Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beatleology: The "Ringo" Profile

I am Ringo ...

ringolove: (via lookoutweekends)
  • I think life is whatever you make of it
  • I'm a jack of all trades, master of none
  • I make a lot of friends, and I like to keep up those friendships - my social life can get crazy sometimes
  • I prefer to just get along and avoid conflict if I can
  • I love to party and have a good time
  • People find me easy to be around
  • I'm fairly practical and down-to-earth
  • I have a hard time saying "no"
  • I enjoy the simple things, because I make them fun
  • I have a natural charisma, and people find me very approachable
  • I'm very appreciative and grateful - I'm lucky just to be here
  • I think I'm just a "regular" person, and that's ok with me
  • I do a steady and consistent job - which means I often get overlooked and don't get the credit I should
  • I don't get stressed out very easily, because I don't take things too seriously
  • People sometimes see me as flippant, but I don't think I am
  • I'm a funny person, but my "safe" sense of humor doesn't offend people
  • I appreciate the stability of family life
  • In my romantic life, I often tend to choose good looks over substance
  • I'm an affectionate person
  • I can sometimes be a pushover, but I do have my limits
  • I might cheat on my partner for a one-night "fling" to have a little fun, but never at the risk of hurting someone
  • I'm very consistent in who I am and what I do
  • I don't always take the initiative or go above and beyond the call of duty - I like moderation
  • I enjoy the good life, but I don't live beyond my means - money can't buy me fun
  • I thrive on communication and camaraderie
  • I can't change the world, so I'd prefer to work on myself
  • I like to see the results of my actions and choices
  • I'm highly tolerant of other people, and I'm content to let them live how they want
  • I am content with what I have, as long as I have the three F's: friends, family, and fun
  • You can search for cosmic meaning if you want - I'll be at the bar, having a drink
  • I like bad movies and greasy food
  • I think I'm cute - not necessarily "hot," but I'm ok with that
  • I don't mind being trendy, if I can afford it
  • I can enjoy just about anything - any book, any movie, any music, I see the value in all of it
  • I really do get by with a little help from my friends
  • I can get into an expensive wine if that's what you're offering, but cheap beer is fine, too - let's go shoot some pool
  • I might have a bit of an inferiority complex - I hope you won't stand up and walk out on me if I sing out of tune
  • Sometimes the choices that we make will break our hearts, but there are no mistakes
  • My philosophy of life is simple: get along with people, keep the peace, show lots of love
  • You ask "why?", but I ask "why not?"

Beatleology: The "George" Profile

I am George ...

  • I like to think before I speak
  • I show different sides of my personality, depending on who I'm with
  • I like having deep, intimate conversations
  • I'd rather read a book than go to a movie
  • I like to have a lot of control over my life
  • You can do what you want, I don't mind - as long as it doesn't impact me negatively
  • I am a hard worker, but I do have my limits
  • I'm pretty easy-going, but I can assert myself if I need to (which isn't often)
  • I'm very perceptive, and I can quickly see people for who they are at their core, underneath the masks they wear
  • I like to have a plan and I like stay on schedule
  • I need order and predictability in my life - spontaneity is fun once in a while, but shouldn't be the norm
  • I don't like to take risks, I prefer a safe and sure thing
  • I'm not always self-confident or secure - it takes time to get to know me
  • People see me as the voice of reason and a good listener
  • I am very analytical, and can easily break down complex things into their smaller, component parts
  • I have a cynical and sarcastic sense of humor, but I keep a lot of it to myself (unless you know me well)
  • I prefer to have things done my way, but I won't usually insist on it
  • I am highly creative, but I might not show you my work if I'm not sure you'll like it
  • I'm very insightful, but I'll probably keep my opinion quiet until I'm asked
  • It's important to be diplomatic and not rock the boat
  • The world is a strange place, and I see a lot of absurdity and irony in it
  • I prefer good wine or "classy" liquor over cheap beer
  • I would like to be recognized for my work, but I'd rather you point it out than draw attention to it myself
  • I prefer to be indirect and passive-aggressive
  • I like to project an image of independence and having things under control, and it's hard for me to ask for help or admit that I'm struggling
  • I can easily step back from a situation and view it objectively
  • I hate trends and the unoriginality of the "mainstream"
  • I'm very dependable and stable in a romantic relationship
  • I like to express my love in romantic ways (I said "romantic," not "over the top")
  • I need stability in life, and I find that stability in my love life and my family life
  • I often need a few moments alone to recollect and re-charge
  • I like to work ahead of schedule if I can, so I don't have to worry and can just relax
  • I can get dark and moody sometimes, and when I do, "leave me alone, don't bother me"
  • I like to be efficient, but for some reason, I sometimes over-complicate things
  • I like intelligent humor, especially if it gets a bit abstract and surreal
  • I'm introspective and always on a self-improvement journey - it's all within yourself, no one else can make you change
  • There are some people standing around who'll screw you in the ground
  • Sometimes I feel hung up, and I don't know why - but I don't mind too much, because all things must pass
  • With every mistake, we must surely be learning
  • All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece - but not too much

Beatleology: The "Paul" Profile

I am Paul ...

illneverloseaffection: Goddamnit Paul.
  • I am generally very optimistic about everything
  • I enjoy being part of the next trend and fad
  • I like to be fashionable
  • I love being the center of attention
  • It is important to me that I express myself
  • I am aggressive, and I know how to assert myself
  • I can sometimes be too critical of other people
  • My professional/public image is not necessarily who I really am in private
  • I am very vocal about things
  • I have a lot of energy
  • It really want to be successful and reach the top
  • I am fairly competitive
  • In general, I'm quite confident in myself
  • How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? It feels great!
  • I have a highly developed sense of intuition
  • I have perfectionist tendencies - I don't mind re-doing something over and over until it's right
  • I'm sentimental
  • What you think is "corny," I think is "cute"
  • I know I'm looking good, and I don't mind using that to my advantage when I need to
  • I like to repeat funny jokes I've heard
  • I prefer to keep things light
  • To lead a better life, I need my love to be here
  • I feel incomplete in some ways if I'm not romantically involved with someone
  • Believe in love at first sight? I'm certain that it happens all the time!
  • "Happy ever after" is not only the ideal, it's entirely possible
  • I believe in the traditional family and traditional roles
  • I love consistency
  • I need love and affirmation on a regular basis
  • I need to show my partner love and sentimental feelings on a regular basis
  • I might be a bit domineering once in a while, but I only have the best of intentions
  • My work is important work, and I work hard at it - and I will remind you of that repeatedly
  • I am enthusiastic about my job
  • I have an opinion on just about everything, and I don't mind telling you what it is
  • I feel best about myself when I'm accomplishing something
  • Everything is going to be alright - it will all work out in the end
  • There is such a thing as right and wrong, and right will win out eventually
  • I've got to admit, it's getting better all the time
  • I'm in love, and it's a sunny day!
  • If you try to see it my way, I'm sure we can work it out

Beatleology: The "John" Profile

I am John ...

young-John-Lennon.jpg John Lennon image by imagineforlennon

  • I'm very creative
  • I'm a deep thinker
  • I like to push the boundaries
  • I have a hard time being criticized
  • I think the world is unfair and full of hypocrisy
  • I think the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but I think (I hope) I can change that
  • I like to be the center of attention
  • I sometimes hide behind humor
  • People find me very engaging
  • I hate trends and fads
  • I have a great capacity for empathy
  • I feel misunderstood a lot
  • I can be very tender and sensitive
  • I can get angry quite easily
  • I sometimes feel restless and have a hard time sleeping
  • The very existence of stupid people offends me
  • I love dark and cynical humor, but sometimes people find my humor is too biting
  • I like to challenge people
  • I love making people laugh
  • I feel a bit insecure
  • I like to be noticed
  • I can sometimes be co-dependent
  • When I fall in love, that relationship dominates my attention and nothing else matters
  • If I don't care about something, I don't hesitate to show my apathy
  • I am highly affectionate and I like physical contact
  • I don't confide in my friends, I confide in my family
  • I use my home as a sanctuary from the world, but sometimes my home and family can be too suffocating for me
  • I hate feeling tied down
  • I can sometimes be very inflexible
  • I take my work very seriously and I work hard
  • I can tend to be moody
  • People think I have a superiority or Messiah complex
  • I'm very intelligent (maybe even a genius)
  • I want a romantic partner who will challenge me
  • I don't like "traditional" roles in a relationship
  • Love really is all you need
  • Nothing is real, and certainly nothing to hung about
  • Life was so much easier when I was young
  • You might say I'm a pessimist - I say I'm just being realistic

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beatles Survey

Who is your favorite Beatle?

