I was 6, nearly 7, on the night in question. Though the distant past of the early 60's is remembered in black and white, my childhood memories are more like the sun dappled pastels of the Dick and Jane books. Lime green lawns, yellow raincoats, Dad, quiet in suit and tie, Mom with her red hair and fiery personality. Unlike my older brother and sister, who were teenagers in the 60's, the Beatles provided the soundtrack to my childhood. It was only later that I'd learn that John and Paul met on my older brother’s birthday in 1957. And, I was only 14 when they broke up on the day before my birthday in April 1970. Their songs got me through what was a difficult childhood from a peer stand point. I was a geek long before it was fashionable. The thick glasses and mandatory buzz cut didn't help. I had a paper route that I shared with my brother and sister. The pure sweet joy of those early songs got me through the rain, sleet, hail and snow of New England winters.
I remember getting together in our back yard with other boys in the neighborhood - standing in formation with badminton rackets - singing "I Should Have Known Better." I was John - imagine that! Once, in the school yard with a couple of friends as back up, I sang "Happy Just to Dance with You" to my third grade teacher Miss Shea. This time I was George. I could be Paul, singing "All My Loving” or I Saw Her Standing There" on the bus ride to school. Their music was so infectious, so magical and seemingly so simple, I couldn't get it out of my head. And, while I couldn't have the look - my brother did have a Beatle wig that I have no recollection of wearing in public - singing those songs filled me with a sense of confidence that I did not normally possess. Singing "Anna" kept me warm going from house to house on a Thursday night collecting for my route. I remember suddenly understanding "Don't Bother Me" one day home from school sick with the flu. As the years went by, it seemed that their songs expressed my feelings.
So that is why I'm counting down - to celebrate, to remember a moment - a sort of cultural Big Bang whose significance I wouldn't fully understand until it was over. But at 6, nearly 7, that moment of sheer exhilaration felt like nothing I'd ever experienced, and provided something indefinable to aspire to.