The Beatles without earmuffs

Michael Gerber
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Does anyone else find this photo reeeally creepy?

Does anyone else find this photo reeeally creepy?

This past week, I’ve been watching the early James Bond movies obsessively, as research for a new novel. Personally, I prefer From Russia With Love over Goldfinger for two reasons:
1) I prefer gritty Cold War spycraft over glitz and gadgets; and
2) Bond takes a completely gratuitous swipe at the Fabs in the first section of Goldfinger, right before he gets karate chopped and Jill Masterson gets gilded. (“Skin suffocation” is debunked here.)

The video’s weird, sorry; the Beatles quip comes at about :30. The rest is a bizarre mini-cut of Goldfinger’s most sexist moments.

Now as we all know, The Beatles won this war, as enumerated in this blog post. But besides William F. Buckley’s lockjawed mewlings, what are some other egg-on-face Beatle-takedowns from the pop culture of the 60s and 70s? Put ’em in the comments.

PS—Connery was just a mouthpiece for the screenwriter, as this hilarious Shatnerian video proves. I dare you to listen all the way to the end.

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  1. Avatar J.R. Clark wrote:

    “That’s like acting in Zardoz without wearing a wedding dress.”

    “Man talk.” SMACK! (nice dubbed-in ass smack)

    Now, on to the video…

    There are plashesh I rdememberrr
    All my life, though shome have changed
    Shome fordeverr not for betterrr
    Shome have gone and shome remain
    All theshe plashes have theirrr moments
    With loversh and friendsh I shtill can rdecall
    Shome arrre dead and shome arrre living
    In my life I’ve loved them all

    But of all theshe frdiendsh and loversh
    There ish no one comparrresh with you
    And theshe memordiesh loshe theirrrr meaning
    When I think of love as shomething new
    Though I know I’ll never loshe affection
    Forrrr people and thingsh that went beforrrre
    I know I’ll often shtop and think about them
    In my life I love you more

  2. Avatar hologram sam wrote:

    I’m going to take the unpopular side and agree with Mr. Bond’s screenwriter. For if the Beatles were resurrected tomorrow and performed live in my hometown, I’d only see them if I could wear earmuffs.
    I love the Beatles, I grew up with them, they were my childhood buddies, my adolescent friends, a comfort in my old age. But I kind of wish a million people hadn’t decided to be influenced by them to take up guitars and blast the hell out of every corner of the earth. I wish the Beatles and ROCK music in general had remained an exotic, fringe art form, rather than the mainstream.
    Hear me out.
    Last week, my wife slipped on some ice, and broke her leg. While waiting in the E.R., I was treated to loud, crappy ROCK MUSIC over a loudspeaker. A few days later, when the swelling had gone down, I phoned an orthopedist to make an appointment for her cast, and was put on hold and treated to MORE CRAPPY ROCK MUSIC. Yesterday, we went to a restaurant. A beautiful building, constructed sometime in the late 19th century, it was gorgeous inside; all wood paneling, marble columns, brass fixtures… just a wonderfully relaxing place to sit and forget our troubles. And there was LOUD ROCK MUSIC blasting over us, so that people had to talk louder to hear each other.
    John and Paul and George wrote brilliant songs. The people they inspired to pick up guitars follow the same template, loud bass and drums and rhythm guitars and electric keyboards and soaring harmonies and growling lead vocalists, but the songs are uninspired and repetitious. I can’t tell you how happy I am when I occasionally discover a public space that doesn’t blast ROCK MUSIC (dum dum dum dum! bang bang bang!) in my ear while I try to dine, or shop, or read, or wait for a doctor. I found a little organic breakfast place near our home, and they had Billie Holiday and Artie Shaw playing quietly on the sound system. I wanted to weep in gratitude. There’s another restaurant near us, a cozy, softly-lit place that only old 1930s jazz. I feel like a human being again when I eat there.
    Last summer, we visited our outdoor farmers’ market. There is always a live band. If it’s someone playing some sweet acoustic music, it’s a wonderful thing. But often, it’s a group with amplified guitars, and the drummer wailing away like Ginger Baker. I saw an older woman walk past this band with a bag of fresh produce inner hand. Her other hand was cupped over her ear.
    There is a woman in our town who tours in a bus, playing folks music for pre-schoolers. She is a great lady; her heart is in the right place. But when she performs in front of maybe six or seven four-year-olds in a tiny room, and sings into a microphone, and plugs her guitar into a large amp. WHY?? The volume is at a ridiculous level.
    Okay, I know it’s unfair to blame the Beatles for their mediocre imitators, just like it’s unfair to blame Bob Dylan for “Eve Of Destruction” but when did almost every public place become the Cavern Club? We’ve become a culture of Excessive Volume. When did excessive volume become a badge of honor? Was it when Dylan yelled “Play It Fucking Loud!” in 1966?
    When I see James Bond make his earmuff wisecrack, or when I see a 1964 Beatle performance video and a security guard is covering her ears, I’m not seeing a statement about bad songwriting, or wrong notes, or the appropriateness of white teenagers embracing r&b… it’s just too damn loud.
    I’ll just get my hat and coat, and go now.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      Interesting, Sam, because I heard the “wear earmuffs” Bond comment as meaning the Beatles were bad, not loud. (Or loud AND bad.) This clip reminded me of the scene in “Mad Men” where Don Draper puts on “Tomorrow Never Knows” and visibly doesn’t get it. In each case the guy who represented sophistication doesn’t connect with the coming youth culture.
      This montage also made me think about why the Beatles appealed so strongly to girls and young women: in a culture that thought Bond’s ass smack and admonition to leave so “man talk” could go on was super cool, a band that addressed its female fans with some respect had to be refreshing.