Sneezy.

What is your favorite Beatles song?

That one where they sing about love ... gosh, what is that one called?

What is your favorite Beatles movie?

Ringo Does Dallas.

What is your favorite Beatles quote?

"Honey, come back to bed." (Paul, spoken to John while on tour in France)

Name a Beatles song that makes you cry.

Revolution #9. Revolution #2-8 only irritate me.

Name a Beatles song that always cheers you up.

"Misery." Or ... wait ...

What Beatles photo makes you happy?

What is your favorite Beatles album?


What Beatles picture makes you angry/sad?

The one where they're mocking that small orphan boy.

What are your favorite Beatles outfits?

What is your favorite Beatles era?

I think Paul had a season ERA of 1.48 one year. That's probably my favorite.

Name a Beatles song you know all the words to.

"Love Me Do."

What is your least favorite Beatles song?

"Mmm-Bop."

Name 5 things you would change about the Beatles?

1) Their minds, 2) their oil, 3) their water filters, 4) their $100 bills, 5) their pace.

What is your favorite Beatles book?

Ringo's first-edition copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

What is your favorite art drawing from or of the Beatles?

Who is your favorite Beatles wife?

Zsa Zsa.

Who is your least favorite Beatles wife?

Brian Epstein.

Who is your favorite Beatles child?

"Little Child."

What is your favorite Beatles instrument?

The protractor.

Who is your favorite Beatles tribute band?

The Rolling Stones.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye

At last: this is the research paper I turned in for my Writing and Research class (for which I was awarded an A+, thank you very much). It's a bit long (eight pages, including bibliography), so consider yourself warned.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye: Why the Beatles Broke Up

On April 10, 1970, the Daily Mirror contained a news article that would shock its readers; the opening sentence of the article simply said, “Paul McCartney has quit The Beatles.” After ten years, “the biggest, most successful act the world had ever known was breaking up.” (Miles, 1997, p. 574). What were the causes behind the break-up? Why would four young men who were arguably at the peak of their fame, their creativity, and their success choose to go their separate ways? In the immediate wake of the news, the idea become quite popular, championed as it was by the Beatles' own biographer, Hunter Davies, that Yoko Ono (John Lennon's second wife, whom he married in early 1969) was responsible for the break-down of the band. As is the case in any break-up, however, we are dealing with the dissolution of a relationship (or, in this case, relationships), and rarely can such an emotional unraveling be neatly categorized and blamed on one person. The Beatles broke up for several reasons: because their founder and leader, John Lennon, lost interest in the group; because John Lennon, having lost interest in the band, became wholly preoccupied with Yoko Ono; because Paul McCartney stepped in as the “de facto leader of the group” (Miles, 1997, p. 563), and his over-bearing, dominant personality irritated the others; because their manager died, and they fought bitterly over the appointment of a new manager who was brought in to handle their business affairs; because each of the Beatles individually had grown apart and found their own interests outside of the group. We will consider each of these causes in their turn.


Brian Epstein had been the manager for the Beatles from the beginning of their rise to fame in Britain, and can be given a great deal of credit for shaping their image and giving them the extra edge that they needed in order to become famous. On August 27, 1967, Epstein died from a drug overdose, and many Beatles historians pin-point this event as the moment when the group began to come apart. Ray Coleman, biographer for both Paul McCartney and John Lennon, writes, “things had begun to go awry for the Beatles after the accidental death, at thirty-two, of their manager, Brian Epstein” (Coleman, 1996, p. 96). Barry Miles concurs, stating that John Lennon's “dissatisfaction with the group seemed to go as far back as the death of Brian Epstein,” after which, Lennon “lapsed into a state of lethargy ... sitting around watching television, reading the papers, smoking pot or tripping” (Miles, 1997, p. 562). Part of Lennon's “lethargy” may have been the result of McCartney's blossoming creativity and natural leadership skills. Just prior to Epstein's death, the group had released their iconic “summer of love” album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, an effort which one author describes as “essentially McCartney's idea”, even going so far as to say, “it is surprising in many ways that Pepper does sound like a Beatles album, rather than a McCartney solo project” (Egan, 2009, p. 141). Of this period in the group's history, Lennon said, “Only when I became self-conscious and inhibited ... did Paul start dominating the group a little too much for my liking” (Sheff, 2000, p. 175). Already, then, the key components of the break-up were coming to the forefront by 1967: the Beatles lacked a manager, McCartney was beginning to dominate the group's creative efforts, and Lennon was losing interest in being a contributor.


In 1969, the Beatles finally made an effort to fill the void left by Epstein's death, but this too became a point of contention. Lennon wanted to hire the hard-ball-playing, brash American businessman Allen Klein to manage his personal business affairs, and George Harrison and Ringo Starr were content to let Klein manage the Beatles as a group as well. McCartney, however, “was familiar with Klein's reputation and wanted no part of it” (Spitz, 2005, p. 820). Paul had already been alerted to “the case pending against Klein by the American tax authorities, which did not inspire confidence” (Miles, 1997, p. 544). Complicating matters was the fact that McCartney had become involved with a young woman named Linda Eastman, whose father, Lee Eastman, was a successful and well-known lawyer. McCartney wanted Lee Eastman to manage the group, but because of the apparent conflict of interests, Lennon “suspected that the Eastmans would give Paul an unfair advantage over him” (Spitz, 2005, p. 804), and would not agree to McCartney's proposal. Lennon biographer Philip Norman says of the conflict, “John would not back down, and Paul could not” (Norman, 2008, p. 590), adding that “this first-ever real quarrel between them was to prove fatal” (Norman, 2008, p. 591). In many ways, it was fatal. The other three Beatles out-voted McCartney, and Klein was made the new manager; McCartney simply stopped showing up at the Beatles-owned Apple business offices for work.


It would be a mistake, however, to place too much emphasis on the internal conflicts over business affairs and management. Already by the time Klein was hired to manage the Beatles, there was a tangible rift in the group. Ringo Starr had already walked out on the group during the recording sessions for the popularly-titled White Album, but the other three convinced him to return after a few weeks; George Harrison, too, had made a dramatic exit during the filming and recording of the Let it Be album, “tired of the uncomfortable conditions and, as he saw it, being bossed and bullied by Paul” (Norman, 2008, p. 583). McCartney's tendency to be over-controlling in the studio was becoming too much for Harrison, who “felt he absorbed more than the others what an insufferable dictator Paul had become, instructing him exactly what to play, as well as how and when to play it” (Spitz, 2005, p. 808). There are two sides to every story, of course, and McCartney has since admitted to these faults, but with subtle shades of justification: “Yes, okay, in the studio I could be overbearing ... I wanted to get it right!” (Miles, 1997, p. 579) Rather than sacrifice musical quality, McCartney pushed the group hard in the studio, even at the risk of appearing domineering: “Looking back on it, I think, Okay. Well, it was bossy, but it was also ballsy of me, because I could have bowed to the pressure” (Miles, 1997, p. 467). To be fair, however, McCartney's driving perfectionism was only one component that caused tension in the studio. Egan writes of the Let it Be sessions, “It has long been the assumption that Harrison ... walked because of what he felt to be McCartney's insufferable bossiness but more recent suggestions have been made that in fact George was infuriated by the fact that Lennon seemed more interested in his wife than the band” (Egan, 2009, p. 188).


