Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In the End, Pt. II

What in the world you thinking of?
Laughing in the face of Love?
What on Earth you trying to do?
It’s up to you.

Yeah, you....

Who on Earth do you think you are?
A superstar?
Well, right you are!

Well, we all shine on.
–John Lennon, "Instant Karma" (1970)

And in the end,
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make
–John Lennon and Paul McCartney, "The End," Abbey Road (1969)

Western Communism

Capital, in both a Marxist and classical sense, narrowly refers to the money used in the exchange and production of hard goods and services. Here, the term ‘money’ is loosely defined to include not only cold hard cash, but also the thought or appearance of cash, such as debt obligations (i.e., cash in the future) and so on. But over the years, the notion of capital has expanded to include a number of things that can either define, create or add value to a good, service or sometimes to a relationship (e.g., a partnership, joint venture or corporation).

What we’re primarily looking at here is ‘social capital,’ or the wealth accrued in public/social position, identity or overall goodwill. As the World Bank describes it:
The broadest and most encompassing view of social capital includes the social and political environment that shapes social structure and enables norms to develop. This analysis extends the importance of social capital to the most formalized institutional relationships and structures, such as government, the political regime, the rule of law, the court system, and civil and political liberties. This view not only accounts for the virtues and vices of social capital, and the importance of forging ties within and across communities, but recognizes that the capacity of various social groups to act in their interest depends crucially on the support (or lack thereof) that they receive from the state as well as the private sector. Similarly, the state depends on social stability and widespread popular support. In short, economic and social development thrives when representatives of the state, the corporate sector, and civil society create forums in and through which they can identify and pursue common goals.
The Beatles were not economists. With the possible exception of Neill Aspinall, it’s not likely that they could have defined ‘social capitalism’ if you asked them.  On the other hand, it’s quite evident they undersood that they had something in overwhelming abundance; in fact, way too much of it, more than they could use. Moreover, this something that they had was a perfect example of social capital.

The Beatles obviously had tremendous amounts of capital in both the Marxist and classical sense when comparing them individually to Joe Schmo on the streets. But in the grand scheme of things, it was, and continues to be, peanuts. For an individual, or several individuals, to attempt to eliminate such things as poverty simply by redistributing his or her tangible assets would be folly. For example, we know that Oprah Winfrey is a billionaire. Were she to redistribute her wealth to the rest of humanity, then everyone else’s income would increase about twenty US cents. That’s hardly something that would effect social change, and would only result in penury for Winfrey.

On the other hand, the Beatles had a social capital that was unique to them: namely, their fame. As US radio personality Jean Shepherd characterized his experience with them, this fame came with a lot of perks--ardent adulation, money, sex, and the ability to practice the crafts that each truly loved. Yet, it became quite evident in the early days of Beatlemania that it had a severe downside: they had forfeited a good deal of their privacy; they became alienated from the rest of humanity, for they couldn’t securely go anywhere in public; they faced constant, unyielding demands for their attention; many of their relationships, most notably to each other, were jeopardized, and in some cases torn asunder.* 

What’s worse, as the saga of the band continued, they paid steeper and steeper prices for that fame. First off, there was the machinations of the Kray twins and later Allen Klein to gain control of them. There were the untimely deaths of many of those associated with either them or Brian Epstein: Joseph Meek, Joe Orton, Ken Halliwell, David Jacobs (their attorney), Sir Dr. Richard Ashur, Macdonald, Browne, ex-Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, and even Epstein himself. It’s clear that the Beatles held no culpability in the demise of these men. Moreover, the band consciously realized this. Still, one might suspect in the backs of their mind they wondered if their fame played a role in these premature passings. What if, for example, they one day thought that the Kray twins murdered Epstein and Jacobs to take control of them? If so they might have lived with the nagging suspicion that at least these two would have lived longer lives had Beatlemania never existed.

