Podcast alert: Interview with One Sweet Dream

Everyone,

I’m very pleased to report that today Diana Erickson of One Sweet Dream has posted the single longest podcast interview, to date, I’ve ever done (although I suppose if you combine all my SATB interviews, it would rank a distant second). We cover a lot of ground, with particular emphasis on the Maureen Cleave interviews and the sculpting of the Beatles image. For those who are interested, here’s the link:

Player FM – Internet Radio Done Right

Questions and comments are welcomed.

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Completely non-Beatles related note: For anyone who is even remotely interested in Abraham Lincoln, The American Civil War and historiography, I cannot recommend Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image, by Joshua Zeist, strongly enough. Zeist delves into the lives of Lincoln’s two secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay, their roles as witnesses to history and, more importantly, their crucial and massive impact on Lincoln and Civil War historiography.

Lincoln’s only authorized biographers, they published a ten volume biography of Lincoln in the late 19th century that benefited, immensely, not only from their own personal memories and documentation, but from the privilege and power of being the only researchers allowed, until 1947, full access to the Lincoln papers. (As we have recently noted on this blog, regarding the cancellation of Doggett’s Prisoner of Love, control over rare documents ensures a measure of control over a historiography). Zeist discusses issues familiar to readers of Beatles historiography: influential secondary sources far too dependent on retrospective interviews, rather than documentation; authorial disputes regarding crucial and legacy defining writings; how elevating the reputation of one individual in history seemingly can require demeaning another; and the role audience plays in demanding a preferable interpretation from its historians. If given a chance, I hope to write a post further exploring the parallels.

27 thoughts on “Podcast alert: Interview with One Sweet Dream

      • Steve says:

        Erin: Craig Brown’s book, 150 Glimpses of the Beatles, gives you a shout out as a Beatles theologian. It was written as a compliment. It is a fun book, by the way. Is there a way I can send you a screenshot of his shout out so you can see it.

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        • Erin says:

          So, according to Karen, you can’t upload an image, but she and I can. If you use the blog email and include the screen shot, we can post it. But it’s entirely up to you whether you want to bother.

          In that vein: what did you think of Brown’s book?

          Like

  1. Bill Moyer says:

    Very enjoyable and informative. I decided to buy some of the old books referenced (I bought your book last year!) as my library didn’t have them. I really like One Sweet Dream and Another Kind of Mind podcasts because the hosts are younger and female which gives them a different perspective on the Beatles than most authors and podcasters.. They can identify the gaps in the often told narratives and dig into it if it doesn’t ring true. I’m looking forward to Part 2.

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    • Erin says:

      Bill,

      Out of sheer curiosity, which books did you buy?

      I’m sorry your library doesn’t have them; that’s a shame. My library system has a decent-ish Beatles collection, with some oddities: four or so copies of “The Love You Make,” none of “Revolution in the Head.” (Shrugs). Luckily I have inter-library loan to fill in the gaps.

      I think looking at the Beatles from a fresh angle is very valuable, and I enjoy how AKOM does that. I will definitely let everyone know when part II goes up.

      Like

      • Bill M says:

        Erin, I bought The Beatles: The Authorized Biography by Hunter Davies and Pete Shotton’s The Beatles, Lennon, and Me. My library has a book by Hunter Davies, but it’s not the Biography.

        A friend an I bought each other Beatles’ books last Christmas and he sent me the one by Steve Turner Beatles ‘66: The Revolutionary Year which I really enjoyed.

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        • Erin says:

          Thanks for the reply, Bill M. I’m an avid reader myself, so I’m always curious to know what others are reading.

          I found a lot of value in The Authorized Biography, and the more I read of Beatles historiography, the more I appreciated Shotton’s In My Life. I’m curious what Davies book your library does have. Our library system has a decent-ish Beatles collection, but anything more involved than a widely published bio, like a Shout! or a memoir of a major figure (For example, they did have the new George Martin bio) can be hard to find.

          I enjoyed Turner as well although, to be honest, I’d have to look through my notes to see what really stood out about the book. The one thing I remember is his claim that Paul took LSD in 1965, because if true, that impacts Revolver.

