• Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 27, 18:09 No difference, structurally, between “Paul is Dead” and McLennon. Two sides of the same coin, one dark and the other light–a great conspiracy, built and maintained to mislead the fans. Of course fans attracted to one are vastly different from fans attracted by the other, and that matters a lot. But it’s the same mindset at work, and uses a Beatles-related story that exists to do emotional work for a certain type of fan.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by notorious_g_i_b on Oct 27, 16:25 I understand the echo-y song stuff is a result of YouTube’s system for flagging copyright infringement. The creator of the documentary has re-uploaded it several times with more echo-y murkiness to avoid being penalized.
  • Nancy Carr Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Nancy Carr on Oct 27, 13:13 Agreed, Michael. We do have a more complete portrait of Lennon thanks to Goldman, even if he does take, to my mind, too much glee in toppling his former idol. Goldman feeling “betrayed” by Lennon makes a lot of sense, and reinforces my point about overheated emotional intensity. As the Pretenders put it, “There’s a thin line between love and hate.” (Yes, my mind is essentially one big jukebox!) . Fact is, we ALL project a lot onto famous people, and get emotionally invested in them — it’s a question of degree, and trying to keep a sane balance, as in remembering “I actually do not know this person.” What’s scary to me is the way the emotional investment in celebrities can ramp up into obsession, a la some of the “Paul Is Dead” folks. At that point we’re squarely in Q-Anon territory, where people are taking their deep emotions and looking for a narrative that will let them indulge those emotions. That kind of obsession takes both “positive” (this person is a GOD) and “negative” (this person is SHIT) forms, and I think both can be highly dangerous. (As I believe you’ve pointed out here, previously.)
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 27, 12:16 @Nancy, I’m in lockstep with you, here. Well said, and very worth saying. I know I give Goldman a lot of slack. One reason is that he’s a good writer, in a school of writing (New Journalism) that I like. That’s not nothing. And in his time, the “necro-graphy” he specialized in was pretty unique, and definitely necessary. Lenny Bruce, Elvis, John Lennon–these are people who, within their fields, are perceived as GODS. In the comedy business for example, to not like Lenny Bruce, to think that he was a bit hacky or (worse) more than a bit dishonest—that is not an acceptable opinion. Goldman’s Lenny book, which is well worth a read, is an essential rejoinder to the conventional narrative if you want to know who Lenny Bruce was, and why he was important. If you just want to worship Lenny, well then, skip it. Similarly, when Goldman wrote his Lennon book, John and Yoko were culturally untouchable; there was one acceptable opinion, and it was the Ballad, culminating in Yoko’s eternal residence at the site of her husband’s martyrdom. Nobody was allowed to ask the kinds of questions that would’ve been asked in a normal circumstance, and Goldman did that. That Goldman went too far in the other direction—well, it seems unseemly to us now that his revelations have been taken up by others. A fan might say, “So Lennon hit women, but why do you have to be gleeful about that?” or “So Lennon was bisexual, what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that in 1987, both assertions were VEHEMENTLY opposed by the Estate and its friendly media. They were called baseless lies. Nobody stuck up for Albert Goldman. But he was, on these points, right. That’s not nothing. Domestic violence and bisexuality (or at least bi-curiosity) are now part of the mainstream portrait of John Lennon. And this is okay, because that was who he was. And a lot of people owe Albert Goldman an apology—not because he wasn’t an asshole—but because he did add to our understanding of the guy, and apparently it required an asshole to tell John Lennon’s story. As a fan, you might say, “But I don’t want to know about the domestic abuse. And who John Lennon was attracted to sexually is none of my business.” Fair enough, but that’s not the job of an honest biographer. An honest biographer shows you what he found, and lets you “take what you need and leave the rest.” Goldman always said that he began the project as a John Lennon fan, believing that the conventional story was mainly true, and that his vehemence came from his sense of betrayal. Was that true, or a pose? We can’t know. But we can say that Goldman entered a world where John Lennon was, no shit, a symbol of peace and love on the order of Martin Luther King and Gandhi. It wasn’t Goldman’s fault that this portrait was partial at best, and showing the other side of Lennon has a great value. We now have a much more balanced portrait of the man and that, as I say, is not nothing.
  • Nancy Carr Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Nancy Carr on Oct 27, 07:41 I think it’s also important to note that a libel suit is very hard to win if you’re a public figure. It takes a lot of time, a lot of money, and requires both that the statements someone has made are PROVABLY false and that they can be shown to have been made with malicious intent. I’m sure a good part of what Goldman said was true, and also that it would be hard to prove that the things he said that weren’t true, weren’t. . In the end what I object to most in Goldman’s book is his clear eagerness to interpret everything in the most unflattering way possible for both Lennon and Yoko Ono. His book is essentially the obverse of the kind of “Beatlefan” positive spin you’re describing, Michael, and I find both the hagiography of extreme fans and the glee in mudslinging that Goldman exhibits distasteful. . To me the overall lesson in this discussion relates to a line from The Band that Devin has quoted here before: “Take what you need, and leave the rest.” In my own interpretation of this particular issue, that means: don’t believe that anyone is a saint, or take your fandom to the level of worship. But also, don’t get obsessed with tearing down people who’ve achieved something that’s generally positive. I suppose I’m advocating a Buddhist “middle way” here. What unites the people who want to worship the Beatles with the people who want to destroy them is an overheated emotional intensity that I think points to unresolved issues in the observers’ own lives.