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All You Need is Love: The Beatles Fifty Years Later

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

I remember when my older sister Ginny bought her first Beatles record in 1963. Listening to this strange new sound, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Before I knew it, I too was singing “All you need is love.” Little did I know that I was in the middle of a cultural and musical revolution.

One of the most enjoyable books that I have recently read is Mark Lewisohn’s biography The Beatles: All These Years, Vol. 1: Tune In. Lewisohn’s book gave me new insights into what made these four unknown Liverpuddlians into the unforgettable Beatles. I had no idea that the Beatles were originally a Skiffle band modeled after the No. 1 Skiffle artist Lonnie Donegan, who sold over a million copies of ‘Rock Island Line’. Paul McCartney commented: “(Donegan) was the first person we had heard of from Britain to get to the coveted No. 1 in the charts, and we studied his records avidly. We all bought guitars to be in a skiffle group. He was the man.” Skiffle music, using guitars, washboards and the tea-chest bass, was big in North America in the 1940s. In the 1950s, there were around 40,000 UK Skiffle bands. The Skiffle bands became so popular that you couldn’t purchase a guitar in the UK. John Lennon’s first guitar had to be shipped from Durban, South Africa, where Skiffle and Rock had not yet caught on.(1) His Aunt Mimi, who raised John, ironically said: “The guitar’s all right for a hobby but it won’t earn you any money.”(2)

Lewisohn showed how each of the Beatles came from very difficult family backgrounds. The Beatles were raised in mixed Catholic/Protestant families, except for Ringo who was raised in a Protestant family. Church did not have a huge impact on the Beatles, though they sang in the early days at church fairs. John Lennon was fascinated throughout his life by crucifixes, the greatest symbol of God’s love. George Harrison said: “The only thing that came across to me in the church was these oil paintings of Christ struggling up the hill with the cross on his back. I thought, ‘There’s something going on here.’” (3) Paul McCartney failed an audition to become a choirboy at the Anglican Cathedral through deliberately cracking his voice. Paul also abandoned music lessons after four or five weeks, when he was given homework.(4)

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?, the Bible asks. Can anything good come out of Liverpool?, many asked. Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles had been devastated by the World War II bombing. Poverty was rampant. Black soot covered everywhere. Fifty thousand Liverpool houses had no bathroom or inside toilet. Youth unemployment was higher in Liverpool than anywhere else outside of London. Violent youth gangs controlled the streets. Almost one-third of the population, 200,000 people, left Liverpool looking for a better life. In 1962, the UK Home Office report identified Liverpool as England ‘s worst for drunkenness with arrests.(5)

John Lennon was known as a Teddy Boy, and seen by some as a delinquent. Lewisohn said that “John Lennon could be a horrible drunk, shedding the humour that vitally checked his roughest edges to become verbally abusive and physically aggressive, an unadulterated, obnoxious pain in the backside.” (6) His girlfriend Cynthia Powell said of John, “His attitude was extremely ‘Don’t look at me’—but he wanted to be loved.”(7) “We knew we could make it,” said John. “We dreamed of being the British Elvis Presleys, and we believed it.”(8)

Richy Starkey, later Ringo Starr, was the last one to join the Beatles. At age six, he was in a near fatal coma for ten weeks and a year in hospital after contracting peritonitis. Ringo experienced a further long spell in hospital at age fourteen, after pleurisy turned into tuberculosis.(9) Ringo’s health challenges led him on a lifelong search for love and for God.

For several years, the Beatles remained undiscovered. Thanks to the influence of Chuck Berry, the Beatles morphed from Skiffle to Rock. John Lennon said of Berry “He’s the greatest rock ‘n roll poet. When I hear rock, good rock of the caliber of Chuck Berry, I just fall apart and have no other interest in life. The world could be ending if the rock ‘n roll’s playing. It’s a disease of mine.” (10) Their biggest break happened when the Beatles began to play extensively in Hamburg, Germany. Lewisohn calculated that the total time spent onstage on their first two German visits was 918 hours: “the equivalent of 612 90-minute shows in just 27 weeks.” As the most experienced rock band at the time, says Lewisohn, Hamburg toughened their voices, seasoned their characters, enriched their personalities and strengthened their voices. (11)

Virtually all of the early Beatle songs were about searching for love. When the single Love Me Do came out in 1962, said Ringo, “the whole of Liverpool went out and bought it en masse. They were proud of it: a group from Liverpool. It was fantastic.” (12)

From there, their fame exploded through the UK and around the world. Recently Ringo at the Grammy Museum in LA, admitted: “I have found God…I stepped off the path there for many years and found my way [back] onto it, thank God.”  Finding God has enabled Ringo to give up his sixty-cigarettes a day and move away from alcohol and drug abuse: “I feel the older I get, the more I’m learning to handle life. Being on this quest for a long time, it’s all about finding yourself.”(13) Ringo discovered that the love of God changes everything. Because God is love, all we need is love.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

(1) Mark Lewisohn, The Beatles: All These Years, Vol. 1: Tune In (Crown Archetype, New York, NY, 2013), p. 115.

