50 Years of the Beatles

SXSW panel reviews

Ballroom Dancing
by Gary Miller

50 Years of the Beatles

Austin Convention Center, Thursday, March 14

First of all, there were only 13 years. Nevertheless, the point of this Grammy Museum-organized meeting of the minds – moderator Bob Santelli from the museum, rock journalist Bill Flanagan, and widely spanning singer-songwriters Robyn Hitchcock, Rodney Crowell, and Ron Sexsmith – was to concentrate on the seven years that the Fab Four took America by storm (1964-1970), which of course upended the Sixties, then the world. Sexsmith mused they were likely the first band-as-gang, with pop previously dominated by solo artists (Sinatra, Presley). Flanagan saliently pointed out that America was presented with the Beatles fully realized in '64, the two years' work that went into their conquering England already behind them. Crowell asserted, and everyone agreed, that Sgt. Pepper wasn't their best album, while Hitchcock, who frequently had the smartest and wittiest observations, said of the Beatles vs. Stones debate: "The Beatles were about love. The Stones were about sex. You don't get the Stones until you're a teenager, and all those hormones kick in!" Hitchcock ultimately summed it up: "The Beatles are now our folk music. Kids grow up with them."

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