    • Avatar Velvet Hand wrote:

      You’ve hit it on the head though, you know. Because the end result of rock music not remaining a fringe art form, and everyone trying to outdo each other at pumping it into every last corner of our lives (and thereby making it worthless) is cringeworthy “why???” stuff like the Night That Changed America thingy someone put on recently. Just reading the list of performers and the songs they did made me want to listen to Einstürzende Neubauten or something. I mean, Maroon 5 slimily opening with “All My Loving”? How sad is that? Nothing about this “event” can have had anything to do with what the Beatles did whatsoever! No invention, experimentation, not-repeating-yourself, synthesis of established genres into something new, appealing to wildly different types of music lovers, or, indeed, life-changing anywhere to be found. Or was there? I didn’t watch it, you know. 🙂

      • @Velvet, popular arts attract different types of people at different points in their maturing. The Beatles were inspired when rock was in its first explosive period, but might not have kept at it if Elvis/Little Richard/etc had been followed immediately by an earlier form of the Beatles. Rock’s potential had been shown, but there was a space for them to make it better, and nobody else was going to do it. John and Paul, particularly, could see how it could be improved, especially by blending other styles into it.

        Rock music today–like comedy today–is mature from a commercial standpoint. There’s nothing new or exciting or dangerous about it, artistically–and the vast majority of the performers in those business don’t think like artists. The 16 year old that’s in love with pop music today isn’t likely to be a kid that wants to innovate, but a kid that wants to emulate. Which is why both arts seem to get ever-LOUDER, ever more deriviative, to try to attract our attention.

        Talent can sense where there’s juice. There’s a little juice in hip-hop, a little juice in dance music, but today the REAL juice is in games, TV, and in cyberculture in general. Rock is full of mediocre brains looking for, what? An excuse to party? Nothing wrong with that, but it’s nothing to do with creative work. Mediocrity is attracted by mediocrity–and your talented kid will sense that. Some of them have no choice, music’s what they love and understand…and that’s how you get occasional innovation in a sea of dreck, with an industry very good at marketing and niching and really bad at making good music.

        But it’s cyclical, and eventually we will suffer through so much mediocrity that another group of innovators will come along. May not be in our lifetimes, though.

        • Avatar Velvet Hand wrote:

          Probably true, that – I keep being told what a shame it is that my interest in games is more or less nil… 🙂

          Even more than for innovation, I wish for The Profound Absence of Boredom whenever I can drag my ears away from My Own Private Music Soup to give a current record a listen. And then I go back to that long essay in Revolution In the Head for some context to the feeling of amygdalae-numbing un-excitement that has come over me.

          That should really be the main catchphrase of all upcoming Beatles marketing campaigns:
          THE BEATLES. THEY WERE NEVER BORING. No lie for a change!

  3. Avatar MG wrote:

    @NancyCarr I agree. Way back in like 1963 or 64, Paul was asked about it and rather than putting girls down or acting like it was a bad thing, he said something about how boys all go and jump and cheer and scream at football games and girls were just doing the same thing for them.

    The Beatles as individuals may not have been terribly enlighted with regards to women’s liberation at the time but they put out music and an attitude that let girls feel freer to be themselves at least.

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