• Lennon Murder Conspiracy Open Thread Comment by Michael Gerber on Aug 12, 12:51 That’s interesting, @Wayne. Did he tell you what Yoko used to gamble on?
  • Lewisohn review round-up Comment by Neal on Aug 10, 20:02 Couldn’t find an appropriate thread for this, but in this recent interview Mark Lewisohn relates that he doesn’t know when volume 2 will come out. Shock to all I know. https://youtu.be/pqvUsGe1dfE Frankly I am not sure if he will ever get it written. At his age I think a volume 3 is pretty much out of the question. As discussed here on HDB, I imagine he is a victim of detail creep. He keeps getting more info and does not quite know how to limit that within the narrative. It seems that he is also out of money. If it appears then great but at this point it might be years away. I can only hope, that for history’s sake, there is someone who is fully briefed on all he has before that fateful day when it is all dropped off at the British archives. I remain perplexed as to why he, seemingly, will not work with anyone or seek funding for the project. A good editor could at least help him put boundaries on the work. It just seems very strange to me.
  • Lennon Murder Conspiracy Open Thread Comment by Wayne on Aug 10, 13:37 Back in 2001, I was working in Raleigh NC. I was selling car cleaning chemicals, when I came across a man that was buying my product. As we talked, I found out he was an ex mob diamond dealer from New York. He proceeded to share a story with me, about John Lennon. He explained to me that John was part of a plan from the local mob, to send Yoko Ono a message that her gambling debt was to be paid. Yoko was very much in debt and was not paying her debt to the mob. This was the reason John was murdered/assassination.
  • Allen Ginsberg: “Portland Coliseum” (1965) Comment by Michael Gerber on Aug 9, 19:31 Bedazzled is tremendous–the pinnacle of 60’s British comedy, IMHO. It is the blueprint the Pythons perfected. Speaking for myself, I think Cook and Lennon both have the dark gravitational pull of an addict, and if you grew up around that (as I did), it lends them an attractiveness that is well nigh irresistible. Addicts MUST have this charm, otherwise nobody would put up with their nonsense. The thing about Drimble Wedge–about all of Cook’s humor–is that I don’t sense any drugs in it at all. Speaking as a comedy guy, it’s a simple reversal from the premise of the sketch (Dud as a conventional romantic pop star; Pete as this icy withholding monster), which is put over by Cook’s good looks and superb chilliness. The alienated, affectless, fundamentally scornful character is a performance that touched something sad, deep and essential in Cook, just as Chauncey Gardiner did for Peter Sellers. So much to say that people like Cook, Moore, Bennett, Miller–the whole Oxbridge crowd–were the last generation of comedy people who DIDN’T seem to be getting high. (Gilliam’s the only Python that I sense was an acidhead, and he was an American.) Compare the comedy people of five years later–like the Firesign Theater–and it’s ALL drug humor. I’m sure Pete smoked his share of weed, and maybe took an upper here and there given his era, but he was a booze man through and through. Ironically, the course of Cook’s life would’ve probably been changed utterly by LSD therapy at the hands of Humphry Osmond.
  • Allen Ginsberg: “Portland Coliseum” (1965) Comment by Justin McCann on Aug 8, 07:48 Mike, you’ve just helped explain to me what I like so much about the edgy, damaged icons of that era: their combination of strong emotion and guardedness. Performers who keep things “showbiz”, much as I love some of them, can’t quite reach me on the level Dylan, Lennon, Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, and the Morrison brothers (Jim and Van) can. At the other end of the spectrum, most of today’s white male lost-love ballads not only don’t move me, they actively annoy me. There seems to be some magical combination of cool-guy detachment and buried rage that I find deeply appealing. Not just me, of course: virtually every rock critic of the ’70s too, which is why Lennon fared so much better than McCartney in Rolling Stone for all those years. . As you say, McCartney’s mission is to put on a show, and he wants you to enjoy it. The cool guys’ mission is to express themselves, and they don’t (want you to think they) give a damn whether you enjoy it or not. Lennon and Hendrix liked to chew gum on stage, while Dylan has said that he doesn’t feel he needs to interact with his audiences any more than paintings “interact” with you at an exhibition. But all three have these incredibly strong undercurrents that sometimes just BREAK THROUGH without warning, and that can be thrilling. McCartney’s showbiz approach means a more consistent product – I had a great time when I last saw him live – but he’s never going to attempt to “break on through to the other side”. . Lou Reed and Bowie are examples of cool dudes who *really* keep a lid on the desperate undercurrents – but oh man, are the undercurrents there. ‘It’s no GAAA-AAA-AAAAMEEEE…’ Meanwhile Jagger, although he seemed like one of the cool dudes back when the Stones seemed edgy, has since revealed himself to be a “showbiz” guy to the core. Hence his rockcrit cred has plummeted over the years. . We seem to be dealing with two different kinds of guardedness here: one is basically suppressed rage, making it thrilling to a certain kind of listener, while the other carries on the Tin Pan Alley tradition of regarding songs more as genre exercises than vehicles of self-expression. (‘Today I thought I’d write a song about…’) In the ’60s the first approach was cooler, whereas today the kids prefer the second approach: showbiz’s glossy perfection has made a roaring comeback since the end of the grunge era, while Zoomers view unhinged rage as laughably uncool at best and frightening/abusive at worst. Look at the difference in how people see Kanye today as compared to, say, Cobain in the ’90s. (Interestingly, this trend only seems to apply to *personal* rage. Political and community-based rage have been on the rise for years.) . Man, that Drimble Wedge clip is something else – what was IN the drugs in those days? Gotta incorporate that scene into the essay. You’re right, he’s seriously presaging the ’70s here – I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t watching the Thin White Duke. I have to see Bedazzled now.
