There were wall-to-wall people in a Laguna Beach park on Sunday singing, dancing, drinking and probably wishing they could spark a joint.
It was The Beatles faithful, the longest-running rock band fan base in music history. Sure Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash came before them, but The Beatles were different.
They redefined, repackaged and catapulted everything previously in diabolically simple ways that still reverberate 50 years later.
Think about that for a second: 50 years.
Despite incredible technological advances, despite dozens of other new styles of music, rock 'n' roll in its basic form still rules.
If we exclude the church-driven Medieval, Renaissance and Classical periods, there hasn't been any musical style that has dominated for so long.
In fact, we have to go back to the very origin of music to see parallels. Experts say that the first musical instrument was the human voice, and the artists likely imitated natural sounds.
When instruments started being invented, they were basic: drums, flutes or crude strings.
The point is, The Beatles did not stray too far from these original fundamentals of harmonic repetition and palpable tonality.
What differentiated them was the convergence of creativity, social circumstance and courage.
And one more important thing: the story.
"There's a great sentiment — most of it is love," said Michael Waldman, 57, of Laguna. "I like to think of them as the Mozart of our time. The music holds up really well."
Waldman admitted he was a "huge fan" of The Beatles, owning all of their albums. He was with friends who camped out early in Bluebird Park with blankets, lawn chairs, white wine and cheese.
Seemingly every town now has an eclectic "Concert in the Park" series during the summer, including Laguna. It is a distinctly modern phenomenon. Why? Because when in our musical history could we ever trot out tribute bands of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Police, English Beat or Wilson Pickett?
Due to the unifying legacy of rock, and to be exact, American R&B; before it, we have the luxury of choosing. It's a robust menu of music, shuffled to our hearts content.
We playlist ourselves based on mood, singer or lyric. We float on sound clouds. We dream on Pandora. We Spotify and Rhapsodize ourselves into oblivion.
But all of that is just the tool to bring music into our soul.
What matters is the content.
At the park on Sunday, there was a woman of Beatles age. She was British and had an accent but lived in Laguna for 40 years. She was too shy to give me her name, but the more she talked about the Beatles, the more her accent came alive.
She told stories of seeing them in England. She blushed remembering the excitement. She marveled at their legacy and influence.
"To see people like the Rolling Stones still touring, it's fantastic," she said. "Obviously, we did something right."
And then she said that magic bus of a thing.
"Every Beatles song has a story, unlike today's music where you can't understand a word they're saying."
It always comes back to the story.
The love story. The loss, gain and loss again.
In the end, it's about the change that takes place as a result — personal, social or global.
But for how long can we sustain this love affair? The fact is, not to be a buzz kill, but the Baby Boomers are dying, we know. Friends are passing. The bands are finally breaking apart for good.
I guess that's OK. It's inevitable.
We just let it be, knowing it was a good ride.
I just hope the younger generations really get it.
DAVID HANSEN is a writer and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.