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Changin’ Times: 101 Days That Shaped A Generation

Fifty years on, November 22, 1963 continues to resonate. That was when America lost its youthful leader—as well as some of its innocence. But it was also the day on which, over in Britain, a cultural tsunami was taking shape. That Friday saw the release of With the Beatles, the second album from what would soon be called “England’s Phenomenal Pop Combo.”

The story of the New Frontier giving way to the British Invasion is thus indelibly intertwined in public memory. Sadness and loss were soon eclipsed by joy and exhilaration surrounding John, Paul, George and Ringo when they arrived in the states just a few months later. It is no exaggeration to say that, on February 9, 1964, Americans were once again united before their television sets on a scale they hadn’t been since the awful events of the previous autumn—this time, for more positive reasons.

The Beatles’ debut on The Ed Sullivan Show was a watershed event that quite literally changed countless lives. But in the years since that momentous occasion, conventional wisdom has conflated the two events: the youth of America got over their grief when “these four youngsters from Liverpool” cheered them up with their exuberance and charm. It was as though without a national tragedy first occurring, the road to the group’s success and acceptance here might not have happened—at least not on the same hysterical scale.

In Changin’ Times: 101 Days That Shaped A Generation, pop culture historian Al Sussman challenges this media-fueled mythology, describing the cultural “British Invasion” already well underway before President Kennedy ever went to Texas. Likewise, the notion that the December 1963 success of The Singing Nun’s “Dominique” was due to a mourning country in no mood for rock ‘n’ roll is belied by The Kingsmen’s inscrutable “Louie Louie” simultaneously dominating local markets.

Changin’ Times takes you on a journey back to a very singular moment of transformation in American History—for a generation, and also for the world. Al Sussman leaves no cultural touchstone unturned, revealing how Bob Dylan’s assertion that “the times they are a-changin’” was no overstatement.

ISBN: 978-0-9892555-1-6 300 pages $24.95

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