  • The Beatles without earmuffs Comment by Olympuss on Aug 7, 12:01 I agree with your take on the so-called music of today– uninspired and repetious. Re the point ofBond and the Lads… It’s in keeping with Bond’s character. He wouldn’t like the Beatles. In the book Thunderball Bond is in a taxi and he remarks to himself the driver probably thinks he’s a pop singer (name escapes me). Of course, this isn’t definitive evidence, maybe he liked that pop singer. Bond liked the Ink Spots and the famous French chanteause dit LaVie en Rose. Just so. Bond’s musical taste wouldn’t like loud Beatles, but could enjoy the softer songs.
  • “Broke” John Lennon Comment by Michael Gerber on Aug 6, 12:46 This is beyond helpful, @g_i_b (and everybody else)!
  • From Wabi Sabi: “The Beatles’ Embrace of Absolutely Everything” Comment by Baboomska McGeesk on Aug 5, 09:11 I confess I’m one of those insufferable people who likes uncovering obscure songs that influenced other more popular songs. I don’t do it out of vindictiveness or any desire to debunk, I just like exploring the evolution of melodies and ideas through the decades. I’ve found various old records that inspired Beatle music (some of them were hiding in plain sight in Lennon’s home jukebox) but I never heard any obvious examples of JP&G blatantly ripping off someone else’s song. They would often borrow a musical idea and then improve on it. I can’t think of a single Beatles composition that made me say “This is an obvious rip-off!”
  • “Broke” John Lennon Comment by notorious_g_i_b on Aug 4, 17:15 Spam link spotted. Last sentence of the paragraph beginning “If Lennon had liquidated…”
  • From Wabi Sabi: “The Beatles’ Embrace of Absolutely Everything” Comment by Neal on Aug 3, 14:17 I plead not guilty meaigs! I admit that lifted indeed has an air of felonious intent about it, but it was shorthand for “was inspired by.” So many sounds and chords float about I am surprised that musicians and producers can keep track of them as well as they do. I’ll defer to Lara if the experts had dissected this one to death. I think we can be certain that even with Paul’s quips about nicking a sound here and there that he enjoyed an embarrassment of riches when it came to coming up with new music. @Lara, Barry Cleveland’s book Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques (a very interesting volume btw) describes Meek as working as the engineer with Denis Preston as producer at IBC in April 1956 when they recorded Humphrey Littleton. It was released on Parlaphone. George Martin was the A&R man at Parlaphone at the time but was apparently not involved in this recording. I agree wholeheartedly with you about rankings and ratings and lists. What happened to the pleasure of just listening? Interesting how aggressive Joe was with limiting and compression on this. He defineltely was going where not many other producers or engineers were at that time.
  • Dr. Jenny Boyd On Creativity Comment by Baboomska McGeesk on Aug 3, 04:36 Wildly off-topic, but I’m fascinated with this track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccqm8EAYZds It sounds like every George Harrison song was fed into a supercomputer, and then the supercomputer created its own version.
  • From Wabi Sabi: “The Beatles’ Embrace of Absolutely Everything” Comment by meaigs on Aug 3, 03:16 Ah here, you can’t call that “lifting”. If no-one was allowed to be inspired by other music, or do music in the same style as someone else, we’d have nothing at all. I’m with Elvis Costello on this one: https://twitter.com/ElvisCostello/status/1409567943520931847 — This is fine by me, Billy. It’s how rock and roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy. That’s what I did. #subterreaneanhomesickblues #toomuchmonkeybusiness
  • From Wabi Sabi: “The Beatles’ Embrace of Absolutely Everything” Comment by Lara on Aug 2, 18:33 There seems to be a fashionable craze on YouTube these days to trawl through Beatles songs to find comparisons with others. I don’t know why. The Beatles were the first to acknowledge they were influenced and inspired by others. The great classical composers borrowed from each other constantly; indeed it was considered an honour. There are thousands of songs out there, many with snippets reminiscent of others. Some consciously or unconsciously, or purely by chance. It would be a long, exhausting process to analyse all of them. It’s curious as to why historical point-scoring has become important to many people. Has the technological age dulled our cultural collective senses to such an extent that to purely listen is no longer enough? Using the Beatles as an example, the internet has allowed a cavalcade of what individuals think of as under/overrated, their top fives/tens, what they love and what they hate, ad nauseum. Interesting to begin with, now endlessly tedious. Personally, I’m not having the opinions of wet blankets and damp squibs destroy my love of the Beatles. The songs are deeply personal to me as they should be to others. @Neal, I agree with you about Joe Meek, a brilliant overlooked producer. However, Paul did not lift the intro to Lady Madonna from Bad Penny Blues.(I’m getting this in!) If anything, he was wanting to emulate Fats Domino. The song has been widely discussed by musicologists who have generally concurred that despite surface similarites, both pieces are dissimilar in their chord progressions and underlying structures. I’m not sure if I remember correctly, but didn’t George Martin produce Bad Penny Blues in the fifties? But does all this matter anyway? Michael has explained it well enough already. And to illustrate it, Chuck Berry, bless him, could quibble to eternity over Come Together but Lennon’s song is the far superior one in my opinion.