It wasn't only Lennon who was losing interest in the band, however. With the launch of their new Apple recording label, both McCartney and Harrison were getting involved with other recording artists, helping to produce albums and sitting in with other groups as session musicians. They were finding out what it was like to collaborate with artists other than the Beatles, and they were enjoying it. Lennon was beginning to branch out into new avant-garde recording projects with Yoko. Ringo “had been building a solo career in films and getting a taste for a life where he was his own man” (Miles, 1997, p. 537). Reflecting on this state of affairs, Linda McCartney said, “Everybody was obviously growing up and growing away a bit. The Beatles was Paul's job; he and John were a creative team, but John was with Yoko. Paul never had any time alone with John” (Miles, 1997, p. 513).


Yoko's part in the break-up of the Beatles has been exaggerated, perhaps, but it cannot be denied that her appearance in Lennon's life did have significant negative ramifications for the unity of the group. Her impact, however, must be understood in the context of Lennon's own growing apathy and dissatisfaction with the band. Spitz sums it up quite neatly when he says that Lennon's “collaboration with Paul was over … The Beatles' music no longer intrigued him. Yoko offered John a way out” (Spitz, 2005, p. 797). Lennon's childhood friend, Pete Shotton, recalls John's simultaneous enthusiasm for Yoko and lack of interest in anything that was not Yoko after spending just one night with his new muse: “Pete, this is what I've been waiting for. All. My. Life. I don't give a fuck about the Beatles ... I don't give a fuck about anything. I'm going to go and live with Yoko, even if it means living in a tent with her, I'm going” (Spitz, 2005, p. 765). Lennon was obviously already unhappy being “Beatle John” by the time he met Yoko, but he credits her with giving him the extra push that he needed to separate himself from the group: “Yoko … gave me the inner strength to look more closely at my other marriage. My real marriage. To the Beatles, which was more stifling than my domestic life” (Miles, 1997, p. 562). George Harrison would later reflect, “I don't think [John] wanted much to be hanging out with us ... and I think Yoko was pushing him out of the band” (Spitz, 2005, p. 813).


For Lennon, it was a question of loyalty. He had found the love of his life in Yoko, and he felt it was time to grow up and leave his youthful “boy's club” behind. In an interview with Playboy magazine, Lennon famously opined, “When I met Yoko is when you meet your first woman and you leave the guys at the bar and you don't go play football anymore and you don't go play snooker and billiards ... The old gang of mine was over the moment I met [Yoko]” (Sheff, 2000, p. 48). It was a simple as that, for John; he was done being a Beatle, and he was ready to give his new love interest his full and undivided attention. The transition between these two phases of Lennon's life became the context for the most traumatic conflicts within the group. Yoko never left John's side, which meant that for a time, until the Beatles dis-banded, she effectively became an honorary Beatle (much to the irritation of the other three). In the recording studio, Yoko sat next to John, “ordering Mal Evans to fetch her food and drinks and, worst of all, adding her unasked-for comments and musical suggestions” (Miles, 1997, p. 491-492). Spitz paints an even more incredible picture: “There wasn't anywhere he went that she didn't follow. If John entered the control room to speak with George Martin, Yoko accompanied him. If he huddled with Paul regarding a song or arrangement, Yoko joined the discussion ... Studio grunts watched in amazement as she followed John into the bathroom” (Spitz, 2005, p. 778). During the recording session for what would prove to be the Beatles last album, Abbey Road, Yoko had been injured in a car accident and had been ordered by her doctors to stay in bed. This posed no problem in terms of her presence at the recording sessions, however, because “a huge double bed was delivered to the studio by Harrods and Yoko [was] installed in it with a microphone suspended above her face in case she had any comments to make” (Miles, 1997, p. 552). How did the other Beatles react to this unprecedented situation? Spitz pulls no punches in his assessment, saying, “No matter what they said over the years as a show of unity or to soothe injured feelings, Paul, George, and Ringo absolutely hated Yoko's intrusion” (Spitz, 2005, p. 784). McCartney in particular remembered, with some hint of aggravation still present in his tone, that when Yoko “referred to the Beatles, she called them 'Beatles': 'Beatles will do this. Beatles will do that.' We said, 'The Beatles, actually, love.' ... I mean, she even took our personal pronoun off us, you know?” (Miles, 1997, p. 492)


They were fighting over management; they were becoming resentful of each others' personality traits; they were becoming interested in individual ventures; they were growing apart and going in different directions; even in the studio, their formerly impenetrable and private sanctuary, they could not get along. It was obvious that the group was headed for an irreparable splintering, and on September 20, 1969, “Lennon amazed his colleagues at an Apple board meeting by telling them he was leaving The Beatles” (Egan, 2009, p. 199). Because they had just signed a contract extension, the Beatles kept quiet about the break-up for many months. McCartney went to work on a solo album, and when he released review copies of the project in April of 1970, he included promotional notes in the form of a “self-interview” which effectively let the cat out of the bag. Citing “personal differences, business differences, musical differences” and “most of all because I have a better time with my family”, McCartney announced to the world that the Beatles were no longer a group entity, and would not be working together again. This led to the perception, as indicated in the Daily Mirror quote found at the beginning of this essay, that it was McCartney who had broken up the Fab Four, when in fact, it was Lennon who had pulled the plug, as McCartney himself would later admit: “It was John that broke the Beatles up” (Miles, 1997, p. 566). Lennon readily concurred, stating, “I started the band. I disbanded it. It's as simple as that” (Miles, 1997, p. 562).


In the end, why did the Beatles break up? They broke up because the man who had founded the group and been their leader since the late 1950s no longer wanted to be a part of the band. John Lennon lost interest in the enterprise known as the Beatles, and without John Lennon, the Beatles could no longer exist. When John disconnected himself emotionally from the group, he found a ready-made escape route in Yoko Ono, which left a creative void that Paul McCartney naturally filled, but with too much micro-management and perceived “bossiness” that turned the others off. When it finally came time to hire a new manager to run the group's affairs, they found the hill on which they would eventually die, the “straw that broke the camel's back,” so to speak. The Beatles broke up because they grew apart. The Beatles broke up because they grew up. The Beatles broke up, finally, because they ceased to be a united entity internally, and a house divided can never stand for very long.


References

Coleman, R. (1996). McCartney Yesterday ... and today. Los Angeles: Dove Books.

Egan, S. (Ed.). (2009). The mammoth book of the Beatles. Philadelphia: Running Press Book

Publishers.

Miles, B. (1997). Paul McCartney: many years from now. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Norman, P. (2008). John Lennon: the life. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Sheff, D. (2000). All we are saying: the last major interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

New York: St. Martin's Griffin.

Spitz, B. (2005). The Beatles: the biography. New York: Bay Back Books.

Magical History Tour: July 19, 1968

On this day in Beatles history, July 19, 1968, the fabulous foursome went into the studio to record a song called "Sexy Sadie." Naked. (Don't judge - "sexy" doesn't just happen by chance, you know.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Magical History Tour: July 9, 1969

Today in Beatle history, July 9, 1969, the lads stepped into the studio to record "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." We've been trying to forget it ever since.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Magical History Tour: July 7, 1940

Today in Beatle history, July 7, 1940, Richard "Ringo" "Starr" "Starsky & Hutch" "Rings" "Bongo" Starkey IX, Jr., Ph.D. was born, holding a pint in his left hand and a drum stick in his right. His uncles Groucho, Harpo, Zeppo, Chico, Klepto, Zippo, Bozo, and Brian were there to welcome him into the world. Ringo would later go on to become a drummer for the world's most famous Chad & Jeremy tribute band.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beatleology in Love

Based on the "I Am the Walrus" personality quiz found in Adam and Roger Jaquette's book, Beatleology, I wrote the following imaginary interview with the Fab Four. The questions all revolve around love and relationships - which of the lads do you find yourself most frequently in agreement with? This may give you a clue as to who your Inner Beatle is.

What are you looking for in a lover?

Paul: "Well, I think I'm always wanting to find that special girl who supports me, you know? You sort of want to have that in a mate, I think, someone who's going to think you're just great."
John: "Seems like that would get a boring, wouldn't it, Paul? I don't want a lover who's going to just be a f*cking 'yes'-person, I want to be challenged. I want to be stretched and made to think outside the box, you know, and if I'm full of sh*t about something, I want to be told that."
George: "Well, I don't know, I just want to keep things easy and calm. I want to have love, sure, but I don't want a lot of drama, and such. There's no sense rocking the boat."
Ringo: "I suppose I just want to have some fun being in love. Love is fun. Sex is fun. That's what I'm looking for."

How do you feel about dating?

Ringo: "Like I said, it's fun. Going out is fun, meeting people is fun, and you never know ... you might get laid."
George: "No, sod that, it's a pain. All that trouble, having to meet someone new. It can be nerve-wracking sometimes. I like familiarity, you know, it'd be nice if we could just skip right to the fifth date or something."
Paul: "It's alright, you know, dating is a good chance to throw on the charm, sort of 'full-throttle'. When she looks at you in that special way, and you can tell she adores you, that's a nice feeling."
John: "I'm with George - it's a waste of time. I just want to know if this girl is my soul-mate, the one I've been looking for all my life, and then I want to spend all of my time with her and her alone. You don't need dating for that."

What does a long-term relationship look like for you?

John: "Well, we need each other very much, and it can be somewhat co-dependent - and that's not always bad. My friends will probably stop hearing from me for a while, because I just want to be with her all the time."
George: "It looks very predictable and routine, which is good, that's stability. I really don't like drama."
Ringo: "I'll commit to the relationship, sure, no problem. I don't want to spend too much time over-thinking it, though."
Paul: "I tend to be the leader, I suppose, certainly the 'driving force.' I always have a lot of ideas about places we should be going, and things we should be doing, and she goes along with my ideas. So that's great."

Alright. You've just gone through a breakup after a long-term relationship. How do you react?

George: "That hurts, there's no question. I need some time alone to think things over and reflect on what happened, maybe try to learn a few things for next time. I definitely would make a clean break, though - get rid of the letters and pictures and all that."
Paul: "Yeah, it definitely hurts, it's a real blow to the self-esteem, y'know, and it doesn't make sense - I mean, who wouldn't want to be around me? Why would you want to leave this? I'm with George, though, I'd have to make a pretty clean break eventually, after I'd gotten the bad feelings out of my system, probably with a song or something."
John: "Oh, it's a crushing blow, Paul's right. It just destroys you inside, you know? I would be out drinking or doing drugs to forget the pain, and probably I'd end up on her front doorstep after midnight, begging to be let back in. I would obsess about it a bit, probably, and have a hard time letting go."
Ringo: "If it's over, it's over, you know? It probably wasn't meant to be. It might take a bit to feel better about it, but there's no sense in throwing a pity party. I'd still keep the mementos, though, because those are still a good time - old pictures or knick-knacks or whatever. I'd want to remember the good times."

What is your favorite sexual position?

Paul: "On top, in control, of course."
John: "On the bottom - I'm a big advocate of equality, and I like her to have a bit of control there."
George: "Well, you two can have that, I'm not going to limit myself at all. I'll be on top, on bottom, on the side, whatever."
Ringo: "I'm probably handcuffed."

What's your idea of a good first date?

John: "Short and to the point. If she's the one I've been looking for, I'll know right away, and I wouldn't mind catching the midnight plane to Holland or France so we can get married right then and there."
Paul: "Oh, I think it should be very romantic. You know, I might sing her a song I've been working on, or read her some poetry I've written, and just be very open about how I feel. I think, if she's the one, it'll be pretty obvious in short order."
Ringo: "I think I'd like to go to the pub and just have a good time, have some laughs."
George: "I don't like dating, it can get uncomfortable. I mean, I'll try to genuine with her and be myself, but I'm not going to show her all the dimensions of my personality until I'm a little more comfortable with her."

What's your idea of a good marriage proposal?

Ringo: "It'll be a public thing, very social, you know. In the middle of a restaurant, or at a big party with all of our friends. Something big like that."
Paul: "I'll propose because I just can't stand being away from her any more, and ... I don't know, I'd have to think about it, really. I'd want it to be really romantic, probably after a moonlit stroll and a dozen roses or something."
John: "It's a big deal. I'd probably have to be drunk to get enough nerve up."
George: "I'm only going to propose after I've really thought about all aspects of the thing and how life will change. I have to be sure I really want this before I say it."

What is sex to you?

George: "It's a very spiritual thing, I think, very intense, the kind of soul-union it gives me with my partner. It's another way for me to express myself and my love for her."
John: "Oh yeah, it's very intimate, and it's an expression of love - but it's also crass, you know, it's a way to get physical release. Even the animals do it, you know."
Paul: "It's a way to strengthen our love, I think, and it's also very affirming for me, too. It's good for the ego, I think."
Ringo: "It's a fun activity, it feels good, it's nice to add that in with other things like having a few drinks or going out to the movies."

Would you ever cheat on your lover?

Paul: "Absolutely not. I don't want anyone to think of me as being that kind of person, you know."
George: "You know, I keep saying, I don't like a lot of drama, really. So, no, cheating is complicated and messy and not really worth the trouble. Keep it simple, be faithful."
John: "Well, that depends, really, doesn't it? I mean, if it's a good relationship I'm in, I believe in it, I'll be true, but if things are falling apart, then ... you know, anything goes."
Ringo: "I wouldn't want to get caught or hurt anybody, but it's also important to be happy, so I think if the opportunity presented itself and it seemed like a good time - and nobody would get hurt - then, yeah."

Magical History Tour: July 6, 1964

Today in Beatle history, July 6, 1964, the boys attend the Royal charity premiere of A Hard Days Night, while Paul quietly begins his campaign for knighthood by repeatedly pointing out to Princess Margaret "what a f**king good band we are."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

We Can't Work it Out: 10 Keys to a Non-Productive Argument

Conflicts in relationships (romantic, familial, professional, etc.) are a fact of life. Hopefully they are infrequent, rather than characteristic, but they do seem to be unavoidable at times. A conflict or an argument can be a double-edged sword, however; an argument can either be a chance to get to know your partner better (and thus create deeper intimacy), or it can be destructive to the relationship.

If your goal is to destroy the relationship and create heartache (not to mention heart-burn) down the road, these ten key principles will help you reach your goal as quickly as possible.

(Of course, if you'd prefer to practice good communication skills with your partner and build the relationship, even in the midst of an argument, I recommend practicing the exact opposite of these ten principles.)

1) Use "you" statements - In order to sabotage an argument right from the start, it is important to make a lot of statements to your partner that begin with the word "you." For example: "You don't care about me," "You are so insensitive," "You are so blind," etc. For maximum effect, pepper these statements with passive-aggressive qualifiers that lessen your responsibility for having made the statement. For example, "You apparently don't think I'm important," "I guess you don't care what I think," and "Obviously, you aren't listening." These are value-loaded statements that cast your partner in a morally deficient light, and are guaranteed to invite hostile, defensive come-backs. Avoid statements that require you to take ownership for your feelings; owning the responsibility for the way you feel leaves the possibility open that you might have misinterpreted something. Never say, for example, "I feel neglected," "I feel misunderstood," "I feel like I'm not being heard," "I feel hurt," and so on. This might leave the door open for your partner to say, "I'm sorry you feel this way, how can I help you feel better?", and that might lead to conflict resolution.

2) Assume the worst - Ringo is the model to mimic here. When he sang, "I'm sorry that I doubted you, I was so unfair," he was giving an example of how to assume the worst about your partner. Your partner doesn't show up on time? Assume it's a personal assault on your feelings, and not that there may have been a hair-losing car crash. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is a good way to avoid further angry arguments. If your partner leaves his dirty underwear on the floor for the 19th time in two weeks, assume it's because he just knows this will drive you crazy, and he's doing it on purpose just to be insensitive (this is a great opportunity to make another generalized "you" statement, such as, "You always do this, just to annoy me!"). If your partner decides to go out to the movies with her girlfriends and doesn't invite you along, assume it's because she doesn't want to be with you (capitalize on this with another value-loaded "you" statement, such as, "You clearly don't enjoy my company!"). If you assume your partner is someone with good-will, you run the risk of not even being able to start a relationship-destroying argument.

