The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Mop Tops in Action #1


Paul disguises himself as Col. John Glenn

22 comments :

Trader said...

An astronaut, no doubt. He was the same who apparently said to Lennon, a few days after Brian Epstein's death: It's now time to make another album...

The beginning of the end according to Lennon.

Tor Hershman said...

Howz about a parody of a George Harrison song???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m6qC6FCiY0

Trader said...

Lookin' desperately for a sad parody of McCartney'sUncle Albert by Lennon.

Got hold of it one time but unable to track it down again on the Net...

Huck Caton said...

Saw Paulie (from afar) yesterday whilst we were shooting an AT&T commercial in Hollywood. George was getting his posthumous star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame (I imagine he'd have found the "honor" a bit dubious, if not hilarious). Mobs of BeatlePeople everywhere… looking a bit older and more weary than I'd hoped they might.

Jeff Lynne was walking back to his car/his hotel/somewhere as we were having lunch and I called out "Hey, no Wilburys around here please!" I'd worked with him on something for the ill-fated ELO "Zoom" project, but don't think he remembered me. He came over anyway and said hello to the British DP he *did* know and asked what we were doing. He feigned disappointment, stating "I was hoping you could put me in your movie!" Nice guy. Told him how much I liked the remastered "Out of the Blue" ("Ooh, I like that one, too") and away he went.

Next to no one in the crew had a clue who Jeff Lynne was. Hmmm…

Paulie looked pretty good from what I could see—which is more than I can say for Eric Idle who I think gave some sort of speech in front of the Capitol Records building.

Astronaut Paul. Beatle Paul. He was the walrus, you know.

Tommy O'C said...

Lennon wanted to leave The Beatles at least as early as:
a) Norwegian Wood or,
b) during the recording of Help or,
c) when Lennon--chiefly at the urging of Brian Epstein--publicly apologized for the "we're bigger than Jesus" remark before a press corps out for blood, an experience that humiliated the outspoken, often venomous Lennon and which, according to Philip Norman, was the beginning of the end of Epstein's influence over Lennon, or
d) when Lennon met Yoko (who really was "the end" of The Beatles)--all of which predate the death of Brian Epstein.

According to Ray Coleman's bio of Epstein, during the sessions for what became the White Album, Lennon, having apparently reached the extent of his grief, sang a parody of Baby, You're a Rich Man in which he allegedly ridiculed the late Brian Epstein for being gay.

The chorus that Coleman attributes to Lennon's little parody of Epstein:

Baby, You're a rich fag,
Baby, You're a rich fag,
Baby, You're a rich fag Jew.

For the record, Coleman knew the Beatles during the days of Beatlemania and beyond. (He's also written a definitive Lennon bio.) Lennon's behavior toward Epstein was frequently so vicious that it reduced Epstein to tears. (Coleman details how McCartney and Harrison also took their swipes at Epstein but it was Lennon’s digs that cut the deepest.) So, it's not really a case of Lennon being this compassionate, loving figure cherishing Brian's memory and Macca being an insensitive shit.

As for McCartney's remark, people grieve differently and often throw themselves into their work as an escape. McCartney has always used his music to deal with his emotions, whether he was strumming his guitar in a stark Japanese cell while sweating out the final disposition of his marijuana smuggling charge or dealing with his grief over losing Linda. (Lennon, on the other hand, at least from Sgt. Pepper until the Beatles disbanded, tended to throw himself into hard drug abuse.)

A period of mourning of "a few days" is more than appropriate for someone who is not a close blood relative or the love of one's life, however essential Brian may have been at one time (and I take nothing away from Epstein's role in helping the Beatles burst onto the world stage). At some point, life goes on. It's one of the hard truths which, ironically, we all must live (and die) with.

What's harder to explain is Lennon's repeated and well-documented cruelties to Epstein, not to mention the outrageous insensitivity and bigotry of the lyrics above.

It's also a fact that, at the time of his death, Brian Epstein was on his way out. Now that the Beatles were no longer touring, they didn't need Brian, and he knew it. They were also well fed up over the untold tens of millions in promotional revenues lost because Epstein was not a businessman, a fact he never tried to hide and which now necessitated his being replaced. Many believe that Brian’s waning relationship with the Beatles was the precipitating factor in his committing suicide (although his deeply troubled personal life and escalating prescription drug habit certainly contributed).

It’s not unusual for grieving people to blame others for their loss. There are, for example, grieving patients who blame their therapists for the death of a significant other.

Lennon may well have felt guilt about his treatment of Epstein. But shifting the blame onto McCartney was just a self-righteous dodge from someone who’d caused Brian Epstein a great deal of needless emotional anguish.

Tommy O'C said...

Astronaut Paul. Beatle Paul. He was the walrus, you know.That's right, he was, Huck.

Forgot to mention--That's a terrific photo. Makes you wonder where they hide these choice rarities. And how they're found!

Simon FC said...

I've never seen that one before.
He looks a bit stoned...

Richard Gibson said...

