Thursday, November 18, 2010

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" (1964)

34. Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (Jan. 25, 1964, #1, 7 wks.)

Another song that has ranked much higher for me on previous lists. I was surprised this time to find how relatively little I have ever cared for most of the Beatles hits. A follow-up project I am contemplating, "100 Other Songs," would no doubt correct for that, culling heavily from Beatles album tracks—because there's no question about the enduring significance for me of this strange band of pop tunesmiths, dominated by the bass player and rhythm guitarist. And there's no question this was the song that raised the curtain for most of us of a certain age. At the time, TV was generally denied in our household (the result of my father witnessing the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald on live television) and as much as I begged and pleaded I was allowed to watch only the third of their unprecedented consecutive appearances on Ed Sullivan's variety show in February 1964. They played this with "Twist and Shout" and "Please Please Me." In April, all three would be part of the Beatles' historic assault of the Billboard charts, when in one week they occupied all five of the top positions. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was #4; the other two were "Can't Buy Me Love" and "She Loves You." This is how Beatlemania works, in a nutshell—piling on with the statistics that delineate the phenomenon. They are literally incomparable and I doubt that anything like it will ever be seen again. And what's all the fuss about anyway? (Reaching that question was also part of the natural progression of Beatlemania.) In the case of "I Want to Hold Your Hand": bashing crashing stirring guitar chords, howling harmonies, and a nagging sweet tune, in service of a declaration of absurdly innocent puppy dog love. Don't make me say you had to be there.

No comments:

Post a Comment