As mentioned in the previous post, they also felt pressure as representatives of their generation and the emerging ethos it symbolized. In some cases, they experenced this as attempted manipulation by those within the counterculture. In the most horrific sense, however, the introduction of their lyrics into evidence at the Tate-LaBianca murder trials in Los Angeles demonstrated their powerlessness to prevent others from perverting the intent of their music.**

At the same time, the group had become keenly aware of the disparity of this particular capital when looking at their support staff, especially Evans and Aspinall. As Shepherd pointed out in his monologues chronicling his time with the Beatles, he too was seduced by this fame. A legendarily cynical curmudgeon, Shep laughed at himself for basking in the glow of this fire, the giddy feeling that came about not only because of the fact that the individual band members knew him, but seemed to genuinely like him. He also realized that he would have loved to have had just a piece of that particular fame for himself.

I would suspect that the band itself was quite aware that Evans and Aspinall shared Shepherd’s feelings in this regard, but to a much greater extent. After all, those two faced much of the same suffocation that the Fab Four did, on a daily basis, yet didn’t fully enjoy the benefits of their famous friends.

I would also suspect that this played a role in prompting Lennon and McCartney to help their friends and supporters set up Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots. In a sense it was a sharing of this fame, a chance for their unknown staff to be rock stars, or at least play at being rock stars. While not wholly successful, the composition, recording and release of "Sgt. Pepper," and "Fixing a Hole" gave this effort a last hurrah, and a pretty triumphant one at that, although all parties preferred to keep that secret.***

Although Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots never became household names, they did perhaps demonstrate a method for actuating a western communism where the social capital chiefly manifested itself as the Beatles brand, which not only liquified into money, but also, hopefully, Love.

I’m a Beatle, He’s a Beatle, She’s a Beatle, We’re a Beatle; Wouldn’t You Like to Be a Beatle Too?

A report in the 12 February 1976 issue of Rolling Stone disclosed that Evans was set to deliver the manuscript of his memoirs to Grosset and Dunlop on 12 January, exactly a week after his death. Titled Living the Beatles’ Legend, it presumably would have spent most of its ink talking about his connection with the group. As to what it actually said, no one knows. The manuscript went missing. Despite the above report, some have express doubts as to its existence. 

Whether it existed or not, the title seemed particularly appropriate. After all, we know that Evans, Aspinall, Derek Taylor, Tony Bramwell and others received some prominence during their lives because of their association with the Beatles. But on a deeper level, Evans and Aspinall also got to live out a Beatles fantasy in the form of the pseudo-knockoff band, the Pepperpots. Aspinall might have also played out a more intimate Beatles fantasy.

Figure 1. McCartney Imposter (left), Neil Aspinall and John Lennon (right)

One can tell that the person on the left looks like McCartney, but is not him. Indeed, the facial shape, with the elongated and pointed chin, does not belong to Paul, but to Aspinall. Since I’ve seen this disguised face in several different photographs, and moving in film footage, I’m fairly confident that this wasn’t simply photoshopped, but an actual, raw image. Nothing Is Real poster Apollo C. Vermouth stressed that in addition to two voice doubles, there was a visual double. If Vermouth and Aspinall are one and the same, as claimed by the board’s moderators, then he should know, especially if he were the visual double.****

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that everything stated in the previous paragraph is not speculation, but fact. In that case, it seemed to represent the same mindset that created Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots. The band offered Aspinall a chance to be like a Beatle. The disguise, however, offered Neil a chance to be a specific Beatle:  McCartney.

Stepping out of the speculative, we can see that the Beatles actually took concrete steps to share the social capital afforded by Beatleness. The most interesting example of this: when Apple Corps Ltd. first hung out its shingle, it put out a call to the great unwashed for films, scripts, visual art and music, presumably to be published/released by the new company. The strong association between the band and the corporation would effectively given any previously unheard of artist produced within this process the Beatles’ imprimatur. They would bear the Beatles’ brand. They would become part of the Beatles legend. Such would be a perfect example of redistributing social capital within the context of business, or in other words a perfect example of a Western communism. 

This aspect of the plan didn’t work out that well, for reasons you’ve most likely already surmised. The volume of submissions completely swamped the company, which couldn’t physically look at all of these entries, let alone consider them and develop them.

