how has music influenced your life?

It was 50 years to the day on Sunday, February 9, 2014, that the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show and were introduced to the North American market. This musical act emphasizes the influence that music can has on our lives and on society as a whole.

the influence of music

This is a photo I took of the banner at the Beatles exhibit that was at the Manitoba Museum in 2010.


how has music influenced your life?

The Beatles debut on the Ed Sullivan show originally aired on February 9, 1964. I was fortunate to have visited an exhibit of the work of photographer Bill Eppridge who immortalized that performance and the Beatles during their time in the US. You can read about that in the post here.

The 50th anniversary tribute show, entitled “The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles” will air on the exact day, date, and time on the CBS network that hosted the Ed Sullivan Show and will also be televised on Citytv in Canada. We’ll see performances by many of today’s top musicians covering Beatles tunes, and the two remaining Beatles (Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr) as well as family members of John Lennon and George Harrison. I knew John Lennon’s son Sean is a singer, but didn’t realize that George Harrison’s son, Dhani, is also a celebrated musician.

The importance of music in our lives is front and centre in my mind as last week I attended Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE) in Winnipeg for the performance of Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen.  It’s playing in Winnipeg until Sunday, Feb 9th and if you haven’t yet seen it, I’d highly recommend the show. It celebrates the poetic genius of Cohen’s music with a simplistic set and high impact.

How has music impacted your life? Is there a specific band or performer that impacted you the most? Let’s talk about it.

And please join us back the the week of February 17th for our next new post.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

43 Responses

  1. Phoenix

    Listening to music kept me safe in my inner world while I was growing up on a farm in the Interlake area of Manitoba in the ’60s and early ’70s. My little transistor radio with a small wire earphone that led to my ear shielded me from listening to my father express his rage on a daily basis.
    Yes, I loved the Beatles and had quite a collection of Beatle Cards. Remember those? First I loved Ringo, then I changed my allegiances one by one to George, Paul and finally John. 😉 I talk in my recently-published book about how I used music as a survival tool.
    So, yes, the music absolutely helped me keep my sanity. It was and still is a big part of my life, except now I passionately love classical music. My favorites are Mozart and Handel. Music keeps me living in my heart now. 🙂 <3
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    • Hi Esther and thanks for your comment.

      Yes, I used to love my transistor radio, too. I wonder if the younger readers of this blog even know what they are! I don’t specifically remember the Beatle cards, though.

      Interesting how our favourite Beatles changed over time. My first love/allegiance was to John, then George, then Ringo. Not that I ever disliked Paul, but I’ve never been one to be attracted to the “pretty face” celebs. I like the deep and quirky. With actors, that was Jack Nicholson followed by Johnny Depp. Cheers!
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  2. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a Beatles “nut.” I still have all of their original [vinyl] albums and some of the music on CDs.(sorry iTunes, I don’t need your “new” releases.) My parents bought me my own record player in 1964 because my dad didn’t want me using his new stereo, and they bought many of the albums for me. It’s a wonder I didn’t wear the records out from playing so much.
    The Beatles music has had a huge impact on my life–and it’s no wonder that it survives 50 years later. It’s that good. Of course they wrote and recorded some duds, but overall, the music is solid.
    Music in general has had a huge impact on my life, and it has been a lifeline for me too at times. When my world seemed to be falling down around me, I could always find some music to lift me up. I love music in just about all genres, and I have favourite artists in all of them, but no music and no artist will ever mean as much to me as The Beatles–as a group. They were four talented individuals and each had a successful solo career, but the sum of the parts is what made the magic.
    I’ve already warned my family that this weekend it will be “all Beatles–all time” and I definitely will be watching the show on Sunday.
    Thanks for getting this conversation going, Doreen.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Christine. You are probably the biggest Beatles fan I know and I will be waiting to hear what you think of the show once it has been broadcast.

      Like you, I like most types of music (except stuff that is so loud and noisy that I can’t make out any words and it’s just noise!) And each has its place in my heart and takes me to a place I need to go at a specific point in time. Country Rock (like the Eagles) is probably my favourite because it has history to it, but yet is very contemporary and always makes me feel good. Cheers, and I do hope the Beatles show will live up to your expectations (and mine!)
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  3. A.K.Andrew

    Music is such an important part of our lives- well mine at least- & in many ways I define my childhood and young adult years by the music I listened too. Beatles to rolling stones then onto Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young et all and then into my early twenties Patti Smith . I came late to classical music, and as a result feel I don’t know as much about it as I would like. But do enjoy Vivaldi , and Mozart. I haven’t even touched on jazz or artists like Nina Simone. It’s the thing that will take us back within a few bars of a song.
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  4. Rusti says:

    My mother was my first musical influence like all mothers are with their heartbeat, that primal drum that can draw anyone into nostalgia. She was more than that. She often woke her children in the middle of the night by playing the organ when she was troubled. We would tumble out of bed, sleepy-eyed and stand beside her and sing. She taught us to use our voices and to never be shy of music. Though we would be on the wrong side if we ever moved the radio dial from CFCW (country music red neck Alberta deejaying at its best … or worst.) Apart from the radio, she had eclectic tastes in records of artists though still limited to her age and what was familiar. We had a wood stove and she burned my Alice Cooper Billion Dollar Baby album. Vinyl makes a horrible smell when burning. I bought headphones after that. I believe that is the roots my anti-censorship.

  5. Susan Cooper

    I remember that show as if it were yesterday. I was young, but it was a very big deal and we made a special point of watching that show. It’s so remarkable how the Beatles have changed music and, indirectly, over time, the way we think. I still love hearing their old songs regardless of who happens to be singing them. My favorite is still “Yesterday”. 🙂
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  6. Suzanne Boles

    The biggest (and long-forgotten) memory of music was Sunday afternoons with my Dad and my sister. Dad was actually tone deaf (or so he said) but he loved music. He would pull out the old HiFi and play the old musical vinyls. One of my favorites was an album with Maurice Chevalier and the song, Yes, I remember It Well. Songs from Gigi (1958) were ingrained in my memory. And the list goes on. We would sit on the floor and belt out the songs. I knew the words to every tune. “Yes, I remember it well.”

    Thanks, Doreen, for helping me resurrect some amazing memories that had been buried in the back of my mind for years!

  7. Mark Kearney says:

    Well, where to start? First of all I remember that night on Ed Sullivan very well. I was in Grade 3 and I had not heard about the Beatles until that night. It was the talk of the school the next day, teachers included. I remember one kid saying he didn’t believe they were boys because of the long hair and of course, now it looks so short in retrospect. I was an immediate Beatles fan, but it was my older sister who got the albums for Christmas/birthday etc. But I got to listen to them and of course all the songs on the radio until I was old enough to buy the albums themselves. I’d like to challenge Christine on who’s the biggest Beatles fan but I’m sure we’ll never settle it. But I know the songs, I’ve read several books on them and tons of articles over the years. I always liked Paul best because he was and is to me the best songwriter of the bunch. Yes, the songs all said Lennon-McCartney but when you read enough about them you get to know which ones were all or primarily Paul’s and which were John’s. No one in rock history can match McCartney for writing melodies. No one.
    Of course music played a big part of my life growing up — listening to the radio and records, even using an old tape recorder to record songs off the radio — not an easy thing to do in the early 70s. When I was old enough is started going to concerts, really got into folk music of the 70s, but I like all kinds — classical, jazz, pop, rock, folk, some country, etc. In university I went album-buying crazy and still have most of them downstairs. I would put the albums on, and basically read the album cover while the songs played. I’d look at who wrote the songs and who played what instruments on what songs. I got to see common names of session musicians come up album after album and many of those names are still in my mind.
    I started taking guitar lessons when I was about 20 and still play from time to time when the mood strikes. I took up the clarinet around 2001 and play every week in a concert band and we do performances not only here in London but have gone to Europe five times where we play in squares and band shells. I started taking banjo lesson last May have been doing my best to play and pick bluegrass tunes. It’s hard — much harder than guitar when you can just strum along.
    I can’t even imagine life without music. I still love going to concerts whenever possible and just saw Elton John here in London this past Monday. He was fantastic. Still on the bucket list to see in person are the aforementioned McCartney and James Taylor. I’m sure I could think of others.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Mark. I really admire people like you who can play all types of music and several instruments. I took accordion lessons when I was a kid, but it didn’t stick with me. I like to goof around and sing, knowing it’s my enthusiasm rather than talent that gets me thru the night. Maybe some day soon I’ll be able to sit back and learn how to play guitar. I’ve always wanted to do that …
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  8. Well, Mark Kearney, I’ll take you up on that challenge about who’s the biggest fan, but I agree that we’d never settle it. I know a few other PWACers who’d want to get in on this. This might be one time when being a few years older has its advantages, Mark. I was the one to get the albums for Christmas and birthdays, and I got to see The Beatles in concert twice–the second time getting to go by myself with a friend all the way into downtown Toronto (from the suburb of Scarborough where I lived.) The real fan came out in me when I got to go to Liverpool in 2006, take The Magical Mystery Tour bus visiting their homes and schools and actually going to see a Beatles tribute band at The Cavern Club. That was to me, the trip of a lifetime. I think I drive my family a little crazy with my Beatles trivia, but it’s all in good fun and I look forward to chatting about the Beatles with you–and maybe playing/singing a few tunes. Mark. I agree with you about no one being a better melody maker than Paul, but I think George actually wins for lyrics. He wrote far fewer songs, but the lyrics were more powerful. As I said before, it was the sum of the parts that really created the magic of the Beatles and why it’s lasted more than 50 years. (This weekend marks 50 years of them coming to the US, but they’d been extremely popular in the UK and Europe for two years before that.)

