Favorite unreleased Beatles track?

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Michael Gerber

Publisher at The American Bystander
is Blogmom of Hey Dullblog. His novels and parodies have sold 1.25 million copies in 25 languages. He lives in Santa Monica, CA, and runs The American Bystander all-star print humor magazine.
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I‘m spending incredible amounts of time on another web project, but in the moments before collapsing into bed this evening, I realized how much I like this song:

Which unreleased Beatles track do you like best? “Leave My Kitten Alone” is equally great, a worthy addition to Lennon’s “I am destroying my throat” catalog. And then there’s McCartney’s demo for “Come And Get It”—a Number One, sure, but not meaningful enough.

Am I off my nut? Could it be that these were the songs that my generation discovered, the ones that were new in the 80s when I was a teenager? Or am I just a romantic, half-enchanted by what might have been…?

So ‘fess up—which ones do you like? (And yes, you can say “What’s the New Mary Jane”…but I’m not sure I’ll believe you.)

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31 Comments

  1. I’m going with “Leave My Kitten Alone,” which to my mind was better than any other cover on Beatles For Sale and maybe second only to “Twist and Shout” among all their cover work.

    Most of the other unreleased songs, I can at least understand where they were coming from, but not putting out “Leave My Kitten Alone” is a head scratcher …

  2. Avatar PS wrote:

    “Not Guilty” has always been a favorite of mine, and I can understand why it was left off the album. The lyrics are about as pointed as you can get.

    Of course, it’s a direct attack on John and Paul by George, but look at some of the circumstances of the recording. Over 100 takes were recorded over four nights, just to drive home the point. I know “Ob-La-Di” gets all the attention as a song that supposedly took forever, but look at the actual studio logs. This song holds its own for studio hours spent. It’s almost as if George were punishing the rest of the band.

    Then there’s my favorite part of the song, which I’ve never heard anyone else comment on–the little musical joke of going into waltz time. You’ll recall that George’s contribution to the Lennon/McCartney song “We Can Work It Out” was the waltz section. This can’t be anything but a direct reference to that, since this part of “Not Guilty” is completely out of step with the rest of it.

    And to top it all off, John and Paul put the running order of the album together without George or Ringo, and you just know they took delight in excluding this song. It’s certainly no worse than “Piggies”, and probably even better. So why leave it off? Just to be dicks, that’s why.

  3. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Eric, is there a version of TB that’s complete? Which one do you like best? Is it on YouTube?

    MM, totally with you on “Leave My Kitten Alone.”

    For my money, “Not Guilty”s no worse than half the songs on White, but I’ve got an issue with that whole project. Years go by without my listening to it. White’s the reverse of Sgt Pepper, a lot of great songwriting that adds up to a truly depressing package. Alienated (and alienating), indulgent, and strangely bloody, it’s the first album where The Beatles are more influenced than influencers, and since ’68 was so violent, there’s simply a lot of violence in the album. But not real violence, coming from emotion and having real consequences–merely rockstar revolution, violence for people who think their biggest problem is getting busted, not being addicted to something.

    That’s my biggest issue with White, how it’s totally fashionable and false, just like most Beatle’s solo output, and not like what came before. Both it and Let It Be seem like the triumph of each band member’s persona over their authentic selves; they are their final refusal to change, when change was what The Beatles did best. Lennon’s “honest” and politically aware (in a rockstar way) and intentionally grimy. McCartney’s that much more eager to please (which is why his music hall thing gets out of control). Harrison’s either wafting away on a cloud or acidly angry. Starr is a good ol’ boy who just happened to be born in the North of England…I don’t like the White Album anymore than I like The Beatles’ cartoon, for the same reasons.

    Sorry for the rant, but I just never hear anything but praise for White. “USSR” is great; “Julia” is great; “Weeps” is great; but I judge albums for how they make me feel, and White fails miserably in that regard. I think it gets this praise because of how it “fixes” the group, and makes it easier to critique. White cements the group’s mythos, and critics like that because it’s something they can work with. White’s the album where The Beatles stopped being The Beatles, and started being a group of rockstars. It’s a diminishment of them as artists and people, and I despise it for that, while still loving some songs.

