Latest posts by Michael Gerber (see all)
- From Faith Current: “The Sacred Ordinary: St. Peter’s Church Hall” - May 1, 2023
- A brief (?) hiatus - April 22, 2023
- Something Happened - March 6, 2023
In 1976, a fan mailed a questionnaire to Mr. Lennon in the Dakota, and John was gracious enough to fill it out and send it back.
I discovered this fascinating tidbit of Beatle-ania (first reported on Lists of Note) from this Beatle blog here. The comment thread is eerily similar to one we’ve been having re: RAM and “How Do You Sleep?” I guess all Beatle roads do lead to John and Paul.
I’m not surprised that John thought George was “lost” in 1976. George had hepatitis that year, allegedly brought on by alcohol abuse.
This is great. Several surprises for such a short list. Wish I could tell what other two words he’d written for Elvis before settling on “Fat.” Anyone else have a clue?
I love how he describes Paul as “extraordinary” and himself as “great.” He means it, too, I think. No matter how much John ranted at Paul, or how much he complained about the way certain Beatles’ songs were recorded, John believed deeply in the greatness of his partnership with Paul. Sometimes I forget that. He just thought the band was his dog to kick.
It’s revealing that he describes George as “lost.” I guess this was the long period in the late 70s when he and George weren’t talking. The recent George documentary was very disappointing in whitewashing the serious strains in the John-George relationship from 1974 on. And people accuse Paul of rewriting history and putting a positive spin on things! 😉 No one in the Harrison family or the Yoko camp likes to talk about the frayed friendship between John and George. And when they do talk about it, they sugarcoat it, as they did in the George documentary.
But John’s comment about George being “lost” is evidence of the “all roads lead to John and Paul” theory. After their horrible fighting from 69-72 or so, you’d think John and Paul would never have spoken again. Yet they end up talking again, and John and George end up not talking. What a puzzle.
I’m not surprised at John’s comment about Paul. I believe he meant it to describe Paul’s musical talent and I believe he also meant to describe Paul as a person too. John really loved Paul the most out of all the other Beatles. All the John vs. Paul stuff that came out in the media was just on the surface. Deep down these two men had a deep love and high regard for each other. Paul once said about his and John’s relationship, that with any strong relationship there will always be a love/hate thing going on. Listen to this 1997 radio interview at 4:35, Paul talks to Parkinson about his and John’s relationship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrtLZVHz35s
How interesting that only Paul gets a word of more than one syllable.
I think this does prove the “all-Beatles-roads-lead-to-Paul-and-John” theory.
Pretty much everything but the Paul word is straightforward (“Ringo: friend,” “Yoko: love”, etc.) . The Elvis word is the other exception, and Devin, I also can’t read either scratched out word. But it’s clear he second-guessed his reaction there.
It seems important that “extraordinary” isn’t always a positive term, though it often is. The first definition in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary,” and the second is “exceptional to a very marked extent.” You could describe someone as an extraordinary liar and be using the word as accurately as if you described someone as an extraordinary athlete. (I know, I know—but I’m a writer and editor by trade, and can’t help myself.)
Despite that, I do agree that the John and Paul relationship was deep and durable, if far from comfortable or consistent. Interesting that George and Ringo played on “How Do You Sleep?”, but on the Mike Douglas show in 1972 John referred to the song as his having a fight “with my best friend.”
I’m not 100% sure, but it looks like John wrote “great” next to Elvis, before crossing it out. I can’t figure out what the other crossed out word is.
“Fat” was the biggest inexcusable sin for John. When some ignorant journalist dubbed him the “fat” beatle in 1965, it triggered an obsession with weight that haunted him the rest of his life.
– Hologram Sam
George’s “lost” period of the mid seventies seems to me to be one of the saddest of all fab chapters. His desire fame and success was much stronger than he would have liked us to believe. I think that creatively he needed the others most of all- especially Paul, who always did amazing work on his songs.
He really did major damage to his health during these years: 74-76. It reminds me of what Joe Boyd wrote at the end of his amazing book ‘White Bicycles’, about how cocaine came along and ruined the musical output of so many 60s stars. Sad stuff.
For what it’s worth, it seems likely to me that John crossed out whatever her wrote for Elvis, and replaced it with “fat,” after having written “thin” for David Bowie and realizing he could create a contrast.