52 weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Week 26 -Songs: Beatlemania, Songs and the memories they evoke

Beatlemania, Brisbane, June 1964, from The Courier Mail’s The Way We Were site: http://waywewere.couriermail.com.au/29/6/1964 Crowds of fans waiting outside Lennons Hotel for The Beatles to arrive. Neg/no M1119 The Courier-Mail Photo Archive.

The topic for Week 26 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is Songs. What was the #1 song during the week of your birth? Enter your birth date at This Day in Music (http://www.thisdayinmusic.com/birthdayno1) and find out. If you were born before 1946, you can enter the year of your marriage, the birth dates of your children or some other or some other significant event.

As interesting as it was to use this site to find out the “top of the pops” on the day I was born, I didn’t want to post on that for privacy reasons. So I thought I’d blog about songs and some of the memory-associations.

In the context of pop songs, the first thing that came to mind was the visit of the Beatles to Brisbane in June 1964. Their concerts were held at Festival Hall in Brisbane and somewhat to my retrospective astonishment, I was permitted to go to one of the concerts with another of my friends who was also usually not permitted out at night alone. In fact so strange was this that I keep thinking my parents must have met us afterwards but try as I might I can’t bring this into the memory.  My girlfriend and I were seated fairly close to the front on the stadium on the left hand side from the stage….I remember we did the requisite screaming and carry-on typical of such events, though such over-arching popularity was possibly a relatively new phenomenon at the time. Somewhere among the bits and pieces in my memory box, I no doubt have my ticket stub and the program. (This link to Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum talks about the program).

If I recollect correctly I wore a deep-pink/red pinafore type dress over a white turtle neck sweater. Being well behaved we were not part of the groupie-gathering outside the stage door post-event, though I remember seeing the crowd there. Instead we went up to Chemist Roush and had a milk shake –they made amazing milk shakes in different flavours, in those anodised shakers that are becoming fashionable once again. Chemist Roush was up the Treasury end of Queen Street. In later years I visited Festival Hall to see Ballroom Dancing competitions and I know my husband also saw Cleo Laine there some years later.

People from Brisbane might find the Way We Were website hosted by The Courier Mail newspaper fascinating….I know did.

When you stop to think about it, it’s intriguing how memory is linked to music: Dean Martin and protest songs (strange combo!) remind me of my uni days, Bob Dylan is inextricably linked to a friend in Papua New Guinea, John Denver with a very young daughter singing “take me home west verginger (in lieu of West Virginia)”, another daughter in an early doco/film clip with Sara Storer, friends and the school kids in the river at Kalkaringi, Mozart’s 21st (the Elvira Madigan theme song) for its association with our wedding and my mother-in-law, Bombora with the surfie craze of the 60s, Rambling Rose with ice skating, Neil Diamond with Hot August Night, Paul Simon and his Graceland album with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, A Woman’s Heart sitting in a restaurant in Dingle where we heard it first, and Mary Black with Australian Shane Howard singing Flesh and Blood (one of my all-time favourites) on a bus trip to Canberra and Shane singing it at the Melbourne Genie conference in 2003 to my great delight, seeing and hearing Capercaillie & Karen Matheson on TV in Edinburgh (very sadly, never in person/concert), Guinness concerts[i] in the 90s in Brisbane with everyone beating out the time and “rocking” with the craic, Rugby anthems and World Cups (Flower of Scotland[ii] and Ireland’s Call)….so many thought/memory associations. Sometimes a song track passes out of conscious memory for me until it’s heard somewhere else and then all of a sudden the thought association and memory links come flooding back. I suppose it proves how much all our senses play their different roles in our memories.

[i] Officially the Guinness Celebration of Irish Music concerts.

[ii] As with Australia, this is not the official anthem, but like Waltzing Matilda it has the power to stir the crowds and is a heartfelt national sentiment, especially in this case when accompanied by bagpipes. As with the NZ rugby and the haka, it is rooted in national culture and feeling and is very powerful. Personally I suspect Aussies like Waltzing Matilda because it’s indecipherable to anyone else…but every state seems to have its own music version.

Since I wrote this story, the John Oxley Library blog has posted this story about the Beatles’ visit to Brisbane: http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/jol/2012/06/29/the-beatles-brisbane/

2 thoughts on “52 weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Week 26 -Songs: Beatlemania, Songs and the memories they evoke

  1. We must be of a similar vintage. The Beatles concert in Sydney was one of the first events my parenst let me attend with friends in the evenings. I wore a lavender mohair jumper knitted by my Mum and a pair of purple ski pants.

    Thanks for the memories


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