  • Dr. Jenny Boyd On Creativity Comment by Marcus on Aug 2, 11:40 Paul had a better ear for where the music should go. John didn’t and because of that found more interesting places to go. Between the two of them this made some pretty interesting songs. All guitarists who know their stuff know George is the ‘guitarists guitarist’. The right note at the right time in the right place. And in respect of the quote ‘Jimmy Page poor mans Clapton’; utter tosh. Sit and watch The Song Remains the Same live concert; electric guitar masterclass. Clapton burned very brightly for a short period; Page is some much more versatile.. And if anyone cares to see a music masterclass watch the Julian Bream video of him giving a lesson to students for the piece Nocturnal. A great insight into real musical knowledge. Clear and simple feedback. (Posted by a keen but rubbish guitarist)
  • From Wabi Sabi: “The Beatles’ Embrace of Absolutely Everything” Comment by Neal on Aug 1, 19:47 Interesting that he/she credits Zappa as being the first to use the studio as an instrument. I know this is a point of contention among music fans-one that is unfortunately made harder by the trouble in defining what is actually meant by an instrument. I would argue however, that Joe Meek had this vision starting as early as 1956/7 when he recorded Humphrey Littleton playing Bad Penny Blues. He toyed around with microphone placement, bringing the drums forward in the mix, echo, etc. Sounds uneventful today, but back then it was a new approach to studio work. Granted Meek was not a musician but rather a producer, yet he was definitely actively pursuing the concept of the studio as being an important element in recording. Btw, Paul McCartney lifted the opening of this song for Lady Madonna. https://youtu.be/XnCfEzayD6M
  • Allen Ginsberg: “Portland Coliseum” (1965) Comment by Baboomska McGeesk on Jul 31, 13:00 The foursome – John Lennon, 23, George Harrison, 20, Ringo Starr, 23, and Paul McCartney, 21 – write, play and sing a powerhouse music filled with zest and uninhibited good humor that makes listening a sensation-filled joy. It isn’t rhythm and blues. It’s not exactly rock ‘n’ roll. It’s their own special sound, or, as group leader John Lennon puts it, “Our music is just – well, our music.” American beatlepeople will remember this from the liner notes of Capitol’s “Meet The Beatles” and who am I to argue with that?
  • Allen Ginsberg: “Portland Coliseum” (1965) Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 31, 11:50 @Justin, I think this is something that isn’t oft-talked about with The Beatles, and it’s Lennon’s weird charisma. Both he and Cook are pretty mesmerizing, and if I could sum it up in a word, I think it’s because they’re…withholding? There’s something fearsomely repressed about both men in performance, and if that’s your cup of meat, you really feel it. Cook on stage is completely in control, most of all when he’s surrounded by a bunch of major comic talents moving a lot and making a lot of chaos. (Cleese is the same way.) They are a cool, calm, appraising presence at the center of whatever they’re doing. Lennon was similar in The Beatles, and it’s why when he talks to the audience in concert, he seems to be laconic at best, casual, and not really trying to get anything across. McCartney is trying to CONNECT, Lennon is not. It’s about power, and Lennon doesn’t give any to the viewer; nor does Cook or Cleese, whereas people like McCartney, Moore, Palin, etc clearly want you to like them. That’s a completely different transaction. McCartney and Moore are performing; Lennon and Cook are BEING, or seem to be. The obvious crossover here is “Drimble Wedge and the Vegetation,” where Cook creates a parody of a pop star that would have been massively popular throughout the 70s.
  • Pictures of Beatles and Pot? Comment by Devin on Jul 30, 05:16 John offers a joint to his chauffeur, sometime in 1965: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cgj8mW4Mk3-/
  • Allen Ginsberg: “Portland Coliseum” (1965) Comment by Justin McCann on Jul 28, 07:02 I’d love to @Michael, thanks. . I must admit that for all my Dud-boosting, he just doesn’t have that mesmerising quality of Cook’s – you can’t take your eyes off Peter. Partly his height and striking good looks, of course, but there’s an indefinable charisma there as well. I can’t remember who it was that called him a Zen comedian, but it’s a great description – he holds your attention while barely moving. Like Lennon, he screams “leader” at you. . But yes, “unprocessed rage” is right. So much so that it often gets in the way of the comedy. He’ll often squash a perfectly good line of improvisation from Dud just for the sake of squashing it, totally killing the “yes and” flow that’s essential to the form and making things instantly uncomfortable (not in a funny “The Office” way, either). Plenty of similar self-sabotage in Lennon’s solo career.
