TRADITION IN TRANSITION FEBRUARY 1963
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Music in 1963 is undergoing a transition. Like the social climate in America, unrest and uproar boil just beneath the surface. The musical bebop lyricism of the 1950's is slowly being phased out as artists tentatively pave the way to the youth movement of the 1960's. Nevertheless, the main theme throughout the music industry in Februrary of 1963 is still one of structure, simplicity, and normalcy. Not quite ready to start dealing with socio-political issues affecting the American culture, the themes of pop chart hits in February 1963, still focus on love, marriage, breaking up, etc. Embedded into the very lyrics of these songs are the rigid ideals of right and wrong as well as a certain respect for authority. The focus and goal of music at this time almost seemed to be escapist as much of it was fanciful.
   

Hey Paula


Paul and Paula
 
Paul:
Hey, hey Paula, I wanna marry you
Hey, hey Paula, no one else will ever do
I've waited so long for school to be through
Paula, I can't wait no more for you
My love, my love
Paula:
Hey Paul, I've been waiting for you
Hey, hey, hey Paul, I want to marry you too
If you love me true, if you love me still
Our love will always be real
My love, my love
Both:
True love means planning a life for two
Being together the whole day through
True love means waiting and hoping that soon
Wishes we've made will come true
My love, my love
   
February, the month of love, celebrates Valentine's Day, which itself conjures ideas of romance and undying love vows. It is no surprise then that "Hey Paula" topped the charts in this month, staying at number one for three full weeks. The song's centrally focuses on finding true love and planning for marriage and a life together. With such a strong message of simplicity and stability, "Hey Paula" reinforces a certain conventional norm. Rooted in the 1950's, the light-hearted "Hey Paula" did not stand alone but rather exemplified the dominant style of music at the time.
 
"Walk Like a Man" talks about leaving a girl who has been cheating and lying. With its inclusion of fatherly advice, "Walk Like a Man" embraces authoritative ideals. Presumably, the popularity of this song among the youth audience demonstrates their relative acceptance of these conventional messages. Yet only a few years later, anything relating to authoritative advice or ideals are shunned and rejected by the youth movement. While the themes remain, the advice and actions in the songs evolve significantly.

Walk Like A Man

Oh how you tried to cut me down to size
Telling dirty lies to my friends
But my own father said give her up don't bother
The world isn't coming to an end

(He said just) Walk like a man
Talk like a man
Walk like a man my son
No woman's worth
Crawling on the earth
Just walk like a man my son

Good-bye baby I dont mean maybe
I'm gonna get along somehow
Soon you'll be cryin on account of all your lyin
Oh yeah just look who's laughing now

(I'm gonna) walk like a man
Fast as I can
Walk like a man from you
I'll tell the world to forget about it girl
And walk like a man from you

   

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
 
You would never know of the extreme political and social upheaval occurring in America to listen to the popular music of February 1963. The Civil Rights movement, Cuban missile crisis, and the Feminist movement directly challenged society but none of these are being dealt with in the realm of popular music. On a level, the intent of the music industry was to gloss over the social and political issues of the day, taking an apolitical stance. This is a huge contrast to the musical movement of the later 60's that takes stands on racial intolerance, the Vietnam War, and the sexual revolution. As singers such as Patsy Cline, who dies in the next month, fade out of the scene, new forms, sounds, and styles in music, such as the Beatles, take their place.
 

The Fab Four
Walk Right In

Walk right in and sit right down, daddy, let your mind roll on.
You'd better walk right in and stay a little while, daddy, you can't stay too long.
Now everybody's talkin' 'bout your new way of walkin',
Do you wanna lose your mind ?
Lord, walk right in and sit right down, daddy, let your mind roll on.

Walk right in and sit right down, and daddy, let your hair hang low.
You'd better walk right in and stay a little while, daddy, you can stay too long.
Now everybody's talkin' 'bout a new way of walkin',
Do you wanna lose your mind ?
Lord, walk right in and sit right down, daddy, let your mind roll on.

Walk right in and sit right down, daddy, let your mind roll on.
You'd better walk right in and stay a little while, daddy, you can't stay too long.
Now everybody's talkin' 'bout a two-way woman,
Do you wanna lose your mind ?
You'd better walk right in, sit right down, daddy, let your mind roll on!!!

   
  A quiet air of rebellion is slowly emerging in February 1963, furthered by the Beatles and soon embraced by the entire music industry within a years time. "Walk Right In", the number one hit for the first week in February, is a song that begins to demarginalize the youth movement. Consider some of the subversive messages that this song brings forefront. "Let your hair hang down" references the burgeoning trend among men of growing their hair long to signal their rejection of 50's conservatism. Similarly, "Let your mind roll on" alludes to marijuana use. This song is definitely more loose and open to interpretation and is a precursor for the musical revolution that takes place later in the 1960's.
   
 
  Please Please Me

Last night I said these words to my girl,
I know you never even try, girl

Come on, (come on), come on, (come on),
come on (come on) come on (come on)
Please, please me, whoa yeah, like I please you

You don't need me to show the way,
love, why do I always have to say, love

Come on, (come on), come on, (come on),
come on (come on) come on (come on)
Please, please me, whoa yeah, like I please you

I don't want to sound complaining
but you know there's always rain in my heart, (in my heart)
I do all the pleasing with you, it's so hard to reason,
with you whoa yeah, why do you make me blue?
Last night I said these words to my girl, I know you never even try, girl

Come on, (come on), come on, (come on),
come on (come on) come on (come on)
Please, please me, wo yeah, like I please you,
whoa yeah, like I please you, whoa yeah, like I please you
 
 
   

Discography for Please Please Me Single
 

Press Conference 1963
   
On February 25, 1963, the Beatles release their single "Please Please Me". As one of the first singles released in the U. S., "Please Please Me" signals the beginning of "BeatleMania." The Beatles became the single strongest force in music in the 1960's, and this song marks the beginning of their reign. With their new style, nonchalant air, daring hair-do's, and flowing harmonious vocals, they paved the way for the transformation of the music industry. Definite trend setters, they influenced hair styles, opened up America to the international music scene, and birthed a new brand of rock and roll, one that defied convention rather than embracing cultural norms.
     
 
Play Please Please Me  
 
 
   
The comparison of "HeyPaula" to "Please Please Me" gives a clear representation of the transition that the musical sphere is undergoing in the early 1960's. The lyrical moral messages portrayed in "Hey Paula" are remnants of the postwar conservativism which saturated the 1950's. The veneration of marriage and abstinence are glorified through the lyrics of this song. These mature moral ideals slowly begin to evolve into a more youth oriented amoral fiber, demonstrated by the increasing sexualized messages in music. In stark contrast to the simplistic sweetness of "Hey Paula", "Please Please Me" presents an aggressive sexual message of instant gratification. The words "come on, come on, come on, come on, please please me, whoa yeah, like I please you" communicate a strong message through the use of subtle sexual intonations which the youth pick up on but are unrecognizable to the older adult audience.


Click here for a listing of the songs that topped the charts in February 1963.