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  2. Karen Hooper says:

    Great podcast, Erin.

    With respect to the depiction of Paul as “cute”:

    With no rancor Julia Baird described young Paul as ‘pretty; Chris Salewicz describes young Paul as a “prettily plump child”, and John once jokingly called Paul the ‘prettiest’ and therefore the one to exit the car first.

    In addition to ‘cute’, there was a lot of ‘pretty’ going around.

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    • Erin says:

      Absolutely. (I had to chuckle at John’s comment).
      The blanket use of the term pretty isn’t an issue so much as how it used, who it is used by, and the impact of its use. Calling a male child “pretty”, as Julia Baird and Salewicz do,’ is one thing. Pretty, cute, adorable — all are terms everyone throws around for kids. They’re compliments, but can also be diminutives: there was even an SNL joke the other week on Weekend Update:

      “2020 turned out to be one of the worst years for Shark Attacks, causing over 150 human deaths.”
      “‘Adorable,’ responded bats.”

      Where it starts entering into serious discussion for me is when you have professional grown men (Schaffner would be the most glaring example of this, but not the only one) repeatedly using the term “pretty” or “pretty-faced” to refer to another grown man. (Norman does the same). Schaffner doesn’t only do that once or twice, he uses one of those exact words at least fifteen times in his references to McCartney. “Pretty-boy” is also a term that at least one journalist has used to describe Paul, and that’s not a stealth insult: that’s an overt one. (My husband, who hates the Yankees, routinely used the term “pretty-boy” to insult Alex Rodriguez. And it wasn’t meant as a compliment).

      My reaction to this is based both on studies that I’m aware of (I’d have to hunt them up, but I’ve seen them referenced before) which argue that the use of feminized language can be a method of stealth insult/diminishment when used by men to describe other men, and my own personal experience. It is difficult to see a situation where a grown man using the term “pretty” or any variation of the word “pretty” to describe another grown man means it as a compliment. Even if its purely meant as a descriptive term, it is a descriptive term that is weighted with significant meaning and is feminizing. And given the rock press’s obsession with masculinity and its insistence, as noted in other studies, of using masculine terms to portray a song as good and feminizing terms to describe them as weak or inferior, I don’t think its a coincidence that a rock press that knew well the power of masculine and feminine language commonly used feminized language, particularly in the 1970s and 80s, to describe McCartney.

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          • Steve says:

            Do you think the long lasting influence of the Lennon Remembers interviews would have been same had Jan Wenner not published it in book form? Rolling Stone was not yet a national magazine at the time, was it? It may have covered matters outside of San Francisco but I don’t know if it was readily available around the country in 1970.

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            • Erin says:

              I think certainly the interview’s longevity and accessibility would have been impacted, to some degree, had Wenner not published it in book form. It simply would have not been as readily accessible, and in research accessibility matters immensely. I also think that its publication as a book grants it, simply due to its status as a book, a level of gravitas that it would not otherwise have had merely as a magazine interview. It obviously still would have been available in various archives/libraries/etc. And, to state the obvious, publishing it in book form makes it available in additional forms.

              I’d have to grab my own book and check, but I want to say that Rolling Stone’s reach and readership was pretty strong in that period. Other authors have discussed how it was the bridge between the counterculture and more mainstream publications, and I have perceived that its reach was nationwide, beyond San Francisco. And (I’m going entirely by memory here) I want to say their nationwide subscription numbers were approximately 250,000, and that’s just, I believe, the people who had actual subscriptions and didn’t just pick it up at the newsstand. There’s some good information about Rolling Stone in the recent Jann Wenner bio Sticky Fingers, which came out a few years ago.

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  3. Tony Collins says:

    Not listened yet, but the combination of you and the interviewer is definitely gonna result in a great podcast. It’s SO refreshing to hear female voices analysing the Beatles – and doing it so much better than most men ever did.

    Like

    • Erin says:

      Thanks, Tony. I’ve been able to listen to first hour, and I like how we got into areas I haven’t really discussed on previous podcasts. (Although I rolled my eyes at my now rote description of historiography, which is pretty much word-for-word what I’ve said in previous interviews, but there are really only many ways you can define historiography).

