A quick note about celebrity journalism

By |2021-12-04T15:22:59-08:00December 4, 2021|Uncategorized|

Starting in the mid-50s, television has fundamentally shifted the balance of power in the US. Other people would have to talk about other countries, but here all power now resides in the hands of celebrities. The impacts of this shift on our culture are practically incalculable. In politics for example, it began with JFK; the famous factoid is that people who listened to the Kennedy-Nixon debates thought Nixon had won, whereas people who watched them were strongly for Kennedy. The story of the 60s, 70s and 80s was an unprecedented mixing of celebrity with traditional sources of power. Whether it's John and [...]

“Get Back” Halftime Report

By |2021-11-27T15:21:15-08:00November 27, 2021|Uncategorized|

Folks, I've watched roughly half of "Get Back," and had a few thoughts and impressions that you might be interested in. It looks gorgeous, doesn't it? Great sound, great image quality, and that alone makes it a huge gift to the canon. Before I do, however, I want to link to a Dullblog post I wrote in 2014, "Let It Be: A Missed Opportunity." Re-reading it today I think it's quite prescient. I am not saying that Peter Jackson or anyone at Apple needed to read my lil' ol' post to figure out what a better documentary might look like...but I'm always [...]

“Get Back” open thread

By |2021-11-25T16:48:41-08:00November 25, 2021|Uncategorized|

Folks, I'm rushing out to Thanksgiving dinner, but here's the promised open thread on the Peter Jackson film. Put any thoughts/observations in the comments. For all my grouchiness, I'm really looking forward to seeing it. Enjoy!

What happened in India?

By |2021-11-11T18:06:36-08:00November 11, 2021|Uncategorized|

Reading one of a flood of pre-Get Back reviews just now; the premise of the piece, in The New York Times no less, is that the breakup of The Beatles had multiple causes and is a topic of debate even today among Beatle fans and scholars. Its big reveal is that, thanks to a new film, maybe the Get Back sessions weren't utter misery (despite Lennon calling them "hell" and Harrison "the winter of our discontent"). In other words… Fear not, aging Boomers increasingly sentimental about your salad days! John, Paul, George and Ringo were as happy to be Beatles as you [...]

The Compleat Beatles (1982)

By |2021-11-03T23:30:32-07:00November 3, 2021|Uncategorized|

Following some mention in the comments, I was able to find a very nice VHS transfer of the pre-Anthology Beatles documentary The Compleat Beatles, streamable on the Internet Archive. I post it here for several reasons. When people talk about "the standard narrative," this is it. The Compleat Beatles is a well-told, extremely concise rendition of The Beatles' story as most fans knew it before the Anthology in 1995. In other words, from 1970 to 1995 this is what people thought, and even today I suspect that this version of the story is the most defensible. One thing I noticed is that [...]

“Let It Be,” “Get Back,” and History as Art

By |2021-10-22T13:42:27-07:00October 21, 2021|Uncategorized|

[Folks, I responded to a comment from @Erin this afternoon, and felt that I was able to express some complex, important stuff in a reasonably concise way, so I'm surfacing it here. But before you read that… Whatever else they might be, The Beatles are an historical phenomenon; which means two things. First, each fan must create their own idea of the group out of the scraps that speak to them; all fans do this. But loving an historical thing means each fan's mental fabrication, made-to-measure and drawing from the fan's own preferences, moods and emotional needs, is more and more idiosyncratic, [...]

A few words about the latest Rolling Stone list…

By |2021-09-23T21:08:18-07:00September 23, 2021|Uncategorized|

I noticed a few commenters had mentioned Rolling Stone magazine's recent "500 Best Songs" list, and since I had a few thoughts about it myself, I wanted to set them down in the quickest and dirtiest fashion. Don't take any of this too seriously, please. I have a headache and am avoiding work. What is Rolling Stone, anymore? I'd argue that this latest iteration is no more classic Rolling Stone than if I scratched out "Hey Dullblog" and wrote "Rolling Stone" on my screen in grease pencil. It's a different publication in a different format, with different readers and a different relationship [...]

Reader Question #1: George Harrison and Beatlemania

By |2021-10-06T23:17:48-07:00September 13, 2021|Uncategorized|

Reader David wrote me to ask: "Some thoughts I've had recently with George Harrison's behavior within the Beatles particularly when the true Beatlemania kicked in. Do you think that kind of insanity going on around him, the crush of the crowds, the screaming, being chased and attacked...could all of that made him feel threatened, vulnerable, perhaps that his life was in danger? Ringo is on record talking about loving the experience. Paul certainly seemed to love it...John eventually I think stopped caring for it though he wasn't a deer in headlights over it. George on the other hand, if you look at what [...]

The Bollywood Beatles—I Want To Hold Your Hand

By |2021-08-19T18:34:03-07:00August 19, 2021|Uncategorized|

Friend of Dullblog Stephen Kroninger sent along this mesmerizing Bollywood version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9JMo9xLfzM The Beatles came along at the precise moment for Western popular culture to have maximum impact all around the globe. Not only were the economically dominant cultures of the U.S., U.K., and Europe producing a monoculture, the process of de-colonization was still in its infancy. So first, the UK went mad for The Beatles in a way that wouldn't be possible ten or even five years later. Then that madness was shared with its ex-colonies (the US foremost among them), where [...]

The Beatles are a threat to our children, especially girls (August 1964)

By |2021-08-12T18:22:49-07:00August 12, 2021|Uncategorized|

It's nearly impossible for a modern person to understand the white-hot, spittle-flecked paranoia that The Beatles generated in certain quarters of American society. But it's really essential to their story—how they perceived themselves, how they interacted with fans (and haters), their transit from performing band to studio magicians, and the peculiar pressures that they were under from February 1964 on. This earnest four minutes of insanity was uttered by Judge Benjamin Schwartz of the Cincinnati Juvenile Court, in the aftermath of the Fabs' concert in August 1964. Chair-kissing took place people. Chair-kissing. As we all know, Western Civilization ended soon after. [...]

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