On Beatles and Butterflies


[chaos is a friend of mine]
There are a lot of 50th anniversaries this year.  We’ve already seen the 50th anniversary of launching a man in orbit, later this year will be the 50th anniversary of detonating the largest nuclear bomb ever built.

Sandwiched between these monumental events is a tiny one that culturally was probably more significant. For 50 years ago today, June 22, 1961, the Beatles walked into a recording studio for the first time.

Now, this wasn’t their session, they were essentially a back up band for Tony Sheridan who was the up-and-coming star, at least according to the record company that signed him.  Today, Sheridan’s claim to fame is that he sang lead on the Beatles’ first recording sessions.

For like the proverbial butterfly wings in Brazil setting off a tornado in Texas, a single from those sessions, My Bonnie, sparked interest in the group, including a theatrically-trained, bored record shop owner, Brian Epstein, who became their first super-fan and decided to introduce them to the world.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

It may have looked like a little 45 rpm record, but it was so much more. All the events associated with the Beatles’ artistic journey: the massive sweep of popular taste, the revolutionary changes in music and the music industry itself, the use of commercial music to rally middle-class awareness of political issues, as well as all the conservative reaction to this spawned “counter-culture” – all of it! – starts 50 years ago today.  Little links that grow into a large chain which appears entirely improbable if one were to plan it. Thus is the nature of butterfly wings.

I am just an individual but I think I will flap my wings today.  And maybe create a few tornadoes.

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