      I’ve enjoyed all my podcast interview so far, with both men and women: I’m just glad we’re getting new insights and a willingness to assess new or old evidence by its merits. There are certainly some figures in Beatles historiography whose work I find deeply disappointing, but I haven’t encountered any podcasts in that area. However, my guilty secret is that I don’t really listen to that many Beatles podcasts. I’ve listened to SATB more than anything else, but even that can be hit or miss in whether I have the time to listen to a new episode or not: much of my schedule is dictated by the kids’ napping schedules. If someone suggests one for me to listen to, I do, but there are only so many hours in the day, and I also listen to various NFL/Chiefs podcasts (Guess who’s the betting favorite to win Superbowl 56 now that the Ravens, for some inexplicable reason, traded the Chiefs a pro-bow Left Tackle?) Between kid’s cartoons in the background, Beatles podcasts, and football podcasts … every once in a while I just want some quiet.

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      • Karen Hooper says:

        Wot–football podcasts? I didn’t know that was even an thing. 🙂

        Re: Rolling Stone magazine in the era of Lennon Remembers: anecdotally, I can say that RS carried ALOT of weight then (think Dr. Hook’s song “The Cover of the Rolling Stone”). It was almost the holy grail of rock and roll, the way I remember it. So when you have the gravitas of John Lennnon’s Sermon From The Mount published in RS, I’m not surprised it’s lived this long.

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        • Erin says:

          I know you’re joking, Karen, but honestly, I was stunned at just how many podcasts there are. I am not exaggerating when I say that, during football season, you could spend every waking minute of your day listening to different football podcasts: one covering the entire NFL; one covering your particular team; one from national reporters, and others from guys who are fans. Tragically, one of the reporters on my favorite podcast, Terez Paylor, died unexpectedly only a few days after the Super Bowl. (He wasn’t even forty). As a novice to doing podcast interviews, I learned something valuable listening to Terez: it’s better to answer slowly and consider what you’re going to say than to talk just to fill space while saying nothing. He was also one of the few minority NFL Hall of Fame voters and a rare African-American reporter in a field that, even covering a league that is 70% African-American, is predominantly white. I already miss his writing and football podcasts immensely.

          Yes, back to the topic: Every impression I’ve been given regarding RS in this time period is that it was a publication with a long reach — one that was read by both the counterculture and the establishment — and a wide audience across the country. (I’m reminded of the final scene of Stephen King’s “Firestarter” (which, if you’ve never read the book, this reference will make no sense, and you can happily skip it). Charlie McGee, this girl with supernatural powers, who has been experimented on and imprisoned by the U.S. govt. (which also killed her father and mother) has escaped and needs to go to the press, but the govt. has made it clear they’ve got “insiders” at the NYT, Washington Post, etc., all these establishment papers, and will make sure her story never gets out. So where does Charlie go when she needs a publication that is willing to buck authority but also has some credibility and is not just some raggedy tabloid? She goes to Rolling Stone, and the final scene of the book is her walking into the RS offices. That’s a book that was published in 1980, so the time doesn’t exactly match up, but its an interesting nugget.

          It works both ways: RS’s reputation helped underline the importance of the LR interview — he’s not giving some throwaway interview to Life or The Daily Mail — but also became RS’s greatest journalistic coup. It was a mutually beneficial relationship … until John balked at Wenner’s publication of it in book form. That took it out of John’s control and put it in Wenner’s.

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    • Erin says:

      I just found it amusing that my husband would make that comment, because it’s pretty out of character. He’s a mild-mannered guy in general and teases me for how, well, intense I can get watching a Chiefs game, where he rarely gets upset watching his teams, win or lose. I think it’s really just an indication of how much he hates the Yankees. But … agreed. If ARod wants to pursue that economic opportunity, more power to him.

      How’s Cleveland looking to you? Do you think they did enough to beef up their pass rush and secondary to beat Kansas City? I gotta say, the new Chiefs O-line looks big and nasty. I see a lot more screens (Andy didn’t do that many this season, as the O-line got banged up) to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, when Hill and/or Kelce is double covered. They might actually run the ball on 4th and 1, rather than throwing it. Should be interesting.