  4. My favorite unreleased Beatles would be either “Come and Get It” (a monster hit) or “That Means a Lot” (the Beatles do Phil Spector, or vice versa).

    Michael, on White you’re just as wrong as you can be. I love White exactly because it un-fixes everything–chiefly but not solely the tired historicist view that the album can’t hang together because the Beatles were coming apart. Listen to Ringo in “Anthology,” talking about “Yer Blues” and the great group activity; look at Lewisohn’s logs and see how involved they were in each other’s songs.

    White is no more disunited than “Revolver,” in fact it’s that album at its supreme stage of development: John digging inside, Paul on aspects of love, George the bitter mystic, Ringo singing a children’s song. Both are black and white, hot and cold. But White is a lifetime more embattled, resilient, outraged, emotional, mature.

    What has brainwashed us into hearing “Revolver” as the ultimate in Beatle unity and White as the ultimate in Beatle disunity (talk about your easy categories) is simply and solely our extra-musical knowledge (historicity again) of how pissed off they were at each other. This comes almost completely from John’s seminal “me and a backing band” comment, which damaged everyone’s ability to hear the thing straight. Emotionally, White is chaotic and conflicted. Musically, it’s as tight and unified and groupy as anything they did, often more so. (The tight internal dynamics of “Gun,” e.g., don’t happen without empathy, communication, work, love.)

    There’s nothing fashionable (what fashion?) or false about “Gun” or “Tired” or “Sadie” or “Onion” or even “Monkey.” They are ALL OUT. (They’re at least as genuine as “Julia,” which is easier for some to credit emotionally because it’s about Mummy and Mother, as opposed to Monkey.) And in any case this was years before any real paradigm of rock star “honesty” (read: bullshit) developed–largely off the Lennon model, admittedly, and not without his helping it along. But laying that on White is like blaming “Yesterday” for “Feelings.”

    If White makes a critic’s job easier by handing him a bunch of easy categories to write and not think about, that proves nothing but Sturgeon’s law–that 90 percent of everything (including critical writing) is crap. Speaking as one critic who wrote at length about White, I can say it didn’t make my job easier; I’d have to outdo myself 10 times over to even come close to doing it justice. But it challenged, daunted, engaged, and inspired me as no other album, and few other works, have. It made my job infinitely tougher and infinitely more rewarding.

    It’s all a matter of what you hear. If you hear something and love it, you’ll find ways to give personal context to the importance it has to you. If you don’t like it, you’ll find those reasons. What you hear as “the Beatles’ final refusal to change” I hear as drama–four individuals joined under the skin, that skin withering and wearing, their unity telepathic even as their verbal communication breaks down, fighting within the skin to work together and push the group to new lands: and all of that without, I believe, any conscious intent. White, in the best Beatle tradition, doesn’t intend, it IS. Whereas “Abbey Road” for all its magnificent passages is an acquiescence, an abrogation of conflict for bliss, consequently lacking (overall) in drama and even a little inhuman.

    White Album is the first principle and the last. It is Moby-Dick. And you thought you were fed up with the praise before!

  5. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Devin, that’s some nice writing, but that’s kinda my point about White: as an object for criticism, it’s superb. But as an album, it’s a hot mess. It’s four increasingly undisciplined, distracted, angry guys, four kings with courts, in desperate need of basic emotional skills that their time and upbringing didn’t provide. It’s their emotional immaturity on White–their inability to drop the ego and simply tell each other what they really felt, and what they really needed–that makes it an uncomfortable experience for me.

    Are there some good songs? Heck yes. And if The Beatles hadn’t broken up in 1970, my feelings about White and LIB would be different. But they did, and so its flaws–which show very clearly what killed the group–outweigh the good stuff for me.

    Gotta respectfully disagree about Lennon’s White work being “all out.” (Now watch me be super-hard on our pal John.) “Sexy Sadie” is a pullback from “Maharishi.” “Onion” is a mass of lyrical code half-expressing emotions he wasn’t brave enough to speak. “Monkey” is particularly ironic given that Lennon’s heroin use wasn’t common knowledge–so he and his “monkey” did nothing BUT hide. “Revolution”s out/in. “Yer Blues” is Lennon’s attempt at a form (white blues) that itself is of dubious authenticity (which Lennon himself surely felt–see his comment about doing “black music”). Even “Gun”–which I know you revere–is it about shooting up? If so, then Lennon’s comment about never using needles (which I don’t believe, any more than I believe he kicked in 1971) is a straight-up lie. Again and again, Lennon approaches the truth–what he REALLY thinks, how he REALLY lives–then backs away. Is that a high standard to hold him to? Yeah, but that’s the one he claimed. The only thing White tells us about John Lennon is that 1) he’s tired and depressed, and 2) he misses his mom, and 3) he loves Yoko. Which isn’t nothing, but it doesn’t suggest to me he’s digging deep. These three items are the real post-68 truths of Lennon’s life, expressed over and over and over, and not much more. For Lennon, “honesty” was an excellent way to hide.

    I’m happy to agree to disagree, and I sure as hell wish I enjoyed White more!

  6. We’re apprehending John’s songs (at least) in very different ways–you in terms of their veracity as autobiography, me in terms of their effects as performance. You in terms of the transparency of the lyrics, which are bound to fail in proportion to their propensity to hide the (biographical) truth; me in terms of the physical and emotional commitment of John’s singing and feeling–which is what I meant by “genuine” and “all out,” and which is where I think most of the real action occurs in popular music.

    Or for that matter in any art: artists lie, period, firstly about themselves. I take it for granted that John is a bullshitter, that for all his self-exposure his lyrics often cannot be meaningfully lined up with the facts of his life, and that his evasiveness and tendency to intellectual retreat were there all along (from “There’s a Place” to “Strawberry Fields”). I don’t know how anyone can love him without accepting that as his DNA.

    Your estimation of “Gun” is contingent on whether John was using needles or not at the time he wrote it. For me, it doesn’t occur to ask; PEOPLE were using needles, that’s all the factual basis I need. “Sadie” steps back from “The Maharishi Song” all right, but which is the better performance/recording/song? “Maharishi” is a spew of undigested bile; “Sadie,” with the others’ help, is a weird, swooning love/hate song sung by a choir of crazies in a demented church.

    Unvarnished truth and clear thinking don’t guarantee the good, while lies/evasions/step-backs can bring a thing into focus even while making it less verifiably truthful. There are reasons why works like the White Album, Psycho, The Searchers, Moby-Dick, Taxi Driver, etc. become objects of critical fetish and fascination–their contradictions, evasions, all-outs and half-ins make them way more fascinating than works with clean edges and clear meanings. That’s bound to look sometimes like a lack of discipline, proportion, self-stricture, and often it is. The line between self-indulgence and a work of White Album grandeur may be thin to the point of invisibility, but it’s usually at that vanishing point that major work gets done.

    And you’re right: the White Album is very unlike anything the Beatles had done before. Another reason to find it fascinating.

    John Lennon should never be held up to illustrate the virtues of telling it like it is: when he was most truthful, he was most one-dimensional. Trust the tale, not the teller, even if the teller seems to be telling the truth. And give me a hot mess over a cool calculation every time.

    Over to you, Paul …

  7. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Yes, I got that we were perceiving it differently in just the ways you say, and that’s why it’s always so fun and fascinating for me to read your take on such stuff. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about this.

    I can easily love John Lennon without accepting evasion and retreat as part of his DNA. Because they’re not part of his DNA. They’re bad choices, self-destructive behaviors that he himself acknowledged were flaws which made him do things he endlessly regretted, and struggled against every day of his life. Far be it from me to put conditions on anybody’s Beatlelove–that’s none of my beeswax– but it’s tough for me to figure how you could love Lennon as a person and NOT hate when he acted that way.

    (And to bring this back to the original topic: no evasion and retreat in “Not Guilty.” Which J&P spiked.)

    For me, you sum it up here:
    “…become objects of critical fetish and fascination–their contradictions, evasions, all-outs and half-ins make them way more fascinating than works with clean edges and clear meanings.”

    Agreed, and my point is: that doesn’t make them better art. It makes them more likely to be beloved by critics, and fans with that turn of mind, and I contend that is exactly what’s behind White’s good press.

