More Beatles Angles

Filling today’s guest chairs are two appreciators of the Beatles, Mike Webber and David Sims, with observations that fit right in with our themes.

What Beatle George lacked in quantity, he more than made up for in quality. The 4 principal sides of All Things Must Pass comprise the best solo work of any ex-Beatle. This song was a masterpiece – nicely delivered here by Slowhand.  (Eric Clapton – “Isn’t It A Pity?”)

Exactly — and I’d rate All Things Must Pass over not a few Beatles albums, truth be known.  I did read a rather perceptive review, however, stating that George might have been better-served tucking a few of those songs away for later albums.

You can’t blame the guy, though, seeing Lennon and McCartney get away with recording such sub-par material as “Glass Onion” and “Honey Pie” while his own material was left off.  In his shoes I’d probably have gone for the A-bomb statement too.

When you think of John and Paul’s somewhat dismissive treatment of “Isn’t It A Pity” and “All Things Must Pass” when offered during the Get Back sessions, one could easily understand his feeling quite all right about the demise of his former band.  Listening to the 100+ hours of Get Back sessions, the much-maligned McCartney at least continued to engage Harrison’s songs while Lennon just couldn’t have been bothered.  It’s not surprising that George and Paul had their falling out, given the contrast in personalities, but I’ve always thought Lennon’s contribution to the toxicity of those sessions has been swept under the carpet to the detriment of McCartney.  Paul would work tirelessly on his own songs – more than anyone else wanted – but then was equally ready to work on George’s and Ringo’s (Octopus’s Garden) songs.

It jibes with what I’ve heard about Lennon and McCartney’s personalities. John was described to me by the most devoted Beatle fan I’ve ever met as “a thoroughly nasty person.”   I don’t know nearly as much about them as he or you do, but that thumbnail impression seems about right to me. You don’t have to be a good person to produce great art.

I think of him as anything but a nasty person, but he was very human and the truth is probably ill-served by the lionization that has been done to him.  In those last 18 or so months of the Beatles, he was a bit of an anvil – drug-addled and self-absorbed. To his credit, marginally engaged he was still contributing songs like “Come Together” to the band he’d started.  But once Plastic Ono Band was heard, it was easy to understand why the Beatles were no longer the right vehicle for his vision.

One thought on “More Beatles Angles

  1. On the Rutles parody wasn’t the Lennon character named Dirk Nasty? George Harrison said that the hardest thing to understand about Lennon was how he could be so loving and open one moment, and then just absolutely “scathing” the next. It ight be that Lennon wasn’t necessarily more “nasty” than the average person, but he was just more EVERYTHING than the average person, particularly emotionally. Arthur Janov, the doc who did Primal Therapy on him said that Lennon was “filled with more pain than anybody he had ever met.” John Brower, the promoter who tried to organize the ill-fated Toronto Lennon Peace Festival said that “Lennon had a rage in him that was with him every day of his life.” Most likely it was that extra emotional charge that Lennon had that allowed him to express his emotions into a microphone and get other people to feel it at the other end of the amplifier.

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