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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: Tips for avoiding Beatlemania

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

It has been noted that sometimes tensions arise between members of different generations.

At least that’s what I read.

Apparently there is some disagreement about just which population subset is at the center of the American experience, now and for all time. I thought that had been settled by bell-bottoms and miniskirts. But no matter.

These sorts of rivalries are nothing new, of course. But I thought I might take a moment today to act as a peacemaker. Bridge the generation gaps, if you will.

So here, offered as a public service, are a few tips on how to identify when a baby boomer is about to tell you in considerable detail of the time he or she watched the Beatles on “Ed Sullivan.”

Chances are, you have heard all you care to about that transcendent Sunday night – Feb. 9, 1964. Many times. But if you pay attention to the early warning signs of lingering Beatlemania, you might be able to start backing away and save yourself.

Or, as the Fab Four so eloquently put it on the “Rubber Soul” album, “Run for your life if you can, little girl.”

OK, here’s what to look for.

Suppose you and a few wet-behind-the-ears co-workers are gathered around the water fountain, discussing the popular music of your coddled youth. Everyone is in high spirits, and it’s all in good fun.

But then you notice an older colleague listening as people swap stories about bands that couldn’t play their own instruments and didn’t write their own songs. This wizened co-worker has a dyspeptic expression on his face that seems to say “You call that music?”

This is your cue to make a break for it. Failure to do so is an almost certain invitation to hear several choruses of “I remember we had a black and white TV and …”

Though it needs to be pointed out that, unlike much baby boomer nostalgia, stories about having watched the lads from Liverpool on “Ed Sullivan” can seemingly come out of nowhere.

That’s why it’s a good idea to give baby boomers plenty of space and note when they have a faraway look that might be focused on a moment from 55 years ago. At least when we’re this close to the anniversary of that airing.

Another sign that some codger is on the cusp of telling you all about that Sunday night in 1964 is that he or she is quietly humming a Beatles song or muttering the words “Shake it up baby, now.”

If you think it might be too late to make a run for it, there’s one tactic that could save you.

Ask if the Beatles ever played in Spokane. They did not, of course. But the baby boomer hearing your question is apt to be so dumbfounded by your apparent ignorance that the conversation might die a prompt, merciful death.

So anyway, if you belong to one of those younger generations I cannot ever remember the names of, I hope this helps.

I mean, who really wants to hear people yammer on about, say, when they were about to turn 9 and watched “Ed Sullivan” that night with their mother and big sister? Who wants to hear about how the Beatles rocked their world?

It’s all been said before.

And if you were around before the baby boomers, I’m happy to stipulate: Yes sir, life on Earth began with the Big Band era.


By the time this shows up in print, I suspect multiple commenters will have already made this point.

But here goes.

The national reaction to Sunday’s low-scoring Super Bowl shows why soccer will never be fully embraced as a televised spectator attraction in the U.S.

Americans demand the constant stimulation of high-scoring games. We want the scoreboard to resemble a ding-ding-ding pinball machine.

Defense? Yawn. That’s too subtle.

What ever happened to the idea that limited scoring means greater excitement about the few offensive breakthroughs?

OK, I know what you are thinking. What about baseball? Don’t sports fans savor a tension filled pitchers’ duel?

Sure. Maybe a few old-timers. But if you have ever compared TV ratings for the World Series and the Super Bowl, you know which way the crowd headed long ago.

Personally, I blame the Internet.

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached by email at

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