Tom Hanks (of course) is doing his Ken Burns thing but with The Sixties, because the last baby boomer’s death is a long, long way away.
Last night, The Irritating Noise You Hear At the Airport aired the one-hour “British Invasion” episode he produced (and is also a talking head in.)
As with the American Experience “1964” from last month, this show at least tracked down some rarely seen footage instead of just rerunning the usual cliched “Beatles walk down the steps of the plane with their PanAm bags,” although that was included, obviously.
In a shocking break from Received Liberal Wisdom, however, two black talking heads — Jimmy Fallon’s bandleader, plus some other guy — a) said The Beatles and those other British groups, especially The Stones, were super cool and b) therefore they did not say “those bands got rich stealing African-American music,” which has been the liberal go-to talking point for almost fifty years.
The two black dudes admit what some brave people have been saying all along:
That by the time these British bands arrived on American soil, blacks had largely abandoned the blues and other traditional “black music” as old fashioned and kind of a downer. They’d switched over to danceable, fun, fluffy stuff like commercial, glossy r&b.
So it wasn’t so much “The Stones stole our stuff then sold it back to us” but “We threw that shit out on the sidewalk and The Stones dumpsterdived it and if they ‘sold it back to us,’ well, I guess we were the idiots, not them.”
They also made sure to include a clip of Little Richard saying with a forced smile that he loved it when other artists “borrowed” his stuff, and he’d better freakin’ say that.
Things I didn’t know until last night:
Mikal Gilmor is still alive and they had to film him in shadow because holy crap.
Eric Burdon and Dave Clark are still alive and see above.
Someone observed that while The Beatles strove to play as a unit, The Who had “four leaders,” each of whom looked pissed about being stuck with these other three idiots. (Which is why The Who are better.)
The Rolling Stones only played Shindig because they put Howlin’ Wolf on, too. Nice. (Yeah, I’m one of those bores who thinks The Stones should have stuck with being the world’s greatest blues cover band…)
Smokey Robinson’s version of “Yesterday” actually renders the song more than listenable. (This isn’t the same clip though:)
Plus we were reminded that The Stones always regretted following James Brown on the T.A.M.I. Show, because duh. Sometimes top billing is a bad thing. You shouldn’t always “get what you want”…
They tried though: