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.