    But of course you can have both: Psycho is both a wonderfully scary, highly disciplined movie AND a movie whose qualities make it extra rich for critique. It wholly succeeds as a piece of popular art, AND exists as the other thing. White, I’d argue, isn’t the album that Pepper or Revolver or Abbey Road or Rubber Soul are, because it lacks the discipline of each of those–and most critics sense that, and rush to make White’s lack of discipline a virtue.

    Which it might’ve been, had the group not split up. But they did, and so White, to me, is “Let It Be” improved by the Rishikesh experience. The seeds of a truly great Beatles album–or two–were planted in that period of calm, relaxation, and health. But then the rest of 1968 happened–Apple, Yoko, smack. When I hear the White Album, I hear the Sixties dying. I hear the Right counterattacking and the Left having no response but alienation. I hear our “lucky break”, not just John’s, being broken in two. Wish I didn’t, but I always do.

  8. Oh, this could go on! But we both have work to do. Suffice to say, this is why we’re all here at HD. The Beatles are the Kama Sutra of fandom, enabling love from every position.

  9. Since “Strawberry Fields Forever (Take 1)” is different from the final version, I’m going with that. Backing vocals must be included. Otherwise, it’s “Come And Get It”, “Leave My Kitten Alone”, and “Not Guilty”. If the “Bad To Me” demo counts, then I’ll add that as well.

  10. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Ooh, Bad to Me, good pick.

  11. Avatar Nancy wrote:

    There’s something spooky about the White Album’s tendency to engender intense, often negative feelings, both at the time and now. Much as I love parts of it, I can rarely listen to more than a couple of songs from it at a time.

    Devin, I agree with you about the way John’s comments (“backing band”) color the way we hear this album. Certainly there was plenty of tension and bad feeling, but listen to a song like “Dear Prudence” — what amazing collaboration, especially between Lennon’s melody and McCartney’s sublime bassline. The evidence of collaboration and enjoyment in many songs makes the overall effect of the album all the sadder.

  12. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    My favorite is “That Means A Lot”.

    Great conversation on the White Album! Thank you!

  13. I’ve always liked The White Album. It has spent time in first place in my Personal List of Favorite Beatles Albums. (Of course, so has Revolver, Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper, MMT, Abbey Road, HD’sN, Yellow Submarine – HAR! Just kidding about that last one; wanted to see if you were paying attention.)

    I agree that John’s comments about how things were during the recording of The White Album – especially the “backing band” comment – have tended to unduly influence how many perceive it. [Odd analogy moment and lengthy, self-indulgent and possibly irrelevant aside:] To me it’s kinda like when the Seinfeld show referred to the show within the show as “a show about nothing”. Before that, I can’t recall any critic’s – or any viewer’s – having called Seinfeld “a show about nothing”; but, of course, after that, everyone did. It was almost obligatory. And the thing that kinda gets me about the mindless repetition of this supposed truism is not so much that it’s just flat out wrong – not borne out by the show itself (there was usually a lot going on in every episode and the episodes tended to have subplots that echoed (or provided counterpoints to) the themes of the main plot) – it’s more, well … what sitcom was ever really about something? The Brady Bunch? I Love Lucy? Fucking Two and a Half Men?

    To be about nothing is more the rule than the exception with sitcoms; and taking what a (not particularly trustworthy) character within the sitcom itself claims the fictionalized version of the sitcom is about as a definitive and meaningful self-referential statement regarding the essence of the show strikes me as the hallmark of intellectual laziness and fatuous credulity. But it’s what everyone does with Seinfeld: take it as a given that the show is “about nothing”. [/Here endeth mammoth, self-indulgent, possibly irrelevant aside.]

    To be continued …

  14. Part II (didn’t fit in one comment):

    The same goes for the things John said about Beatles songs and albums. John could be very insightful regarding his own and The Beatles’ works, but he could also be way off base, a really bad interpreter of his own work. (E.g., the dismissive tone he takes here re: “If I Fell”, which I think is a really sophisticated song, and made my case for thinking that here. (Thee be fairly warned: If you thought the aside above tedious, don’t click that there link at the end of the previous sentence.)

    It struck me just this past year how much fun the boys must’ve had recording “Everybody’s Got Something … Monkey” – especially those “come one”s at the end. And even when a song was less than collaborative – e.g., Paul’s “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road”, which he and Ringo recorded without John and George – it nonetheless resulted in a really fun song; a song that was John’s favorite on the whole double album even though he resented not being asked to play on it (John was really good at resentment and, as Paul pointed out, there were WA songs that Paul was excluded from, too) and John even went so far as to opine that he could have sung it better than Paul did, a dubious assertion indeed.

