The city of Toronto has produced a whimsical exhibition: The Beatles 50 T.O., upstairs at St. Lawrence Market, in honour of the fact that the group visited Toronto six times, more often than anywhere else on this side of the pond, the last time 50 years ago. I went this afternoon to see it – lots of artifacts from Beatles’ visits, fabulous photographs and slides, and a hilarious recreation of a Sixties rec room in Don Mills:
My friend Piers Hemmingsen, who knows every arcane fact about the Beatles in Canada and has written a vast tome about this very subject, took a large crowd on a tour around the room. I met the curator Jane French, who provided a lot of the actual stuff from her family home, and the Globe critic Deirdre Kelly, another Beatle nut, who knew? I left flyers for my book, in the hope that hordes of fans would seize them and be desperate to read this fine book. Sigh.
It occurred to me, not for the first time, looking at the shots of the screaming girls, the almost terrifying evocation of hysterical passion, that Beatlemania was perhaps the first time in history that female erotic energy was unleashed to this extent. When else had young girls made such an impact, sexually, financially, socially? I wonder if Beatlemania helped push feminism to the forefront – it emerged in full force only a few years later. We already know that Beatles music helped to tear down Communism, as so many young people behind the Iron Curtain were desperate for western music and broke rules to get it. Perhaps those four young men caused more than one worldwide revolution. What do you think?
As I listen to Randy Bachman, it’s 8.30 p.m. on October 29th and my back door is wide open to the winds. Long may it last.