by Sean Smith
The 1960’s were a fascinating decade. In that ten year span America saw great leaders like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. emerge to challenge our nation to become a better version of itself. Yet tragically, both of these leaders lives were cut short by an assassin’s bullet before their visions of a better America ultimately came to fruition. It was in this decade that America reached tremendous heights, literally, by landing on the moon, while also hitting a major low point in our history when we instituted a military draft as we fought a lost war in Vietnam. Our nation’s entertainment industry also changed drastically during this period of time as the television set took a prominent position in our living rooms and we embraced musical acts coming over from across the pond. In short, the 1960’s is an interesting time in our nation’s history to learn more about.
The news network CNN is in the midst of airing an original series that delves into the 1960’s, aptly called The Sixties. The ten part series is produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, and Mark Herzog, and explores some of the many fascinating events and developments that took place during that decade. Hanks and company have done a marvelous job in producing this very informative and entertaining look back at the decade that shaped America. The Sixties airs on CNN every Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET. I would highly suggest you take some time to check it out, as my wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed being glued to television watching the series every Thursday.
This week’s episode focuses on the British Invasion. This of course refers to the infiltration of iconic British musical acts like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles into the American music scene. In honor of tonight’s episode of The Sixties, today we take the opportunity to remember The Beatles first big hit in America, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
Before coming to America, The Beatles had become superstars in their native Britain in 1963 after the great success of their singles “Please Please Me” and “She Loves You.” On February 7, 1964 The Beatles landed in New York City and officially started the British Invasion. On February 9th, the band made their American live television debut playing on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles appearance on the show was watched by an estimated 73 million viewers, nearly two-fifths of the total American population. During that performance the Beatles played what would become their first #1 hit in America, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the basement of British actress, and later fiance’ to McCartney, Jane Asher in 1963. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” stayed at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a respectable seven weeks, only to be dethroned by yet another Beatles song “She Loves You.”
So in honor of tonight’s episode of CNN’s original series The Sixties, which will focus on the British Invasion; today we remember The Beatles first chart-topping hit in America, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I hope that you take the time to check out The Sixties as well as listen to this Beatles classic. Enjoy!
The Beatles On The Ed Sullivan Show (segment)