Cynthia Lennon passed away earlier today. Her son, Julian, broke the news on his website. Julian’s father is, of course, John Lennon. Cynthia was 75 years old. John would have been 74 years old were he still alive. His birthday is October 9th.

I remember February of 1964, when The Beatles hit the terra firm of the USA, like it was yesterday. It was incredible. Truly amazing. And watching them on the Ed Sullivan Show was one of the most exciting moments in my life, before or since. I was glued to that old black and white RCA, our first ‘telly’, and I could not contain myself when the Fab Four briskly made their way onto the stage of that venerable old theater, now the site of The Late Show with David Letterman.

Seventy-three MILLION people watched that show along with me and many of you.

“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you, remember I’ll always be true. And then while I’m away, I’ll write home every day, and send all my loving to you…”

Take it Paul! “All my loving, I will send to youoohoou…”

That gives me chill bumps to this day.

That was the first song they did on Ed Sullivan that Sunday night. The boys also did ‘Till There Was You’ and “She Loves You’. They returned, later in the show, to do ‘I Saw Her Standing There’… Ah one, two, three, FAW…”Well she was just seventeen and you know what I mean, and the way she looked was way beyond compare…”

Has there ever been a BETTER rock ‘n roll song?

The Liverpool lads completed their first ever appearance on American television with their wildly popular single, the ‘A’ side opposite ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’.

I also recall going down to the Red & White, owned by Mr. William Collins at that time, and purchasing that ’45’ with my allowance money. I truly wish I still had that record. I do have their first album released in the USA, ‘Meet The Beatles’.

Tommy Ratcliffe, RIP, I miss you old friend, and I wore that first Beatles album out. We would put it on my record player, in the front bedroom of my house in Camden, AL, and sing our hearts out along with it. We both had Beatle wigs. Tommy would stand and play the broom, he was John, and I would sit on the edge of the bed and play air drums. I was Ringo. These two were our favorite Beatles.

Later I would go to Joe Tate, our band director at WCHS, and ask him if I could play the drums in the marching band. Joe told me he didn’t need any more drummers and he put me on the cornet. Oh well…

Tommy and I also had Beatle cards, Beatle rings, Beatle dolls, and any Beatle item or trinket we could get our hands on. We both had serious cases of Beatlemania.

The Beatles began to lose me about the time ‘Rubber Soul’ came out. They had begun to experiment with drugs and this influenced their music in big way. They lost me, though. I was around thirteen or fourteen at this time and they got WAY ahead of me. I was a late bloomer but I caught up, and then some.

(As an aside, Joe Cocker just came on Pandora, here at 116 Sundown Way, doing his brilliant cover of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’.) 😉

‘Rubber Soul’, ‘Revolver’, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, ‘The White Album’, and ‘Abbey Road’ are about as good a run of albums as one will find in the entire history of recorded music. “Let It Be’ ain’t bad either.

From The Beatles biography at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “The impact of The Beatles has often been noted but cannot be overstated. The “Fab Four” from Liverpool, England, startled the ears and energized the lives of virtually all who heard them. Their arrival triggered the musical revolution of the Sixties, introducing a modern sound and viewpoint that parted ways with the world of the previous decade… The Beatles music – with its simultaneous refinement (crisp harmonies, solid musicianship, canny pop instincts) and abandon (energetic singing and playing, much screaming and shaking of mop-topped locks) – ignited the latent energy of youth on both sides of the Atlantic. They helped confer self-identity upon a youthful, music-based culture that flexed its muscle in myriad ways – not just as music consumers but also as a force for political expression, social commentary and contemporary lifestyles…”

And Cynthia Lennon has now joined John, George, and other friends and family at that great gig in the sky. ($1 to Pink Floyd).

February 1964. Wow!!!

In the Grateful Dead song, ‘Uncle John’s Band’, there is a line that goes, “Oh oh but I want to know, where does the time go?”


“Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.”


Winter Words Vol.5/ “Grateful” for Sunshine

The sun has shone brightly all day. The car wash was packed. People seemed a little happier and peppier today. It’s only 40 degrees now and it ‘feels like’ 35 but you would think it’s 60 degrees judging by people’s attitudes. It’s actually a little bit unseasonably cold. The average high in the ATL area for February is 57 with an average low of 38. Perception vs. reality huh? Amazing what a little sunshine can do.

One of my all-time favorite song is George Harrison’s ‘Here Comes the Sun’. “…Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces, little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here…”

And the music itself in the song. It just makes you smile. It moves you to want to dance.

Me and Paul were at a Further concert at SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center) in Saratoga Springs, NY back in the summer of 2011. I was working that area, along with Lake George, NY, and the opportunity availed itself. The band Further includes two core members of the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir.

If you’ve never been to a Dead show, or one of the many incarnations that the surviving members formed, Weir’s Ratdog and Phil Lesh and Friends would be the most recognizable, then you’ve missed something special. The band members casually stroll out on stage when they’re good and ready to little or no fanfare. The they will tune their instruments for what seems like an eternity.

During the tuning process the various notes being tinkered with will eventually form what sounds to be fragments of a song. Eventually the sounds WILL develop into a song and the crowd will, usually and simultaneously, recognize the song. There will be a huge roar and then everyone will begin to dance like mad, spinning, twirling, swaying, bouncing and hopping in a free form manner.

Well, on that night back in June, four years ago, the tuning and jamming turned into ‘Here Comes The Sun’. I think the entire crowd was quite surprised, I know me and my Grateful Dead Granny were. The smiles on the faces of all in the crowd were worth the whole concert experience, and it was a very good show.

Here is an excerpt from a fitting article in Americana – The Journal Of American Popular Culture.

“The Answer To The Atom Bomb: Rhetoric, Identification, and the Grateful Dead”

“In The Hero’s Journey , mythologist Joseph Campbell claims that ‘the Grateful Dead are the best answer today to the atom bomb’ because ‘The atom bomb is separating us and this music is calling up the common humanity’. Campbell first articulated this belief about the psychedelic rock band from San Francisco after attending one of their concerts in 1986 in Oakland, CA. where he witnessed what he refers to as ‘one incredible Dionysian ritual,’ ‘a dance revelation,’ and ‘magic for the future’. As Campbell explains, ‘They hit a level of humanity that makes everybody at one with each other. It doesn’t matter about this race thing, this age thing, I mean, everything else dropped out… It was just the experience of the identity of everybody with everybody else. I was carried away in rapture. And so I am a Deadhead now.”

Amen brother Campbell. You NAILED it! There is NOTHING like a Grateful Dead show! It is a transcendent experience. Everyone is one with their fellow human beings. It is tangible. It is church. And the sacraments aren’t bad either. 😉

Music was the only church me and Paul had for many years. The joy and fellowship we have experienced is immeasurable and the friends we have made, at concerts and festivals, are priceless.

The SPIRIT is the SPIRIT wherever it manifests itself. God/Goddess is everywhere, in everything, in everyone. Where love exists, God exists. God is love.

I’ll close with a line form the Dead song, Scarlett Begonias. “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”


So tonight, why not cue up Scarlett Begonias and dance like nobody’s looking.

Peace and love.