  • Go read Karen Hooper’s posts! Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 25, 18:09 Of course! And glad to hear/see that you and Erin continue to do God’s work. 🙂
  • Go read Karen Hooper’s posts! Comment by Karen Hooper on Jul 25, 16:39 Thanks Mike! Someone on tumblr gave me the heads up regarding your kind recommendation. Six or seven years it’s been? Yikes. Where has the time gone. We’ve been on hiatus on our website while Erin attends to personal matters, but hopefully we’ll be back in the saddle soon. Thanks again for the plug 🙂
  • Please help me find weed-related links in our old posts! Comment by Nancy Carr on Jul 25, 14:03 YIKES. That is both horrifying and sad.
  • Please help me find weed-related links in our old posts! Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 25, 11:42 Fixed these! Thank you, @kristina!
  • “Paperback” Trail; or, The Hunt for Mark Shipper Comment by chairman on Jul 25, 07:22 is this the m shipper who wrote “how to be ecstatically happy…'” back in 70’s…i have a copy and think it rivals any written word..
  • Please help me find weed-related links in our old posts! Comment by Kristina on Jul 25, 04:32 I don’t think it’s just hemp oil, sadly – I’ve noticed a few inserted links in various posts, though I kept forgetting to comment and mention it! Here are a few examples that I pulled up quickly: https://www.heydullblog.com/john-and-paul/were-john-and-paul-lovers/ Inserted text in the first paragraph: “Services such as top escort cities …” (And maybe also the reference to anal masturbation??) https://www.heydullblog.com/yoko-ono/my-yoko-problem-and-yours/ Inserted text: “If the same stress levels are affecting your band, consider taking this HHC products to cope with it” https://www.heydullblog.com/documentaries/good-ol-freda-true-tales-beatles-loyal-secretary/ Inserted text in second paragraph: “You can check here if you are looking for chania airport transfers or transportation to other destinations.”
  • Please help me find weed-related links in our old posts! Comment by Michael Bleicher on Jul 24, 18:22 This seems like a good place to point out that I recently saw an interview with Graham Nash in which he proudly told the interviewer that his sex life (with his new, 30-something wife) is better than when he was in his twenties and he goes for “hours.” He also said that his children no longer speak to him, and that it’s sad that he didn’t realize earlier what sort of people they truly were. I’m not making this up.
  • From Faith Current: The Subversive Madness of Sgt. Pepper Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 23, 17:55 Love this, thank you @justin.
  • Allen Ginsberg: “Portland Coliseum” (1965) Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 23, 17:54 This is very good, @Justin. Would you write it up as a post for us? It’s impossible to understate the reverence that Peter Cook was held in, within the Anglo-American comedy business, from 1960-80. I remember reading once that Woody Allen called Cook “the only authentic British comic genius.” I don’t agree with Woody–I think there are many others, even in that generation–but there was something about Cook that absolutely transfixed his colleagues. This is very much like how Lennon seemed to set the tone for an entire generation; it wasn’t just the brilliant work, it was also something unique to him that fit his times perfectly, until it didn’t, and that made him a hero WITHIN his industry. This past week I was watching “McCartney 3 2 1” with my father; Dad turned to me and said, “He’s really just a down-to-earth guy, isn’t he?” Similarly, an old therapist of mine once worked with Dudley Moore and said, “Dudley was a very, very nice man.” When I look at Cook’s work now, I am put off by the unprocessed rage that oozes out of it, and often have the same reaction to Lennon’s work. As a young man, I didn’t see that, or could look past it; now, as a middle-aged man, both Cook and Lennon strike me as dangerous machines. Necessary, brilliant, but nobody I’d want to be like, or take wisdom from, or have to dinner.
  • Mikal Gilmore: “They had thrown away something special” Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 23, 17:34 I have a mutual friend — I will ask him, see if he knows anything.
  • Beatle Dreams! Comment by Michelle on Jul 22, 20:23 In a special issue of Rolling Stone that celebrated the 20th anniversary of Beatlemania, which I’ve kept to this day, Cyndi Lauper said when she was 10 years old in ’64 she had a dream in which she and John were brushing their teeth next to each other and spitting into the same sink. Classic dream. The incredible meets the mundane.
  • Allen Ginsberg: “Portland Coliseum” (1965) Comment by Neal on Jul 21, 19:47 Well thought out post Justin. Lots of good ideas to chew on. One of the reasons I so enjoy this forum.
  • Mikal Gilmore: “They had thrown away something special” Comment by Nancy Carr on Jul 21, 04:57 Kristina, I preordered that Gilmore book when it was projected to come out, and am sorry it never did. I believe one of the issues was Gilmore’s health at the time. But I also wonder if writing the excellent Rolling Stone piece on the breakup turned out to be enough for him. It’s a rough road to keep traversing, IMO.
  • Mikal Gilmore: “They had thrown away something special” Comment by Kristina on Jul 20, 03:38 It looks like Mikal Gilmore’s book was never published – it was announced, and there are bookstore listings for it, but no actual book. I got curious and was searching around for information, and this page came up in the search results. Just wondering if anyone here knows why the book never went to press!