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 26, 23:25 That was precisely the spin in 1987, from the Estate and Rolling Stone. “Oh, this is so outrageous we cannot sue. That would only publicize it.” That’s a reasonable outlook. Of course, the other way of looking at it was that a lawsuit would require the claims to be investigated, and there was a ton of dirty laundry in there. That’s also a reasonable outlook. So let’s ask the question: have the intervening decades shed any light on this, one way or the other? Were Goldman’s big revelations shown to be malicious fabrications, as Yoko and Wenner said they were, or have they been substantiated? I would say that they largely have; if you look at the things that were the most scandalous in 1987 — the precise allegations that made Yoko and Wenner the angriest (claims of violence and homo/bisexuality) — those are the things that Yoko herself says now. That’s…rather shocking. I was an 18-year-old Lennon fan in 1987, and I never thought that Goldman’s allegations would ever become consensus; for one thing, Yoko would have to confirm things, she’d be the only one who could, and she’d never. Right? (BTW, I didn’t read Goldman until 1998 or something. I didn’t have any feelings about it one way or the other before then. Or, really, after then. It’s just more data, like Davies and Lewisohn and Norman and so forth.) Look, I’m not saying Goldman wasn’t an asshole with an ax to grind. He was. But while his prose was purple and his musical analysis questionable and his dismissal of the other Beatles ridiculous and his treatment of Yoko at the very least unkind, his revelations about Lennon have been generally confirmed, and we have to give him that. Most Beatles fans don’t, and that’s not a kind of fandom I respect very much. It’s okay if you’re twelve, but not if you’re an adult. Beatlefest, for example, is full of Beatles fans who “don’t wanna know,” and while they have a right to be fans in whatever way they choose, to me that’s closer to religion than anything else. And while that’s OK with me, that precisely is something John didn’t approve of, didn’t want any part of, and warned against constantly. I don’t know what he would’ve thought about Goldman, but it’s not as crazy a question as it seems. I know he read, and liked, Goldman’s muckraking books on Lenny Bruce and Elvis. When the investigative spotlight turned on him, I think he would’ve fought that tooth and nail–but also might’ve cooperated. Lennon was weird like that. I think he would’ve resented someone seeming to profit off his life, but I think he would’ve had at least a grudging respect for a journalist willing to dig down in the muck. Because in the end, Goldman and Lennon’s view of the business was similarly cynical.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michelle on Oct 26, 17:34 Why sue an author if everyone thinks what he wrote is complete fiction? Not saying there weren’t grains of truth in his book, but with the uproar it caused and Goldman accused of character assassination, suing might have been seen as counterproductive at the time. Certainly, with the Lennon reappraisal that’s become so popular since Goldman’s death, his book has been vindicated by a certain fation of people. Too late for Yoko to sue now.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michelle on Oct 26, 16:31 @notorious_g_i_b: Just the way it was presented. I got the impression that it wanted to be The Real Beatles Anthology because like the Anthology, there was no narration, just quotes from the pair with their songs echoing murkily like the music was being played in a tunnel. Maybe pretentious isn’t the right word. I just didn’t like the style or the way the quotes were manipulated to make it sound less like McLennon and more like John’s unrequited love for Paul, a Philip Norman creation. The official Beatles Anthology, while not perfect by any means, did show John and Paul as equals. But unfortunately, the pendulum has swung so far in Paul’s direction to the point where a Daily Mail writer called John the “lesser talent” (in an otherwise positive review of Gimme Some Truth Ultimate Mix) and Dylan Jones of British GQ said he was washed up after A Hard Day’s Night, with Paul “undoubtedly the better songwriter.” That one was in honor of John’s 80th birthday. They couldn’t have found someone other than this self-proclaimed Paul fanboy to write the article?
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 26, 12:39 Yes, that all seems like the memory of an old man who wants to be liked. Paul has always wanted to be liked; that’s him, and it’s sweet. But I wouldn’t necessarily believe him talking to the press.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 26, 12:37 100% agree. Skepticism is good when it comes to the Beatles, because they are fascinating geniuses. Skepticism makes that even clearer.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 26, 12:31 @LeighAnn, I think there’s a lot that’s correct in your comment, but there’s one thing I think I need to push back on, given my own professional background. I think it’s entirely possible that we know all the dirt there is to know about The Beatles. But it’s also possible that we DON’T, and the reasons that we don’t are, IMHO, important to keep in mind right now. We currently have a man who is President solely because he was a celebrity, and 30% of Americans believe his PR no matter what. “Building up” celebrities is quite powerful; “tearing down” is not. Anyone past a certain level of wealth is going to have a phalanx of paid people designed to “protect” them — PR people, lawyers, and sometimes even shadier types. And Paul McCartney (for example) could be the nicest person in the world, but the people he pays are being paid to do a job, and they will do this job or they won’t get paid. Would Paul know if a guy called a woman and said, “Don’t go to the papers with your story”? No, he would not. That’s why Paul hired the person who hired the person who hired the person who gave someone $500 in cash to make that phone call. So when we’re talking about (for example) Fred Seaman and his motives, we also need to talk about his claim that he was intimidated. And when we’re reading his statement/apology, we also need to remember that claim. Beatles fans are very quick to dismiss Seaman as “a grave robber” (which he may be) without asking the obvious question: what if he’s not? What if John really did give him all that stuff? How would we know? It’s basically the word of a rich and famous billionaire (Yoko) with unlimited lawyers/PR, versus a guy with nothing. Why would he make this claim? He saw the phalanx of lawyers when he was working for John and Yoko. What did he think was going to happen? This is why I lean towards believing Seaman, 51/49%. He behavior doesn’t make much sense otherwise. And if you read those last interviews with John and Yoko, they’re always going on about how people are trying to screw them because they’re rich. But when were they actually screwed? From what we know, the only really dangerous person, financially speaking, around John and Yoko was Allen Klein, who they loved (because he was screwing others for them)…until they hated him (because he was trying to screw them). The whole thing wears me out. Just make songs and be happy, John. Put your money in tax free NY muni bonds and forget about them. All of this is to say that, from what we know, I’m less likely to believe the paranoid billionaire who’s convinced everybody is trying to screw her, but who never gets screwed, than the schlub who has a few New Yorker diaries. As to libeling the dead, Brown was shopping the book, and talking to the Beatles about it, and got their OK, in 1979. You could read that and say, “Well, he’s lying!” But then I’d say: if you live in a world where people like Fred Seaman and Peter Brown are always lying about this subject, and people like Yoko Ono are never lying about it, that’s a profession of faith, and it’s not a faith I share. People worship celebrities; I do not. I do not because I think they are people