    “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” is yet another great song that sounds as though it must have been a ton of fun to record; obvious collaboration – e.g., the background vocals by Paul and George – is part of what makes that a great song and, if I’m not mistaken, “Happiness” was Paul’s fav WA song.

    Really, how distant from each other could John and Paul really have been, if John was able to say, “I like this song of yours better than any of mine” and Paul could say the same thing about John’s song?

    N.B.: It is not my point to imply there was NO distancing between the group members at that time. Obviously there was. But the White Album was recorded over a period of months and months; it’s a little naive and reductive to think that a vibe of resentment and alienation was in the ascendant the whole time … or even (dare I say?) most of the time. (Spoiler alert: Yes, I DO dare say.)

    The White Album, to me, has always been a bit of a paradox. John claimed to loathe Paul’s “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” … but if you listen to the recording without knowing that (perhaps irrelevant) fact, it sounds like they’re having a great time performing it. Isn’t that John at the end laughing and saying “thank you!” Genuine? Or an example of what Ian MacDonald might call John’s attempts to “sabotage” Paul’s songs? (MacDonald, absurdly, claimed this based on what he viewed as a couple of bad bass notes played by John in “The Long and Winding Road”. “TL&WR” didn’t need John to ruin it: It already had Phil Specter, and the song itself, to achieve that.)

    I now turn this blog back over to its rightful owners …

    Lame last-minute attempt to be on-topic: I think “Leave My Kitten Alone” is by far the best never-officially-released track. I can’t understand why they shelved it …

  15. If your blog blowed up, I and my comments take full responsibility for it. Sorry.

  16. Glavin, you inspire these remarks:

    “Seinfeld”: it was fatuous and lazy for commentators to use that phrase “show about nothing” as if it spoke the whole truth. But I think it was legitimately used by some to encapsulate the show’s peculiar and innovative charm — that unlike “The Brady Bunch,” say (which like all children of the ’70s I LOVE), episodes didn’t require a moral or even a resolution. The “something” we’d all been spoonfed (by shows like “The Brady Bunch,” which did I mention I LOVE) was the real nothing: bourgeois values and stale homily. (LOVE.) Whereas “Seinfeld”‘s “nothing” was really “something”–the vigor, absurdity, and random magic of ordinary life, heightened and tweaked to perfection.

    I think both Paul AND George voted “Gun” their favorite White track. They both also voted “Because” their favorite Abbey track. P & G almost never said anything bad about John’s songs, and frequently praised them to the stars. John, on the other hand …

    You’re right on that John was not his own, or anyone’s best critic. My favorite Beatle song of all is “Yes it Is.” Years and years ago, Roy Carr and Tony Tyler in “The Beatles Illustrated Record” foolishly dismissed it as a failed rewrite of “This Boy”; in his “Playboy” interview, John likewise derogates it as his attempt to redo “This Boy.” That’s not only foolish, it’s second-hand foolish. (That John got that bad comparison from Carr and Tyler’s book is evidenced by the second edition of same, the title page of which reproduces a note from John demanding that C & T repair a factual error.) Ian Macdonald, with whom I seldom agree, is the only critic to give “Yes it Is” its due as a far more sophisticated and haunting song than “This Boy,” with relatively few musical similarities.

    Thank you, Glavin, for going off-topic … though there is really no “off” where the Beatles are concerned. They touch all things; all things touch them.

  17. Avatar Ed wrote:

    And the great comments keep coming!

    Dev, am I misremembering, or did you compare “Yes It Is” (in the endnotes to MAGIC CIRCLES) to THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER?

  18. Yes, Ed, I did. And do. To anyone who will listen.

  19. Avatar Nancy wrote:

    Really agree with you, Gavin and Devin, about the tension and distance between band members on the White Album being overstated, especially by Lennon. That’s Lennon pounding the piano at the beginning of “Ob La Di, Ob La Da” and playing the genius guitar solo on “Honey Pie,” so I question just how distant Lennon and McCartney really were, musically, at this point. They had different sensibilities, sure, but all that different than in previous years?