  • Allen Ginsberg: “Portland Coliseum” (1965) Comment by Justin McCann on Jul 19, 06:32 Wow, that’s a great poem. Reminds me once again why I like Allen Ginsberg so much. Imagine being the coolest creative on Earth for a few years and then so openheartedly ceding the turf to the new kids on the block. The same openmindedness that carried him through the psychedelic and postpsychedelic years with such commitment and grace. . I’ve often thought about how the Lennon/McCartney pairing compares to other creative pairings – particularly British comedy partnerships – but never hit upon this first act/second act model before. Really sheds light on the subject. . I’ve always seen Cook and Moore as an especially good analogue for John and Paul. Pete/John: wealthier background, idler, more addictive, angrier, wilder, more countercultural, more androgynous, less at home in the world, spoke more forcefully to the era in which they hit their peak, forever the “cool one” to the fans. Dud/Paul: in the shadows at first, more stable, more “old showbiz”/eager to please, harder-working, multitalented/able to turn their hands to anything, longer lives, more successful careers, better able to speak to successive eras, and fiercely resented by their counterparts, who ended up turning on them and being nasty to them in public. In both cases there’s a deep love between the men but a deep competition too; in both cases the “big brother” fails to realise that the “little brother” doesn’t mind being the little brother, looks up to them, isn’t setting out to dethrone them, just has a restless talent and drive that can’t be contained. . With Paul there’s been a major effort to redress the balance in recent years, but I haven’t seen the same happening with Dud – partly because he’s much less well-known; partly because Pete is easier to view as an underdog than the iconic Lennon, meaning critics still feel the need to compensate for his lack of career success; and partly because Pete & Dud were always more a British than an American phenomenon, and British critics are far keener on tearing great talents down than their more appreciative cousins in the States. (Plus, in America the work ethic is seen as a virtue, whereas in England it’s a vice. It’s vulgar for entertainment aristocracy, like real aristocracy, to be seen to be working for what they have.) The result being that Dud is talked about as if he were nothing more than a straight man for Pete to bounce his genius off of – whereas when you actually go back and watch the sketches and interviews, he makes the audience laugh at least as much as Cook does, frequently with off-the-cuff one-liners. . Notes from an essay I’m currently working on: ‘I’ve noticed that the comedy world is full of successful Lennon-and-McCartney-style pairings, where Guy A is full of strikingly original ideas, but often discouraged and deeply conflicted about their audience, while Guy B is more conventional, but also more productive and eager to please: Peter Cook and Dudley Moore; Graham Chapman and John Cleese; Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. (Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant also fit the model to a point.) The Bs need the As to generate fresh ideas and fight for them, while the As need the Bs to put a shape on those ideas and see them through to the end. Bs often have longer careers and more commercial success, while As enjoy more critical respect and a deeper level of appreciation from the hardcore fans.’ . Basically, the novelty generator and the skilled editor. Not a perfect model by any means – Cleese is definitely more respected than Chapman – but seems solid enough to work with. Any other suggestions for pairings welcome.
  • From Faith Current: The Subversive Madness of Sgt. Pepper Comment by Justin McCann on Jul 19, 05:51 Love it Faith. While I agreed with your take on Revolver 100%, I personally find Pepper sunnier than you do. But plenty of people have called Pepper sunny already, and I’m here for new perspectives and passionate writing. Job done here. (For me, the “flowers and rainbows” artist that reads more as despairing and bludgeoning is one Jimi Hendrix. OK the lyrics might be hippyish, but are people actually *listening* to that guitar? Like, at all? Those are the howls of the freakin’ damned!) . Couldn’t agree more on your central thesis, though: this is the Beatles giving the cheeriest of middle fingers to a world that wanted them to play on demand and wouldn’t even listen when they did. It just so happened that their middle finger suited the tenor of the times perfectly, whereas Dylan’s 1967 middle finger didn’t (sure John Wesley Harding would go on to influence tons of what came afterwards, but that doesn’t mean it hit the popular consciousness that hard in itself). . Have you read Revolution in the Head? Your piece reminds me of Ian Macdonald’s theory that the band’s newfound insistence that they be *totally* free worked for them in the short term, but was their undoing in the long term, as the music on MMT and White got ever more unfocused and self-indulgent and the lyrics ever more navel-gazing (when they weren’t outright nonsensical). . But this is the same man who says Revolution #9 was the most important thing the band ever did, so what does he know.