    • Mark Kearney says:

      Coming late to the challenge, Christine. Well, you have me beat on the concert front. My sister and cousin to to see The Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens in September ’66 I think, but my parents must have thought I was too young ( I was 11) or wasn’t as big a fan. What were they thinking;-) I do remember standing on the sidewalk with my dad just outside MLG when my sister and cousin went in. We were standing noth far from where the old Westbury hotel was (now a different name but where the PWAC conference has been held). Back then the big thing was how the Beatles were going to get into a concert without being mobbed. There were people all around MLG, mostly young girls, waiting to catch a glimspe of the band. My father and I watched as this police paddy wagon kept circling the Gardens and then finally about the fourth time it sped up and headed toward an entrance. All the girls went crazy jumping on the back of the van. We re pretty close and it turns out the Beatles were in the back of the van. There was a back window and I always told people that while I didn’t catch a glimpse of them I did see the jackets they were wearing. Well, that’s what it seemed like to me at the time. That’s the closest I got.
      Yes, I’ve been to Liverpool too. Went to the Beatles museum there and wrote a story about it. Didn’t do the whole tour of the city but saw some sties like Penny Lane.
      A month almost to the day before John Lennon died I had a dream where he was my next door neighbour and someone in the dream then told me he had died. I wrote a story about that as well and would be happy to send you both articles if I can dig them up.
      I have a good friend here in London who grew up in Wales and used to go to the Cavern Club when the Beatles were performing there. Now that is definitely cool.
      I can play some of their songs on guitar but not nearly as well as fellow guitarist Nate, who chimed in with another post here. I always like him to play Norwegian Wood, which he does so well.

  9. So cool to have uber Beatles fans duking it out with their passion and knowledge!

    Thx to Christine and Mark for the competitive camaraderie!

    I think there are many of us who are passionate about the impact the Fab 4 had on our contemporary culture. and it’s so nice to see it’s enduring! I was at a bookstore in Winnipeg yesterday, and they had sets of Beatles albums featured prominently on the counter. Who’d have thought, 50+ years later?
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  10. I was so blessed by my Mother who had embraced world culture at McGiill in the 1930s as a graduate student working with Marius Barbeau

    This included access to all kinds of world music as well as the popular music of the ‘fifties and ongoing. The Beatles were certainly a significant factor propelling me into performing professionally and writing songs with my confreres in “The Children” out of Ottawa

    , but I was already bitten with the bug by then. I love all kinds of writing but I still think that the song is the most powerful form of communicating thoughts and feelings aloud.

  11. I could almost see my family in the den watching the show after I read your post! I think even then, we knew that the course of music history was about to change. We were a classical music family…but my father, in particular, loved country music and of all things the Beatles! It was that night…that magical night 🙂
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  12. Doreen music has been the back drop of most of my life. I recall childhood moments based on what I was reading and the music that was being played. The first date my husband and I went on was to the Ottawa jazz festival. My first clue that my son was his own person was when he was three and I realized he could hear and repeat any tune he heard better than I could. I knew my little girl was growing up when she wanted me to hear what she was listening to. I could go on, but the point is, music can be a part of so many defining moments if you just stop and listen.
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  13. Sounds like the musical thread runs firmly thru your family, Debra. Thx for sharing.
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  14. Catarina says:

    Used to listen to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and all the rest of them when I grew up. Daddy used to try to get his children to love classical music but in my case it was too early. Preferred to listen to Bruce Springsteen and Eurytmics.

