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  Roll Over Beethoven
A retired English teacher, Susan Dlugach just cannot retire from learning, tutoring, writing, traveling and exploring.

My mom had Elvis Presley blasting on the radio while I played with my milk and crackers while I watched her and her broom bop around the kitchen to Hound Dog, the nation's dreamboat sweeping her heart.

A few years later it was instant karma for me as I watched the Beatles charm us with smiles, dimples and love songs. I rolled my eyes when my parents told me to come out of my room to see what was on tv. But when I watched the Ed Sullivan Show that chilly February night in 1964, I was suddenly a teenager seriously smitten for the first time.

It didn't take long for my cartridge ink pen to streak autographs all over my brown book covers: Mrs. Paul McCartney, Mrs. Susan Harrison and variations thereof. I imagined marrying the cute Beatle but figured I had a better chance with the youngest one, who was still practically a teenager. Anyway, John was already married and so was Ringo.

It was then that I began watching Dick Clark's American Bandstand with my mom. My meagre allowance now helped support favorite musicians and publications as I bought pop magazines, Beatles paraphernalia, 45's and record albums. I wore white fishnet stockings with my red suede penny loafers instead of go-go boots like others.

My girlfriends and I bantered about our favorite Beatle. Ringo seemed to be the most popular one. He had such dreamy eyes. Maybe John was too erudite for junior high girls.

Oldsters probably thought the mop-haired lads would be a mere flash in the pan that would fry up and blow away by the time the screaming fans were out of Clearasil. Instead, millions continued buying their records even after the quartet went their individual artistic ways.

By the time John, Paul, George and Ringo disbanded, they had produced 12 albums, about 300 songs and appeared in five movies. Of course I was in the jam packed theater watching their antics in A Hard Day's Night and Help.

I didn't know or care that none of the four fellows could read music. Paul referred to musical notation as "dots on a page."

According to American conductor Leonard Bernstein, "We don't have to know a lot of stuff about sharps and flats and chords and all that business in order to understand music."

Furthermore, he went on to say that he fell in love with the Beatles' music along with his children, discovering "the frabjous … ineluctable beat, the flawless intonation, the utterly fresh lyrics, the Schubert-like flow of musical intonation and … the coolness of these four … "


Even my Louisiana country granddaddy didn't object to their music, only commenting that their hair was too long. Though controversy followed, it didn't daunt me. When John noted that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, a cousin of mine was one of the many to burn his Beatles vinyls.

But not me. I paid good money for those treasures. And the Beatles really were in the news more often than Jesus, so wasn't John right? Still, he apologized, a peace maker even then.

My devotion never wavered as hair grew longer and psychedelia bloomed. They introduced me to other musicians. I read the labels on their records, noting authors of songs they covered. Who was this Carl Perkins, credited for Honey Don't? And Little Richard, for Long Tall Sally? The Miracles, with You Really Got a Hold on Me? Those names, like the authors of books at the library I patronized, now nested in my head.

I grew up hearing music my mom listened to on AM radio stations … classical, blues, Cajun and pop tunes. Though the Beatles opened a little door of curiosity, it would take a while before I my mind and ears opened to music of genres other than the bubble gummy pop rock that fueled my adolescent spirit.

Decades have now passed. All things must, you know. But not my personal Beatlemania. When I saw David Abelson's class, The Beatles: Like You've Never Heard Them Before, offered last fall through the Renaissance Society, I signed right up.

For those who don't know about this organization, it's a Sacramento State University program run by volunteers offering learning opportunities for older adults. Any number of classes are presented without the burden of final exams or threats to contact parents for unexcused absences.

Abelson's class, which is also offered this spring, took us from the birth of the Beatles up to the current release of Now and Then. We learned about the group's growth as musicians, their influence on music and technology as well as how they empowered the youth culture.

Most of us in the class were gawky kids when the British Invasion took over. Sitting in the college classroom watching You Tubes of musicologist Scott Freiman lecture in his lively way about how the Beatles flourished as their love of music brought back the energy that impassioned our youth. Once again thirteen, some of us felt Love, Love Me Do was a personal serenade.

I've long thought Beatles music to be our modern day Mozart. Their tunes are here, there and everywhere. The Clearasil is long gone, but we still love the Beatles, yeah, yeah, yeah!

~ Susan Dlugach


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