  • From Faith Current: The Subversive Madness of Sgt. Pepper Comment by Justin McCann on Jul 18, 09:36 My gut feeling is that people often look to an obsession to give their lives some colour they feel is lacking elsewhere, and if the obsession involves people then hero-worship is rarely far behind. Once the obsessive discovers their hero has feet of clay, rather than letting go of the obsession they remain fixated, but in an angry way: ‘How could you betray me.’ The Beatles and Dylan, as the deepest artists in the rock idiom and 2 of the most popular, have attracted more of this kind of curdling fandom than anyone else. It’s why the Beatles made Let It Be (‘trousers down’) and Bob made Self Portrait (‘load it up with crap’). It’s most obvious with your AJ Webermans and Mark Chapmans, but it’s there in a lot of the respectable scholarship too. You see it when Clinton Heylin goes from writing genuinely useful books about Dylan’s songwriting to axe-grinding biographies that set out to contradict music’s most compulsive myth-maker on point of fact after point of fact (why bother? After you’ve caught Dylan in a couple of lies, is there any need to catch him in a thousand more? What emotional itch is being scratched here?). And you get it when Michael Gray calls a latter period Dylan interview ‘vile’, or dismisses his Sinatra records out of hand because, for him, the purpose of rock was to wipe jazz away for good. Was it? Why should Dylan agree with such a narrow Boomerish perspective on the music he grew up on? If he ever agreed, can he not change his mind over time as he matures and sees the good in more and more things? And do sweeping statements like this not remind you of the people who cried foul when Dylan switched from folk to rock in the first place? For fans like Gray (whose writing I love by the way), Dylan is a man frozen in time – that B&W, smart-aleck, nihilistic, androgynous, limitlessly cool being who bestrode the earth in 1965. Any of his caustic excesses back then are telling truth to power, and the same excesses now are seen as vile. . There’s a fundamental refusal there to accept the inherent contradictoriness and transitoriness of life. The same oversimplification of things-as-they-are that gives birth to the obsession in the first place also prevents the person from ever fully *seeing* the object of their obsession. . Don’t mean to sound judgy – we’re all coping with (and avoiding) reality in our own ways, the tendencies I’m describing are common as mud, and if I didn’t share some of the psychology of the superfan I wouldn’t be here. But this stuff is worth teasing out.
  • Allen Ginsberg: “Portland Coliseum” (1965) Comment by Baboomska McGeesk on Jul 14, 03:13 There”s a lyric in the Sa-Roc song “Dusty Roads” that reminds me of Lennon: There’s something in the way the whole world Tends to love you til you’re left in pieces Make you go hard with your soft spots Under locked guard like a precinct
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Michael Bleicher on Jul 8, 22:37 I personally think John was enraged at the Maharishi AND was looking for an excuse to skedaddle! The Maharishi was the beginning of his rest-of-his-life quest for someone who had all the answers and could make him whole, and he was furious that in fact, he was feeling *more* uncomfortable there. But he was also just sick of it and Yoko was screwing with his head with her love letters and it was a good reason to leave. Sorry, just been a while since we had that conversation.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 8, 16:29 Brava, you two. This is exactly what I want to read on this site. The Beatles are a place where we strangers can meet and shake hands.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 8, 16:26 @Lara, I’m glad you enjoy the site. It’s not as much that Nancy or I as writers, or I as editor for our other posters seek to be unusual, it’s just that we’ve already talked about all the usual stuff. Often when I’m interacting with commenters, I want them to read from Post #1, and then come back to the discussion–because then they’ll get a truer sense of what I think. But I know that context is impossible for people. Within the microcosm of a single reply, certain aspects or angles get overemphasized–I want to give an opinion its best day in court–but I’m always coming at this from a more global perspective, which is both bigger and more flexible than it might sometimes appear. “Could be!” is my truest opinion.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 8, 16:17 @Richard, I didn’t mean to make you gasp, but of course I am always chuffed when someone has a physiological response to my writing. That’s how I make my money! 🙂 If the internet were a sane place, I’d say it a different way–perhaps even the reverse, emphasizing how big a part The Beatles and their story (and their era) play in how I look at the world. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t connect something happening now to something that happened then. It’s not just nostalgia for me, it’s actually the scrim through which I perceive my life, and it’s actually rather terrible for my career. Media decision-makers not only glaze over when you drop a 50-year-old reference, they begin to trust you less. But because the internet tends to increase attachment to such things, I wanted to emphasize that Devin, Ed and I began this site to heighten our own pleasure in the topic, not for any serious reason; it was as if we were starting a magazine about the 1920’s in 1968. Which meant that when we applied serious thought to this long-ago time–Devin from his critical perch, Ed from his literary one, and me from a sort of half-historian half-comedian one–there was created a frisson that people enjoyed. A frisson that I think leaves whenever things get too serious; when it begins to MATTER whether Jann Wenner was unfair to Paul, or whether John was really enraged at Maharishi or was just looking for an excuse to skedaddle, the flexibility and fun tends to dissipate.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by meaigs on Jul 8, 00:15 @LeighAnn, I’m sorry that the article and comments made you so uncomfortable. As I’ve mentioned above in the discussion about leadership, I’m no stranger to the realities of misogyny. I’ve experienced everything from being fully ignored to sexual assault (and throw in for good measure internalised misogyny that meant it was years before I interpreted some incidents as assault). I personally find the kind of analysis I did in the article helpful in processing my experience of misogyny, but I don’t at all blame you for not doing so. I hope this doesn’t sound like one of those shitty “I’m sorry your mad” apologies, That’s why I gave up on it last night, but Michael’s message prompted me to give it another go. I do think it’s ok for me to explore and examine the topic of misogyny in ways that I find helpful, but I am also genuinely sorry that you were upset by it. It’s a hard world to be a woman in, so here’s to Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Lara on Jul 7, 23:02 @Michael, I seemed have worded my comments rather clumsily, for which I apologize. What I meant by provocative referred to posts about the Beatles themselves, for example, the McLennon topic, or any other different or unusual angle on the band, or any one of its members , which haven’t been touched upon by some of the more mainstream Beatles sites. As I said, that makes your blog interesting and never boring! But I do see many of the posts stimulating a wide range of responses, which I would regard as a positive not a negative.True, comments can get a bit strained at times, even heated, but I don’t see your writers in any way setting out to provoke or annoy actual fans who visit the site.