The British tried it once before, in 1814. Burned the city. It left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
But this time, they try soft diplomacy. A little twist and shout. A little ditty about wanting to hold your hand.
And it works.
Improbable as it sounds, it happened in a barrel-shaped architectural ruin just north of the Capitol on 3rd Street NE.
Shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 11, 1964 -- two days after appearing on "The Ed Sullivan Show" -- the Beatles took the stage in Washington Coliseum. It was the Beatles' very first stage concert in the United States.
Critics later say the concert is as singular moment in rock history -- a moment when the early Beatles seemed even more joyous than their shrieking teen-age fans.
Richard Layman, who fought to preserve the Coliseum, cherishes this place for many reasons. Built in 1940 and 1941, the building served as an ice rink, sports arena, worship hall, trash transfer station and parking garage. Nation of Islam leaders Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammed spoke here. It hosted numerous professional sports teams, and was home to the Ice Capades.
For Beatle devotees, this is a shrine.
They still have ticket stubs, and remember whether they paid $2, $3 or $4. They gush about how Paul smiled at them.
An age of innocence? Not exactly. The Russians threatened us from outer space. The pains of segregation and integration were rocking the country. And, just three months earlier, an assassin felled the leader of the free world.