and people are flawed, and they are powerful and power corrupts, but most of all because I think worship is very bad for a person, and if I love a celebrity’s work, I feel I owe it to them to try to see them as a person, and not as an image — even if they seem to want me to see them as a image. Maybe especially if they, like John and Yoko, want me to see them as an image. My final point has to do with this: “Because for every publishers that wants the by the numbers biography there’s a lot more that want the salacious.” This is simply not true. Factually, it’s not correct. Publishers are VERY wary of litigation, and any publisher big enough to really monetize a book about The Beatles — meaning, big enough to print ten million copies, so they can sell a million of them — is going to be scared to death of a lawsuit. Any manuscript submitted to them will be vetted, and the bigger the profile of the project, the more vetting they’ll do, because their liability will be bigger. Are there tabloids? Sure. But the publishers of Brown’s book (McGraw-Hill/McMillan) and Grossman’s book (William Morrow) were both large, well-respected New York publishing houses. Does that mean that every fact in every book published by them is true? No. But these works were held to a reasonable standard of fact-checking and lawyering, and to claim otherwise is not correct. (I’m not saying you’re claiming otherwise, but many fans do.) And Yoko never sued. Nobody “defamed” by Goldman ever sued. Does that make everything he said true? No. But if it were the pack of lies people say it is, and Yoko and others were as heartsick as they say they were, they would’ve sued. But they didn’t. Secondly, certainly by the time Goldman’s book came out (1987) it was beyond clear that what fans wanted to read was the positive spin of a more-or-less Standard Narrative. SHOUT!’s is a really good example of this; a few minor revelations, but mostly the same story we all knew before it was published. It provided color and good writing, but SHOUT!’s the same story as the 1981 documentary “The Compleat Beatles.” There was no pressing commercial incentive for Brown or Goldman’s books to be hatchet jobs; there was only what the author felt was the truth. (I don’t think Brown’s book is a hatchet job, I think Goldman’s was. But we have to give Goldman credit; he did by far the most interviews to that point, literally hundreds, and he did them fairly close to the time, so there’s higher likelihood of accuracy. Spitz’s biography was drawn from the Goldman archive; I am sure Lewisohn is using it too.) The bit about Harry Nilsson is not to be credited; Harry was a terrible alcoholic, and so it’s unlikely that anyone “tried” or even had to, get him drunk. I say this as a fan of Nilsson, and an admirer of his friendship with John and Yoko. But that complaint can safely be disregarded as evidence of anything, except maybe Harry’s guilt. People outside of the book business say stuff like “a million dollar advance” like that’s a lot of money. It’s not; not even in 1981, when Goldman got it. With advances, first the agent takes 10-15% off the top, then the author gets a third on signing the deal, a third on acceptance of the manuscript, and a third on publication. So Goldman — whose book on Lennon I do not admire, I want to be clear — received no more than $300,000 before tax in 1981. He had to live the next five or six years on that, paying for research and assistants. Then in 1986 when the manuscript was accepted, he got another $300,000; and then got another $300,000. $900,000, minus tax, minus research and travel and other expenses, for eight years of work is far from a king’s ransom, even in the Eighties. He would’ve made more money as a college professor. Which is not to say he wasn’t a sleazebag writing a hatchet-job. But he wasn’t doing it for the money. Anyway, like I said: I don’t disagree with your point of view; it seems legitimate. Just adding more nuance to the discussion.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 26, 11:34 @G_i_b, the challenge with Life After Death was that the book constantly wanted to become dark and not funny, and I wasn’t prepared (psychologically or craft-wise) to write the book it wanted to be. It wanted to be a hard-boiled noir, and I wanted it to be a farcical roman a clef. In general, the sillier a section was, the more likely I’d found a snippet of real information that was truly icky, and was running in the other direction. I would think that a hard-boiled noir about Broadway would be very good and very popular.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by notorious_g_i_b on Oct 26, 11:07 Out of curiosity, what makes you call it pretentious? I thought it was kind of refreshing to see John and Paul held up as equals after years of partisanship, or at the very least for Paul’s contributions to be more acknowledged. It dips a little into McLennon here and there, admittedly, but given the material available, you can hardly blame them for drawing that conclusion; they’re certainly not the only ones.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by notorious_g_i_b on Oct 26, 11:05 Theatrical, but at a certain level they all intermingle. I’ve got some stories for you if you ever want to write a Life After Death for Beginners about Broadway, but sadly it may be way less funny ha-ha and more black humor.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michelle on Oct 26, 08:38 I don’t know where it was I heard it (it could have been that rather pretentious – but full of interesting quotes – fan-made “Understanding Lennon and McCartney” series on YouTube), but one interesting quote from John was that when he was young, he would fantasize about being able to just snap his fingers and a beautiful woman would take her clothes off for him. But when the fantasy became reality, the whole thing ultimately made him sick. . Paul seems more cagey about all that stuff. I suspect the major reason he was so hurt by John’s 1970 RS interview was because he revealed the truth about what happened on tour, etc. Paul later said, “All that stuff about how the Beatles were bastards; he brought out the worst side, as if to exorcise it.” . John said that he didn’t want to go into detail because it would hurt the wives and girlfriends. But for Paul, it’s all about preserving the angelic image of the Beatles. Even in interviews that he knows are supposed to be candid, like in a recent GQ interview (Untold Stories of Paul McCartney, no less), he tries to pin any “bacchanalian” stuff on John. Because hey, John wanted to be honest about it. The craziest thing Paul did, according to him, was accept the offer of hookers in Las Vegas (where it’s legal, naturally). He requested two! That’s the closest he got to an orgy, he said. The others “might have ordered something else off the menu.” John was “a bit more that” than him. His example was that one night a woman who fancied John took him home for sex, and he soon discovered that the husband was watching. And he didn’t really mind. Kinky stuff! Paul says he would never want the husband to know. . How often can someone be called vain for it to become fact? I don’t need Peter Brown to tell me that someone is vain when that person himself says, “John couldn’t possibly be gay. If he were, he would have hit on me.”