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Richard on Jul 7, 21:55 @ Michael “a big reason we started HD was the topic didn’t matter. It matters even less today. ” Wow, I think *that’s* the most provocative statement you’ve made made on here! I actually gasped a little when I read that. I wouldn’t say the Beatles are the most important thing in my life, or even top 5…but probably top 20, at the lowest. I make no apology for admitting that being a Beatle fan is a significant part of my identity.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 7, 18:52 @Lara, a note on your first sentence, in case anyone is interested: This site started as the collected thoughts of a bunch of friends in the publishing business who found they were obsessed with The Beatles; we all tended to use J/P/G/R as exemplars in conversation, artistic models, etc. The idea that anyone–much less strangers–would reply to any post on HD with actual anger would’ve struck Ed, Devin, and I as very weird indeed. We each had our opinions, and occasionally felt them reasonably strongly, but a big reason we started HD was the topic didn’t matter. It matters even less today. We all had professional writing/editing lives talking about things that really mattered, and this was a place we could discuss a harmless mutual love and fascination in an intellectual way. Provocation, especially of strangers, was 180 degrees away from our intent. And I think certainly for the first five years, the commentariat was lauded for reflecting that very lack of provocation. Speaking personally, the idea that I would want to “provoke” a stranger on the topic of The Beatles is…strange to me. My opinions have been formed by my experience; others’ opinions have come from THEIR lives. How could I possibly change their mind? And if I could, why? When I latch onto an opinion and defend it, I try to show you guys what’s going on behind it, so readers can see my intent, and take whatever is useful to them. I don’t care AT ALL whether a fan thinks John was the leader, Paul was the leader, John and Paul were co-leaders, or anything else–except what I said in that thread: I’ve discovered some things in my decades of running creative teams that you might find helpful. I’m often defending something I’ve learned (painfully), or a vision of what history is or should be, in the face of information overload, cultivated chaos, and a kind of conspiratorial thinking that is actively dangerous for people (“THEY don’t want you to know the truth about The Beatles!”). As the internet has changed (I would say toxicified)–and as that overstimulated, activated state has dripped steadily into the “real world”–the discussions on this site have become much more personalized, and much more confrontational. I cannot change this; sometimes I even fall prey to it. As an ameliorating hope, I have tried to model a kind of honesty…the kind that you show in your comment. “I think X about The Beatles because of Y that happened/is happening to me.” That’s really helpful and interesting, and I thank you for it. You’re revealing how this group of musicians works in your own psyche, and that’s the intent of this site. But Hey Dullblog is not really for “vigorous debate,” because the topic isn’t worthy of vigorous debate. Vigorous debate about The Beatles was never really appropriate, but it’s certainly not appropriate 52 years after they’ve broken up. When we descend into that, the site is not really being used as intended. The site was not intended to be a loud, lively message board with occasional posts; it was the musings of a group of friends which slowly gained like-minded readers. We do not seem to attract like-minded readers today, but people looking to explain their chosen truth via our platform. This is a huge change, and not one I’m particularly comfortable with; I don’t wish to host these kinds of discussions, much less pay for them–because as I said to Nancy today, I think it’s bad for people. If someone, like @meaigs or Faith Current or anybody else, writes something I think is interesting, I’m happy to work with them on a post and post it, because that’s what the site was launched to do. I am hoping that we can ride out this phase of the internet.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Lara on Jul 7, 03:35 Respectfully, I would suggest most posts on this site are provocative, and deliberately so, as your tag line implies. Which is also the reason why I find the site interesting and informative. If presumptions or theories about one or other of the Beatles are aired, however valid, I’d still expect alternative or differing views or opinions. I don’t see attack and defend as the initial impetus for vigorous debate, although I see how it can descend to that. I don’t think anybody is blind to the misogyny of the Beatles themselves, all four of them. Paul, as a man, is not the recipient of misogyny. Rather, it’s misogyny directed at Paul by fans and nonfans who USE him to attack and denigrate women. The usual suspects: soppy love songs, granny songs, bubblegum pop, in other words, the type of music suitable for girls and women. The assumption that women only like Paul because he is ‘pretty’ and ‘soft’ with the implication that not only are they incapable of deep thought, but he is as well. Apart from the credence of such snipes generated by the rock patriarchy over several decades, they are nevertheless examples of everyday ingrained misogyny perpetuated not only by men but by women as well. They are worthy of discussion, because they affect me, as a music lover, not only of the Beatles, but music in general. Trivial? Perhaps they are to other people, and compared to some of my other personal experiences of misogyny, one being the very real economic impact of being denied a mortgage unless a male family member could sign and vouch for me in the 1980’s. Hardly the dark ages, but within my lifetime and yours as well, as far as I can tell from the age groups who contribute here. That has little to do with winning arguments, but if misogyny is to be fought then let’s start from the bottom up. l see no need to sidestep the issue because of McCartney’s wealth and status. A valid comparison could be made of JK Rowling, a billionaire who amassed her wealth in a far shorter time than McCartney, who also has several honorary degrees and awards, and recognized by the British honours system, and has had far greater power over young minds than the Beatles ever did. Twitter wars aside, should accusations of gender stereotyping (bossy Hermione) in her writing be passed over, irrespective where one sits on the issue?
