The View from Inside Beatlemania

Jill Lepore in The New Yorker:

On November 4, 1963, the Beatles played at the Prince of Wales Theatre, in London, exuberant, exhausted, and defiant. “For our last number, I’d like to ask your help,” John Lennon cried out to the crowd. “Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewelry.” Two weeks later, the band made their first appearance on American television, on NBC’s “Huntley-Brinkley Report.” “The hottest musical group in Great Britain today is the Beatles,” the reporter Edwin Newman said. “That’s not a collection of insects but a quartet of young men with pudding-bowl haircuts.” And, four days after that, “CBS Morning News with Mike Wallace” broadcast a four-minute report from “Beatleland,” by the London correspondent Alexander Kendrick. “The Beatles are said by sociologists to have a deeper meaning,” Kendrick reported. “Some say they are the authentic voice of the proletariat.” Everyone searched for that deeper meaning. The Beatles found it hard to take the search seriously.

“What has occurred to you as to why you’ve succeeded?” Kendrick asked Paul McCartney.

“Oh, I dunno,” he answered. “The haircuts?”

More here.