A Hard Day’s Night

by Cindy Phillips updated Wed, Oct 19, 2011 07:50 AM

I read the news today, oh boy. Paul McCartney wed Nancy Shevell. I have to admit, here I am 57 years old and I actually felt my heart drop a little when I saw the headline. Why didn’t he pick me?

I laughed out loud and in an instant, it was as if I was thrown into a time machine and transported back to 1964. I was just eight years old, but my sister Nancy and my cousin Jeanne were teens. As much as they hated it, they were forced to let me “hang out” with them so my grandmother could cook and clean. We would sit cross-legged on Jeanne’s bedroom floor, the record player in the middle of our circle. Over and over again, we would play the album and croon the lyrics. We were like the backup singers to John, Paul, George and Ringo. We knew all the words by heart, no stumbling.

As we listened and sang, we would take turns staring at the album cover. Those four fellas with their bowl haircuts and dreamy eyes. Most girls thought Paul was the cutest with his boyish looks. Remco, the toy company, came out with the Beatles doll collection. In 1964, you could buy all four dolls at Woolworth’s for $3.77. Being a single parent, that was a lot of money for my mom. She allowed my sister and I to each get one. Talk about a tough decision. I know I changed my mind at least a hundred times before choosing Ringo. My cousin, on the other hand, had all four. They were perched on top of the 12-inch black and white RCA that sat on a metal television stand in her room. You had to ask for permission to hold one. Oftentimes she refused me, afraid this little kid would not handle it properly.

At night we would listen to the radio, Cousin Brucie on WABC. Bruce Morrow would always have the latest insider news on the Fab Four, including the fateful announcement that they were coming to America. I am surprised we three girls didn’t require defibrillation at that moment, because our hearts literally stopped. And they would be landing at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens. The airport was but a mere seven miles from my grandmother’s house, but it may as well have been on another planet. The closest we were going to get to the Beatles on their US visit was sitting directly in front of the TV as they performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. And we did just that.

Every teen-aged girl fantasized about being the girlfriend or wife of one of the Beatles. John was already married when the band hit stardom, and I felt a kinship because her name was Cynthia. The other three were still eligible in our minds, and we had as good a shot as any other girl. But each time the news broke a story of a new Beatle girlfriend, or heaven forbid a wife, our collective hearts were broken. One by one, the boys said their wedding vows. As is typical with rock stars and celebs, not all the marriages survived. But by the time we were reading about divorces, we were older and wiser, realizing our chances of hooking up with a Beatle were slim. But it sure was fun while it lasted.

We watched the morphing of the Beatle personalities through a succession of albums. The rock and roll beats of songs like I Saw Her Standing There and I Want to Hold Your Hand gave way to thought-provoking, albeit strange, albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. And we were all blown away by The White Album. By the time it was released, we were no longer screaming girls more interested in looking at the Beatles. By then we were actually hearing the music and deciphering the lyrics.

Though we Boomers try to hold onto our youth with clutched fingers, it is hard to deny our age with two Beatles gone, one inching toward 70 and the other already over that hill. Where did that time go? Was it really 47 years ago that I stood amid hundreds of screaming, crying girls as we watched a Hard Day’s Night on the big screen? I have said before that I knew I was getting old when policemen and doctors starting looking like kids to me. I guess another sign of the times was when I overheard two teens talking and one mentioned the Beatles. “Who are they?” the friend asked. “Oh, that was a band Paul McCartney was in before Wings,” was the reply.

I may be old, but I’m not dead. I’ll be watching this McCartney-Shevell marriage carefully. If it doesn’t work out, I think I still may have a shot.

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