On the matter of Mark Jenkins’ review of A Hard Day’s Night (“Anarchy in the U.K.,” 12/8): I take strong issue with Jenkins’ statement that the subtext of the film “wasn’t at all clear to ’60s American Beatles fans who encountered the film as teenagers…[who] were about as likely to understand the nuances of British subculture as they were to recognize the gambits that director Richard Lester borrowed” from other directors.
What a sweeping and condescending statement! On the day the film opened (at the old RKO Keith’s on l5th Street NW), I skipped school, packed a bag of junk food, and stayed for at least six showings, hoping against hope that the girls would quit their screaming so I could hear more of the dialogue. There wasn’t a nuance I missed; funny that Jenkins neglected to mention the sexual nuances, for there were plenty. My friends and I were in love with the “boys” as much as their culture and its various subtexts. I remember transcribing their interview with then-WWDC DJ Carroll James, researching all the words and expressions I didn’t know (hello, O.E.D.), poring over maps of London and Liverpool, reading Chaucer because Paul once made a statement about “The Miller’s Tale,” reading James Joyce because John supposedly wrote the way Joyce did. Growing up in Wheaton and watching boys whose futures pointed either to the auto-body shop or Vietnam, we found class and its divisions neither mysterious nor over our heads; it was unavoidable. The accent may have been different, but the beat was the same.
Jenkins closes his piece by mentioning the Sex Pistols. Made me think about that time in the early ’60s, pre-Beatles, when I heard Link Wray play in the parking lot of the neighborhood firehouse. Shades of notes to come. Or was I too young and American to understand what I was hearing?