What’s worse, by the fall of 1969, the Beatles would effectively dissolve, with Apple Corps now under the direction of Allen Klein, a man who, frankly, couldn’t care less about the company’s ideological underpinnings. Thus, there would be no practical way to make this dream of a Western communism a reality.

At the same time, both Lennon and McCartney still seemed supportive of democratic celebrity, as it were. John gave voice to the notion in the song "Instant Karma." More interestingly, in the Playboy interview he and Yoko Ono recounted an incident involving their son, Sean. They explained that they tried to shield him from their fame, never telling him that they were celebrities. But when Sean stayed overnight at a friends house, whereupon they watched the movie Yellow Submarine on television, the younger Lennon couldn’t figure out why his father was a cartoon on television, and a Beatle. His father explained that he was a Beatle. His mother was a Beatle. In fact, everyone was a Beatle.

I don’t know when or why it happened, but it would seem that at some point in the 1970s that McCartney began to take a second look at the pesky rumor that had once gotten on his nerves. We can see he had it somewhere in his mind when commissioning famed sci-fi author Isaac Asimov to write a screenplay based on a direct Paul-Is-Dead theme: namely the secret replacement of a Beatles-like band by doubles.

As mentioned earlier, Asimov commented on this effort, and why it was scrapped, cryptically saying, "It’s tempting to imagine that the project collapsed because McCartney knew subconsciously that he was aligned with the losing side." In terms of a plotline for a screenplay, the remark would make little sense. A writer can manipulate the story in any number of ways to allow justice to prevail, or for the white knight to rescue the damsel in distress, or so on. With respect to winning or losing at the box office, again, the writer and production team can tinker with the project to attract a larger audience.

In this statement, Asimov implied that there was more at stake here than simply a movie. The winning side or losing side could not be determined by a screenwriter or production team, but by reality itself.

Maybe it’s not what they had in mind, but the Paul-Is-Dead rumor brought with it a wealth of intrigue, mystery, curiosity, et cetera. In showbiz parlance, it’s a sexy story, a narrative that invites the reader to engage in not just the history of McCartney, but of the other three band members, their wives and kinfolk, their support staff, their friends, and, now, other researchers of the Paul-Is-Dead story (e.g., Iamaphoney). The fact remains that people (and I’m not counting myself as one of them) have devoted a lot of thought, energy and research into resolving the potential hidden mysteries this narrative has yet to reveal, the "Final Chapter" as Vermouth would call it.

If Aspinall and Vermouth were indeed one and the same, it’s clear, especially given that during the bulk of his contributions to the Nothing Is Real board, that he is affirming the existence of a specific narrative.  More important, he's averring that the Beatles stated it consciously through subtext.  And he has an interest in seeing that it’s either revealed or developed:
The story line? In all truth, about 65% of what is written [regarding the Paul-Is-Dead rumor] is based on things that actually happened. The remainder, sheer fantasy. Now, to figure what is, and what isn't. It was agreed, BY ALL INVOLVED, that once the ‘story’ is told, not to deviate from any previous statements. You know, and I know, that there ARE clues to be found on Pepper. Just what those "clues" allude to, has not yet been figured out. But, when asked of John, George, or Ringo, there was always the ‘total rubbish’ response. That is the story line. Deny! I have been accused of ‘jerking you all off’ with my cryptic responses. Truth is, you've been jerked off from day one! THAT was part of the ‘story line.’ A little mystery for you to figure out.

When things began to turn a bit ‘beyond the beyond,’ I tried to get the loonies back on the right path.

The theories of CIA, KKK, UFO's, Paul in space, Don Knotts....fucking hell!!! I'M JERKING YOU OFF????? Keep it simple, follow the clues, have a spot of fun, That is the ‘story line’ NOW. There is a method to my madness.
What Vermouth is actually describing in the above passage is a culture jam. And that’s exactly what it still looks like to me after examining this story.  Thus, we would have to look to see what the culture jam actually was, and its purpose.

As I mentioned earlier, the specific Paul-Is-Dead narrative occurred independently of the Beatles, but became entangled with the deliberate message the band first put out. Instead of continuing to fight it, McCartney and the others most likely acquiesced and embraced it in an effort to continue what they had begun as a Western communism, the endeavor to redistribute the social capital of a brand that has now thrived for a half-century and counting.