    Now love to listen to Wagner, Jussi Björling, Puccine, Haydn and so forth. Opera is something I absolutely love and have hence enjoyed visiting the great opera houses. But I’m also happy listening to Lady Gaga or Madonna.
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  15. Jeri

    Music has definitely played a huge role in my life, though when I was young I was all about heavy metal and hard rock bands. Though I sometimes cringe at the memories, I also know music helped me get through some pretty rough times at home when I was growing up. I now like most kinds of music, but find I listen to it less now that I don’t commute everyday and have turned my walking and exercise time over to audio books.
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  16. Haley Gray says:

    I don’t remember that show, but music is an endemic part of my life. I put on my headphones and tune out the kids so that I can listen to music and get into my zone. I use it to influence my mood, and my work. When I’m down, I play bouncy music to make me, well, bouncier.

  17. Hi Doreen, Thought I would stop by now to read and comment on your blog. I remember watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan – that is how old I am! Music has always been a huge part of my life in so many ways. From my intimate wedding – my song was Unchained Melody, to the numerous nursery songs I sang to my girls. A life without music is not worth living, in my opinion. Nice post.
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  18. Pat Amsdn

    The first time I heard the Beatles was on my brothers radio/tape deck which he’d just received as a birthday present. I’m pretty sure it was the Yellow Submarine and we loved it. Although possibly not as much for my mother. But she was quite,proud of herself for letting us listen to it and told people ‘they’re really not that bad.’

    She, herself could and did play Mozart on the piano along with many other classical pieces. We were less than impressed. We wanted to hear the Beatles! Or maybe the Stones although I don’t recall us ever being allowed to listen to the Stones. LOL.

    In high school we studied poetry using the music of the Beatles and other contemporary musicians. After graduating I moved to Victoria and spent many a night disco dancing, but I still remember being at a club the night Elvis died and hearing of his death. It seemed to signal the end of an era and a loss of innocence.
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  19. Bindhurani says:

    I was listening to the tribute to Beatles on TV. That made me explore more about their music. It also made me to read more about the band members . I usually don’t listen to music while doing other things. When I listen to a song, I wanted to know the meaning beyond the words, like the song “Let it be”.
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    • Hi Bindhu and thanks for your comment. I’m glad you had a chance to listen to the Beatles tribute show. Watching it was even better! It’s the best musical program I’ve ever seen on TV.

      Yes, listening to the music and trying to understand the lyrics is fascinating. I have a book called ” A Hard Day’s Write” by Steve Turner that gives the story behind every Beatles song. See if you can pick up a copy on Amazon. It’s fascinating stuff!
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  20. Donna Janke says:

    Music has always been a big part of my life. Hearing certain songs can transport you back to a particular place in your memory. I loved the Beatles tribute. Wanted to stand up and applaud in my living room. “Revolution” and “Hey Jude” take me back to sock hops in my high school gym. I like a wide variety of music, so cannot list all my favourites or name all the memories. But Billy Joel’s “Innocent Man” album is associated with a very special time in my life.
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  21. Jason B

    Music has always been a big part of my life. It has helped me get through a lot of things. My favorite artist is 2pac Shakur. He has songs for every type of emotion out there.

  22. Nate Hendley says:

    How has music impacted my life?
    Well, some of my earliest memories are musical.
    I recall listening to the Beatles “Yellow Submarine” album as a very little kid. I later recall watching the “Yellow Submarine” cartoon movie as a slightly older kid. I thought it was great but cried during the “Nowhere Man” song because I thought it was sad.
    Unlike a lot of music I enjoyed as a kid and as a young adult, I still listen to the Beatles. In fact, I think I will always listen to the Beatles. There’s a timeless quality to their music. Particularly with their later work, they threw in some interesting little quirks so even after countless listens, you can always hear something new in their tunes.
    Today, I play “Nowhere Man” on guitar, as well as a slew of other Beatle tunes. And no, I don’t cry when I play, though the Beatles continue to impact me on a (positive) emotional level.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Nate! Yes, I think you’re right in the timelessness of the Beatles music. I watched the CBS tribute to the Beatles this week and was surprised how most of the various covers (interpretations by other artists) were well done, and created a new dimension to the music which may not have been liked by all, but definitely proved the diversity of the tunes.

      And just to point out to my readers (as I think this is your first visit to my blog), Nate is not only a capable musician and music enthusiast, he is an author who has written several books including a bio on John Lennon.
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  23. Becc says:

    Music has a way of transporting you to another time, another place. It can lift your spirits or allow you to wallow. It has a way of making you move and feel with every fibre.
    There is a reason why it has been around since the beginning of time.
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  24. David Ryan says:

    Music is like a balm to my heart. It soothes my soul.

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