3) Invalidate your partner's feelings - It is very difficult to continue an argument if your partner refuses to follow principle #1 above, and insists on making statements like, "I felt disrespected when you were flirting with that girl at the checkout." However, all is not lost. You can continue to add fuel to the argument simply by invalidating or minimizing your partner's feelings with more "you" statements such as, "You're being too sensitive," "You have no reason for feeling that way," "You're being ridiculous," or (one of my favorites), "You shouldn't feel like that." This is especially easy to do if your partner has misunderstood you or misinterpreted your actions. If he says, "I felt ignored by you today," simply come back with, "I wasn't ignoring you." This effectively removes your partner's basis for even feeling the way they do, and invites further defensiveness: "You were too ignoring me!", to which you can retort, "I was not!", and on it goes. Never surrender any ground by acknowledging the validity of your partner's experience by saying something stupid like, "I'm sorry you felt disrespected, that must have made you feel insignificant," or, "I'm sorry you felt ignored today, you must have felt very alone inside." Just remember, "nothing is real," not even your partner's feelings and experiences.

4) Hide your true feelings - If your partner attempts to validate your feelings and thus bring resolution to a conflict, you must bury your feelings and show no vulnerability. If your partner has done something to make you upset, and he says something sensitive, such as, "You seem irritated right now, is there anything I can do to make you feel better?", deny that he has accurately read your feelings. Say something like, "No, I'm fine," and then walk away, or say, "No, it's nothing, it's just something stupid, don't worry about it," and refuse to go any further into detail. This will allow you to nurture the bad feelings towards your partner, which will help you build a reservoir of hostility over the next few days, weeks, or even months. Only when the negative feelings have fully ripened should you execute the surprise "reveal," preferably in the context of a future argument, thus blind-siding your partner (if he says something like, "I had no idea - when I asked you about this earlier, you said everything was fine," then you know you have succeeded). Emotional vulnerability paves the path to intimacy and conflict resolution. Always, always, always hide your feelings away.

5) Manipulate - Manipulation is a great way to prematurely end an argument, get your own way, and leave issues unresolved so that they can ferment, grow rotten, and be brought up again in future arguments. Be subtle about it, though. If you and your partner are arguing, for example, about how to spend your tax refund, you can manipulate the situation by resorting to a blend of steps 1, 2, and 4. Try a statement like, "Well, I can see why you wouldn't want to spend that money on a new couch, because you know how much I wanted a new couch [assuming the worst], and you apparently don't care about what I want [passive-aggressive "you" statement and assuming the worst], so just forget it about it, I don't care anymore [hiding your feelings]." If all goes well, your partner will key in on the "you don't care about what I want" statement, and, in an attempt to go above-and-beyond to prove the opposite, will surrender to your wishes. Even if this does not work, and your partner takes at face-value your statement, "I don't care anymore," this gives you the chance to nurse the grudge and bring up the incident at a later date. Macca succinctly communicates this principle with the lyric, "While you see it your way, run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone."

6) Get your point across - Some people think that the goal of communication is to get to know your partner by seeking to understand them, thus building intimacy. This is decidedly not conducive to destructive arguments, so instead, follow the principle that communication is about stating your point of view, no matter what. Talk longer, talk louder, repeat yourself, and generally do whatever it takes to keep your opinion in the forefront. Once your partner has heard your point of view, disconnect from the conversation. You have been heard, mission accomplished, no further need to listen to your partner or make sure you have reached an agreement. Dialogue is not nearly as important as monologue. Bombard your partner with words and don't give him or her a chance to reflect those words back to you in order to guarantee mutual understanding. If you do it right, your partner will surrender out of sheer exhaustion and just to get you to shut up.

7) Make demands - This is a variation on key principle #1 above, because it relies on "you" statements. The subtle twist here is that these statements will begin with "demand" words, such as, "You need to," "You should", "You can't", and so forth. These are value-loaded statements as well, implying that if your partner doesn't act on what you say, or disagrees with you, he or she is clearly in the wrong. For example, "You should spend less time watching movies" implies that your partner is doing something morally deficient, and is far more punchy a statement than saying, "I would like it if you spent less time watching movies." Or again, saying "You need to quit working so much overtime" is much more conducive to an argument than saying, "I'm worried about how much overtime you're working, I would feel so much better if you were able to cut back." Those kinds of statements imply that your partner has the freedom of choice, which rarely leads to a good, old-fashioned verbal barney.

8) Qualify your apologies - Saying the words "I'm sorry" can diffuse an argument faster than you can wink. However, you can still say the words, which puts you in the superior moral position, while simultaneously qualifying the apology in such a way as to undercut its sincerity. Simply add the words "if" or "but" to the apology. For example, "I'm sorry I offended you, but you shouldn't have gotten so upset." Or again, "I'm sorry if I said something to hurt you, I didn't know you'd take it that way." The "but" quickly shifts the focus away from your partner's feelings and sets the stage for the next point of argumentation; the "if" implies that you really don't empathize or even agree with your partner's feelings (see #3 above, on invalidating your partner's feelings and experience). It would be too easy to simply say, "I'm sorry you felt offended by what I did," or "I'm sorry that you felt hurt by what I said." Always qualify the apology; not only does this leave the door open to continue the argument, but now you can always go back to the statement, "I already apologized for that!" This will leave your partner feeling unsatisfied with the apology (because there was no empathy or validation of feelings), and it gets you off the hook for the perceived offense.

9) Surrender your position - This goes hand-in-hand #4 above, hiding your true feelings. Some people believe that an argument can be resolved in such a way that both parties are allowed to retain their point of view. It's called "agreeing to disagree" or "reaching a compromise." Of course, everyone knows that an argument can only end when one of the parties bends to the other person's will and gives something up. If you cannot manipulate your partner into surrendering to your wishes, you can take the path of conflict avoidance by simply surrendering yourself. Statements such as, "Fine, we'll do it your way", or "You know, it doesn't matter to me anymore" allow you to end the argument without any lasting resolution. It also allows you to play the victim and wallow in martyrdom, while simultaneously giving you a trump card to play in a future argument. If you surrender your position without reaching real resolution, you can effectively put your partner in a position of future obligation ("you owe me one"), or ongoing guilt.

10) Bail out early - Emotional detachment is a relatively quick way to end an argument without reaching resolution or building intimacy. You can disconnect from an argument very early by simply walking away and ignoring the problem, hiding your true feelings (see #4), surrendering your position (see #9), throwing in a terse "I don't want to talk about it," or promising "we'll talk about this later" without ever following through on that promise. Bailing out of an argument sends the message, "I'm not really invested in this relationship, or in you," and reduces the risk of emotional vulnerability; it prevents further honing of communication skills, and creates obstacles to intimacy. This is a sure-fire way to create an environment for future no-holds-barred arguments, in which any one or more of these ten key principles can be put to use again. With any luck, you can destroy a perfectly good relationship within a few short months.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yeah, I Need Love

"Simply put, Pauls are lovers. They cannot function without love. Pauls are hopeless romantics - and they are annoyingly codependent girlfriends, boyfriends, and spouses." (Jaquette, Beatleology, p. 62)

Ah, the hopeless romantics. Where would the world be without them and their constant output of silly love songs, poetry, and sentimentalism? But the Inner Paul sign can truly be a double-edged sword, because romanticism itself can be a double-edged sword. There's nothing wrong with a good dose of sentimentalism, but when it begins to manifest itself in the form of codependency, it's time to step back and consider a few things.

There is a somewhat common theme in love songs, and it's a theme that presents an interesting paradox: the notion of possession. It's a recurring refrain in many Beatles lyrics: "I'm so proud to know that she is mine" (Good Day Sunshine), "Now you're mine" (Ask Me Why), "You'll be mine, girl" (Things We Said Today), "We'll have some fun when you're mine, oh, mine" (Little Child), "Let me know that you're mine" (Twist and Shout), "It's getting better since you've been mine" (Getting Better). I suppose, as a wind-swept romantic notion, it's alright - perhaps even expected. There is some element of exclusivity in the arena of real love: I'll be yours and yours alone, if you'll be mine and mine alone.