In other words, the power of the Paul-Is-Dead mythology lies in its ability to entice the curious, the researcher, or the Beatlephile to explore the mystery, and as a result take on a role that many--including Evans and Aspinall--played for years: the expansion and development of the Beatles legend, and consequently the growth of the social capital built up by the Beatles fame. In this sense, the Paul-Is-Dead rumor is the hook, a request for interested parties, especially those who never saw the Sixties, or who had only a passing knowledge of the Beatles, to dig deeper. While all the Paul-Is-Dead stories and their variations are inaccurate, they will eventually acquaint the seeker with the actual subtext that the Beatles deliberately incorporated into their music and art.

While we can’t say that those partaking in the dissemination of PID info and opinion have become Beatles per se, we can see them as taking part in the legend, in a sense partnering with the Beatles in this effort. Or to put it another way, those lurking and posting on The King Is Naked and Nothing Is Real Boards, Iamaphoney, our friends Dr. Tomoculus and Redwell Trabant, and anyone else exploring this mythology have all become part of the Beatles story. If Redwell’s speculation is true that Iamaphoney partnered with Apple subsidiary Standby Films to produce his/her YouTube videos, then that would demonstrate an even more intimate partnering and support in a manner identical to the intent of Apple’s initial call for submissions.

In that light, we can see Asmiov’s comments as his own cynicism that a Western communism, such as the one his screenplay tried to stoke, could never come to pass. Of course, if he’s correct, then it could have also reflected McCartney’s doubts that he could include large swatches of humanity under a Beatles tent. Nevertheless, it would seem clear with McCartney’s--and to a lesser extent Harrison’s, Lennon’s and Starkey’s--constant references to the rumor over the following decades that they weren’t about to give up on that dream.

How do I know all this?

I don’t. At least entirely. I’m simply having a "spot of fun" with the topic, as per Vermouth’s instructions.

And maybe that’s the point of the Paul-Is-Dead rumor. Maybe we haven’t read the last chapter because it hasn’t been written yet. Fans have to do that. After all, it would be pointless to include the public in a partnership, to offer it part of the Beatles’ brand/identity, only to give it a passive part to play. For the exercise to be meaningful, everyone would have to have a piece of the action.

Then again, even after the last chapter’s completion, there could be other chapters down the road. In short, the point is the same as when Apple first put out the call for submissions; for the public to exercise its artistic, intellectual and spiritual muscle in order to create a more positive culture, and to find success under the power of the Beatles’ aegis.

Or to put it crassly, it’s an invitation to be a Beatle--although it’s not really an invitation, and the band has been defunct for forty-five years.

Sound nuts?

Well, consider this. In the past seven years, I’ve seen an amazing evolution in the Nothing Is Real board as posters have more or less stopped, as Doc T. would say, looking for a body, and have instead begun to delve into the subtext that Vermouth (whom they generally consider to be Aspinall) said existed in the first place. I’ve also witnessed the emergence of art inspired either directly by the Paul-Is-Dead culture jam, or indirectly by it’s memes. In addition to the aforementioned YouTube series by Iamaphoney, there’s also Redwell’s 2012 book The Sgt Pepper Code and documentary, as well as numerous others on YouTube. I could point to such books as Alan Goldsher’s 2010 novel, Paul Is Undead, Lissa Supler’s short story "The Mysterious Disappearance of Paul McCartney" and Andru Reeve's 2004 nonfiction paperback Turn Me On, Dead Man: The Beatles and the "Paul Is Dead" Hoax

Just by chance, I came across Greg Taylor’s 2011 teen novel The Girl Who Became a Beatle, which incorporated the two of the critical memes mentioned above.*****  In this story, a twenty-first century high-school musician and her three bandmates suddenly become the Beatles. In this we can see the theme of replacing the Fab Four with what most of us would consider to be imposters. More important, it’s the story of someone literally becoming a Beatle.

And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t know, really, how much capital these efforts have accrued in either a Marxist or classical sense. But I would suspect that those works published by major houses would have gotten some. Perhaps Iamaphoney and Redwell have, or will, find some kind of monetary remuneration for their efforts. If not, they have both achieved a certain prominence on this "interweb."

