50 is the magic number
If you’ve come here with thoughts of reading 50 Shades of Grey type adventures then I’m afraid I’ve misled you. What you do in the privacy of your own home/greenhouse/office is entirely up to you, but this is in an altogether different vein. I’m writing this on Friday 5th October 2012; do you know what happened 50 years ago today? It’s Republic Day in Portugal so I guess they have reason to celebrate. In 1930 R101, a British airship crashed enroute to India killing 48 passengers and crew on it’s maiden voyage, which I’d say ruined the journey. My reason for writing this is that it was half a century ago that two events happened on the same day that have helped to shape popular culture ever since. ‘Dr No’ was released at the cinema and ‘Love Me Do’, the Beatles first single was released onto the British public who had no idea how those four boys would change so many people’s lives.
Moments are what determine your life, not days
It was only a few days ago that I realised both events shared the same anniversary. Isn’t that the oddest thing about days that become special? You can plan some days: an anniversary, a wedding, a birthday or a launch and they never quite turn out as good as you think. That heightened level of expectation that is overtaken by a feeling of disappointment or regret. The real thrill in life is of the ordinary day that becomes extra-ordinary. When something happens that changes your life forever; the chance meeting which turns into the most important relationship of your life. The small decision which changes all of your future, in a good way. Moments are what life is all about; throughout most of the drudge that we put up with or suffer to make the moments special, powerful, beautiful.
Practice and skill will overcome money and complexity
When the Beatles were playing in Hamburg they frequently played 8 hour sets. It was that familiarity with their music and each other that enabled them to perform so well when it came time to cut their first LP. The recording of it was done in under 10 hours, when you think that many of today’s albums take months to record that is a pretty amazing feat. Love Me Do was done over three sessions, on different days with Ringo being famously asked to sit out by George Martin whilst session drummer Andy White played on the single. ‘Dr No’ was also done relatively quickly and on the cheap. No one expected the film to be such a success. Sean Connery, for many the James Bond, wasn’t the first choice for the part with Cary Grant and Patrick McGoohan both turning it down. Ian Fleming was said not to want Connery in the role either. At the time of the films release ‘The Times’ described Connery as ‘a great big hairy marshmallow’. Funny how success and time dim these views.
50 years on – still at the top of the tree
The real beauty of the Beatles and James Bond is that they allow us to wallow in nostalgia and fantasy. Fantasy as a musician that one day you might reach the heights scaled by the Fab 4 or fantasy as a man that you could be James Bond: debonair, smart, dangerous and a girl magnet. The beauty of Bond is that he has been through many incarnations and has kept his virility. The Beatles, alas, are a remnant of a time of great creativity and hope. With John Lennon’s murder and George Harrison’s death all hopes of a reunion were dashed many years ago. Ringo is still going out on the road with his All Star Band, and McCartney is now past his best years as the Olympic concert showed. We, the fans, feel grateful for the 50 years of thrills, spills, dances, euphoria and happiness that these two icons of entertainment have provided. We get to listen to the music, watch the movies, blimey, even go back to the source and read the books. Can we have imagined the past 50 years without either Bond or the Beatles? What a different landscape that would have been. Bringing it all together the modern entertainment tour de force is Adele, releasing the new theme song ‘Skyfall’ and seeing it go straight to number one. I’m really looking forward to the new movie although “Dr No” is one of my favourites. Thanks to all the Beatles, George Martin and Brian Epstein; thanks also to all the Bonds, Ian Fleming and the whole team that has entertained us for so long. I’ll be a fan of them all until another 50 years have passed.