So! Just two days ago I’m willing to bet that most of us got together with friends and relatives, drank generous amounts of beer, ate prodigious amounts of charred animal flesh and mayonnaise-bathed boiled potatoes, and enjoyed a fantastic light show when the sun went down; perhaps you made your own contribution to said light show. The idea is that we got together in order to celebrate the hard-fought appropriation of the centre of this beautiful and bountiful landmass which many of us now inhabit – a move that, according to one very tall and wise man, was “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.“
As high-minded as the ideal was, it’s been an interesting 237 years since then; the fledgeling United States of America expanded to fill the territory it now inhabits, displacing and disenfranchising entire populations of indigenous people; then we almost tore ourselves apart over the issue of states’ rights, although American history ostensibly tells that we fought about slavery, which may have at the time served as the red herring it does today; we added first Alaska, then Hawaii the the roll call of states under Federal rule, and we’ve fought countless wars – all in the name of liberty and equality, huzzah! Four Presidents have been assassinated in our history, and the last successful one (with all due respect, of course) actually delayed a watershed event in American musical history by two and a half weeks while the nation mourned. When CBS finally aired its shelved story (shelved after it played in the morning, but not in the evening on November 22) about Beatlemania on December 10, 1963, one girl in Maryland wrote her local radio station asking why they didn’t have music like that in America. The radio station – conveniently located in our nation’s capital – responded enthusiastically, and for the second time the British managed to set fire to America.
The first time was a literal burning of the nation’s capital in 1814 by British forces. This tends to be glossed over in American History class, because it’s the only time our nation has ever been successfully invaded by a military force, led interestingly enough by one Major General Robert Ross. As of today, I am to the best of my knowledge not a time-traveling military commander; I will let you know if that changes.
This event (the musical one) was to be known as the “British Invasion”, and you can blame its popularity with American youth in part on the fact that they were sick of teen idols, and that the invasion came in the wake of a scandal where radio stations and DJs were being paid by record labels to play their music, thereby suppressing competition by outside musicians. The rest of the blame goes to the fact that awesome music was coming by the boatload from England. Here’s a short list of some of the better known ones:
- The Kinks
- The Animals
- The Searchers
- Mungo Jerry
- The Status Quo
- The Foundations
- David Bowie
- The Tremoloes
- The Tornados (A surf band, hello!!!)
- The Troggs
- The Yardbirds
- The Mindbenders
- The Move
- The Marmalade
- The Zombies
Oh, um, and the Beatles, of course. This total turnaround of historical precedent where it wasn’t everything American but everything British changed the flavor of rock music forever, and unfortunately contributed to the popular demise of instrumental surf music, but we know you can’t keep a good genre down. 🙂
For today’s Saturday Jams, I’ve laid down just a few of my favorites from the British Invasion. Enjoy!
–The Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. This was a big deal; the audience’s behavior was considered astounding at the time. It’s a longer video*, but you get both sections of their performance from this first appearance on America’s most popular show at the time, and you get to see how the British Invasion gained so much traction.
*Edit (02APR2022 — or is it time travel?) — due to copyright stuff, I’m sure, the original video got taken down and it’s been difficult to find a full recording of the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan anymore. I took the liberty of replacing the one video with one far less likely to be taken down and one that is the absolute best remaster of a Beatles gig I’ve ever seen:
Now, please enjoy what’s left of your weekend. On Monday, most of us go back to work!
Featured image credit: popstache.com