Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Guest Blog: She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah) and the Power of Boy Band Stories [Guest Poster: Ann Hood]

Boy band mania has been around for decades and one of the first big bangs in terms of boy bands was Beatlemania in the 1960s. After that first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, the Beatles took over America and fans around the world were clamoring for any shred of news, information, new music release, or tour announcement. They burned brightly and fans stuck with them to end. 
This sort of thing still happens today, with groups like *NSYNC taking over the world in the early 2000s, One Direction holding court over the world for five years, and the Backstreet Boys still selling out their residency in New York. 
In Ann Hood's new book She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah), Trudy falls in love with The Beatles and Paul McCartney. She becomes the first fan club in Rhode Island. And when they come back around, her dad promises to take her. Only about 32 things go wrong and Trudy wonders if she'll ever be in the same room as the Fab Four. 
The book is a wonderful look at growing up, friendship and a love for the things that make our hearts swell. Here, Ann Hood lets us know what makes the stories of boy bands so relatable and desirable by readers even today and answers the question: If it started with the Beatles, what makes boy bands and the stories they inspire still so popular today?

For my mother, it was crooners: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby. For me — and every girl who watched The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964 — it all began with The Beatles. Four guys in identical collarless suits and shaggy hair who shook their bangs and grinned at the camera and sang songs whose words we memorized and sang along to long after that first Sunday night. It started with The Beatles, but it didn’t end there.

There were The Herman’s Hermits, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Beach Boys, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Rolling Stones — to name just a few of the boy bands we swooned over and dreamed of meeting one day, somehow. Each band had their own gimmick — Revolutionary War outfits, surfer gear, tie-dyed clothes, bad boy jeans and T-shirts — and the ones we loved best reflected, at heart, who we were. Or who we hoped to be someday. The Rolling Stones, with their tough stares and sex appeal, scared me. I didn’t want to fall in love with someone like Mick Jagger, or even worse, Keith Richards. Too dangerous. But the sweet-voiced Lovin’ Spoonful singing about it being a good day for a daydream and pleading Darling, be home soon, seemed both hippie-ish and safer. Like me, a daydreaming girl. Or The Beach Boys, who promised big waves and fast cars and California.

The last boy band I loved was Grand Funk Railroad, blue collar guys from Flint, Michigan who sang songs like “We’re an American Band” and a revival of Carole King’s “Do the Locomotion.” At the Providence Civic Center in 1974, I watched the lead singer, Mark Farner, strut across the stage as he sang, his long ponytail flying behind him, and knew that somehow my love affair with boy bands was over. Oh, sure, I still love The Beatles and all the others, but it was their music I loved, not them. My dreams of marrying Paul McCartney or catching a wave with Mike Love, were relegated to their proper place, where girlish dreams belong: tucked away in my heart and mind, making way for new dreams, dreams I might actually attain — being a writer, traveling the world, living in Greenwich Village.

Why do we love boy bands so? Because they are both at a safe distance and close to our hearts. Because they show us the parts of ourselves we are trying to understand or identify. Because when we outgrow them and move on, they still sing to us, but they step off the stage and allow the next act to begin.

Bio: Ann Hood is the author of the best-selling novels The Book That Matters Most, The Obituary Writer, Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine, The Red Thread, and The Knitting Circle, as well as the memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, which was a New York Times Editor's Choice and chosen as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly. She has won two Pushcart Prizes as well as a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, two Best American Food Writing Award, and a Best American Travel Writing award. A regular contributor to the New York Times, Hood's short stories and essays have appeared in many publications, including Ploughshares, Tin House, Traveler, Bon Appetit, O, More, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Paris Review, and others. She is the editor of the anthologies Knitting Yarns: Writers Writing About Knitting, Knitting Pearls: More Writers Writing About Knitting, and Providence Noir. Hood is also the author of books for children, including the middle-grade novel, How I Saved My Father (And Ruined Everything Else), and the ten-book Treasure Chest series for young readers. Her new memoir, Morningstar: Growing Up with Books, will be published in August. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and New York City, and is married to the writer Michael Ruhlman.
Ann Hood's tale of Beatlemania, She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah), is in stores now. But beware: You won't stop singing Beatles songs for weeks!


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