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1700 pages

Just read an 800 page book on John Lennon, and wanting to be fair, picked up a 900 page book on Paul McCartney. You’ve got to be damn interesting to carry books as thick as the Bible, and sometines even Beatles leave me wavering over 1700+ pages. There’s only so much you can read about John climbing into bags with Yoko or Paul pissing off the rest of the group with his arrogance during the Let it Be session. But still, it does get you back into the music, which is still a relevation all these years later. There’s never been a better straight ahead rock and roll band, that is when the Beatles were a straight ahead rock and roll band. It was the simple things really. John and Paul had 2 of the greatest rock and roll voices of all time. And when their voices blended, it was bliss. Had they never written a single song, their cover versions alone would have made them legends. Nobody could out Chuck Berry Chuck Berry….except the Beatles. Nobody could out-do Little Richard, except the Beatles. Nobody could out Isley the Isley Brothers. Except the Beatles. Not bad for 4 scruffs from an English shithole. The fact that together Lennon and McCartney were perhaps the greatest pop songwriters of the 20th century, to me, is almost incidental. It’s the sound they made that grabbed me as a 11 and 12 year old.

But let’s face it. John was pretty fucked up. Yoko really put the zap on his head, and had he lived he might not be the secular saint he’s subsequently become. His final record, “Double Fantasy”, became iconic not because it was any good, but because John was killed shortly after it’s release. Paul, with a few glorious exceptions, has largely spent the last 40 years releasing unmitigated drivel. The men needed each other to be great. Alone, they were merely above average, like musicians who might live in Lake Woebegone and have nice middle class homes and manicured lawns.

Easy to blame the chicks though eh? Hard to decide who was the least tuneful. Yoko was so odd and intimidating that nobody really had the nerve to tell her to shut the fuck up when she started shreiking into any live microphone she came across. And Paul’s wife Linda sang so horribly that Paul’s soundmen started to simply turn her down so far in the mix onstage that nobody could hear her. But to her credit, at least Linda never insisted on following Paul into the bathroom.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Lennon was shot. And nearly 10 since George Harrison died of cancer. “Taxman” has always been my favorite Beatles song. Everybody always held out that thin hope that maybe…if the stars aligned the right way….that we could see them again. The four of them. Somebody would surely throw such a ridiculous amount of money at them that it was bound to happen. I’m so glad it didn’t. There’s nothing to dilute the Beatles. From “Love Me Do” to “Abbey Road”…..as close to a perfect catalog as a rock band could or would achieve. No “comeback album” during the disco era. No out of tune wank-fast at Live Aid. No insufferable Bono walk-ons.

They blazed a trail. Then they flew away….and every person who ever hummed a melody was the better for it.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Bruce
    May 18, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Just wrapping up my unit for the seniors on the history of rock and roll in the 1960s. Actually talked about the “British Invasion” the other day and the Beatles, of course. Always loved the Beatles—but I have always been amazed at how they grew as writers and musicians as the decade progressed. “Love Me Do” is bubblegum compared to “A Day in the Life.” Of course, so much has been made about the influence the Beatles have had on music, but rarely do people talk about the various influences on the Beatles. Today, we talked about the Byrds and listened to “Eight Miles High,” which was the opening shot of psychedelia. Without the Byrds, there may not have been “Strawberry Fields” or “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” or any track on Magical Mystery Tour, for that matter. Of course, one can argue, that it was the Beatles who helped introduce that psychedelic sound by adding the sitar to their line-up in 1965. But that’s what’s cool about that era: these guys were listening to each other and conversed through their music. It was like one big fucking conversation.

    As for Lennon and McCartney’s solo careers—more drivel from McCartney, I believe. Especially McCartney from the 80s. Even if I never hear “Ebony and Ivory” again, I will still be tormented by the fact that I heard it once. And that “Freedom” song he wrote after 9/11. Pure shit. I’d take anything from Lennon’s post-Beatles repertoire than listen to that.

    By the way, my seniors are watching Woodstock now and I think we tend to forget much of the pure crap that also existed at that time among the pearls. For example, what the hell was Sh-Na-Na doing at Woodstock? My God, they did a 10 song set right before Hendrix.

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