Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Beatles And Abba Across the Big Pond

There are a lot of musical groups that do very well in Europe and have an extremely limited following in the United States. For years, Julio Iglesias, who sings in quite a few languages had only limited success here. I am very fond of the music of Demis Roussos, who counts English as one of the languages in which he sings.

I still remember when the Beatles went on Ed Sullivan in 1964. I was about seven years old. It took a couple of years for me and my siblings to warm up to them. But the next morning in school, everyone was going wild about the Beatles. One kid had a Beatles wig, and a lot of the girls had decorated their lockers with Beatles pictures from fan magazines. My favourite Beatles moment was when they tossed some medals they had been given over the gates of Buckingham palace to protest British support of Nigeria in the Biafran war of secession between 1967 and 1970. Additionally, there was the Paul McCartney song in 1972. It was banned in Britain and a hit in Boston. In Britain, it could not even be mentioned on the BBC.

Whether I agree with someone or not, I have respect for someone who is willing to go against the grain. Muhammed Ali could have kept his heavyweight title and served in the US Army. He would have gotten a creampuff assignment. Instead, he gave up his heavyweight title and resisted the draft. I believe he was misguided, but he still stood on principle. I respect the man even if I disagree with him.

The Beatles had been performing in the UK and in Europe well before they came to the US. A friend of mine sent me a video of the Beatles performing on Swedish television. It is interesting watching the audience, to observe their attire and their decidedly more subdued manner of showing approval. It is also worth noting that the audience is Swedish, responding to a song in English. The vast majority of Swedes are fluent in a language other than Swedish. It is simple arithmetic. When only a few million people speak your language, it makes common sense to learn a more widely spoken language. There is with this a certain awareness of life beyond your national borders that has to be cultivated when you come from a large country like Russia or the US.

I am presenting with this posting the 1963 video from Swedish television. Additionally, I am presenting the video of the famous group ABBA singing their mega hit "SOS" in Swedish, which is after all their native tongue. I hope my readers will watch and listen to listen to both videos.

The Beatles on Swedish Television

ABBA SOS in Swedish Sphere: Related Content

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