If nothing else, those searching for the "Last Chapter" could honestly say that they participated in the legend, and if nothing else received at least a tiny measure of the fundamental currency in this "social capitalism": Love. We’re not just talking about the flutter-your-eyelashes, big sloppy Valentine, mushy kind of love, but the love that enures through pain and tragedy despite or in conjunction with the type of animosity that the Beatles often had to each other, and that they sometimes had for their fans.

Okay, that sounds sappy. Truth be told, a number of writers peg McCartney as a sentimentalist. But then again, as Lennon said in "Instant Karma," who are we to laugh in the face of Love?

If any of this is true, then it would seem that the degree to which Love can transfer, or liquidate (in economic terms) into other forms of wealth would depend on how ardently or smartly one engages in the subject. What one gains personally for embarking on this search would depend on how much effort, skill and merit their individual project entails.

Consequently, it would literally be the case where the love one takes, would be equal to the love he or she makes.


*A former employer told me that she attended a 1964 Los Angeles party, at which the Beatles were the guests of honor. She expressed her surprise when she saw them emerging from the limo chained together. She later asked Harrison about the shackles, and he explained that there was always a constant fear that fans might pick one of them off, and, in the throes of mania, cause great physical injury. They felt that if they were chained together, it would be harder for a mob to spirit off with one of them.

**As mentioned earlier, Iamaphoney stated in one of his/her videos that McCartney met Charles Manson at the home of Dennis Wilson when visiting Los Angeles in late-June 1968. I have found no confirmation of this meeting yet, although I have verified that McCartney was in LA at the time in question. I did find another source quoting Terry Melcher as saying he introduced Paul to Charlie during a party at the home of Papa John Phillips. This too I have not been able to corroborate by a second source.

***In the 2003 book The Beatles off the Record: The Dream Is Over, Keith Badman quoted an audiotaped interview where Evans claimed:
"[Paul told me] ‘We are really a hot item and we don't want to make it [songwriting credit for ‘Sgt. Pepper’] Lennon-McCartney-Evans. So, would you mind?’ I didn't mind, because I was so in love with the group that it didn't matter to me. I knew myself what had happened.
****From the picture, you’ll notice that Aspinall stands about two or three inches shorter than Lennon. Lennon and McCartney both stood at 5'11". I bring this up because some cite a difference in height between Paul and the Faux Paul (Faul).  

*****Feiwel and Friends, the novel’s publishers, are an imprint of Macmillan.  Doc T. could very well tell you that former PM Harold Macmillan, who succeeded his father as head of the family publishing firm, was a friend and political ally of Viscount Northcliffe, grandfather of McCartney’s friend, Kevin MacDonald.


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Friday, September 12, 2014

In the End, Pt. I

What would you think if I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, "With a Little Help from My Friends," Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

I don’t really want to stop the show
But I thought you might like to know
That the singer’s gonna sing a song,
And he wants you all to sing along.

So may I introduce to you
The one and only Billy Shears,
And Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [yayand].

Billy Shears..."

--John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Mal Evans, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

Birth of a Rumor

In my initial series on the Paul-Is-Dead rumor, I speculated that it evolved from an earlier hoax that the Beatles pulled off in 1964, namely the establishment of a fictional band, Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots. This led me to think that the Beatles’ had developed an in-joke, which took on a life of its own independently of the group. 

Imagine that the rumor's evolution began with the photo of the crashed Lotus in British newspapers. There were people who had witnessed McCartney in the car with Browne, maybe even within twenty-four hours of the accident. Someone sees the car on the front page, and realizes that McCartney was in it. Like the game of telephone, the story passes from person to person to the point, each changing the narrative slightly, to the point where McCartney is no longer merely an occasional passenger in the car, but rather the car’s owner, and the true victim of the crash.*

Messages Intentional and Otherwise

The release of the Sgt. Pepper album augmented the perception that McCartney died in a crash because the public misconstrued references to Browne as references to Paul. John Lennon confirmed the unambiguous allusion to Tara’s passing in "A Day in the Life." Not only does the album cover depict a funeral scene, but the bass-drum headstone also contained a deliberate message. If you hold a mirror horizontally to the mid point of the drum, as many have done for decades, you get:

Figure 1. Mirror held to bass drum on Sgt. Pepper album cover

Over the years, a number of students, mentors and colleagues extremely knowledgeable about graphic arts have impressed upon me the degree to which major projects painstakingly hammer out the most minute details. Artists and graphic designers typically fret about a number of issues, among them getting across subtle points, creating subtexts, and, most importantly, looking out for details that might undermine, distract from, or run contrary to the overall message. The Sgt. Pepper album cover was unique in a number of ways. Yet the importance of the project was evident in its enormous cost, £3,000--approximately sixty times the average cost of producing an album cover in 1967. A change in fonts, spacing, letter height could have blunted or perhaps even eliminated the effect seen above. Italics would have definitely obscured the message.

I am thus inclined to believe to see this as a deliberate communication: "1 ONE1 X [pronounced space] HE [diamond shape/arrow pointing at McCartney] DIE." But while some have used this as evidence of McCartney’s passing in November of 1966, one could interpret this character string very differently given other items on that cover. For example, you could read this as an overlapping phrase. In this instance, the first two characters, ‘1' and a capital letter ‘O’ could be read as the number ten. Their associate, Kevin MacDonald, died in October, the tenth month of 1966. Taking into account the first part of the character string as a whole, one can read the string as "10 one 1," or ten plus one plus one plus one, or twelve. Browne died in December. The arrow pointing to McCartney could signify nothing more than the fact that McCartney was closer to Browne and MacDonald than the other three. "HE DIE" is rather obvious, although given the white car placed in the lap of the Shirley Temple doll (see image in previous post, far right corner), and the account of his passing in the song "A Day in the Life," it would seem more likely that the primary decedent alluded to here isn’t McCartney, but Browne.

One could argue that McCartney metaphorically died and emerged reborn in 1966. The same could hold true for the other three, as symbolized by the wax figures of themselves from the mop-top days. Of course, allegorical and literal death are hardly the same animals.

Integration of Memes

The Sgt. Pepper album also contained a semi-intentional "clue" as it were. I say "semi" because it constituted a deliberate subtext, but not one alluding to McCartney, or anyone else’s, demise. 

The title track has always been credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. But evidence would eventually surface that Beatles road manager, Mal Evans, co-wrote the song.** According to Tony Bramwell, Evans’ contribution to "Sgt. Pepper" was an open secret around Apple Corps, and McCartney and Lennon agreed to acknowledge this in 1975. But when Evans died in January of 1976, they dropped the subject.

Further evidence of Evans' authorship came to light on 20 March 2005, when the Times of London published excerpts from his diaries.*** In an entry dated 27 January 1967, he documented his co-creation of the song:
Sgt Pepper: Started writing song with Paul upstairs in his room, he on piano....Did a lot more of ‘where the rain comes in.’ Hope people like it. Started Sergeant Pepper.
In the above passage, Evans not only states that he co-wrote one of the Beatles’ most famous tunes, but strongly implies that he substantially co-wrote (or wrote in its entirety) another song eventually titled "Fixing a Hole," which also appeared on the Sgt. Pepper album. On 1 February 1967, he gave further indication that he expected some form of compensation for his efforts:
‘Sergeant Pepper’ sounds good. Paul tells me that I will get royalties on the song--great news, now perhaps a new home.
According to some sources, longtime Beatles associate Neil Aspinall came up with the idea of an emcee character who would introduce the fictional band and then offer closing remarks to clap them off the stage in the form of a reprise towards the end of the album.  Quoting from the above link:
The inspiration is said to have come when roadie Mal Evans innocently asked McCartney what the letters ‘S’ and ‘P’ stood for on the pots on their in-flight meal trays, and McCartney explained it was for salt and pepper.
That’s a nice story, isn’t it? But upon closer inspection, it doesn’t seem to hold water. Are we to think that Evans, from the same socioeconomic background as McCartney and seven years older, has never seen a pepperpot before? He really needed McCartney to identify it for him? He couldn’t figure that out just by looking at the ‘S’ and ‘P’?

