Kate Powers on McBroom Photo

Michael Gerber
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[This morning, as we were listening to Breakfast with the Beatles, my wife Kate launched into a long analysis of the Beatles photo that Apple has been using for its campaign, the McBroom session of April, 1969. I thought what she said was really funny and interesting, so I asked her to share it.–MG]

Thanks to the combination of the Apple/iTunes Beatle campaign and the fact that I was reloading the Apple site every five minutes on Thanksgiving night (looking for the Black Friday discount that made it possible to buy the spiffy new laptop on which I am writing this email), I have gone eye to eye with that late 60s photo of the Beatles a lot lately — you know the one. Black and white, most of them turned away from the camera, all of them weeks overdue on a haircut.

It’s actually kind of an amazing document. You’ve got Lennon doing the full fuck you Jesus — shoulder length hair, beard, granny glasses — but combined with a wry shirt and tie combination. McCartney, on the other hand, is like a boyfriend showing up to meet the parents for the first time — he can’t help wanting to win you over. So he’s a little rumpled, and his hair is way past his ears, but he’s clean shaven and appealing.

That in and of itself is fascinating, but then you see how this dynamic plays out on George and Ringo. George’s hair is long — almost as long as John’s — but you can see he can’t quite figure out how to mimic John’s edgier taste. Whereas Paul’s look is so easy and approachable, so hard to screw up… And then you look at Ringo. Oh dear, Ringo. His hair parted in the center, in a badly-cut velvet jacket, he seems to be trying to echo John’s look, and it’s not working at all. Suddenly, you understand why George decided to play it safe and go with jeans and a work jacket.

Then you stand back and you realize: How ambitious John’s music was. How poppy and approachable Paul’s was. How they complimented each other so perfectly. How much George admired John, and how often he felt like he couldn’t quite measure up to John’s expectations, so he’d end up going along with whatever Paul wanted. And how often Ringo was left on the outside, looking in, not really getting why the others worked, but loving them and wanting to take a piece from each.

And then you realize: This is a hell of a photograph.—Kate Powers

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  1. Avatar Nancy wrote:

    Most interesting! Also intriguing that Paul is the only one facing the camera/viewer head on, and that he and John have their hands in their pockets, while George has his hands behind his back and Ringo’s hands are hanging loose.

    I’d actually say that Paul’s pose looks as much confrontational as approachable, especially with those hands in his pockets.

    The sad thing is that they look like they belong together, still.

  2. Avatar Toppermostofthepoppermost wrote:

    From their Apple to this Apple. They’ve come full Apple.

    And where was I on Black Friday? I’m not ashamed to confess that I was in front of the Bryn Mawr Apple store, snapping pics of the life-size version of this image in their window.

    Yes, I was taking photos of a photo–but that’s as close to all four Beatles together as I’m likely to get anytime soon, so who can really blame me?

    I omitted all Apple signage.

  3. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Paul willing to please-eager ate-is that why his zip appears to be busted on some of this session-check zip on Linda macs shot!!


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