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  4. SAK says:

    Ask me again sometime in late October! Right now lots of the typical Browns superhype regarding signings/draft picks. Seems like they concentrated on upgrading D backs and made changes on D line. But there’s been so many losing seasons with similar hype that I’ve learned not to expect much. If they win I’ll be happy, if not, they won’t ruin my Sunday.

    Like

    • Erin says:

      October is a good benchmark month. The Chiefs always start out in September red-hot (Mahomes is undefeated in September) but almost always have some inexplicable loss in October (in 2019, it was the Colts/Texans; last year it was the Raiders). I understand being burnt so many times that expecting too much just leads to pain: that was my playoff experience for 26 years as a fan, to the point where, when the Chiefs fell behind 24 pts against the Texans in 2019, I wasn’t even surprised: because of course the Chiefs were going to screw that up somehow. And then, somehow, despite fifty years of conditioning … they didnt. It was disorienting.

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  5. Marc Jones says:

    I’m currently listening to the podcast and really enjoying it. It’s really interesting to remember, in light of what you were saying about Paul’s (then) controversial comments about race in the Cleave interview, the absolute shellacking Ringo got on Facebook last year when he nominated BLM as one of the charities benefiting from his birthday fundraiser.

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    • Erin says:

      Your post reminded me about something a poster a few years ago remembered reading: one of the eyewitnesses on one of the Beatles first or second Florida trips mentions how surprised some of the Americans were when Ringo jumped into the pool when there were already some African-American women swimming in there. (This, of course, being an era in which public pools and many other pools, including at colleges, were racially segregated). Does anyone on Facebook genuinely believe Ringo is going to change his stance on certain issues because someone on social media — gasp! — doesn’t agree with it?

      Edited to add: Thanks for saying you enjoyed the podcast, Marc!

      And to add: one of the things that surprises me about the lack of reaction to Paul’s comments in the Cleave interview is how there’s no blowback from the Americans to being lectured on race by an Englishman. I’ve done some research on Ida B. Wells — an absolutely amazing woman, whom every American school child should learn about; An African-American woman, schoolteacher and journalist who led the campaign against lynching in the 1880s/90s despite threats on her life and cataloged where they were taking place (often traveling to places where lynchings had recently occurred) compiling the first real statistics on the issue, and campaigned before Congress to end it. (She also refused to sit in a colored only train car, sued, won the suit, but then had it overturned).

      Anyway, she was a suffragist who went to England and worked with suffragists there, and when she came back she and some English suffragists gave speeches about conquering the racial divide and ending discrimination in the suffragist movement. (For example, when they had suffragist marches in the U.S., Ida was supposed to march in the back. Because … idiocy). And guess what? Even American suffragists didn’t like being lectured on race relations and discrimination by English suffragists: One of Ida’s memoirs mentions how the American suffragists would bristle and come back with questions regarding the English treatment of the Irish or people from the subcontinent of India. Even with the common cause of voting, having their sins thrown in their face only angered and embarrassed the American suffragists, who retaliated by bringing up England’s own less than sterling reputation with discrimination. Americans don’t like being lectured on race by the English, and yet one of the most famous men in the world did just that in 1966, and seemingly no one cared. It’s simply baffling.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve says:

    Erin: Craig Brown’s book, 150 Glimpses of the Beatles, gives you a shout out as a Beatles theologian. It was written as a compliment. It is a fun book, by the way. Is there a way I can send you a screenshot of his shout out so you can see it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      Thanks for letting me know, Steve.

      That makes me feel crushingly guilty I haven’t yet read his work. It’s on my to-read Beatles list.

      As for screen shots … Karen, suggestions?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robert says:

      Just for the clarity of others reading this, “150 Glimpses of the Beatles” is the American title and exactly the same book, page for page, as Craig Brown’s UK No.1 bestseller “One, Two, Three, Four”. Amazon UK, for one, don’t male this clear and so there may be some book buyers who could feel a bit duped by this.

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