New Podcast Interview: SATB and the Two Great Debates

Everyone,

Thanks to everyone who has continued to read, comment and follow this blog, even during its baby-influenced hiatus. For those who have only recently discovered the blog and wish to comment on old threads, please feel free to do so: Karen or I will see your comments and do our best to respond to them. While I am still taking a break, for the time being, from writing book reviews, I have managed to do several podcast interviews over the last few months.

For those of you who are interested, here is my most recent interview, with SATB’s Robert Rodriguez, discussing the two major debates in Beatles historiography:

If you’d like to offer thoughts and discussion on the podcast and/or the subjects discussed, feel free. We look forward to hearing from you.

(And, to give credit where credit is due, thanks to my parents, who babysat for approximately 3 hours so I could manage to do this interview with Robert).

 

25 thoughts on “New Podcast Interview: SATB and the Two Great Debates

  1. Karen Hooper says:

    Great interview Erin.

    Did I hear Rodriguez state that all four Beatles had traumatic backgrounds or some sort of trauma in there early years, or something to that effect? I ask because there’s no information or data to suggest that George experienced any sort of trauma in his early years. Maybe I misheard.

    My personal opinion with respect to the John vs Paul discussion, notwithstanding the wonderful accuracy of Joshua Shenk’s work in this regard, is that I tend to think that Paul would have succeeded in some fashion or another without John, whereas John would not likely have succeeded without Paul.

    While John had talent, drive and charisma, he lacked Paul’s work ethic, his familial background in and support to pursue music, his attention to detail, his broad musicianship–and importantly, his emotional stability. Without Paul, I think John would have ended up a wasted talent, writing poetry and playing rock and roll in small clubs in between jail time. Paul Du Noyer, in his book, Conversations with McCartney, imagined a similar future had Paul and John not met:

    Suppose the fête was rained off, or Paul had decided to go the pictures…a drunken scouse seaman called Johnny Lennon swears contemptuously when the flickering TV shows images of the ever-popular Paul McCartney Dance Orchestra. He gets into a fight with a moody guy from the New Jersey haulage firm of Springsteen and Son, and both are evicted. ‘We coulda been centenders,’ they mope at one another on the sidewalk. Lennon has broken his Buddy Holly glasses. A flyer in the gutter promotes the one-woman show by an obsure Japanese performance artist.”

    Thank heavens they met.

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    • Erin says:

      I think Robert simply misspoke, Karen. He’s mentioned on other show how all the other Beatles except George had to deal with some significant childhood/adolescent trauma: Ringo with his health issues, Paul and John with their mother’s deaths. Again, can’t emphasize this enough: it’s so easy to misspeak in a podcast interview, and use the wrong name or say one thing when you mean another.

      I believe Ray Connolly tends to agree with Paul du Noyer, in speculating that a Paul without John would have achieved some measure of success (although, again, not to the point he achieved within the Beatles) where a John without Paul would have had a far more tumultuous road, given his struggles. (More speculative sources, such as Sullivan, the author of “The Beatles with Lacan,” tend to argue that as well). And I can’t agree more that I’m thankful they met: I’ll always remember, as a teenager, reading the Time magazine coverage of the most important meetings of the most important partnerships of the 20th Century, and there are John and Paul on the list, along with Churchill and FDR!

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      • Karen Hooper says:

        “Again, can’t emphasize this enough: it’s so easy to misspeak in a podcast interview, and use the wrong name or say one thing when you mean another.”

        Which is why I asked, thanks for clarifying 👍.

        And yup, I cannot imagine the world (or my childhood) without the Beatles and their music. It must be kind of mind boggling for Paul and Ringo in their quiet moments, to realize the impact they’ve had.

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      • Hologram Sam says:

        …a Paul without John would have achieved some measure of success (although, again, not to the point he achieved within the Beatles) where a John without Paul would have had a far more tumultuous road, given his struggles.

        I agree. And given the unstable nature of the music industry, it’s possible John wouldn’t have made it at all.

        Once, on a different Beatle blog, I commented that John without Paul might have ended up like his father. Alfred was “considered very witty and musical throughout his life; he sang and played the banjo” (wikipedia) and when he was very young he ran away from an orphanage and toured with a children’s music hall act. Apparently he was tracked down, removed from the show and punished severely.