Last week my buddy out in Colorado showed me some of his memorabilia collection – baseball cards, top of the pile was a Shea Stadium ticket from ’65. Incredible for me as a child of the 70’s and also ‘cause I think that most of this stuff (especially tickets) was so disposable way back then.

Fred said...

My grandfather's last wife was at the '65 Shea concert. I once asked her about it, and she said that all she could hear was screaming girls, and they were sitting so far up in the upper deck, that all you could see were 4 tiny men running around on a little stage around second base. Sadly, Shea was always an acoustically challenged dump with horrid sight lines. And now it's just a parking lot with a few plaques in it.

swac said...

I think you can also hear Lennon doing the "Baby you're a rich fag jew" bit somewhere in the hours of audio outtakes recorded during the arduous Let It Be sessions.

Less painful are the various early rock and roll nuggets they go through, probably the only time George is having any fun, doing You've Got the Right String Baby (But the Wrong Yo Yo) and Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues. There's also a stoned conversation with Peter Sellers where he pokes fun at "mock Tudor shithouses in Weybridge" (basically, Ringo's house).

Hobson said...

I'm quite a fan of Paul but, honestly, he kinda makes me wanna punch him every time I see a pic of him

Trader said...

Sadly, McCartney's story comes down to "me-myself-and-I-kind-of" all the way with a very few exceptions.

An exemple to follow?

Huck Caton said...

swac, I imagine you're actually thinking of the spontaneous rubbish Lennon belted out on July 19, 1968:

"What about Brian Epstein and his brother Sam?
They was workin' in a coal mine doing what I am
And what about brother Andy, he's shuttin' down the fire
But if you tell the time about his brother Sam
Wah dap, a wah dap bop…
About his brother Clyde, he's a dirty old man

Well what about Brian Epstein, he's goddamned in the jail
He's working in the coal mine, sittin' dead as a nail
His mother's name is Queenie [it's true, that was her nickname!]
Well, she's the queen of them all"

Or something a lot like that.

Stupid, but hardly anti-gay/anti-Semitic. The "rich fag Jew" tale was conclusively put to rest a long time ago.

Paulie's fine; he's just easier to thump as he's made some dreadful post-Beatles records and has the audacity to still be alive. Lennon's post-Beatles output was pretty tough listening in its own way (spun "Some Time In New York City" lately?) and as much as I loved George and his music, nobody seemed much interested in "Gone Troppo," "Extra Texture" or many of his other post-"All Things Must Pass" releases.

As previously pointed out, at least Paul was the walrus. Goo goo g'joob.

Tommy O'C said...

Stupid, but hardly anti-gay/anti-Semitic. The "rich fag Jew" tale was conclusively put to rest a long time ago.Hardly anti-gay/anti-semitic? Well, that would depend who you asked, Huck. As for this "tale" being "conclusively put to rest a long time ago," cite the source.

Philip Norman recounts Lennon seeing a bunch of "semitic looking" people in Liverpool and shouting, "Hitler should have finished the job."

Once, Brian wandered into the recording studio and said he was considering writing his autobiography and wondered if anyone had an idea for a title. And Lennon, at his venomous best, replied, "Queer Jew."

There are quite a few more of these remarks from definitive sources. So, your rebuttal really doesn't wash.

BTW, Huck, calling someone a "fag" is a slur. And denigrating someone because of their Jewishness is anti-semitic. You work in Hollywood. How would it go down if you went around making exactly those remarks? I live in NYC. Do I need to tell you how they'd go done here? Unless, of course, you made them in a group of like-minded individuals.

I've known people who are Jewish and people who are gay (as I'm sure you do, too) and I can't believe that you think they wouldn't be just a little bit put out by such remarks. Try making similar remarks openly on any job in corporate America where I've worked. Try making such remarks in an internal e-mail in a firm that scans company files for just that type of language. And then explain to HR, when you've been called on the carpet, that they were just remarks that John Lennon had made that were put conclusively to rest a long time ago. Just try it.

Even Ray Coleman, who is way too much of an apologist for Lennon's boorish, anti-social behavior, after recounting the "Baby, You're a rich fag Jew" remark, said, "You see, he just had a problem with minorities." Whatever gave him that idea?

Even Lennon himself, in later years, admitted that he had had to overcome his bigotry. He never entirely succeeded.

As for this having been laid to rest a long time ago, it's still relevant when people bash Paul to lionize John.

Tommy O'C said...

Here's a source from Ray Coleman's definitive "Lennon." Page 390 of the first McGraw-Hill paperback edition, copyright 1986:

"The single's B-side was 'Baby, You're a Rich Man,' a question-and-answer song, which Lennon originally viciously 'dedicated' to Brian Epstein as 'Baby, You're a Rich Fag Jew.'"

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?, indeed.

Trader said...

Seriously, I think Lennon went to terms with Epstein's sexual orientation. So far, the story sums up with Epstein's crush to Lennon that he quickly turned down (that was during a friendly trip to Spain, if I'm not wrong). From then on, their relationship worked pretty good until Epstein's death.

And again, one reason explaining the Beatles's implosion was the death of Epstein. Lennon did knew Epstein's importance for the band unity.

