Forty years ago the Beatles came to Philadelphia. And nothing would ever be the same.
No, baby, we're gonna stay real cool and calm-like and obey Hyski's prime directive: When you don't know what to do, don't do nothing. Just let 'em scream their brains out. It'll be fine.
Besides, what are you gonna do--shoot 'em? The bullets and billy clubs of a few hundred cops would be completely useless against 13,000 screaming teenage girls. Thirteen thousand screaming teenage girls freefalling in a vertiginous swoon. Thirteen thousand storm-tossed rag dolls in a riot of hormones and heartache. Thirteen thousand teenage girls in a tear-streaked ponytail-flippin' frenzy of desire and idolatry. Thirteen thousand tingling girls hyperventilating in a zombie trance of ecstatic want and need. Biting their fists. Pulling their hair out. So close and yet so far.
To the adults on hand, which is to say the cops, the ushers and the assorted parents with cotton stuffed in their ears, the deafening shrieks are unnerving. Are they dying?
Naw, we're gonna live forever. That's what any one of 'em would say if you asked and they could somehow hear you.
In truth, though, they all died a little bit that night--the girls, Hyski, Rizzo, the crewcut '50s. After all, he not busy being born is busy dying--Bob Dylan said that.
Some in the adolescent throng had just recently started getting their heads around the idea that we all die eventually--all of us, even the Beatles. Comprehending this was one step closer to being grown up, one step closer to the end of innocence. More important, though, had those 13,000 screaming teenage girls ever felt more alive? Never. Some, in fact, would never feel this alive again.
Jonathan Valania (firstname.lastname@example.org) regularly writes about music for PW.
The 2014 Philadelphia Spring Guide
PW's Winter Coffee Tour