        With a different set of circumstances, if Alf had been allowed to flourish and develop his talent… who knows? Maybe John would have grown up an unknown, under the shadow of his famous and legendary father. Or most likely he wouldn’t have been born at all. And Paul and George would have been the British Everly Brothers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Erin says:

          I’m trying to remember what interview it is where John declares that he, effectively, ruined Paul’s life: that without him and his influence, Paul would have been a teacher or a doctor. (Which is, as many other authors have noted, an increase in John’s influence that is seemingly contingent on the tragic death of Mary McCartney, who would presumably not have encouraged the friendship between her son and John.)

          It’s only ringing a vague bell at the moment (and I want to say its a breakup-era/post-breakup interview … the Penthouse interview, maybe?). It’s interesting, of course, to endlessly speculate on “what could have beens,” given how crucial these two meeting, and meshing, is to the ultimate outcome, but its also interesting, given John’s quote, to consider what they thought of these hypothetical scenarios where they don’t meet/breakup the band early, etc.

          I’m trying to recall what John’s view/prediction of his own life would have been, sans Paul, and can’t (I blame sleep deprivation: thanks, almost seven month old). But John’s version of Paul’s life appears to include a nod to Paul’s basic stability (teacher/doctor) while believing Paul wouldn’t have become famous without him. (There’s another nod to that too, perhaps in the same interview, perhaps in a different one, where John declared that, while he didn’t have the looks to make it big himself, Paul didn’t have the edge? (can’t remember exactly) to make it big without John. (stupid sleep deprivation). I’m trying to recall Paul speculating on John’s eventual outcome in this world where they don’t become the Beatles/don’t meet, and am drawing a blank. Paul always tends to express gratitude regarding his meeting with and working with John, but I can’t remember his hypothesizing on alternate futures. (Of course, one of the comments made regarding McCartney is that he doesn’t self-examine anywhere to the extent Lennon did, and perhaps that’s what kept him sane for the past fifty years).

          That’s why I’ve always found John’s ultimatum to Paul regarding his post-Hamburg job, when Paul was trying to juggle both schedules, to the band’s dissatisfaction, with John ultimately telling Paul to quit the job or the band, an interesting one. It’s very John to issue the ultimatum, but had Paul chosen the job, and John followed through on his threat, odds are we never would have heard of John, Paul, or the Beatles. I don’t believe it was an empty threat, but certainly a self-destructive one.

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          • Karen Hooper says:

            I have the same vague memories too, Erin, but can’t blame sleep deprivation. (I will lay the blame on aging memory cells 😉 )

            I remember John musing that Paul would/could have been a doctor or could have gone to university if it weren’t for him. I also remember John speculating about their chances at individual stardom, claiming that while he didn’t have the girl appeal, Paul wasn’t “strong” enough, whatever that means.

            Edited to add: I find the ultimatum John issued to Paul, and Paul’s decision, quite fascinating. John took such pride, well into his 30’s, in stating that Paul “chose him over his father.” While Paul’s decision did fly in the face of his father’s wishes, I think Paul was not choosing John over his dad, but rather choosing the opportunity of a musical career over a dead-end, 9-5 blue collar job. It might have been a decision he would have made in the long run anyway. Paul was never directly defiant of his father, but instead found workarounds to appease him while still getting what he wanted. (Mike’s reminisces of Paul slowly tapering in his trousers in order to avoid a direct confrontation with his father–who opposed “drainees”–is a funny example of this.) While there’s little question that Paul’s deference to John did influence his behaviour in the early days, I think he ultimately never lost sight of his career aspirations.

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            • Erin says:

              I find it interesting that John clearly regarded it as a power play — a tug of war, if you will — with Jim McCartney for Paul’s future, but from a reasonable parenting perspective, Jim’s view is understandable, and we have no evidence to indicate that Jim viewed it as such an epic struggle as John did.

