beatledom.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you pointing out the typo, "now well understood" should be "not well understood"?

10:40 AM, June 17, 2019  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Alas, that was my typo. I have fixed it.

11:15 AM, June 17, 2019  
Blogger New England Guy said...

They sound not too bad in their analysis given the time. Those haircuts would seem like short hair in 1968. I would be interested though if anything else in 1964 seems on-point or ridiculous. What did they think of the Vietnam conflict- 1964 was pre-escalation (or pre-escalation awareness) I think (I don't recall- I was 2).

12:35 PM, June 17, 2019  
Blogger LAGuy said...

The volume is over 600 long pages, so it covers a lot of ground. Most of it is alphabetical, as if it were an addition to the encyclopedia. There are three pages on Vietnam, including a discussion of the ongoing war--the Vietcong made a major assault on Saigon--as well as the American role, where LBJ is considering negotiations for peace but also waging war. It's also the year of the Gulf Of Tonkin incident (though they call it "incidents").

In the front section of the volume are a bunch of essays on issues of interest. The big story is LBJ's reelection, but there's an 8-page essay on "The American Stake in Southeast Asia." Other essays include Sargent Shriver on "America's War On Poverty," an illustrated piece on women's hairdos through history, New York's World Fair, the Olympics, the origins of life and a very dated piece on whether computers can think.

4:45 PM, June 17, 2019  
Blogger Unknown said...

So, how'd you get the copy?

5:31 PM, June 17, 2019  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I asked you not to ask me. It's best if people don't know.

9:01 PM, June 17, 2019  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, prostituting yourself on the streets of Hollywood again. The city is full of stories.

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