We had just a lovely day about a week ago.
In the morning, we went to see Eight Days a Week, the Ron Howard Beatles touring history at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village. I know it’s available online but if you see it in theaters, they show the entirety of the Beatles’ Shea Stadium Concert right after (the set was less than an hour).
Maybe more importantly, the speakers in the theater are better than the (very good) little tiny ones I have hooked up to my computer. Quick, go out and tell a bunch of your friends to buy copies of my books so I can buy better speakers! (Why didn’t I think of that before?)
Anyway, how could there possibly be anything we don’t already know about the Beatles? The hell with that–how could it be possible that they were BETTER than we thought they were? That’s pretty scary but seems really possible after seeing this.
It’s astonishing to listen to live shows by really popular and influential bands from several years after these recordings after hearing this. Jefferson Airplane, CSNY, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead yeesh–they’re all out of tune, off-key, meandering and sloppy. Rock bands really didn’t get good until the stage monitors got good, until silent tuners became ubiquitous…
Oh, no, actually not true. The Beatles were incredible live. Military precision and loose all at once. The remastered footage here (amazingly sharp) and sound (amazingly clear) make that obvious.
The other thing about seeing them perform together is it blasts apart all the petty score-settling their hangers-on and even they themselves indulged in later. They were all essential to the band’s performance and they knew it. They were a unit and a brilliant one. One of the best scenes is Paul misting up talking about the first time they heard Ringo behind them. It could be sentimental but it feels very real.
And that night, after the movie, we went with friends to a Mets game. I’ve been a fan through some amazing ups and downs but nothing like this year. This team is held together by Terry Collins, gaffer’s tape and chicken wire. Maybe it’s all a mirage because they’re playing uniformly bad opposition right now but they’re on a hell of a roll anyway. Every favorite of mine from last year is either injured for the year or playing ineffectively off the bench. I’ve never been prouder as a fan.
Anyway, I said to Claire as we headed home, it was like the best birthday I ever had, not on my birthday.