              Instead, Jim’s request is perfectly reasonable: Paul has returned from Hamburg, skinny and broke (after having been arrested, remember) and the band isn’t speaking to each other and appears it may have broken up. Paul isn’t going to school at this point, and neither, with the band defunct, does he have a job, so he isn’t bringing in any income. So Jim tells (19?) year old Paul to get out of the house and bring in some income, and Paul gets the job and discovers, to his surprise, that he somewhat enjoys it. (Cue Paul rhapsodizing about being a working man, riding the bus, etc.). But then the band does get back together, builds up steam, gets gigs and starts bringing in money, with Paul attempting to juggle the normal job and the gigs/practices, which he simply can’t do, leading to John’s demand. I can’t recall if we have Jim’s reaction to Paul’s quitting the job, but if the whole point was Jim wanting Paul to A. Get out of the house and B. Bring in an income, then the reality is that the band is, by the time Paul quits the job, providing both of those things. Which is a very long winded way of saying that John may have viewed it as a tug of war, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Jim McCartney did.

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              • Karen Hooper says:

                Yup. John seemed to think that power and control in important relationships were a barometer of his own worth—which is probably why he persisted in the narrative that Paul “chose” him over Paul’s own father. It was quite a feather in John’s cap, I think.

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                • Jesse says:

                  I always thought this to be very childish. And quite remarkable that he looked at it like this still in 1970, as a grown up man. He obviously never understood, as the rather pampered middle class boy with an aunt who would ultimately always cover his ass, so to say, how someone from another, more working class background with less financial security would tick.
                  And it is noteworthy how Lewisohn just repeats this gleeful “I made him choose between me and his dad” narrative without putting it into perspective or take into account that Paul may have looked at it differently. I personally do not believe that for him it was a choice between the two.

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                  • Erin says:

                    I think it certainly reinforces other evidence we have, from people such as Pete Shotton (and John himself, at times) that he, at times, viewed relationships as power struggles. Karen can jump in here, but my guess certainly is that the tendency to regard relationships in that manner is not emotionally healthy or preferable. However, it appears to be something John came by honestly … isn’t there some evidence (I cant recall the quality of it: hearsay; eyewitness account, etc.) arguing that Aunt Mimi used to get jealous of John and his Uncle George having a good time together? It appears that Aunt Mimi didn’t necessarily model the healthiest of behavioral patterns for John.

                    I do recall being surprised at Lewisohn’s failure to draw the obvious conclusion provided by John’s ultimatum to Paul: that, if Paul had chosen the job, and not the band, and had Paul therefore been exiled, we never would have heard of the Beatles in the first place.

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                    • Karen Hooper says:

                      Erin, Jesse;

                      I think we can all agree that John’s view, in later years, of his ultimatum to Paul was remarkably adolescent–but I think that speaks to the zero-sum game/ tug- of- war relationships he experienced with Mimi and Julia, and with Mimi and Uncle George.

                      The other thing I’d like to throw into the mix is that John’s upbringing, financially speaking, wasn’t entirely the coddled middle-class existence some biographers have portrayed it to be. I think it’s important to note that Uncle George, the family’s sole wage earner, died when John was only thirteen, requiring Mimi to take in borders just to make ends meet. All evidence seems to point to a financially strapped caregiver rather than a financially comfortable one.

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  2. Kristy says:

    Thanks for the informative two hours! I often enjoy SATB, which I discovered through your blog in the first place, and Robert Rodriguez more than a lot of other Beatles podcasters I’ve run into seems to have a more nuanced view of all Beatles members, which is appreciated.

    I thank you for pointing out that biographers can have biases and can have their favorites, because really, I need to remember that it’s not really possible for anyone to be completely unbiased. And that technically, the biographer/historian should have checks and balances in place to direct their reporting of the history. And that the biographer/historian should be willing to accept (and incorporate?) evidence that is contrary to one’s hypotheses.