The potential difficulty here, however, is that possession doesn't work out very well in the real world of actual relationships. If I am in a relationship, the first and foundational truth is that I am in that relationship with another person, and the concept of possession does not apply. I can possess an object, but not a person. What becomes of the idea of exclusivity, then? This is the constant tension in any healthy relationship: if he belongs to her, and she belongs to him, it is only because both of them, as autonomous individuals, have voluntarily chosen to stay with the other person. The flip side is that either person can voluntarily choose to leave at any time, because neither person truly surrenders their autonomy. This on-going tension is precisely what highlights the truth of real love: it must be rooted in trust. He cannot truly possess her, even though in some ways that might put him more at ease. He can only trust that she will stay. As long as both of them remain where they are, they will always be together, but it will not be because one of them has claimed ownership of the other.

The manifestation of codependency in a relationship, which is rooted in an attempt to possess the other person, is really a revelation of insecurity at best, or outright distrust at worst. She does not fully trust that he will stay, and so she attempts to possess him more firmly, as a way to make up for the deficiency of trust. He lacks self-security, and worries that her interests in other things outside of their relationship indicate a lack of interest in him, and so he tries to cling harder to her in order to fill the internal void.

This is the gist of the Inner Paul's paradox. His frequent expressions of love and sentimentality are not bad things, in themselves, but he must make an effort to be aware of his motives. She may call him five times a day, but why is she doing it? Is it because she was thinking about him, and just wanted to tell him "I love you"? Or is it because she's nervous that they haven't talked in a few hours, and she needs to know where he is and what he's doing (which is a way of retaining control)?

There's a fine line between the chaos of possession and the creation of sentimentality. The Inner Pauls of the world are full-to-overflowing with love, which means that "they need to not only feel love but give love constantly." (Jaquette, Beatleology, p. 63) This can be a great strength in a relationship, because the relationship will never be lacking the spark of those first, heady days when love was new. But if this personality trait is not tempered and kept in check, it can smother and ultimately destroy the relationship.

If you are in a relationship with an Inner Paul, you should be aware of his or her need for frequent reassurance and gestures of love, and celebrate your partner's sentimental and romantic streak. If you are an Inner Paul, you need to be aware of your "smothering potential", and check your motives once in a while: are you sending him flowers because you love him and just wanted him to know that, or is it because you're afraid of losing him and you're trying to keep him tethered to you? Try to take a step back and remind yourself that your partner is a person and not an object to be possessed, knowing that if you treat her and honor her as a person, she will never have a reason to look elsewhere for the love that you so naturally are able to express.

Never Forget ...

... that in any situation, no matter how great the peer pressure, no matter how many the distractions may be, no matter what the time of day, what the occasion, or the amount of alcohol or booze involved, Paul McCartney always knows where the camera is.

Thank you, that is all.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Message from the Master and Commander


McBoaty wanted me to tell you "good morning," and to remind you that it's usually best if you just keep to the lake. As a follow-up word of wisdom, McBoaty would like to add that you will need to have a berth if you want to get to sea. Oh, and Uncle Albert, if you're out there reading this, McBoaty wanted you to know that we are still sorry, especially about that nasty incident with the kettle.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Indicate Precisely

There are three days left to cast your vote in the "Why did the Beatles break up?" poll (you'll find that widget to your right, just above the blog archive links).

So far, the results have been as follows::

They naturally drifted apart - 53%
John lost interest - 30%
Disagreements over management - 11%
Are you gonna eat the rest of that? - 3%

When the poll officially closes this weekend, I'll post the eight-page research paper I wrote for my writing class this week on the subject, for anyone who is interested.

Thanks to those who have already voted, except for the clown who picked "Are you gonna eat the rest of that?" as the answer: you have brought shame upon our proceedings, and for that, Ringo salutes you.

Happy Birthday, Sir Paul McCartney

Sir Paul wanted me to tell you that it's his birthday, and he greatly appreciates all the kind words and well-wishes he has received today from his many, many fans.  In acknowledgement of you fine, friendly folks, Sir Paul sincerely points his pornstache and McMullet right at you.  Try not to swoon, ok?

Magical History Tour: June 18, 1942

On this day in Beatle history, June 18, 1942, James Paul McCartney came into the world, thus starting a brief and not-very-popular "Paul is born" myth.  He immediately set about the difficult task of trying to write a song that would address the two major, pressing universal issues of the time, namely, waterfall-jumping and polar-bear-chasing.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Beatles, "Musicologically": New York Times, Feb. 10, 1964

Musicologically ...
By Theodore Strongin

(Originally published in The New York Times, February 10, 1964)

"You can tell right away it's the Beatles and not anyone else," is the opinion of a 15-year-old specialist on the subject who saw the Beatles on the "Ed Sullivan Show" last night.  The age of 15 (or 16 or 14 or 13) is essential in a Beatles expert.

Taking the above axiom as gospel, this listener made an attempt to find out just what is musically unique about the British visitors.

The Beatles are directly in the mainstream of Western tradition; that much may be immediately ascertained.  Their harmony is unmistakeably diatonic.  A learned British colleague, writing on his home ground, has described it as pandiatonic, but I disagree.

The Beatles have a tendency to build phrases around unresolved leading tones.  This precipitates the ear into a false modal frame that temporarily turns the fifth of the scale into the tonic, momentarily suggesting the Mixylydian mode.  But everything always ends as plain diatonic all the same.

Meanwhile, the result is the addition of a very, very slight touch of British countryside notalgia, with a trace of Vaughan Williams, to the familiar elements of the rock 'n' roll prototype.  "It's just that English rock 'n' roll is more sophisticated," explained the 15-year-old authority.

As to instrumentation, three of the four Beatles (George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon) play different sizes of electronically amplified plucked-string instruments.  Ringo Starr ("He's just like a little puppy, he's so cute," said our specialist) plays the drums.  The Beatles's vocal quality can be described as hoarsely incoherent, with the minimal enunciation necessary to communicate the schematic texts.

Two theories were offered in at least one household to explain the Beatles's popularity.  The specialist said: "We haven't had an idol in a few years.  The Beatles are different, and we have to get rid of our excess energy somehow."

The other theory is that the longer parents object with such high dudgeon, the longer children will squeal so hysterically.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

May I Interest You in an Earworm?



Just try to get this out of your head after listening to it.

PS: Ringo's facial expression at approximately 1:43 into the song basically sums up my feelings about this song.

PPS: Ok, not really. The song gently hints at the story of The Beatles and their rise to fame, so it's somewhat endearing to me. Plus, it's a catchy tune, by which I mean that you will never, ever get it dislodged from your head, no matter how hard you beg the gods for mercy. Enjoy!

Update: Paul's added commentary makes the tune even more tolerable.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oh, Look, A Box of Beatles!

Alan Clayson is the only author I am aware of who has attempted to write a biography of Ringo Starr, and from what I have read so far of his work, he's made a very good job of it (considering that he didn't get to work directly with Ringo, who, for whatever reason, won't consent to publish an "official" biography). It's been a very different sort of experience for me, since, like most Beatle-related bio-work, it begins by covering the pre-Mania years, but unlike most Beatle bios, it does so from Ringo's perspective. Remember, of course, that Ringo didn't join the band until they were well on their way to having a recording contract; in other words, where I had been used to reading stories of famous meetings at Woolton fĂȘtes, jam sessions on double-decker buses, Quarry Men, Silver Beetles, and Hamburg trips, I found myself reading about Ringo's (mostly hospitalized) childhood, his start as a skiffle drummer, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and so on. This little biography (and by "little", I mean, "over 400 freaking pages") rounds out the history of The Beatles and completes the picture, and Clayson does a good job of incorporating actual quotes from Ringo wherever he can.

Fortunately for those of us who can't get enough of The Beatles in paperback, you can now purchase the Ringo biography as part of a four-pack set of biographies, each one focusing on the life of one of the Liverpool Lads. The volume on George's life is also 400 pages, and promises to be a more "in-depth" story than George's own sparse and scattered recollections in I Me Mine (a book which makes up for its paucity of information by being written in George's own inimitable style). I'm looking forward to cracking this one open after I've finished reading Ringo.

