In February, I will be giving a small, 45 minute presentation at one of Wichita’s history museums: The Museum of World Treasures, for their Coffee with the Curator series. This is the second time they’ve asked me to do a presentation on the Beatles. The last time I gave an overview of the band’s history and historiography: basically, I provided a rough outline of my book. This time, I want to discuss something more in-depth: The Lennon vs. McCartney schism which has had such a fundamental impact on the band’s historiography.
A few weeks ago an alert reader, Todd, alerted me to a mistake in The Beatles and the Historians where, in the section in Chapter Four examining the impact of George Harrison’s death, I misidentified the director of “Living in the Material World,” the 2011 Harrison documentary. The director was Martin Scorsese, but in my book, I mistakenly identified Oliver Stone as the documentary’s director. (1)
(Erin attempts to contemplate a George documentary directed by Oliver Stone. Erin utterly fails).
The second, most consistent, issue regarding Lennon’s view of Eastman involves his repeated surprise both at McCartney’s choice of her as his spouse and at the other couple’s evidently successful marriage. Lennon was not alone in this regard: According to various Beatles insiders, virtually everyone in the band’s circle, from Ringo Starr to Alistair Taylor to Ray Connolly to Peter Brown, expressed surprised about McCartney’s marriage to Eastman. Lennon publicly confessed surprise to McCabe at the seeming rapidity of the other couple’s relationship — “one minute she’s riding with us to the airport and the next minute she’s married to him.” In the same interview, Lennon also opined his own failure to understand Eastman’s appeal, describing her as “a bit tweedy.” (1)
In its December 1980 coverage of the musician’s death, Time magazine noted John Lennon’s recent efforts to distance himself from his earlier breakup-era denunciations, particularly those regarding his former songwriting partner, Paul McCartney. McCartney, the magazine declared, was someone Lennon clearly loved and clearly hated” and described him as “the brother [Lennon] never had.”
One of the striking aspects of Peter Doggett’s excellent You Never Give me Your Money is how his examination of the decades-long inter-Beatles relationships demonstrates how Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono are irrevocably, if reluctantly, linked. The core connection between them, John Lennon, died in 1980. However, his pointed and repeated comments equating the two, which range from 1970’s Lennon Remembers, in which he praises and notes his reliance first on McCartney and now Ono’s “good minds,” to one of his last ever interviews – “I only ever worked with two people” – perpetuate endless comparisons between and analysis of Lennon’s two artistic partners, their relationships with him, and their relationship with and views of each other.
…for Erin’s return in September and a brand new post about the role of women in Beatles’ historiography to kick things off. We look forward to hearing from all of you, as always.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and see you in the fall.
Erin and Karen