    That kind of thought has both given me a new appreciation for what Mark Lewisohn is doing with his book series, along with making me more critical of it. Especially as I read more and more of the Beatles history lexicon, I begin to see the patterns that in Tune In are being solidified and reinforced regarding Paul McCartney in particular. I base this, of course, on my own reading of which anecdotes or evidence has been included in Tune In versus competing evidence from other sources I’ve seen elsewhere– that is, when the narrative isn’t focusing on John Lennon. (Because there are instances in Tune In where competing evidence from contrary past sources is brought out and examined, but mostly when it has to do with John — i.e., the “peeing on nuns” story, and the “choosing one parent or another” story. And that’s appreciated! But why hasn’t this been done for other competing evidence from what seemed to be pretty reliable sources chosen by Bob Spitz or whoever, in regards to Paul?) But really, anything asking for accountability regarding Tune In not a popular discussion online, I’ve found, hah! I guess people are just thankful for what they have, and it is a massive undertaking. I even have the extended hardcover special edition. But I can no longer listen to any podcast with Mark Lewisohn, because he trashes Paul quite often. It just gets me upset and makes me distrust the information he’s given already. Thank you for the sane, leveling historian’s viewpoint.

    Oh, I purchased a copy of Beatles Forever that will be delivered soon, so thank you for the discussion of that, also. Previously I’ve found Connolly’s work through you as well.

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    • Erin says:

      Kristy,

      Thanks so much for listening to the podcast, and for the informed, thoughtful comment. I appreciate it: I’m always interested in hearing what other Beatles readers have to say about their perspectives and views on Beatles historiography, and what they see and experience. And thanks too, for the words of praise for Robert: I’d listened to a handful of SATB podcasts before he read my book and asked me about doing a show, and even before I became a guest, I appreciated the give and take between him and Richard (I enjoyed their differing perspectives on certain things, and the contrasts (generationally, in nationality, etc). that added depth to those contrasts and perspectives, but I still enjoy the show without Richard, and think, as you said, it offers some necessary nuance and assessment. In all honesty, I haven’t listened to that many different Beatles podcasts — there simply aren’t enough hours in the day — but I’m glad SATB works for you.

      I agree that it’s crucial for everyone to understand that it’s completely impossible for any author (or fan, for that matter) to be completely unbiased. It’s an impossible standard, and historians themselves acknowledge that. There are inherent biases that are simply impossible for people to prevent/excise: gender, nationality, even the language utilized, for example. I generally base the “it’s okay to have favorites” on quotes from Gilbert Garraghan’s “A Guide to Historical Method” (one of those four hundred page slogs through historical methods that I read so other people don’t have to) and Gaddis, both of whom declare that personal preferences don’t automatically equal gross bigotry. But if you do have that preference, that makes it all the more important that you a. acknowledge it and b. Counteract it to the extent that it does not influence your gathering of evidence, weighing of evidence, analysis of evidence, interpretation, moral judgements, contextualization, or simply amount of coverage of varying individuals. And that can be a difficult, but not impossible, job.

      Would you mind expanding more on where you think Lewisohn did a good job of bringing in the contrasting stories/versions regarding John but failed to do so regarding Paul or the other Beatles? The first thing that springs to my mind was his failure to explore the claims in Spitz’s books from Paul’s Aunt Dill regarding the timing of Mary McCartney’s cancer diagnosis, but was there something else that caught your eye by its absence? It’s been so long since I read Tune In — when it was published, actually — but the questions and comments from some readers are making me curious as to whether I need to pick it up again.

      I am really going to have to try and eventually catch up in regards to my Beatles podcasts: a number of people have mentioned issues or questions after listening to a Lewisohn interview, but I simply haven’t had the time to listen to them and therefore can’t evaluate them.

      I have very mixed feelings on “The Beatles Forever,” so forgive me if you come away from it less than thrilled. The level of the writing is top notch — Schaffner is, frankly, a great and witty writer and, as we’ve discussed here, the quality of the writing can lull the uninformed reader into ignoring or forgiving any number of methodological sins. He attempts a balance that’s rare for the time period in which he’s writing, and acknowledges how crucial the role of politics was in the portrayal of the breakup.