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Michael Gerber on Jul 6, 17:38 @LeighAnn, thank you for being so honest and clear about where you’re coming from on this issue. I personally can see both sides. I found @meaigs idea provocative enough to publish, but there’s a lot of truth in what you say. In general, Hey Dullblog comments discussions go round and round because everybody’s pretending to be a Very Serious Data-Driven Beatles Scholar, rather than a fan with a opinion. Everybody trots out their idée fixe, and days are lost. The comments I like best of all are the ones where commenters share personal experiences that make them feel the way they do. Here’s the difference, using my own pet theory: Option 1: “The Beatles fit into the alcoholic family matrix because John was an alcoholic, and anybody who doesn’t see this is ignoring [data data data].” Option 2: “Coming from an alcoholic family myself, I realized that The Beatles seem to fit into the alcoholic family matrix, and here’s how I’ve found that illuminates the story for me. And I’m determined to spread this gospel, because lack of awareness of addiction causes people great pain. If they can see it in The Beatles, they might be able to see it in their own lives.” The whole point of HD is communication between fans. Locating it in opinion-with-personal-context allows for lots of varying opinions, all legitimate and interesting, and gives us all a baseline of honesty and respect. The data-dumping is OK–after you’ve given us context for your viewpoint. It’s really unlikely that there will be the One True Fact that convinces anybody of anything, because we’ve all read the same books. As I say often, it’s not really about winning the argument, but building self-knowledge through our shared interest in this topic.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by LeighAnn on Jul 6, 14:01 Misogyny by definition is ingrained hatred, prejudice and contempt of women. It can not apply to men. Nor should a man- especially a famous successful increasingly privileged man- be a conduit to reflect on misogyny or to be used to mansplain misogyny to me as a women. And I guess I find it confronting as someone who has had experiences in my life with that personally in both minor and harsher ways. If the conversation is that Paul was not given the respect as an artist he was entitled to, or the criticism against him is unfair or hypocritical and not equal in comparison to the other Beatles, I just personally feel that conversation can be had without trying to bolster or legitimise the argument by labelling it misogynistic. But I really have no wish to have round in circles arguments and this is something I’m probably too uncomfortable about to have a discussion on without taking personally so I’ll agree to differ
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by Nancy Carr on Jul 6, 06:01 I think it’s important to keep in mind that ALL the Beatles were described in feminine/androgynous ways, and that this was a — and arguably, THE — thing that early detractors focused on. Their “long hair” was a big deal, and they didn’t put on a “tough” image in the way the Stones did, so the Beatles created a lot of anxiety around gender. The fact that screaming female fans were getting a taste of sexual autonomy and cultural power through their collective engagement with the band was a big reason for the right-wing hatred of the Beatles (see William F. Buckley for a leading example). All this sits beside the Beatles’ great fame and success. In fact the success is what drove the gender panic and the backlash. What I find interesting, and part of what I take meaigs to be getting at, is the way that people or cultural phenomena that get coded as “feminine” can help us think about misogyny. I think McCartney is doing just fine and is no sort of victim. But I think it’s worth analyzing how gendered language has been used with him and with all the Beatles.
  • From @meaigs: “Misogyny Aimed At Paul McCartney” Comment by meaigs on Jul 6, 01:34 @LeighAnn I can’t help feeling that you’re responding to what you expected me to say, rather than what I actually said. Let me try once more. Misogyny is a) a resilient system. It has survived wave after wave of resistance, and every attempt to dismantle it is met with fierce opposition (nearly all of it unconscious, or at least unarticulated) b) extremely complex. It emerges from learned behaviours, and infinitely many personal interactions. (Again, the vast majority of which are unconscious). When you combine a) and b) it makes a lot of sense to keep finding new ways to explore, discuss and examine misogyny. Each new insight can help undercut the power of the system, and maybe some day we as a society can move past it. Misogyny as a system is built out of the things people do, because of the things that they think. And the things that they think are largely built out of the things they’ve seen other people do. Wouldn’t it be really interesting if some of those behaviours were m “leaking out” and getting directed at a man? I find it interesting, that’s why I wanted to write this article. If this were a phenomenon that only I saw I’d assume I was just being weird. But *loads* of people have noticed it, or recognised it when it was pointed out to them. The reason I went ahead and published the article is that I think I found pretty good arguments to say that people sometimes act in misogynistic ways towards Paul. He is the target, but he’s not the interesting thing. It’s that people are behaving that way towards a man. What makes them interpret him as a woman? Why don’t they realise that’s what they’re doing? To what degree does their knowledge that he is a man curb their misogynistic responses? I have so many questions. It makes me think. If you don’t think I succeeded in making the argument that people sometimes act misogynistically towards Paul, well, fair enough. But would you agree that if they did it would be interesting, and worth talking about?