(2) Lewisohn, p. 224.

(3) Lewisohn, p. 65.

(4) Lewisohn, p. 62.

(5) Lewisohn, p. 738.

(6) Lewisohn, p. 162.

(7) Lewisohn, p. 228.

(8) Lewisohn, p. 537.

(9) Lewisohn, p. 453.

(10) Lewisohn, p. 169.

(11) Lewisohn, p. 398, John Harris,

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/02/beatles-tune-in-mark-lewisohn-review

(12) Lewisohn, p. 720.

(13) Andrew Hough, The Telegraph, Feb 3rd 2010, “The Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr admits: ‘I have found God’, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/the-beatles/7142630/The-Beatles-drummer-Ringo-Starr-admits-I-have-found-God.html


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When the Saints Come Marching In

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

 

I will never forget my parents taking me as a child to  Frank Baker’s 1200-seat Attic Restaurant in West Vancouver by Park Royal Shopping Centre. I loved the delicious ‘all-you-can-eat’ smorgasbord, the endless Tiffany lamps, and James Bond’s Aston Martin car with all the gadgets.  My strongest memory though was following Frank Baker and Lance Harrison’s Dixieland Band in a congo-line around the restaurant as they trumpeted out ‘When the Saints Come Marching In’.   Although Lance Harrison rarely performed outside the Vancouver area, he was featured in the CBC TV special ‘A Visit to New Orleans,’ filmed during a 1971 trip to the birthplace of jazz.  Dixieland Music, sometimes called Hot Jazz or New Orleans Jazz, became synonymous with the song “When the saints come marching in”.  This song became so connected with New Orleans that they even named their NFL Football team “New Orleans Saints”.

Louis Armstrong was the first person in the 1930s to turn this Afro-American spiritual into a nationally-known pop tune. Fats Domino, and Billy Haley & the Comets, turned it into a Rock and Roll rendition. Elvis Presley sang ‘When the Saints…’ in his Hollywood film “Frankie and Johnny.” Even the Beatles recorded it.  Because of its dominant popularity, Jazz musicians in New Orleans charged 500% more than for other songs just to play it.  I never realized back at Frank Baker’s Attic that the song was originally a funeral dirge, speaking about people dying and go to heaven.  “O Lord I want to be in that number” expressed the desire to be ready to meet one’s Maker.

Who can forget the scenes of devastation just four years ago in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city?  With 80% of the city flooded, many wondered if New Orleans was finished. Out of the ashes has arisen an unlikely football team that has given hope back to a crushed people.  It took the New Orleans Saints 21 years to win their first season and 34 years to win a single playoff game. Who can forget the Super Bowl XLIV scene with Saints Quarterback Drew Brees holding his son after the Saints had a surprise 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts? The sports commentator’s final comments were “The Miracle in Miami has happened. The Saints have won the Superbowl!”   As Phillip P. Lasseigne, Daily Vidette Features Editor, put it, “When people in the Gulf Coast lost their jobs, their houses and their loved ones after the hurricane, they turned to the one thing that had always been there for them for both the good times and the bad: the Saints.”

I had no idea that Saints Quarterback Drew Brees had a strong faith in Jesus Christ that has shaped his dedication and integrity both on the field and off. To Brees, this dedication means that “you trust in the Lord, you trust that he has a plan for your life, you trust that he is never going to put anything in front of you that is too hard for you, or he would not put it in front of you. No matter what comes your way, you will be able to overcome it. It will make you stronger.  It will give you the ability to influence in a positive way so many other people. I want to give back what’s been given to me.”

Besides QB Drew Brees, everyone was talking about the other Quarterback Tim Tebow who was in a 30-second Superbowl ad seen by 100 million viewers.  Despite initial concerns by some, the ad turned out to be a lighthearted celebration of family life. Tim Tebow, who was almost not born because of pregnancy complications, became a Heisman Trophy winner and selflessly serves others on medical mission trips to the Philippines. Tim Tebow and Drew Brees truly are Saints who come marching in.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca