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DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I’m Doug Johnson.
Today, we answer a listener question about the British music invasion in the nineteen sixties.
But first, we visit a special architecture exhibit in Washington, D.C.
DOUG JOHNSON: Architecture lovers in Washington do not have to travel far to see some of the world’s most famous buildings. Architect Adam Reed Tucker has recreated fifteen of them using Lego bricks. The exhibit is called “LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition.” It is at the National Building Museum in Washington until early September. Faith Lapidus has more.
FAITH LAPIDUS: Lego bricks are small, colorful plastic blocks. They can be snapped together to make any number of objects. They are popular with children of all ages around the world.
Adam Reed Tucker calls himself an “architectural artist.”
He was a professional architect for ten years. After the terrorist attacks against the United States in two thousand one he decided to do something different. He wanted to express his feelings for the form of the skyscraper while deepening his understanding of architecture, engineering and construction. He chose to use something that most people used as children and could relate to.
The buildings in the exhibit include the World Trade Center in New York that was destroyed in the terrorist attacks; the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Missouri; the famous house called Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world. Tucker used more than four hundred fifty thousand Legos to make his version which is more than five meters tall.
Tucker does all his work by hand, using only pictures of the buildings. He does not use any computers or drawings to plan his buildings. While the exhibit is going on, Tucker will be working on his latest work, the White House where the American president lives. Visitors can watch him create the famous building brick by brick.
Anne Bennett visited the Building Museum with her two grandchildren, Dylan and Daisy. She used the Lego exhibit to teach her grandchildren about famous buildings.
DAISY: “My favorite is probably that tall building because it’s made out of Legos. It’s really cool because it looks like there’s individual little rooms.”
That was Anne’s granddaughter, Daisy. She was talking about the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois. The real building is over four hundred forty meters tall. Tucker’s model stands six meters tall.
After walking through Tucker’s models, visitors can create their own works at the building station. They can make houses, office buildings, stores or factories. They can then place their models on a large map of a city. As more visitors come, the Lego city will grow.
Lowry Baker came from McLean, Virginia, to see the exhibit.
LOWRY BAKER: “When we saw the models it was just amazing. The models seem like a perfect rendition of the actual buildings. And then of course as soon as my son got a look at all of the stations here he just made a beeline because he wanted to start building. It’s really a great set-up. It really encourages creativity on the kids’ parts.”
Paul lives in Washington and brought his baby daughter along to see the Lego exhibit.
PAUL: “You know, I love architecture, so … and growing up I loved Legos. So you know throw those two together and I’ll come running to check this out regardless of whether she cares or not.”
To many people, Legos might seem like toys for kids. But Adam Reed Tucker proves that the only limit to what the toy can do is a person’s imagination. To watch another Lego artist at work, go to voaspecialenglish.com and click on Captioned Videos.
DOUG JOHNSON: This week’s listener question comes from a Russian student living and studying in France. Georgia Mulyukina wants to know about the musical “British Invasion” of the nineteen sixties.
In the winter of nineteen sixty-four, the Beatles packed up their electric guitars, drum kits, and rebellious ways and set off for America.
They landed at Kennedy airport in New York on February seventh. Huge crowds gathered to greet the long-haired musicians from Liverpool, England. Girls screamed as they tried to get a look at John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
Two days later, more than seventy million people watched the group perform four of their hit songs on the Ed Sullivan Show. This was sixty percent of the American television audience. Here the Beatles sing one of those songs, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
The Beatles soon had the top five hit songs on the Billboard singles chart. Millions of fans became infected with Beatlemania. They rushed to stores to buy Beatles albums, wigs, clothes, dolls and lunch boxes.
The Beatles recorded more than twenty number one hits in America. A Beatles song was almost always at the top of the charts until the group’s next hit replaced it. They played to more than fifty thousand fans at large sports stadiums. And they filmed several movies that made millions of dollars.
The Beatles were influenced by American singers including Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Little Richard. Yet the group’s music sounded completely new and different. The Beatles wrote more than two hundred songs that revolutionized American popular music.
In addition, young people saw the Beatles as spokesmen for their generation. They copied the band members’ long hair and free-spirited ways. The band became so popular that in nineteen sixty-six John Lennon said they were more popular than Jesus Christ.
Here the Beatles sing one of their number one hits, “Get Back.”
Soon other musicians began writing their own music the way John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the Beatles songs.
Many other British groups followed the Beatles to America. This was known as the “British Invasion.” They included the Dave Clark Five, the Kinks and the Rolling Stones.
The Rolling Stones called themselves the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” The Stones first performed across America in nineteen sixty-four. This song was the group’s first Top 40 hit in the United States.
(MUSIC: “Tell Me [You’re Coming Back]”)
In the spring of nineteen seventy, the Beatles released “Let it Be.” But their fans were not celebrating. This was the last studio album the Beatles recorded as a group. It tells the story of the band’s break up. We leave you with the title track from that album, “Let it Be.”
DOUG JOHNSON: I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Mike DeFabo, who was also the producer.
You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our shows at voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.