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by LeighAnn on Oct 25, 23:05 I think for me the last paragraphs are where I’m at in that I don’t think anything I’ve read or heard about the Beatles changes the joy I have listening to their music or the fascination I have in them as people and artists. I agree that all stories about the Beatles are something to file away or expand on what you know of already. With the exception that I believe that it’s fair game to be as sceptical of what biographers are writing as it is to be as sceptical of the official PR line as well.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by LeighAnn on Oct 25, 22:53 While I agree with the sentiment I think just as fans shouldn’t believe that their fave celebrities are morally perfect human beings I don’t think it’s fair to just assume that all celebrities are morally bankrupt. I get that we live in strange times- in a post Weinstein, Epstein, with QANON going mainstream I think there is a tendency to assume that all rich powerful people have sinister skeletons in the closet to hide. But what if the Beatles weren’t any more good or bad then your average rich celebrities who engaged in drugs, partied, slept around, did questionable things while under the influence of drugs and partying, but ultimately settled down with their wives and children. Can’t there be middle ground? What if there really isn’t anything left tell that is worth telling? I mean it’s not like the Beatles are squeaking clean anyway. There’s LSD, Heroin, Spousal Abuse, Wife Swapping, Drug Arrests, Jail, Adultery and cheating, Professional back stabbing, Depression, Alcohol Abuse, Violent Beatings, Secret homosexuality, Group Masturbation parties, Sucides/Overdose, friendships with Left Wing Radicals etc etc And all of this is what the Beatles themselves have pretty much owned up to or gone on the record. Also I do think the motivation of people writing about the Beatles is relevant. Peter Brown chose to publish a book 3 years after John’s death when Beatles were going through a popularity resurgence and there was an appetite for it. Sure he has first hand experience with the Beatles and has the right to write a book about that experience but I don’t think it automatically means that he doesn’t have his own biases, motives and character defaults. The reason people say Peter Brown wouldn’t have got away with writing that book when John was alive is because there are really no libel or defamation laws to protect the dead. You can write any salacious and potentially false allegation about someone if they’re dead and not get sued the way you risk if someone’s alive. Because for every publishers that wants the by the numbers biography there’s a lot more that want the salacious. Just as there are a lot of people who like to read or are attracted to the salacious stories, especially about their fave or not so fave celebrities. That’s why tabloids and gossip sites are still going strong. Albert Goldman wasn’t paid a million dollar advance to write a by the number biography. He was paid to write a salacious biography simply given the fact that he primarily wrote about the apparently salacious elements of Johns life almost to the absence of everything else. Fred Seaman didn’t steal mountains of John personal effects, letters and diaries to respect Johns wishes to get the “truth” out like he had planned to try and convince people of when he was caught stealing. To say that he wasn’t financially motivated to use his position as John and Yoko assistant as credibility to publish a book and he didn’t have his own biases and personal motives is as naive in my opinion as assuming all the Beatles were angels. All biographers and publishers are looking to cash in or financially profit in some regard on the Beatles brand as much as Apple are trying to keep the money train rolling. Even Mark Lewhison who seems to be writing a fairly neutral fact based as much as possible biography is doing it for his own personal and most likely financial reasons. It just that I personally trust him more then Fred Seaman who basically grave robbed and then wrote a book that not so coincidentally demonised the woman who gave him the sack for stealing. Or more then Albert Goldman who according to Harry Nilsson tried to get him drunk before conducting an on the record interview.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michelle on Oct 25, 17:37 For the record, I don’t believe unequivocally that Paul and Linda were together every day except for his brief jail stint, simply because that’s the story they told the media.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 25, 15:57 If you’re arguing that Paul and Linda had a more inappropriately enmeshed relationship than the couple who accompanied each other to the bathroom and signed things “JohnandYoko,” I’m unconvinced. But horses for courses. As an adult man in a marriage with a woman, John Lennon and Yoko Ono mostly don’t look like any healthy marriage I know of; Paul and Linda mostly do. But who the hell knows? The one thing I can say for sure is that every marriage is custom-made for those people and, if it works for them, great.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michelle on Oct 25, 14:55 I read that Paul and Linda threw Peter Brown’s book in the fireplace. If so, was it because he was telling lies or because he was telling the truth? I never read it myself. I’m not interested in dirty laundry and can recognize rock stars as human beings without reading what happens backstage.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michelle on Oct 25, 14:48 Did Paul say that he and Linda only spent like 4 days/nights apart from each other, when he was in jail in Japan? Sounds like a very minimal amount of separateness to me (healthy or otherwise). John had 18 months away from Yoko.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 25, 14:46 Yeah yeah yeah. And that’s not excusing who they were, and what they did. It’s just not expecting them to be superhuman. They were flawed people like us, and that’s what makes them so inspiring.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Tasmin on Oct 25, 14:44 Thank you Michael. I love this: “The facts give us the broad outlines of who these guys were and how special they were; the opinions color the picture. Even if The Beatles were all bank robbers, Sgt. Pepper’s is still what it is, and the joy it gives remains.“ The music the Beatles made gives us joy and fills our souls. That’s really all that matters.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 25, 14:43 @Kristy, that’s fascinating, thank you. If you’re asking, and you didn’t, I think comics set itself up for strangulation by changing its durable economic model (a cheap, mass-market, low-margin product aimed at an evergreen market: kids who liked to read comics), to a much riskier, boom-or-bust one (adult collectors paying $8.95 for special issues, dreaming of flipping their collections for big bucks). Who knows where comics publishing would be if you had these movies PLUS comics in spinners at drugstores for $1? In general, I think publishing needs to retract to the individual/family business size, until a truly profitable digital model with a stable, non-proprietary consumption platform is developed. All I need to know about Klein’s character is what his clients thought of him. The rest is Trumpian snake oil.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 25, 14:31 @Tasmin, I think it’s impossible we’ll ever know the truth, and because of that it’s a wonderful exercise. Not to get all Rashomon on you, but what you believe to be “the truth” has as much to do with you, as with reality. I do not think that Peter Brown, or anyone, has a right to lie, to mislead. I do think that he has a right to his opinion, and think his opinion is interesting because he was there, knew all the parties, etc. It is a question of intent and, unfortunately, we cannot know Peter Brown’s intent with every statement. Was he considered a bad guy before his book came out? (Like if Allen Klein wrote a book about the Beatles, you could say, “That guy is probably trying to manipulate opinion.”) In the case of Peter Brown, I don’t think it’s appropriate to dismiss his opinions simply because The Beatles or Apple didn’t authorize the book. They have a powerful commercial motive for dismissing it (plans for an Anthology project were in the works since 1970). It’s like Yoko de-authorizing Philip Norman’s Lennon bio. That’s money talking, not truth. Even if money didn’t enter into it, maybe individuals within the Beatle camp genuinely disagreed with Brown; or maybe they felt he had bad intent; or maybe they simply saw it differently. I think the best way to look at Brown’s book is retrospectively; it’s been a decade since I re-read it, but I do not remember being shocked by anything–not one thing–in it. (This holds true with Goldman, mostly, as well.) Does Brown paint the Beatles as petty, mean, small at times? Yeah. But who they are in addition to that is backed up by facts; that Paul is/was vain and overbearing is an opinion, but that he wrote “Hey Jude” is a fact. That John was addicted to heroin was a fact; that he also inspired millions is also a fact. I don’t trust any one single source; I add that source to the mass of information, updating my lightly held opinion as necessary. The facts give us the broad outlines of who these guys were and how special they were; the opinions color the picture. Even if The Beatles were all bank robbers, Sgt. Pepper’s is still what it is, and the joy it gives remains.