For this stop in Beatles Month, the Guitar Train looks at the TV special, “The Beatles: The Night that Changed America: A Grammy Salute”. It aired on the same channel, CBS, at the same time, 8:00 pm February 9, that the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show exactly 50 years ago. Quirky T usually doesn’t like to hear other artists singing Beatles songs because they are never as good as the originals. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this special considering they were limited to using performers who were at the Grammys two weeks ago when this show was taped. The audience as well as Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Sean Lennon all seemed to enjoy the performances.
I would have preferred LL Cool J be the host of the entire show rather than disappearing after the first introduction. It would have made more sense for him to do the artists introductions rather than the celebrities they chose. Really does Sean Penn ever smile or laugh? He should listen to early Beatles songs and their witty press conference after they landed at JFK Airport 50 years ago to bring some fun and laughter into his life.
As a Beatles fan, I recognized the people who were sitting in the front row but others may not have. Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono were mentioned but should’ve had name titles on them as well as Sean Lennon and Paul’s and Ringo’s wives. Apparently, Tom Hanks is the 27th Beatle with a front row seat for him and his wife.
Instead of the format of other musicians singing Beatles songs, I would have preferred to watch the Ed Sullivan Show from 50 years ago in its entirety with interviews about performing on that show with Paul and Ringo as well as archival interviews with John Lennon and George Harrison. If showing the entire show is too tedious, I would have liked to at least see all The Beatles performances in their entirety instead of just brief clips from the performances. I liked the David Letterman interviews with Paul and Ringo at the Ed Sullivan Theater. I actually learned some new things which is hard to do at this stage of studying the Beatles.
The Beatles album
The highlights of this Beatles salute were definitely Ringo’s and Paul’s performances. I was amazed that Ringo had that much energy at 73 years old. He was actually doing jumping jacks! I don’t even do jumping jacks at half his age (or since I was about 8 years old). Paul gave his usual great performance. I was surprised and happy that he sang “Birthday” since he doesn’t perform that song often.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Ringo and Paul singing “With A Little Help From My Friends” next to each other was the true reunion that their Grammy performance two weeks ago was missing. In that performance, since Ringo was in the back on the drums while Paul sang his own new song, “Queenie Eye” and not a Beatles song while playing piano, it didn’t feel like a real reunion. This time, they were next to each other performing a Beatles song so it felt more like a real reunion. It was weird seeing Paul sing back-up to Ringo.
The Beatles’ Abbey Road
Seeing Paul and Ringo performing together was bittersweet since they are only half of this great band. It made me wonder how truly amazing it would be to see John and George perform with them. That is the complete reunion that sadly will never be.
Hopefully families gathered around the TV to watch this tribute as families did 50 years ago to watch The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. The good brief biographies of each Beatle and the sampling of Beatles songs from their whole career may lead a new generation to learn more about the best band ever and listen to their songs.
Guitar Train passengers, what did you think about this tribute show to The Beatles? Did you like the performances? What was the highlight of the show for you?