    I’ve never liked Lennon’s tendency to trash-talk Beatles songs (including his own) after the breakup. I think he protests too much. I wonder if he’s sometimes trying to convince himself of just how irreconcilable the musical and personal differences in the group were, so that there’s nothing to regret about the breakup.

    My favorite unreleased Beatles track is Lennon’s “Child of Nature.” I read somewhere that it was left off the White album because it was too close in subject to “Mother Nature’s Son,” but I think these two songs would have made a great double A-side.

  20. Avatar Ed wrote:

    When I first read that (“Yes It Is”/Werther) I thought, “Really?!” Now I think: Profound!

    *

    FWIW, “Because” is probably my least favorite Beatles song…I never liked it, from the very first listen. I didn’t know P & G were so fond of it—I’ll try again…

  21. Nancy, he totally protested too much–I always think of his harsh knocks on Dylan, while insisting that he didn’t think of Dylan as such a great poet. Right up to his death, he was recording those little Dakota parodies of Dylan that you hear on the Lennon Anthology box–mean-spirited, not terribly funny. Clearly he felt the heat of competition and that was his way of dealing with it–though apparently Dylan was the at least proximate inspiration for “Serve Yourself,” one of the strongest things John ever did, and one of the few things that assure me he still “had it” when he was killed (if Yoko would ever let him use it).

    Let’s get our names right — I called him Glavin, Nancy called him Gavin, but it’s Glaven. Sorry, we’ll get it right next time.

  22. Avatar Levi Stahl wrote:

    What a great discussion!

    If you’re dithering between Devin and Michael here, you could let Judge John Hodgman decide. The episode at that link features a case brought by a guy who is tired of his best friend saying the WA isn’t even one of the ten best Beatles albums. Neither of the guys, frankly, makes a very compelling case–they’re not particularly sophisticated in their arguments or approach to the record–but it’s amusing nonetheless.

    Oh, and yes, “Not Guilty.” Wow. (And yes, WA: I almost never listen to it all at once, but I revisit an odd mix of certain tracks all the damn time. “Dear Prudence,” “I’m So Tired,” “Monkey,” even “Good Night,” which more than anything except maybe Kurt Wagner’s voice on the opening tracks of Lambchop’s Thriller conjures up the feeling of being seven years old and listening to the warm voices and gentle confidence and comfort of midcentury Disney songs (Which may be faint praise?)).

  23. Devlin/Deven/Devin – You and Nancley can call me whatever you want … Within reason. I’ve been called far worse than “Gavin”.

    Re: Your insight on “Seinfeld” … Um, yeah. I was actually going to say something along those lines – that the thing that distiguished it was its somethingness, not its nothingness. It was SOMETHING for a sitcom not to offer bromides and homilies and pat resolutions, which is what Seinfeld did, by which I mean, didn’t, do. But the pat “we’re all here to to be reassured” aspect of sitcoms, the nothingness of them, was considered something, against which Seinfeld’s subversive heft was seen as “nothing”.

    Did I just blow your mind? i sure hope it was your mind, because we don’t know each other well enough to take it to *that* level …

    As for “Yes It Is” … Formally, it’s a lot like “This Boy”, in that the chord progression of e verses is exactly the same as TB, just transposed from the key of D to E; also, the rhythm guitar strumming pattern is exactly the same. This suggests that it may have started out as a rewrite of TB, but I agree with you that it is far superior to the earlier song, and, taken all-in-all, is a far different and far richer song. And Ithink the only way one could conclude otherwise, could see it as a mere knockoff of TB, is by ignoring the far superior lyrics. Lyrics matter. Sometimes I think people forget that.

    I’m not sure wheteher what I’m about to say will make sense, not sure its relevance will be apparent, but he goes anyway …

    On the same album, “Help”, you have “Yesterday” and “The Night Before”. If I were to claim they were essentially the exact same song, foax woukd call me crazy (or worse yet, “Gavin”). But lyrically – or maybe I should say “in sentiment” – they’re pretty fucking similar. Yesterday/The Night Before you loved me, but today, WTF? You DON’T anymore? At the risk of repeating myself, WTF?

    Yet nodbody says they are the same because musically they are very different and, well, “Yesterday” is just a far superior song over all.