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 25, 14:16 This, here: “but all of them had their limits, which were often crossed without their consent. Also, the highly paid call girls seemed to have a short shelf life and often nothing to show for it once their “best by” date passed, and were continually targeted and arrested, while the Johns paying for them were and are still protected” This is the problem I have with groupie culture. NOT that rich and famous people want to have a lot of sex; nor that there are lots of people willing to have sex with rich and famous people; but that it is never an equal transaction. If it were just sex, the transaction would be equal on both, or all, sides — it would be something they would be doing together, and nobody would be more responsible than any other person. But then you bring in patriarchy, and capitalism, and suddenly the celebrity can do anything without consequence because they have the money and the lawyers, and the groupie or call girl/rent boy or civilian is somehow at fault, or “deserves what they get” or “is a golddigger” if they ever tell. But why shouldn’t they tell? It was their experience, too! This isn’t fair and isn’t right and encourages celebrities to become terrible abusive people. “Do you really think there wasn’t a mutual clinging thing going on with JohnandYoko and Paul and Linda?” I believe that from May 1968 through 1969 John was absolutely infatuated with Yoko, and totally possessive of her in his abuser-y way. I suspect she began to pull away in 1969, so he married her; and then as a married couple from 1969-72 they slowly but surely realized that both personalities were too big to fit into one relationship. Researchers have found that infatuation’s chemical impact on the brain lasts between 18 months and three years, and that would fit in this timeline. Paul and Linda strike me as a much, much more stable couple. I don’t perceive Paul’s retreat to Scotland as being about wanting to control Linda as much as wanting to process the Beatles’ break-up, and her nursing him through his depression seems to be normal in every regard. I think Paul and Linda genuinely loved each other, were genuinely attracted to each other, and were not overly enmeshed in each other. They seem to have had a healthy sense of separateness — no “JohnandYoko” for them. Nor do I get the sense that Paul was screwing around compulsively (like George did). If I had to guess, and I’m just guessing, I think both John and Paul had become accustomed to a lot of sexual variety, and were not accustomed to being told no by anyone for any reason. Yoko strikes me as the type of person to assert her absolute right to do whatever she wants, with whomever she wants, without anyone’s permission; I don’t think a strict conventional monogamous marriage would be for her (but maybe I’m totally wrong). Linda, having moved in the rock world in the mid- and late Sixties, probably played the field a fair amount, and after she and Paul had established a firm bond, had children, and gotten to the “seven year itch” phase, I would be surprised if strict fidelity was a deal-breaker. But, once again, guessing. My instinct is that both couples had hit upon “do what you have to do, just as long as you don’t embarrass me.” Lennon’s dalliance at the party in November 1972 breaks that rule in spades; I doubt it was the sex that bothered Yoko as much as it was the public humiliation. And I can understand why! And similarly, I can understand Linda’s possessiveness re: Maggie McGivern. Sex in general and sex with an old girlfriend who is a model…two different things. All this is a prime example of a fan trying to figure out How a Beatle Lives. I have no idea what it’s like to live with that level of experience, or sexual availability. It would probably drive you a little batty. What was Liza Greer saying about married men and quickies? That they were lousy, all-business?
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 25, 13:50 HAHAHA! Producer in music or theatrical, @g_i_b? I want to know who to avoid.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by notorious_g_i_b on Oct 25, 10:45 “and believe me, compared to most of the people reading this blog, they were wildmen, unless you guys all spent Gap Years hanging with “toe-job” specialists and criminals” I’ve been a producer (in training and then professionally) since the age of 15. “Toe-job” specialists and criminals are the nicer side of the tracks.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Kristy on Oct 25, 09:03 “@Kristy, I’m just learning of this book–would you like to write a review, centering on any Beatle information? ” . @Michael Gerber, I don’t know that it would be too awfully relevant, as fascinating a book as it was, if only because the only real Beatle encounter named was with George Harrison, and it basically involved a somewhat dehumanizing tryst at an L.A. party where the actress involved, Liza Greer, wasn’t charging, just getting the opportunity to have an encounter with a Beatle. . One point put across again and again by the women in the book was that the more famous a guy is, the the less likely they are are to think they have to pay for it. And that was often the case! And sure, groupies and spouses and even some call girls get into their line of existence by being into some non-mainstream sex stuff or the desire to be with rich and powerful people. I’ve known some of those people, and have certainly been peripherally involved in a musician’s “backstage” sort of scene, as a witness or a friend. Big-time musicians can get it, period. Now if they want a certain number of beautiful women to come to their house, arrange themselves in a particular tableau and pretend to enjoy it, there’s probably going to be payment involved, but I think you’ve made the point before that a certain sexual promiscuity and travel into more and more outrageous stuff sometimes creates a desire for or even addiction to more outrageous sex? The book certainly painted a picture of some oversexed people. . The point the book seemed to also drive home, however, was that certain degradations were often a not-necessarily consensual thing, and that the paid women involved had to become inured to being treated a certain way because of the need for money (for drugs, lifestyle, rep) or because they were emotionally and intellectually manipulated. The women across the board seemed to really get off on the lifestyle and the admiration and the drugs and the clothes and the excitement, and some really kinky stuff they grew to like, but all of them had their limits, which were often crossed without their consent. Also, the highly paid call girls seemed to have a short shelf life and often nothing to show for it once their “best by” date passed, and were continually targeted and arrested, while the Johns paying for them were and are still protected. Look at Heidi Fleiss, who had the big prosecution and media circus– she still hasn’t revealed her black book, I don’t think! . Do you really think there wasn’t a mutual clinging thing going on with JohnandYoko and Paul and Linda? I guess I was thinking of John’s need to have Yoko by his side 24-7, and Paul’s run to the wilds of Scotland and having Linda join the band and bring their kids everywhere on tour — that maybe those arrangements offered some protection from forays back into heedless sexual promiscuity. Do you mean for appearances only? I mean, I’m sure none of them were faithful because of course they weren’t, nuh-uh no way, but I got the idea that they maybe tried as much as they could. Maggie McGivern tells the story of Linda wanting to keep a close eye on Paul when Maggie ran into him years later, and there are always the rumors of Paul keeping his wives in a certain state of rightherenexttome. Or is that all part of the front, too? (Liza Greer noted that she discovered George was married, but only brought it up because she felt married men had a certain demeanor when it came to quickies.) . “I mean, think about it: do you want to tell Yoko Ono what to do?” I have to admit I’m not 100% sure what you’re pointing at — do you mean, that John couldn’t tell her what to do? I mean, obviously he couldn’t. 🙂 .
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Tasmin on Oct 25, 08:59 I’m curious Michael, how accurate you feel Peter Browns book is? You say he has a right to write about his experience with The Beatles, but does he have a right to lie, or merely embellish? I’m not saying he did, and I don’t remember reading the book. I think I scanned through it a long time ago. My point is, yes, we should accept that the Beatles were not saints, and engaged in salacious behavior. I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem with not knowing what is true and what is false. You write: “Fans want the Official Narrative, that’s how it became Official. If fans wanted the sleaze, that’s what Apple would be selling, better believe it.“ I’m a fan, and what I’d like to read is the truth. Good, bad, or ugly. But it’s hard to discern the truth from the many books out there. I guess that’s why I have respect for Mark Lewisohn. He is taking his time to uncover the truth (if it’s possible as you write). I respect his methodical research, and cross referencing, talking to first hand sources, and the Beatles themselves. I guess I’m asking you, if it’s improbable that we’ll ever know the entire truth, then how could we trust the many books out there on The Beatles?