      But he’s lacking crucial primary sources, he never questions the validity or accuracy of LR, and, on a more personal note, I found his repeated descriptions of Paul as “pretty/pretty-faced” — I swear he does it at least twenty times, and don’t believe I am exaggerating in that estimate — jarring and implicitly or explicitly diminishing McCartney by using feminine coded language. I find it problematic when male authors use feminine-coded language or descriptions to diminish or implicitly criticize, because the implicit conclusion is that feminine equals weak, lesser, unimportant, trivial, etc., where masculine descriptions/masculine is superior, strong, assertive, weighty, etc. I’m not saying Schaffner doesn’t or shouldn’t acknowledge the reality that Paul was an extremely attractive man, but the words he chose to convey that were either A. poorly chosen, which is unfortunate for such an excellent writer or B. deliberately chosen, which opens him up to this criticism. When paired with Schaffner’s declaration that male Beatles fans liked John’s intelligence, while female fans like Paul’s pretty face, it opens up Schaffner to valid criticism regarding how he describes/views females in “The Beatles Forever.”

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      • Kristy says:

        Oh, thanks for the warning about Schaffner. I’ll be prepared, then– I was intrigued by the description of the writing in particular, so that’s what I’ll likely focus on. I’ve found that I don’t agree with the viewpoints of several Beatles books I’ve read, but I can appreciate the writing. “Shout!” is one example; bias galore, and in a direction I don’t appreciate, but holy smokes Norman could tell a story. I even thought Goldman’s Lennon book was amazingly written, even when he’s purple or being awful; it’s fascinating prose regardless.

        As for evidence in Spitz vs. Lewisohn, the instance sitting on the top of my head when I was writing that reply was Spitz’s much more extensive use of testimony from Dot Rhone, and specifically her memories of the rivalries/disagreements between Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe. She was not a huge part of Tune In, but as reported in Spitz’s book and in interviews I’ve seen with him, she had some really fascinating insights about the group dynamics. For example, she notes that Stuart was not immune to flaunting his John’s-best-friend status, an insight that might explain Paul’s irritation a little better, and she also describes the scene at Astrid’s house when Stuart called screaming unreasonably for Dot to be thrown out after he and Paul had their fight. Instead, Stuart is portrayed in Tune In as basically emotionless except for an almost angelic nature, there to be bullied by Paul and sometimes John, and to perhaps have been a bit snippy to the Liverpool art educators. Lewisohn reprints the letter excerpt from Stuart regarding how “everyone hates Paul and I only feel sorry for him” in Hamburg, but doesn’t offer any context or explanation beyond a quick mention of Paul’s irritation with Stu.

        He does discuss Pauline Sutcliffe’s changing story about the supposed bloody fight between John and Stu that others have so gleefully reported, but only in the footnotes. I don’t know if he pretty much judged Pauline as “unreliable” after that, but she had other insights I’ve seen regarding group dynamics that aren’t included in Tune In.

        Overall, I will note that Lewisohn said in a podcast I heard (I think it was Fabcast?) that if anyone wants to understand why Paul McCartney is the way he is, they should read Tune In. But I don’t think Tune In does much at all to flesh Paul out, and doesn’t offer much thoughtful suggestion that is compassionate, whereas John is very minutely covered and his indiscretions are often excused ’cause he was so very cool and admired. (That’s me being snarky, pardon.)

        Anyway, I need to read some more of the extended edition – I’ve read the regular edition a couple of times, but I’m planning on taking notes this go-round on the big version for things other people have requested. 🙂 I will look out for the bits about Mary McCartney’s cancer diagnosis.

        Thank you for reading the historiography manuals so we don’t have to! 🙂 Actually, they sound kind of fascinating to me, but then I’m a writing nerd. I try to examine my own reactions to things and why I’m so irritated with certain books and anecdotes as they relate to my fave, but I don’t always have the tools to examine my reactions.

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        • Erin says:

          “I’ll be prepared, then– I was intrigued by the description of the writing in particular, so that’s what I’ll likely focus on. I’ve found that I don’t agree with the viewpoints of several Beatles books I’ve read, but I can appreciate the writing. “Shout!” is one example; bias galore, and in a direction I don’t appreciate, but holy smokes Norman could tell a story.”