That's at least one version I read somewhere.

Tom Sutpen said...

I'm with Tommy O on this one. There are far too many instances like the ones just cited (including Lennon's own acknowledgment of the condition; which speaks more to his credit than anything else) to make me think he didn't have a definable strain of meat and potatoes bigotry running through his character.

That said, I don't believe whatever antipathies he felt toward this group or that creed were an active, unsleeping part of his every day thoughts (he was not, in other words, the Liverpudlian equivalent of some Nazi blood theorist). His prejudices were the kind almost anyone in his culture was susceptible to; he just didn't hide them very well at times . . . which, I might add, only underscores how fundamentally sub-conscious such sentiments often are; even in relatively enlightened, so-called liberal minds.

Side question: Tommy, what did you think of Albert Goldman's much-maligned 1988 Lennon biography? I'd be interested to know.

Huck Caton said...

"BTW, Huck, calling someone a "fag" is a slur."

No way. Really?

I was referring to Lennon's so-called "Brian Epstein's Blues" when I opined "Stupid, but hardly anti-gay/anti-Semitic."

McCartney has called that particular "Baby You're a Rich Man" story bullshit, as did Harrison. George Martin and Mick Jagger have both claimed they heard neither rich fags nor Jews mentioned during the May 11, 1967 session. Of course, they were all present at Olympic Sound when it happened—so what do they know?

I'm not trying to lionize Lennon, and he certainly was unkind to Epstein, but you might as well start quoting Goldman's rubbish if you insist on dragging out the rich fag Jew chestnut. Some Beatlezine even tracked down Keith Grant, who also engineered the session—and Grant said it didn't happen. I'm not saying Lennon didn't belt it out somewhere/sometime, but he decidedly did not whilst "Baby You're a Rich Man" was being recorded.

Me? I wasn't there. But I believe you are wandering into "I buried Paul/Cranberry Sauce" territory.

And no, Brian Jones did not play clavioline on the track. He wasn't there either.

Perhaps the walrus was Coleman.

swac said...

When I heard the "rich fag jew" version, it was a Let It Be outtake, probably a snippet of about 30 seconds or so, not the session for the original track. I have a couple of bootlegs from that period that are quite rare (The Real Case Has Just Begun and Codename: Russia) and I think it might have been on one of those (although I've got hours more on vinyl and tape), along with kinder, gentler tracks like Enoch Powell and No Pakistanis.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

John Lennon was far from perfect – and no one was quicker to point that out than John Lennon. It is also true that few among us have tried as hard or as seriously as Lennon did to become the good person he wanted to be. In short, I don’t understand Lennon (or Ono) bashing now or then, but if it makes anyone feel better, go for it, though you can count me out. Lennon did not hold himself out as a role model but as an artist, and he passed my audition, anyway. I might add that in the end George, and Ringo – and Paul! -- thought rather highly of him as well. But as Huck points out – what did they know?

Tommy O'C said...

I can still remember watching Monday Night Football and hearing Howard Cosell break the news that John Lennon had been shot in front of the Dakota and was dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital. I was stunned. Who would want to kill John Lennon?

I thought it was a terrible tragedy and a senseless loss then and I still do today. A man who sang about peace and love, who strove mightily to be a better man and succeeded in ways that humble me. So, naturally, someone had to kill him.

It pains me to think what the world lost--and that an innocent man was so brutally, needlessly deprived of his life and his family traumatized irreparably.

Over the years, as we've gone from one crisis to the next, amidst the chorus of public voices, I've often wished that John Lennon's voice could be heard. A voice of sanity, reason, and, yes, controversy. One thing about Lennon, he was endlessly quotable.

It's not my intention to be a Lennon basher. I'm fascinated by the man, his life, talent and, most of all, the music. But as he once sang so memorably, all I want is the truth. Just give me some truth.

And that truth can sometimes be ugly. But it can also be enlightening. It can show us how fascinatingly complex people truly are, with all their shades of gray, good deeds and bad.

Tom S., you asked if I've read Goldman. Bit of a sticky wicket, that. Bought it used, so I could pride myself that I wasn't contributing to the author's royalties.

Lennon believed his death would be "karmic destiny" because he may have murdered a British sailor in Hamburg during a mugging (one of many Lennon is said to have committed)? And it was he who was responsible for the death of his buddy, Stu Sutcliffe, which Paul and another man (possibly George) may have witnessed and then covered up?

These claims are hard to credit and it casts doubt on what is in some ways a strong, revelatory book. I do believe a lot of the dirt about Yoko, however, which may say more about me than her.

Some of this has to be true and some of it has been confirmed (e.g., by May Pang). But a lot of it, told in hearsay fashion without corroboration--it's problematic. And probably b.s.

Goldman writes well and he certainly did a wealth of research but his reputation is pretty scabrous. I'll tell you, I certainly don't feel comfortable citing Goldman as a source. I've yet to do so and doubt I ever will.

What did you think of it?

Vocalion said...

Who took this picture? Under what circumstances? Are there not shots of the other three in NASAwear?