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Kristy on Oct 25, 08:12 The way Myers framed Klein’s early forays into managing rock stars, or negotiating on their behalves, was centered around the rights of the artists– that artists wanted flashy cars and drugs but were only getting pennies on their own creations, and Klein would meet with artists and tell them, basically, I’ll get you a million dollars in renegotiation, and all you have to do on your side is threaten to stop being the cash cow. Because the record labels could take an artist’s money, but they likely couldn’t force them to create, or to create hits. I get more money, you get more money, win-win! Except then managers, or Klein in particular, would set up all the side companies to handle the cash flow and eventually make out like a bandit. Also, I think he purposefully came across as a tough guy asshole and that didn’t work on everyone. . And the comics industry, oh gosh, yes. I worked in a comic store for several years and went to the industry luncheons and whatnot in the mid-90s and I remember the whole independent boom, when Valiant Comics and Image Comics and the like were being formed in response to the Big Two (Marvel and DC) having such a stranglehold of control on creation and distribution, and artists in particular decided they wanted to just create and sell directly and own their creations, rather than losing them to the company copyright. Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee and Erik Larsen and those guys, figuring that their art was selling all those comic books and wanting to own their own characters, imagine that. It was a disaster at first of course, because they no longer had any of the good writers giving them a decent script, or corporate bosses enforcing deadlines and actually printing and distributing the books once they were finished. Sometimes there were months or years between issues. I think distribution issues finally killed some of those companies, or the absolute glut of “very special issues!” created oversaturation? . Sadly, the comics industry seems to have been strangled in the end by the digital age, as well as its core fanbase of dudes of a certain age having expectations that sensibly-dressed women and minorities and LGBT themes won’t be shoved down their throats (that’s me being snarky, sorry — I have intimate exposure to guys who make the “when comics were GOOD” argument, hah). Whatever the case, it’s a real shame that some of those original creators that gave us some of the most iconic characters of the last century were stripped by their particular machine. Huh, I guess it’s like musicians — we just wanna create music and get chicks, vs. we just wanna write and draw cool comics, but when someone starts making big money on what you create, it’s not just so much fun anymore. Now it seems like the big money is in licensing, because it’s certainly not in selling actual books? . (I attended a smallish “insider” comics convention last year, and actually had a comics legend try to entire me over to his table where he was selling retrospectives because “I’m a comics legend, you know?” He was, but I was busy making googly-eyes at Sergio Aragones, whoops. Still, outside of comics, nobody would know this guy’s name because few creators have made it into the public consciousness. It’s really sad.)
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 25, 08:03 Well said as always, @Sam. And the actual historical truth about Jackie is even more piquant. I think it was in Death of a President, but her attention had been caught by a bone fragment, and she was reaching to get it. Clint Hill got there just in time and pushed her back.
  • Avatar Why The Beatles Never Had a Mudshark Story Comment by Hologram Sam on Oct 25, 05:34 They certainly made an example of Fred Seaman. And in the end, his humble apology sounded to me like it’d been dictated by Yoko’s lawyers, word for word. It reminded me of the forced confession of a political prisoner. I don’t know how Lennon would have reacted to Brown’s book. John liked yanking his own trousers off, but could have objected to anyone else doing the yanking. Just as he would trash the Beatles all he wanted in interviews, but wouldn’t tolerate Mick or Keith doing the same. Here’s the problem with heroes: We can never live up to them. I know this is an obvious point, but heroes really make the rest of us feel… lesser. Lenny Bruce pissed off a lot of people when he told an audience Jackie Kennedy was hauling ass to save her ass that day in Dallas. (The official story was that she was trying to save her husband and help an FBI agent.) Lenny’s point was that if his daughter or my daughter tried to save herself after seeing her husband shot, she’d feel horrible because she wasn’t like the “good Mrs. Kennedy” who stayed. We can never live up to the myths we place on pedestals. And so there were times in my youth when I thought less of myself because I couldn’t conduct myself with the quiet dignity of George Harrison, or I wasn’t the ideal husband like Paul McCartney. Or a loyal friend like Ringo. And I’ve never baked a perfect loaf of bread like John!
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 24, 20:32 Yeah, there’s a reason why the music business was considered to be practically slavery. It wasn’t just the mobsters controlling the labels and paying off the disc jockeys; it was all the shady lawyers and accountants who knew each other, did the deals, and made sure the talent came last. That’s where Klein came from, and maybe Myers, too — but even if Myers was as “white shoe” as they come, being friendly with Klein and ilk was necessary for him to thrive in that business. So: “Allen’s a great fellow!” Even though Klein’s own career told a very different story; he left a trail of screwed clients (Sam Cooke, The Stones, The Beatles). There’s a type of publishing that’s ethically similar—humor and comic books—and the major creators in that line of work ended up broke, with big companies and middlemen owning all the copyrights. I didn’t lose in that way, but I can tell you that a shady agent stole probably $50,000 in royalties from me; and another colluded with a publisher to get me to write a book for free. I don’t write books anymore because the level of behavior is so unethical. I just kept signing big book contracts ($50k plus), losing money and getting poorer. Rock music eventually got SO big that performers started fighting back—if you have enough money to sue someone like Klein, and outlast him in court, you can prevent his shenanigans (like Paul did). But if Paul had been anybody but Paul McCartney, he might not have been able to match Klein lawyer for lawyer, suit for suit, and Lennon and McCartney would’ve ended up like Siegel and Schuster (the creators of Superman). These businesses only work for the creator if the creator starts with, or somehow makes, enough money to protect themselves. Stephen King is fine; everybody else, not so much.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 24, 20:19 @Kristy, I’m just learning of this book–would you like to write a review, centering on any Beatle information? I would be very surprised if Yoko, Linda, or any other Beatle wife “attempted to keep such tight grips on their men.” I think that’s what everybody told the press, because there’s a lot of pressure for marriages to be conventional, at least in public. Whatever the “deal” was between a Beatle and their wives, I suspect it was either a custom job for both parties, or not permanent (like John, George and Ringo’s first marriages). For example, Olivia’s comment about “just don’t get divorced.” I mean, think about it: do you want to tell Yoko Ono what to do? 🙂 Along the same lines, what might look like “degradation” to us (at least in the sexual sense), might be different from the inside. Just as people become rock stars for the adventurous unconventional sex, other people choose to become groupies for exactly the same reason. The problem is our society judges the two halves of the equation differently, compensating and forgiving the one side, and judging the other harshly. I know someone who considered becoming a rock star’s girlfriend, and decided against it–and I’m glad she did, simply because she would’ve gotten the short end of that deal.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Kristy on Oct 24, 07:15 Aaand still reading Hunky Dory, and OF COURSE he’s best friends with Allen Klein, and he doesn’t seem to fault Klein at all for the deals he made that basically ensure that his company still owns Rolling Stones rights, hah. Apparently he gave the dishons/hons speech at Klein’s funeral. And he’s already described the Eastmans as basically bougie, as opposed to Klein’s and John Lennon’s working-class backgrounds. Oh, this guy. Still, it’s informative stuff.