The McCartney and Lennon volumes are much slimmer than the Harrison and Starr volumes, but I can only assume that this is because so much has already been written about the Len-Mac duo by other authors, and so perhaps Clayson decided to give their lives a more cursory treatment in favor of focusing on George and Ringo.

It's a handsome set of books, that much is certain. You might want to add it to your bookshelf sooner than later.

Shoulda Been There - But You Can Read About It!

My copy of Jude Southerland Kessler's bio-novel about John Lennon, Shoulda Been There, arrived in the mail yesterday. I quite hungrily devoured the first six or seven chapters, and I have to say that I am quite impressed with this work. Kessler's prose is easy to read, without being trite, and she has obviously done her homework on the life of John Lennon.

This is no fanciful flight into unsubstantiated realms of imagination. Each chapter ends with a note from the author, detailing what parts of the chapter are historical fact, and which are conjecture. In the majority of cases so far, it's usually just the dialogue between characters that falls under the category of "conjecture," but even here, Kessler has done an amazing job of capturing the "voice" of each character, which puts a lot less strain on the reader's shoulders to have to suspend disbelief.

At the end of the book, Kessler includes bibliographical information, broken down chapter-by-chapter (i.e., the heading for Chapter 1 might include a reference to Ray Coleman's work, Hunter Davies's work, and so on). If the reader feels like verifying the stories, or learning more about the historical events, the sources are all right there for the taking. She also includes a glossary of Scouse words, which alone is worth the price of admission, as far as I'm concerned. (From this day forward, when I am worn out at the end of a long day, I will refer to myself as being "creased".)

Much of the dialog between characters is made up, although, not all of it. The bits that are made up are lovingly peppered with subtle Beatle-related references that are "guaranteed to raise a smile" for the die-hard fan (e.g., when John's Uncle George remarks to Mimi that toddler John is bound to become "toppermost of the poppermost" in one way or another). And it precisely through this dialog that Kessler brings new life and personality to these characters; for my part, I feel like I'm getting to know John a little better, and that's never a bad thing.

Magical History Tour: June 4, 1962

Today in Beatle history, June 4, 1962, the lads signed their first contract with EMI. As temporary secretaries. But hey, it was a contract.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Magical History Tour: May 28, 1969

Also on this day in Beatle history, May 28, 1969, John and Yoko had been in bed for three days in Montreal to promote peace. Several thousand miles away, Ringo was on Day 5 of an all-you-can-eat buffet blitz, also to "promote peace ... or ... you know, whatever."

Magical History Tour: May 28, 1967

On this day in Beatle history, May 28, 1967, Brian Epstein threw a party that was attended by John, Ringo, and George, as well as Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, and Derek Taylor, among others. Paul did not attend, because he is way too cool for your party, now and always.

(Just kidding. He didn't go because he was dead.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It Doesn't Really Matter What Chords They Play

This one is for the music geeks out there. I just stumbled across this article in Wired magazine from October of 2008, detailing how a university professor used mathematics to figure out the notes being played in that famous opening chord from "A Hard Day's Night".

(Spoiler alert: the chord turns out to be an A-flat-major-diminished-9th-add-2-suspended-4th-circular-sharp-tritone-really-bloody-difficult-7th)

George? Paul? Anybody?

This is one of the funniest clips in the Anthology DVD series. You'll find it on Part 7, within the first 10 minutes or so. Here they are, The Beatles, attempting to recall whether or not "All You Need is Love" was written specially for the Our World television program.






George: I don't know if the song was written before that, because, we were making an album at the time, so there was kind of, lots of songs in circulation. Paul may know more about that ... over to you, Paul!



Paul: Ummm .... I'm not sure. It was John's song, mainly. Ummm ... I don't think it was written specially for it. But ... it was one of the songs we had, and ... and ... I don't know, actually, George Martin might have a bit better idea on that.



George Martin: (blank stare)




Paul: It was certainly tailored to it once we had it, but I've got a feeling it was just one of John's songs ...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Saw the Photograph - May 26, 2010

John and George always tended to get a little bit disrespectful and snarky when mimicking The Rolling Stones. But they were Mozart to the Stones' Salieri, so there was really no avoiding it, when you think about it. That's it, lads, take the mickey out 'em! Go on, do it! [edited]-ing Stones.

Magical History Tour: May 26, 1966

On this day in Beatle history, May 26, 1966, four very drunken Beatles stumbled into the studio to create a novelty recording of Gilbert and Sullivan's nautical number, "A British Tar."  Several confusing hours later, "Yellow Submarine" was the result.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Magical History Tour: May 21, 1964

Today in Beatle history, May 21, 1964, the U.S. saw the release of the single, "Sie Liebt Dich," ostensibly a German-language version of "She Loves You," but in reality, a musical rendition of several choice readings from Mein Kampf.  Paul was not present for the recordings, because he had not yet recovered from his death.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Martin Scorsese, George Harrison, and Cannes

CANNES -- Martin Scorsese swept into the Cap d'Antibes Beach Hotel down the coast from Cannes on Saturday afternoon with George Harrison's widow, Olivia. The two have been collaborating on a documentary about the famous songwriter for the past three years and are finally nearing the end of a long and winding road.

Titled "Living in the Material World: George Harrison," the documentary will take on the whole of the Beatles guitarist's life before, during and after his time in the world's most popular and successful band. Producer Nigel Sinclair of Exclusive Media Group, home of the Spitfire Pictures label that will release the doc, was also on hand to provide background and perspective on the forthcoming project.


Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's Only a Southern Show

The South Bank Show was, once upon a time, the South Bank Show of its day. That is about all I can tell you about this particular show, because, quite honestly, I've never really watched it. All of the information I could gather about the show would have to come from Wikipedia, and frankly, that information is highly suspect (especially since I just edited the Wiki page to include the assertion that The South Bank Show is a variety of seasonal rodent).

What is important is this: on June 14, 1992 (literal Welsh translation, "14 June 1992"), to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (a ground-breaking rock album made in the late 60's by the legendary rock group, Chad and Jeremy), The South Bank Show did a special episode called "The Making of Sgt. Pepper."

The show included interviews with Paul McCartney (a very musically-inclined janitor at a London radio station), Ringo Starr (a famous hair stylist), George Harrison (the legendary rock-and-roll disc jockey), and George Martin (who famously produced many massively-popular records for The Beatles - duh).

But I digress. Frequently.

The point is, this famous and well-known episode of The South Beach Diet is on YouTube, in six easily-digestible parts. If you've got about 50 minutes to spare, you should probably balance your checkbook, or maybe mow the lawn for the love of God (it's completely out of control and your neighbors are starting to complain). But then you should definitely watch these clips. My favorite bit is the ending, the last interview clip with Paul McCartney; but I don't want to ruin it for you, so I will say no more (SPOILER ALERT: Paul dies in the end).

From me to you:

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Magical History Tour: May 19, 1966

Today in Beatle History, May 19, 1966, the boys spent a long day in the studio making promo videos for "Paperback Writer" and "Rain", resulting in a lot of water-logged books. Ouch. That one hurt me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

You Don't Really Want to Miss the Show!

Three things you need to know:

1) Paul is being given the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize on 28 July (that's British for "July 28th")

2) He will be performing at the event

3) It will air on PBS at 8:00pm, Eastern Time.

If this doesn't put an end to the "Paul is Dead" rumors, then quite frankly, I'll be happy (hey, I have a huge "Macca Memorial Mementos" business that would go belly-up if people ever figured out that he isn't dead).

A "Fifth" Beatle

I have located the "Fifth Beatle."

Or possibly the "Fifth Beetle."

Ok, ok, it's just a damn beetle and a fifth, but it's pretty cool anyway (in a creepy sort of way):

The product page (which I will not link to, out of a general courtesy to Humankind) proudly declares, "Each bottle of Absinthe Beetle contains giant beetle Eurycantha horrida also known as Spiny Devil Walkingstick."