          It’s easier to believe a well-written story than it is a poorly written one, regardless of the evidence, and you’re absolutely right: Norman’s “voice” is vivid and descriptive and at times almost poetic. Personally, I find him to be one of the best writers, style-wise, in Beatles historiography, although Gould would be in my top slot. It didn’t hurt that I read Norman fairly early on, after years of reading less than stylistically engaging history tomes. (An aside, for someone who wants to read great reading/writing with great methodology, try “Freedom From Fear,” by David M. Kennedy. He covers the American reaction to the Great Depression and WWII and somehow makes the Alphabet soup agencies of the New Deal interesting to someone like me who finds much of that topic boring as dust).

          Again, some suggestions for manuals include Starrt’s Historical Methods in Mass Communication and John Lewis Gaddis’s the Landscape of History, which is less philosophical than Bloch’s. The Historian’s Craft. Plus, there’s the reality that a lot of the examples Bloch uses are derived from Medieval French history due to the fact that he was an historian of Medieval France, whereas Gaddis is an American, and many of his examples are plucked from American history. Given that my own familiarity with American History is far greater than that of Medieval France, it certainly doesn’t hurt a slight preference on my part for Gaddis. Another book that is more Beatles centric that might interest you is “The Beatles: The Annotated Bibliography,” by Michael Brocken and Melissa Davis, but someone told me recently that its hard to find or out of print. But they provide good analysis (even if they don’t declare which standards they’re using at the onset, which is a problem) and its a work that perhaps you could find via inter-library loan.

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          • Kristy says:

            I wanted to pop by and thank you again for the discussion of historical analysis and names of references — I’ve read a fair share of history books. 🙂 I’m an Age of Sail nerd, and a founding-of-the-U.S. nerd, and I’ve read tons but I’d never thought too much about what goes on behind the writing, or compared methods beyond “was this book an enjoyable and informative read or was it boring as snot?” Exception for Tony Horwitz — I adore his books because of the real-life experiences he brings to his history, and he’s actually inspired me to look through his sources because the information was so fascinating.

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            • Erin says:

              Kristy, thanks for commenting!

              In all honesty, the “what goes on behind the writing” historiographical element never occurred to me either, even as I devoured history from a very young age. (Yes, I was the geeky little child who read encyclopedias — back when those still existed — in her spare time, and most of those entries were history related). I loved reading about American History in particular, and always was curious — still am — about differing perspectives on the same event, such as the American Revolution from the British angle and how they teach it (in short: the French Revolution, understandably, gets waaaaaaaaay more coverage in most British history books than the American Revolution). So I was aware, in a very general way, of how who is telling the history matters, particularly on very debatable issues such as who was to blame for starting WWI, but didn’t realize there was a basic structure to historiography, and rules to methodology, until I took it as a required class and we really got to delve into the issue. It was a class, honestly, that I did not want to take, but will always be thankful that I did.

              I have never read Horwitz; you’ve prompted me to look him up. Thanks.

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    • Karen Hooper says:

      Hi Kristy; Glad you stopped by and commented.

      I think Lewisohn HAS become the Beatle oracle of truth, regrettably. There’s a post on this blog awhile back where we discussed this at some length.

      With respect to biographer/media portrayals of Paul and John, I’m old enough to remember how Paul and John were portrayed before the Beatles’ break up and John’s death. In spite of the tendency of the male-dominated rock media to over-identify with John, they still portrayed Paul, well, fairly. After the breakup and John’s death, that all changed. There seems to be a narrative correction now, but it sure took a long time.

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  3. Jesse says:

    Firstly, thanks to your parents for baby sitting and thus enabling you to talk to Robert – I enjoyed that episode very much!

    Having more time on my hands than you at the moment, I looked around for the interviw you can’t quite remeber and found this bit in Ray Connolly’s Beatles Archive book:

    1970: John: ‘I’m a performing flea…a crutch for the world’s social lepers’ (an extended version of the Evening Standard interview of 10 December 1970)
    .
    “Editing this article more than forty years after it was written what doesn’t emerge is that John was usually a witty and funny man with me. ‘I ruined Paul’s life, you know,’ he would say mock seriously. ‘He could have gone to university and become a doctor or something like that.’ Then talking about Paul’s happy and faithful marriage he would be mischievous. ‘For years he couldn’t keep it still, could he? Now look at him.’ ’”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hologram Sam says:

    All this thoughtful commentary and analysis on the Beatles; it reminds me of how spoiled I’ve become. Here’s an odd example:

    An antenna TV station in my area has recently started airing old Three Stooges films. I haven’t seen them in over fifty years. When I was a child, I used to see them every day. Then I grew up and became somewhat of a comedy snob, preferring Chaplin and Keaton, etc.