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Kristy on Oct 23, 10:20 I’ve read a few really eye-opening “insider views” of the fame industry lately, and I keep being reminded of this thread because it seems so apt. I know @Michael has seen more than your everyday Joe, but it’s interesting how really few fans look that deeply. I know I will be reading things with new eyes, especially when I see comments from fans that “X Beatle would NEVER.” Actually, they very likely might. . One quote I thought apropos was from Laurence Myers’s “Hunky Dory,” where he states that “It is said that there are three phases in a businessman’s life. ‘Dishons’ is the time when you do things that you would rather not, in order to get on; ‘Hons’ is when you want to be regarded as an honourable, ‘his word is his bond’ type; and ‘Honours’ is when you want to be recognised with some glory – be it a knighthood or being enrolled in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. ” (Interesting; makes me wonder who in particular he’s referring to.) The subject was brought up in reference to his taking an outsider’s side against his colleague, and he considered it a “dishons.” Anyway, it does remind me to keep in mind that there were more dirty deals done around the Beatles to get them where they were than merely sacking Pete Best or getting cash under the table for live appearances, and that those things likely continued and continue. . Another anecdote I read may be more apropos to your “Epstein and the Beatles” thread, because that’s where I first heard about the book “You’ll Never Make Love in This Town Again,” an expose from four actresses and/or high-priced call girls who operated in L.A. in the 80s. George Harrison doesn’t come off particularly well, but his story certainly isn’t as depraved or harmful as some of them (some celebrities I won’t be able to look at the same again, whether the stories were true or not, oops). . Anyway, there’s more than one account of sleeping with an Eagle in this book, because apparently Eagles were into high-priced L.A. hookers. But one of the hookers, Linda, made a salient point that I know you’ve made before, MG, but it was interesting to me coming from a woman and in the particular viewpoint of the “victims” of rock-star excess: . “Rock stars apparently have a hard time satisfying the sexual appetites they acquire when they are on the road. When they are on hiatus from touring or their season in the limelight is over, they still need their fix. They long for the good old days of young groupies throwing keys, phone numbers, and panties onto the stage after a wild performance.” . For Don Henley that apparently translated into a need for multiple girls at once, related in the book by two different women. But I begin to see why Yoko and Linda attempted to keep such tight grips on their men. Or why the guys made it mutual in clinging to their women. . So much degradation and underhandness in the entertainment world, ugh. Thankfully, I’ve also randomly run across two very complimentary anecdotes about Paul McCartney in my readings, not in a hooker sense but in stories from industry dudes who were disinclined to like Paul coming away from a meeting very impressed. I do wonder what stories are lurking out there about Paul.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Lara on Oct 19, 18:57 Laura, I understand where Michael is coming from regarding the extremist aspects of celebrity life but I’m with you here. As far as the dirty work went, it was the job of Brian Epstein to dismiss Pete Best, for example. He was their manager and that was what he was paid for. In this respect it is not so different from our non-celebrity lives. If we are unhappy with a colleague in our workplace because he/she is not pulling their weight, has no commitment to the culture, is critical and derogatory, then it is our managers to who we turn to address the matter. We don’t take it into our own hands beyond initially reasoning with that person. Perhaps John, Paul and George did attempt to reason with Pete – improve your drumming, change your hairstyle? This goes on all the time, it always has, but because we are not celebrities it means nothing and even if it did, who would care? We are not interesting enough simply because we are mere mortals. . For John, George and Ringo to being rankled by Paul’s nice guy image then they had no right to be. He may have been as much as a bastard as the others but they also hid behind Paul’s PR – they didn’t have to promote themselves, Paul did it for them. Paul was so angry in the early 70s; he stopped being the nice guy and then savaged for it. He was perceived to be the polite nice one (which he genuinely is), but when he wasn’t people reacted because what they saw was the celebrity not the human being. Nice guy celebrities are no different from nice guy everyday blokes – if they feel grumpy in the slightest, have an off day, have an absolute shit day and let it be known, then they are hammered – cue guilt and remorse. Perhaps because we know where we stand with people who parade their dirt is why they are lauded for their honesty and character. Unfair, but still.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Lara on Oct 19, 16:54 The burden of expectation. I don’t equivocate George’s five-year period of writing with either John or Paul’s. I consider a reign from 1963-1974 to be more appropriate for both Lennon and McCartney, a decade producing an impressive body of work individually and collaboratively. Because of it, both John and Paul had massive expectations placed upon them at the time of the split, particularly Paul by his legal actions in dissolving the Beatles. In contrast, Harrison had nowhere near the same level of expectations 1969/70 and when he came up with the goods people were pleasantly surprised, and rightly so, but erroneously, in my opinion, it led people to believe that George had the better solo career. But even George succumbed – “what now, what do I do next, and how?” Jaded by fame, money and drugs none of them had the youthful creative energy to sustain what they achieved ten years earlier, as Michael pointed out. But I don’t think creative brilliance disappears overnight either. Perhaps free from the numbing effects of prolonged drug use they may have channelled their creative energies along different paths as they aged. It reminds me of the David Frost interview with Paul in 1964 when asked what he would like to do if the Beatles flopped tomorrow. Paul: to write songs for other people. Well, there’s food for thought. Realistically, though, most creative artists have a peak of 10-15 years, not just the Beatles – Dylan, Bowie, the Stones, all of them – with flashes of brilliance here and there, seemingly enough to keep respective fans’ mouths watering for more until they drop.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Tasmin on Oct 19, 13:52 I agree with that Michael. I think Paul has been incredibly prolific over the span of his career. He’s had hits and misses, but who hasn’t? Bob Dylan in Rolling Stone a few years back, said the only person he admired at this time was Paul McCartney. The fact that he was still touring, still had incredible energy, and was still sounding good, plus writing songs, amazed Dylan. High praise indeed.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 19, 13:21 I think this is all correct, @Michael. I never know what to say to someone who considers themselves a fan of that period of music–much less a writer/biographer of it–who doesn’t see the way that chemicals twisted and darkened the story of every band. YES, you wouldn’t have had Pepper without acid, but that’s done in five trips, not five years. Just as they can’t bring themselves to say Mark David Chapman’s name, Beatles fans can’t really bear the fact that this amazing coincidence, this unearned, unlooked-for miracle was wrecked by drugs. Just as it turns out that you can’t magically unBeatle yourself and walk around NYC without bodyguards, you can’t use heavy drugs and not fuck up the group dynamics of your band. And the fact that the Beatles themselves — STILL! — dismiss it all as “growing up and growing apart” is clear proof that addiction is a huge part of the story. It was an internal chemical process, so it’s unknowable, but it’s time to acknowledge it as a primary driver. Stone cold sober, would they likely have drifted into solo careers? Sure. But it’s difficult to deny that drugs first made the divorce inevitable, and then made it much more acrimonious.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 19, 13:09 Well, @Alejandra, pop music (like comedy writing) seems to be a young person’s game. You gain fluidity as you get older, but the brain simply moves more slowly, even without the impact of chemicals. And young people have this great feedback loop of success–>more energy–>better work–>success. By 1978, what could Paul McCartney do that he hadn’t already done ten years earlier? Lennon from 1963-68; McCartney from 1965-70; Harrison from 1968-73…there’s a rich period, then the vein has been mined. Perhaps?