With words like "horrida" and "devil walkingstick" being thrown around, how can anyone resist the urge to purchase this product immediately, and then just as immediately pour it right down the drain?

God help and breed us all.

Magical History Tour: May 17, 1967

On this day in Beatle History, May 17, 1967, the boys went into the studio to record "Part 1" of "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)". The original lyrics included mention of the specific phone number 867-5309, but this idea was quickly scrapped by John and Paul because, as Paul put it, "who the hell would sing something like that?"

Come Together

The question came up again recently: who is your favorite Beatle?

I don't think I've ever liked that question, really, because it tends to inspire a blank stare in response, and then I just look foolish (or stoned, but, I repeat myself).

The short answer to the question is this: I can't decide who my favorite Beatle is, any more than I can decide which of my vital organs is my favorite. I need them all, and I need them to be together (my vital organs and Beatles).

The longer answer, I suppose, is something like this ...

Aristotle said it best (and although I cannot prove it yet, I'm sure he was referring to The Beatles when he said it): "In the case of all things which have several parts and in which the totality is not, as it were, a mere heap, but the whole is something beside the parts, there is a cause." (Metaphysics, Book VIII, part 6) Or, as the more popular re-wording goes, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Each individual Beatle brought something unique to the table, a particular "part" that formed the "whole." And those individual "parts" formed something entirely unrepeatable in the context of the other three Beatles; Paul McCartney's knack for melody, for example, took concrete shape within the framework of The Beatles in a way that was different from how it took shape within the framework of Wings.

In other words, I can't say, "Paul was my favorite, because he wrote the prettiest melodies." Paul wrote great songs, but his ability to write was not a static talent; it took on a very different dynamic when it was assimilated into the larger world of Beatledom.

And this is why I love The Beatles more than any other band; this is why my appreciation for The Beatles goes far, far beyond merely liking their melodies or their lyrics. In a time when the rock-band formula was to emphasize a leader and lump his "backup band" together, The Beatles remained a collective unity. Bill Haley and the Comets; Buddy Holly and the Crickets; Gerry and the Pacemakers; Paul Revere and the Raiders; Tommy James and the Shondells; Rory Storm and the Hurricanes; John Lennon and the Beatles?

It doesn't work, because that's not who The Beatles were. George Martin recognized this almost immediately; he writes in his memoir, All You Need is Ears, "When I first met them, there was no obvious leader ... I put them to the test individually ... I was thinking, on balance, that I should make Paul the leader. Then, after some thought, I realised that if I did so I would be changing the nature of the group. Why do that? Why not keep them as they were?" (All You Need is Ears, p. 124)

After going to see The Beatles play at The Cavern Club, and seeing the marked difference between their group-based performance and the performance of the other leader-plus-backup-group bands that night, George Martin concluded, "A group they were, and a group they had to stay." (All You Need is Ears, p. 125)

The Beatles, as a unified group, represent a life philosophy that I believe in, and something I try to put into practice: we human beings were intended for community, not for isolation. Life is meant to be shared with others. Look outward, not inward. Diversity within a community can be the catalyst for attaining what could not otherwise be imagined by acting as a "Lone Ranger." As Tim Riley so nicely summed it up, "[The Beatles] embodied the notion that an individual can realize his own identity in a community, even when it consists of four utterly different - even contradictory - parts." (Tell Me Why, pp. 18-19)

So who is my favorite Beatle? This one:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sonic Signatures: With the Beatles


Download now
with the beatles signatures.mp3 (1715 KB)

And now, we'd like to carry on, in a sec, with the next songs ...

Continuing our little trip through the Best BeatleBits in each song, album by album, here are my favorite "signature" selections from With the Beatles (as before, I've provided a downloadable sound file so you can listen along with me - the link is at the top of this post).

It Won't Be Long - The call-and-response, tag-teamed "yeah, yeah, yeah" between John and Paul makes this song what it is, in my opinion. And the established pattern, melodically, is that Paul always screams his "yeah!" on the G# above John's note. On the final round of yeah's, however, Paul gets a bit excited and goes a few notes higher, to the B above his normal G#. It's just a bit more intense; just a bit more energetic; just a bit more Beatles.

All I've Got to Do - On John's last time through the chorus, he throws in a vocal flourish on the words "I'll be here," dragging out that "I'll" just a bit longer than usual. The result is that he is then forced to race through the next few syllables in order to catch up with the band again, so it comes out sounding like, "IIIII'll be here-yes-i-will, whenever you call." I love that little tongue-twisted scamper that gets him back in formation with the rest of the band.

All My Loving - One of the recording tricks that gives this song its very distinctive sound is that Paul's voice is double-tracked. He recorded himself singing along with himself, in other words, to give the vocal twice the fullness. The trouble with doing live double-tracking is that the second track has to match the first track perfectly; all the little vocal oddities, note flourishes, breaths, stops, everything has to line up, or else it becomes apparent to the listener that two vocal tracks are being used. On the second verse, Macca flubs it just a bit, with the line "I'll pretend that I'm kissing." When he sings "kissing", one of the vocal tracks get there just a hair before the other one, so it's a bit out of sync. It makes the song special.

Don't Bother Me - I just like the way George sings the word "me" in the line "don't bother me." It's a bit low in his register, and he fans out the vowel so that it sounds more like "meehhhh." He also adds just a wee bit of Presley-esque, shimmery vibrato, so it sounds like he might be shaking his head "no" while singing.

Little Child - I love the fade-out on the chorus, where John and Paul start ad-libbing the oh yeah's. The first one is sung by John, the second one belongs to Paul, and then they come together and harmonize on the third one. It's a bit of symmetry, a bit of magic between the Dynamic Duo, and listening to them spontaneously collaborate like this always makes me happy.

Till There Was You - Hands down, my favorite spot in the song is when Paul sings "I never saw them winging," and says "sawr" instead of "saw."

Please Mr. Postman - My favorite bit on this song is actually in the instrument track, during the intro. I only recently discovered this after listening to the 2009 re-mastered version of the album: after the first two bars of the drums-alone intro, a low bass note quietly sneaks up and pulses out a repeated F#. Listen closely, it's a bit buried in the mix.

Roll Over Beethoven - For this song, I like when the guitar riff in the intro starts descending from those chirpy high notes and suddenly shifts into gear, so to speak, and drops into the first full chord. It sounds like an engine being revved up to me.

Hold Me Tight - I like the way Paul comes out of the second bridge: "being here alone tonight with you - it feels so right!" He's just wailing away at those screamy high notes, in a way that he didn't on the first time through the bridge, and I think it really adds a layer of frenzied excitement and believability to the lyric. He's really serious about it feeling so right!

You've Really Got a Hold on Me - This was another easy pick for me. Between the repeated hold me's on the final chorus, John throws in a few super-soulful ad-libs: "please", "squeeze." He nails it, with the just the right amount of melodic flourish.

I Wanna Be Your Man - On the fade out, everyone is ad-libbing a little bit, and Ringo - God bless him - makes his contribution with a few upward-swooping whooaaa's. He sounds so earnest and sincere about it, but ... come on, it's Ringo. It's just fun.

Devil in Her Heart - The way the lads break up into three-part harmony on the words "she's an angel sent," and then suddenly collapse into three unison voices on the words "to me," gives me goosebumps. I think it's because they don't quite land in perfect unison on that last held note; it's just slightly dissonant, but without being unpleasant, so it sends off this sonic "friction" that makes my skin tingle. These three voices always sounded unusually good together in a vocal blend; I wish they had done more songs along the lines of "This Boy" and "Because" to highlight that fact.

Not a Second Time - I like the fade out. John goes ad-libbing the "no, no, no" part, but - much like with "All My Loving" - the double-tracking comes unraveled just a bit when he starts ad-libbing too much, revealing the fact that he's singing along with a recording of himself.

Money (That's What I Want) - There's a slight anomaly in the intro, when the guitar crashes into the mix to double the piano riff. It's just slightly late, but it catches up quickly enough that it's barely noticeable. Still, it's there, and it gives the song a bit of extra character.