    Seeing these old Stooges films, I’ve come to appreciate Curly Howard all over again. I wanted to learn more about the man, and so I read excerpts from his biography. And the discussions are so shallow!

    For example, an interview:
    Question: “You lived on the same block as Curly growing up. What are your recollections of him?”
    Answer: “What can I say? He was nice. It was a nice block.”

    I’ve gotten so used to the deep and thoughtful discussions about the Beatles, I’ve come to expect that everywhere. But I think Beatle fans are unique among entertainment fans. We dig deeper. All I’ve learned about Curly is that he was unhappy when he wasn’t happy, and liked partying even though he liked to keep to himself.

    My impression of John Lennon: He gave so many interviews, and later in life often babbled like a hateful idiot, but every word was written down and analyzed. We still look for clues in his comments, even though he most likely forgot half of what he said after the interviewer had left. But I still enjoy reading analysis of what the Beatles had to say! Because even if John is being hateful and thoughtless, or Paul is being oblique, I still find the analysis endlessly fascinating.

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    • Karen Hooper says:

      He gave so many interviews, and later in life often babbled like a hateful idiot, but every word was written down and analyzed. We still look for clues in his comments, even though he most likely forgot half of what he said after the interviewer had left.

      Interesting how different Paul and John were in this regard. Where John said whatever popped into his head and didn’t seem to give a damn about the fallout, Paul overthinks everything he says in order to avoid misinterpretation. John needed a little more of Paul’s sensitivity and caution, and Paul needed a little more of John’s throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude.

      I think the problem in Beatle fandom (and I include biographers in that community) is that comments, particularly those made by Paul or John, are often viewed in absolutist terms and/or are judged without paying attention to context. It amazes me that Paul’s character continues to be assailed for comments he made about his mother’s death when he was a 14 year old boy, for example. I dare say we would all look pretty bad if we were held to the same ridiculous standards.

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      • Hologram Sam says:

        I think the problem in Beatle fandom (and I include biographers in that community) is that comments, particularly those made by Paul or John, are often viewed in absolutist terms and/or are judged without paying attention to context.

        Yes. I’ve seen that on other blogs. John or Paul or George (Ringo rarely gets this treatment) will mutter something, and biographers interpret it in absolute terms. And then, fans will find another quote that contradicts the first, and suddenly it feels like a debate among Biblical scholars. Forgetting that what we’re analyzing are the random mutterings of 26 year old musicians.

        The brief exchange between George and Paul, for example. George gets frustrated after hours in the studio and says “I’ll play whatever you want me to play, or not at all.” (I’m quoting from memory here.) And that moment of irritation gets studied like it came down from Moses.

        Don’t get me wrong! I love every minute of it, because I’m endlessly fascinated with the Beatles story. I wouldn’t want the alternative, the thin gruel of superficial stories about Curly Howard or Larry Fine (“He was a nice guy! Loved his dog!”) so I’m not criticizing.

        But relationships are complicated. And fans are so literal minded. Not really on this blog, but certainly elsewhere on the internet. I think of my own marriage. My wife and I would agree it’s a happy union. Thirty two years now! And yet, she’ll occasionally make a cross remark, or I’ll gripe about something. And then five minutes later we’re laughing. I can’t imagine biographers endlessly studying these moments the way they’ve examined various disagreements between the Beatles.

        But then again, I’ve never denounced her to Jann Wenner.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Karen Hooper says:

          fans will find another quote that contradicts the first, and suddenly it feels like a debate among Biblical scholars.

          Hahaha—biblical references are so funny and so spot on, Sam.

          I guess it’s part of how society holds famous people to a different standard than the rest of us mere mortals. (And if ever in a moment of weakness you denounce your wife to Jann Wenner we’ll stick up for her 😉).

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