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Gerber on Oct 19, 13:04 I think Lennon was in a very peculiar bind: he wanted to be great, but didn’t want to be seen to try. So if you write a song with Elephant’s Memory, you’re great; but if it doesn’t do well, you weren’t really trying.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Lara on Oct 18, 18:29 I agree absolutely with Alejandra and Michelle regarding the changes in Paul post 1968. It was much more than just growing older. Many, many fans noticed his descent (albeit more gradual than John’s) from a thoughtful, intellectually curious young man in the 60s into an oversupported, overprotected, somewhat naive man prone to evasiveness and silliness. It’s a myth that the post-war generations who grew up with the band were not aware of the affect that drugs had on the Beatles. On hearing about John’s death through word of mouth, many people immediately jumped to the conclusion it was a heroin overdose. From the mid-70s and beyond, Paul was constantly mocked as pothead Paul. Drugs, together with fame, changed all of them; it damaged their marriages and relationships, their personalities, and even their good looks. It was heartbreaking.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michelle on Oct 18, 08:57 I avoided Sometime in NYC for years because it was trashed so hard and for so long. Maybe it was because my expectations couldn’t have been lower as a result, but listening to it for the first time was a pleasant surprise for me. It really isn’t as bad as people would have you believe. But to each their own, I guess. It rocks more than Mind Games (which grew on me after repeated listens, and the 2002 re-mix rescues that album). John’s vocals on STINYC are in top form. I even like Yoko’s singing on Sisters O Sisters. It’s a fun track! Mind Games is Lennon at his most mellow, and I have a soft spot for it because of that. He was just making music for the sake of making music. The production was lackluster on a lot of his stuff, but the musicians and his writing were fine IMO. If we’re honest, both John and Paul had a handful of quality tracks on each solo album that together would have made a great Beatle album, but the rest was filler. Of course none of the Beatles alone were as good as the Stones. They surpassed them as a band, but only just. BTW, I agree with Alejandra downthread. Paul also changed drastically post-68. I don’t know if it’s the endless weed or just domesticity that fried his brain. He seemed to be on autopilot. No one talks as much about his state of mind. I remember seeing a clip of him from the mid- to late 70s where he was asked what question he dreaded the most. He said he hated being asked if he was happy, because he’d say that he was while knowing he was “lying through his teeth.” I found that surprising, but then again it’s not because he loved being a Beatle more than the others.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Tasmin on Oct 18, 08:52 Excellent comment Michael B! Maybe we as Beatle fans are guilty of looking for “mystical turns of fate” as opposed to Occams Razor : the simplest answer tends to be the right one. Maybe because everyone was shocked by the Beatles split, and were looking for “clues” as to why, the drug use of the band was not really thought of as a factor. Because the Beatles weren’t seen to be “hard core” like some of their peers who had died (Hendrix, Keith Moon, Brian Jones) had been.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Bleicher on Oct 18, 08:36 @Alejandra, I think some of those changes are just Paul getting older; becoming a dad and spending more time with your wife and kids than John Lennon and George Harrison will probably do that. Lots of pot doesn’t help.
  • Michael Bleicher Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael Bleicher on Oct 18, 05:50 @Michael, my last sentence was rendered cryptic by my phone changing “of the group” to “is the group.” But in the spirit of the group, I’ll lean into the accident and say that a lot of the dynamics that get reported on as being unknowable, mystical turns of fate are more easily explained by fame and drugs doing their things on the minds of young, sensitive people. Maybe everyone had trouble with Paul after 1966 because cocaine amplified his keenness and perfectionism. Maybe things fell apart really quickly because Yoko suggested that heroin was a way to celebrate yourself as an artist, and that turned out not to be true. Those things are integral to the group’s history, but biographers and most fans treat the drugs as gossip-trivia, and the changes in band dynamics as something to be reported on without asking “why,” without the two ever meeting. If we culturally can’t do this work with a group that’s been broken up for fifty years, two of whom are dead, because people won’t pay to hear about it, we’re fucked as a society. And I think people would pay to hear about it: interest in the Beatles transcends Boomers, and as much as later generations love them, I don’t think they’re as sacred. And each later generation generally seems to be more understanding of mental health and addiction, such that talking about these things wouldn’t “ruin” the story for them. Maybe that’s too optimistic. A lot of responsibility for the way we think about musicians and addictions also belongs to music journalists, who talk about “habits” as though John Lennon got distracted by building model airplanes or running 5ks, and who report Hendrix’s drug intake as though they’re reciting how many home runs he hit. And this actually ties back to what I said in the Lennon thread: part of the reason John seems unhappy and hollowed out and less creative after 1968 is that he spent the rest of his life on, or trying to stay off, heroin. It seems like he was truly free of it just before someone decided he needed to be shot.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Alejandra on Oct 17, 21:53 Paul also seems to have changed post 1968 (someting inevitable considering how abrupt the break with Lennon was) although not so suddenly like his partner. Through the seventies his changes are more noticeable, beginning to derive in that somewhat goofy person that we know now, he was losing fluency of thought and sharpness, and seemed to be less inquisitive. Although all this may be attributable to the changes in his life or probably be his mechanism of keeping his true self out of reach to the public (being so sociable I definitely think he’s the most elusive), I wonder how much was due to the use of drugs or substances. To me is hard to believe that the McCartney of 1966 is the same man from 70’s on.
  • Avatar Why Your Favorite Celebrity Isn’t Who You Think They Are Comment by Michael bleicher on Oct 17, 21:10 And what’s even odder to me is that John’s asserting all this while putting out records like Sometime in NYC and Mind Games. If you want to prove you’re as good as the Stones, John, why not hire a real band and really focus on your writing? Or better yet, get your old band together?