- Hey Dullblog Online Housekeeping Note - May 6, 2022
- Beatles in the 1970s: Melting and Crying - April 13, 2022
- The Beatles, “Let It Be,” and “Get Back”: “Trying to Deceive”? - October 22, 2021
I‘m an inveterate haunter of used bookstores. I love the physicality of books, and seeing how publishers chose to present subjects at particular places and times. Today I give you two 1970s finds, both British paperbacks, that feature melting or crying Beatles.
This edition of The Beatles Lyrics was published by Omega in 1975 and features an introduction by (cringe) Jimmy Saville. Though the book includes no cover illustration credit, commenter Dan pointed out that it appears in Alan Aldridge’s The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics (it’s in volume 2, published in 1971), and commenter meaigs further noted that the illustration is by John Holmes. This is not just the creepiest Beatles book cover I’ve ever seen — it’s also one of the most emotionally evocative. The Beatles have burned themselves for our benefit, this cover seems to say — what wonder that they broke up? They literally burned out, apparently. To me the Beatle candle looks more like Paul McCartney than any of the other Beatles: an interesting choice on the artist’s part.
This study of the Beatles was first published in 1973; this edition, by Faber & Faber, appeared in 1976. The cover is by Caroline Mellers, about whom I could find no information. It’s an interesting mashup of Let It Be-era Beatles and a more With the Beatles / Meet the Beatles aesthetic. Here the Beatles aren’t merely crying; they’re crying blood. And the “in retrospect” of the title reads, against these images, as if the Beatles didn’t just break up, but as if they died.
I think these covers speak to two kinds of emotional trauma: that of the fans mourning the end of the Beatles, and that of the Beatles themselves, of which the fans are uneasily aware.
Note: I edited this post on 4/18 to include the information about Alan Aldridge and John Holmes. — NC
Nancy, I like this post. The period of the 70s–when The Beatles were no more, but still could be; and also, people remembered how wonderful they had been–is really underdiscussed. Post-breakup and pre-Lennon’s murder is a fascinating time. The hunger for a reunion was so palpable it was practically physical.
I think we should do a gallery of Beatles paperback covers.
I’ve thought a bit about had Lennon made it to at least the year 2000 (60 years old) what would the publics appetite for a Beatles reunion just continue to grow and grow through the 80s and 90s?
Would it have become so overwhelming that they would’ve done it just to shut everyone up?(or an event comes along like Live Aid where the forces and pressure to reunite for a cause is too massive to run from, and the stage is too great
If it’s 1990, 20 years after, and the 4 of them still havent been in the same room together since 1969, and they’re all between 47-50… I wonder if the general public would finally stop caring so much. Right around that time the Stones were getting kicked around a bit for being old, Steel Wheelchairs tour etc. once the Beatles hit a certain age I think some folks would start gravitating towards wanting them to stay apart and having their historical legacy together be one centered around youth and and prolific music. Them reuniting and putting out something considered mediocre or just “good”, where they’re no longer the best band in the world, would’ve been intolerable for them.
How much different would the Anthology Project be? If it even gets off the ground.
Extrapolating from what it was like in mid-1980, I think the appetite for a Beatles reunion in 1990 would’ve been ravenous. Remember, the Stones had been *together* for all those years; people’s fatigue came from a surfeit, a group that was producing one good LP out of every five tries. Even in the 80s it was pretty clear that The Stones had said all they could say, and given all they had to give. The Beatles were a different kettle of fish, much bigger much broader much deeper, artistically, in the Sixties, and after.
There was a magical quality to the Beatles story — including when and how they’d broken up — that hung around until December 9, 1980. And until then there was a sense that when they’d get back together it would be the right time. They would remain blessed.
I also think that The Beatles type of music was so different, it would’ve been able to age. J/P/G/R could’ve continued to grow and develop (and even diverge), as they’d been doing since 1965.
The only data I see here is Anthology — was it a HUGE deal? Yes, indeed it was. Did it disappoint? No, it did not.
As to what they might’ve put out, remember that White and LIB and even Abbey Road had their detractors when they were released. I don’t think reviews would’ve bothered them in the least; I do think that they would’ve felt the pressure, especially John and Paul.
I was reading an old Dullblog post yesterday floating the idea that George may have had PTSD from the Beatlemania days and that really clicked for me because that’s exactly how he presented in subsequent years. How could they not all have been traumatized by what they went through? It was combat in so many ways — the claustrophobic confinement, the noise, the chaos, being manhandled from car to stage to car to room, treated like property, like objects. Being screamed at even by one person is traumatic. Being screamed at, even in adoration, by 50,000 people at the same time and repeating that over and over again is going to do things to your nervous system and not good ones. (George mentioned the sacrifice of their nervous systems in one quote I’m too lazy to look up just now).
It was too much to ask of anyone, what we asked of them. It’s too much what we continue to ask of them, really, and I’m guilty of it, too. Add to that they were SO young still –still boys in so many ways — and so sheltered (the bubble that I talked about in the Linda on keyboards post comes to mind here). And to be able to create like that, you can’t fully put on armor to protect yourself from it. You need to be able to stay open to the world and vulnerable to let inspiration in, so there wasn’t much defense for them. I believe stopping touring was the death blow though it took awhile to manifest, but it’s hard to see how there was any other alternative given how it was.
As to the mourning for how it all fell apart…. speaking only for myself, every. single. damned. day. I wish it weren’t so, but that’s the truth of it.
The story is mythic in so many ways, not all of them glorious.
Wasn’t the candle illustration by the late great Alan Aldridge?
That would certainly make sense, Dan — do you have a source attributing it to him?
I’ve found it in a set of his prints –
Thank you, Dan! I’ll correct the post to attribute the image to Aldridge.
I noticed that the link you posted is a book that is *edited* by Aldridge, @dan, so I borrowed the book from the Internet Archive. Though Aldridge contributed a lot to the volume himself, I believe the artist for that particular piece is John Holmes, titled “Long and winding road”.
Good catch, meaigs! I checked, and you are correct — the illustration is by John Holmes. It appears in Volume 2 of The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, edited by Aldridge and published in 1971.
The illustration appears on page 66, opposite the lyrics of “The Long And Winding Road” — which is also the title of the illustration, as listed in the credits at the back of the book. I’ll update the post again, to reflect all this information.
Goes to show that Hey Dullblog readers can solve Beatles mysteries in record time!
archive.org hosts a digital library, run along similar lines to a traditional paper library (I believe they’re currently defending their right to do so in court, but I don’t know the details). You can create a free account and borrow this book. Here are two links, the first should go to the image itself, and the second to the attribution/index page
I couldn’t find much about John Holmes, though this looks reasonably consistent with the style https://www.artmasters.co.uk/artist/john-holmes-surrealist/ His work looks heavily influenced by Magritte to me, which would be another connection with Paul
Thanks, meaigs! That’s a great resource.
I just found a copy of this book in a second hand book shop and I just had to share my elation with someone. I can’t believe my luck!
Yay! I can spend hours and hours in used bookstores, and my favorite thing is finding books I didn’t know existed, followed closely by finding books I thought I’d never see!
Private to Nancy: there was a used bookshop on Clark St in Chicago, Bookman’s Corner, which had a bunch of great Beatles books.
Oh yeah, I recall it well. It also had some very tall, heavily stocked bookshelves that leaned at precarious angles!
The candle on that book cover looks like Elvis to me.
I remember loitering in bookstores in the 1970s, buying up every Beatle book I could find. Some of them were better than others. Some of them were written by people who didn’t seem to know much more about the Beatles than I did. But the covers all had those 1970s fonts and graphics. It was an industry.
On a personal note, I just tested positive for covid. I had a powerful breakthrough case. Headache, violent chills, sore throat, the works. I’m recovering gradually.
People! Don’t fuck with this disease! Get vaccinated. Get as many boosters as you qualify for. Wear a good mask. I did all those things (two shots, two boosters) and I still got knocked out by this virus. If I hadn’t been vaccinated I’d most likely be in a coma right now.
Where was I? Oh yes, Beatle books. I remember in the 1970s how seriously I took each book, because how could I not? These were published authors and real publishing companies! It wasn’t until the early 1980s when I was working in a tiny hole-in-the-wall publishing company in an unimpressive building and saw a guy (a real author!) sitting in a crowded, noisy production room banging away on a typewriter that I realized these books were just products. Most of the writers were just dudes who assembled material from other books and reorganized them into new salable products.
What made these books so attractive in the 1970s was the feeling we were all just marking time until the Beatles reunited. It felt inevitable, no matter what John or George said. And so buying each new book was like buying a Wings album, or a John&Yoko album. Not quite satisfying, but close enough to the original flame to provide some warmth.
Sam, hope you are feeling better soon. And that’s a good point about the power books had previous to the internet, in particular.
Nancy, thank you.
The Omicron variant has been swaggering around the northeast and I suspect it’s what knocked me down.
On the subject of melting and crying, I recently saw a clip of a Paul concert. He did “I’ve Got A Feeling” and halfway through the song John appeared on a big screen behind him (a Get Back rooftop clip). There was a sound from the audience, the biggest gasp I’ve ever heard, as 80 year old Paul turned around and began a duet with forever-29 John. It’s on youtube.
I saw McCartney in concert with my wife recently in Seattle. Have to say…I did tear up. She was absolutely bawling, not only was she a John fan, her mother was a huge Lennon fangirl and at Shea in 65.
It was an extremely emotional powerful moment. You lose yourself in it. And I was sort of thinking the other day…every Tour Paul works into his show a tribute to John, a tribute to George, specifically designed to coax these tears out. For the people that only get to see him once every 5 years or so (and dont rummage on youtube) it’s a nice, touching, reach for the kleenex moment)
for Paul though it must seem kind of strange. Every night going through these tear jerkers…if you did something like this once during a concert, or during a Grammy performance, and never again then it would be remembered as a special performance.
As a fan going to see McCartney (maybe I’m in them minority) I wouldnt be upset walking out of the show if he never once mentioned George or John. I would never expect this out of Paul or anyone really.
Part of me just feels Something on the Uke, or I’ve got a feeling with John…that’s really special and it’s not something you pull out of the bag every night. Another part of me is thinking how nice it is that there’s a 70 year old Beatlemaniac going to a show this month who is going to get the surprise of her life when John pops up during the first encore
Dave, that mixed reaction about those tributes McCartney does in concert is similar to my own feelings about it. I think the rehearsed element is what enables him to get through it; it’s a kind of distancing technique. It’s a dance of acknowledging what he owes to Lennon and Harrison while not revealing too much.
McCartney is also “old showbiz” enough that he invests a lot in putting on a show that won’t disappoint fans. At the same time, that showbiz element can make things feel too polished and stagey. Overall, I think he’s doing what he’s able to do — and I mean that both artistically and emotionally.
This could be made better, and lighten the mood, if Paul introduces him as “an old estranged fiancé of mine”…
@Nancy and Dave,
I have to jump in because yesterday I was driving home from visiting my Aunt, and was listening to the Beatles Channel. There’s a program called Fab Forum, which is hosted by 2 Beatles experts. Anyway, they were taking calls from people who had been to see Paul’s recent concerts, and getting feedback about Paul singing “I’ve Got A Feeling”with John.
The people who called said it was a very emotional moment, as Dave shared. People loved it, and cried. The hosts said they were skeptical when they heard about it, but the feedback from people has been mostly positive. Paul was singing from his heart, and it didn’t seem contrived.
They also made the point that when Paul makes his set list, he has to figure there will be people there who are seeing him for maybe the first time, as well as people who have seen him multiple times. So, he has to please a variety of fans.
I personally have seen him 3 times (not on his current tour) and each time he sang “Here, Today”, and “Something”, I teared up. I felt Paul was sharing his feelings; a part of his soul. It never felt “staged”.
I agree with Nancy on this, “Overall, I think he’s doing what he’s able to do — and I mean that both artistically and emotionally.”
Tasmin, I think we’re seeing this in a similar way. I believe that McCartney both means what he says/does in those tributes and that they are very carefully crafted and thought out. A part of that thinking out is definitely his recognition that this may be the only time some fans see a show of his — that’s a part of “old showbiz” that I find admirable.
I may have said this on a comment thread before, but one of the aspects of my job is giving training presentations. I always mean what I say, and I don’t have a script that I’m following tightly, but there are absolutely things I repeat almost word for word in many courses I teach. That’s because I know those familiar phrases work to get a point across, and because they enable me to save some bandwidth to pay attention to other things that are happening or modifications I need to make for a particular group.
I cannot imagine what it’s like to get up and perform for tens of thousands of people who have bought expensive tickets to see you specifically and who have strong expectations of what they want to experience. I think McCartney needs a strong structure he hews to in order to make doing a show manageable for him on an emotional level.
When I went to see Ringo Starr back in 2018, the difference between his and McCartney’s shows really struck me. Starr performs with an “all-star” group who each take the spotlight and sing at different points, and he also left the stage altogether for a brief break about midway through. He’s clearly distributing the weight of carrying the show in a way McCartney isn’t; McCartney sings and plays an instrument for every song, takes no breaks, and plays for over two hours. Also, the place where I saw Starr seats 3600 people, while the place I saw McCartney seats over 40,000. (The venues are in the same metro area.)
That McCartney is still doing shows of this intensity at close to 80 years old is amazing.
Nancy, I agree with everything you said, especially this: “ I think McCartney needs a strong structure he hews to in order to make doing a show manageable for him on an emotional level.”
As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I know structure makes me feel in control and safe. I would imagine Paul feels the same.
“That McCartney is still doing shows of this intensity at close to 80 years old is amazing.”
Everyone who called into the program said the same. They were all amazed he played 3 hours, and looked and sounded good. He is a walking advertisement for being vegan! 😉
If I may… vegetarian. He’s not vegan, except if one counts where the two lifestyles overlap. Even cleared that up in a Wired AutoComplete interview recently (I’ve fast-forwarded to the relevant question).
Thanks. I never knew there was a difference.
Here’s the difference for others who don’t know:
“A vegan diet excludes all meat and animal products (meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy and eggs), whereas a vegetarian diet
excludes meat, poultry, ﬁsh and seafood. However, there are a few variations of a vegetarian diet that depend on whether you eat or exclude eggs, dairy and fish.”
When I saw him at Citi Field in 09 I was stunned at how much of the load he carried at 66. Didn’t think at all he would still be doing this at this pace at close to 80. He’s just one of those guys who has to be “in the game” a true workaholic who always needs to prove himself, and really loves what he does. In a lot of ways…I kind of wish I could be like that
I remember hearing the old showbiz line in some interviews with John where he may have spoken of Paul being that…or turning into that. I didnt know what it meant. I guess to John there was something unseemly, possibly inauthentic about the way post Beatle Paul went about. He saw him as the performing flea who needed the adulation. John of course claimed he didnt need the same (he did, just in different way) but it almost seemed to me that John was trying to paint Paul as being juvenile for still pursuing the old showbiz/touring route in his 30s when he no longer needed it.
I think John envied Paul for knowing what he liked and needed — Paul loves to perform. John moved restlessly from thing to thing to thing, and not being able to change his restlessness, made it into a virtue. I don’t know if it is one or not.
I’m curious. For those of you who have returned to seeing concerts like Paul and his duet with projected John, what is the covid policy? Were attendees required to present proof of vaccination? Were audience members masked?
I haven’t been much of a concert goer for decades now, so I don’t know how covid is being treated. My wife and I have always worn N95 masks whenever we’re in a public indoor setting, and we’re both double-boosted. But we both got sick from exposure at home. Our offspring and offspring fiance (whose job is working with children) moved in upstairs and they brought the virus home. We caught it by simply sharing the front door, even though we live separately in a 2-family house.
I remember the interview with Paul and Taylor Swift that was linked here about a year ago. They talked about the virus in the past tense. I know live concerts are an important income stream nowadays for these artists, but I’m just curious how fans are dealing with the risk.
yeah my granddad painted this we have the original somewhere in my aunts house i think