This must be the place
I teared up immediately.
The moment I heard John Lennon’s voice in the latest documentary about The Beatles, the Ron Howard directed “Eight Days A Week — The Touring Years,” my vision became blurry, my thoughts scattered, as I pondered a modern world with Lennon still alive — the ambassador of hope, love, and the promise of a better tomorrow.
Entering the Fine Arts Theatre in downtown Asheville this past Sunday afternoon, it became quickly apparent I would be one of the few in attendance under the age of, perhaps, 60. The Beatles are beloved by all, by any age or demographic, but, they will — always — be owned by my parents and their peers.
I’ve never known an existence without The Beatles. My parents do, and yet, I never will. And that’s not a bad thing. Far from it. The point of The Beatles is to practice and perpetuate love, understanding, and what it means to not see color — only friendship and companionship.
Thus, taking a seat at the Fine Arts Theatre, I found myself amid, as my mother would say, her “vintage.” And I was happy to be amongst company that knew the “real deal,” that were once teenage girls and boys in search of safe haven in the midst of the tumultuous 1960s, nationally and internationally.
My mother is 67 years old, and when The Beatles first broke into “The States,” taking the stage on Ed Sullivan on Feb. 9, 1964, she was a 15-year-old starry-eyed teenager with ambitions to take over the world. All seemed possible, all was possible, regardless of what your parents, the media, and the town limits of where you lived might have said otherwise.
And she grew up, like everyone else who experienced the 1960s did. They went to college, got jobs, had kids, bought cars, bought homes, only to gain weight and lose hair, only to think about retirement instead of never-imagined dreams. She grew up, and became my mother. My little sister and I would pile into my mother’s 1992 grey/blue Toyota Corolla and hit the open road, a cassette of The Beatles cranked on the stereo, onward to destinations unknown, although that usually meant the nearby playground or farmer’s market or city beach or spending the day with my late grandparents.
But, like The Beatles, my mother, being the flower child (Class of 1966) she was, never stopped believing in the power of “you and me and us,” where she’s still on the frontlines of local political protests, marches, and also raising my niece (her granddaughter) with the same love and joy she discovered in the records of The Fab Four of “John, Paul, George & Ringo” — the gospel for a generation lost in the midst of losing their president, their friends to Vietnam, and their family dynamic in the crossover from “yesterday to tomorrow.”
Watching “Eight Days A Week,” I kept looking around at the anonymous faces around me. All that grey and white hair, all those wrinkles and protruding bellies, their heads all bobbed, their feet all tapping during each song performed during the film, as if (if) they tapped hard enough, they’d find themselves in this space — that “Wizard of Oz” moment — where they knew, and hoped to get back to familiarity and innocence, for, as you know, “there is no place like home.”
Immersing myself in the film, I kept thinking how incredible of a prism the flick is, in terms of projecting our 2016 woes and concerns through. We have just as much bullshit and misunderstanding — discrimination and paranoia, sadness and confusion — back then as we find ourselves trudging through today and, well, seemingly tomorrow.
The Beatles were the melodic answer to the John F. Kennedy Assassination, to the escalating Vietnam War, to the Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy and Malcolm X assassinations of 1968, and to the troubles above and beyond when the band finally called it quits in 1970.
The Fab Four will forever remain the soundtrack to humanity. It’s in our power as modern-day citizens as to which side of public opinion — solidarity or dissent — the songs fall upon. John Lennon preached peace, love and understanding, and he sincerely meant it. So did Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. What remains is how we as a 21st century society push ahead — how do we reflect on our past transgressions and successes, and also push ahead with a head full of knowledge and the ambition to make actual change (positive change) in our backyard — our town, our state, our country, our world?
And so, as I sauntered out of the theatre, I kept looking up into the gloomy rainclouds hovering atop downtown Asheville. I kept thinking how beautiful rain is, and also how glorious that first ray of sunshine will be when it finally breaks through the darkness, radiating down onto earth, only to kiss my cheek — just like my mother — when all I needed (and need) is some sign that all is OK, all will work out, all will find its footing in this all too big, beautiful and haphazard world, just as long as you and me (and you, and you, too!) never give up on the greatest gift that was ever given — tomorrow.
Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.
1 The Classic Wineseller (Waynesville) will host The Russ Wilson Trio (jazz/swing) at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1.
2 The eighth annual “ColorFest: Dillsboro Fine Arts & Crafts Fair” will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, in downtown Dillsboro.
3 No Name Sports Pub (Sylva) will host The Colby Deitz Band (bluegrass/Americana) at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23.
4 The 42th annual John C. Campbell Folk School’s Fall Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1-2 in Brasstown.
5 Nantahala Brewing Company (Bryson City) will host Ol’ Dirty Bathtub (Americana/bluegrass) at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23.