    But it’s music AND lyrics that make a song … As well as those intangible … um… intangibles.

    Also … Geez, I was pulling my punches, but until today, I really thought I was the only one who thought MacDonald just out-and-out wrong far more often than he was right. (This is not to say that he’s not *interesting*.) Now I know there is at least one other out there.

  24. I wrote the previous comment on my wife’s iPad and I DEMAND that you attribute its egregious typos to that.

    I will phone you withh my other demands later.

  25. I have myself taken people to task for saying things like “literally” when they obviously meant “virtually” or even “figuratively”, which latter means (virtually) the exact opposite of “literally”; and so now for the sake of consistency I must take myself to task for saying that the chord progression of the verses of “Yes It Is” is “exactly” that of “This Boy”, merely transposed into the key of E. That’s false. The two are close, but not exactly the same.

    I hereby retract that “exactly”. I must have been literally¹ off my gourd when I wrote it.

    As for Nancy’s comment about Lennon’s tendency to trash talk – yeah, that was alaways a bit problematic for me, too, a die-hard Lennon fan. And not just the songs. Imagine you’re Julian and you read the interview in which John sez that he (Julian) was the result of John’s not making a trip to the drugstore before having sex; John tries to soften that by saying, “So was I” … but then goes on to say that the pregnancy that resulted in the birth of Sean was planned for, labored over, celebrated.

    Message: Julian, you were unwanted. P.S.: Could you babysit your brother Sean tonight? He’s really cute and lovable and, y’know, wantable!

    Intended or not, that’s the message. John would do stuff like that with Beatle foax, too – e.g., trash talking GM as producer – and I’d cringe. (When he saw the foax he’d trashed next, he’d kind of apologize saying, “Why would you pay attention to anything I say?” Well, because it was featured prominently in Rolling Stone and there are foax out there who think quotes from JL come to us from on high, lapidarily etched on stone tablets.)

    But it was always interesting to me to note which songs he trash talked and why. “Hello Goodbye” was shit because of its gibbberish (or simple-minded) lyrics? Unlike, say, “I Am the Walrus” or “Come Together”? Or “All You Need Is Love” (simple-minded)?(< -- Great songs, all. My point is this "Defend Your Lyrics" criticism can cut both ways, and I believe there is a defense to be made for “HG”, as there obviously is for the 3 John songs I just mentioned.)
    ____
    ¹Figuratively speaking.

  26. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Glaven, JL’s behavior regarding Julian is so outrageous, especially given his relationship with his own father, that I don’t believe he was in his right mind when he did it.

    I spent three years trying to fit together all the John Lennons into an integrated personality–because readers don’t believe inconsistent characters–and simply could not do it. First off, he’d suffered a great deal of emotional trauma (Janov called him the most damaged patient he’d ever treated), and the utterly unique Beatle experience affected him in incalcuable ways. And the presence of drugs and powerful methods of behavior modification–primal scream, hypnosis (in both its regular and occult forms), and god knows what all else–adds another element of complexity to the picture.

    That having been said, the last year/six months of his life showed some signs of normalization, and I think things like the planned trip to England and reconnection with the other Beatles would’ve gone a long way towards a happier future. And there were huge strides being made in pharmaceuticals, which might’ve helped.

    One must remember that, on top of the drugs, none of the things that Lennon famously tried were allowed to complete–not TM, not Primal Scream; and tools now available to every person were either not tried (analysis, CBT, meds) or applied in irresponsible ways (hypnotherapy). I’m no mental health professional, nor do I play one on TV, but there’s a massive amount of evidence that suggests Lennon was indeed “a lost soul,” and fans who ignore that do their hero no favors. My issue with White is, in part, its role in the Ballad of John and Yoko, which I think was a total fiction–that’s annoying but fine. Where its much less fine is how its crushing self-awareness post 1968 prevented Lennon from seeking the help available to any normal person, which he surely could’ve used–not only for his sake, but for all the people around him.

  27. Avatar Linda wrote:

    Stepping in to comment on this two-year old thread, the Beatles were the best cover band ever! That’s all I have to say about that, except that I can’t wait for the new Live at the BBC to drop. (Love John’s vocals on Leave My Kitten Alone).