This explanation has all the earmarks of a leg pull. The events, as stated, could very well have happened verbatim. But if Evans asked McCartney to identify the vessel in front of them, it wouldn’t be because of the former’s ignorance, as this tale implies. It’s far more likely Mal meant to call Paul’s attention to a source of inspiration: specifically, the make-believe band that he and Aspinall formed with a little help from their friends, Lennon and McCartney. In this case, ‘salt and pepper’ became the similarly sounding "Sgt. Pepper[pot]," as in Billy and the Pepperpots.

In other words, the song seems to be a homage to the pseudo-group that had become a private joke amongst those involved. Evans and McCartney worked on the song together, consequently celebrating the fantasy . If that sounds farfetched, consider the lyrics. We have Sgt. Pepper’s band, and a lead singer named Billy, in the surname of whom we can see as a bit of wordplay (Billy Shears/Billy’s here). If Sgt. Pepper is the leader of the band, and the lead singer’s name is Billy, then it’s not really going far off a limb to suggest that Billy is really Sgt. Pepper, then that would make him Billy Pepper, the name attached to both the leader of the Pepperpots and to the rumored false Paul.

What’s critical to realize with Sgt. Pepper is that it's where the two critical PID memes first met in a concrete sense: McCartney’s putative death, and the existence of a secret replacement named Billy Sheppard/Shears/Campbell/Pepper. It would not appear that the Beatles deliberately bridged these two themes. Neither did their fans in 1967. That would occur over the following two years.

Singled Out

Myriad examples depict McCartney as separate from his colleagues. They are too numerous to give an exhaustive rundown, but would include such things as him wearing a different colored flower in the finale of Magical Mystery Tour, a different colored background on the Let It Be album cover, numerous examples of hands placed over his head (but not the others’), the intentional backmasking on "Sgt. Pepper’s Inner Groove," a second McCartney during a brief scene of Yellow Submarine, and so on.****

These don’t seem to be clues as much as they appear to be an expression of a reality that the group had lived with for some time. For most of the band’s existence, Lennon served as it’s presumed leader (e.g., one of their prior names was Johnny and the Moondogs). Yet, McCartney showed signs of chafing under this structure (as did George Harrison). For as long as he would live, Brian Epstein managed to keep everyone’s ego in check. But Epstein died just weeks after Sgt. Pepper’s release, and the tensions between Lennon, McCartney and Harrison quickly rose to the surface.*****

One could coarsely see this as a power struggle between Lennon and McCartney. It might have been partly that. It might have also been the case of people once close beginning to grow apart.  What’s clear is that McCartney did feel an increasing independence as his fame, accomplishments and songwriting catalog grew.

Along these lines are the subjects of doubles. In 1969, Dr. Henry Truby (Linguistics, University of Miami), determined through voiceprint analysis that voices identified as Paul McCartney actually belonged to three separate men. One of the voices could have belonged to Harrison, who supposedly did a pitch-perfect impersonation of both McCartney and Lennon.  It could have possibly belonged to Geoff Hughes, the actor who portrayed McCartney in Yellow Submarine. We know that one of these men was Apple employee Tony Bramwell, who impersonated McCartney in telephone interviews when Paul declined to do them himself. In this instance, we can see yet another example of separating himself from the others, and from the Beatles.

Was there a conscious effort by the band to single McCartney out? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe partly. Whatever the case, this became a key line of evidence in the Paul-Is-Dead mythology. Yet, it didn’t really seem to spring from a deliberate crafting of a Paul-Is-Dead narrative. Rather, McCartney, perhaps unconsciously, took steps to establish his independence in ways small and large.


We know about some of the gossip shuffled back and forth in the wake of Browne’s fatal crash, such as the contention that he was intoxicated at the time. It’s quite likely that at this early stage, from December 1966 to February 1967, that rumormongers eventually switched McCartney and Browne’s identities. But when the official newsletter debunked the rumor, and Paul subsequently made public appearances in different venues, this caused a bit of cognitive dissonance for those who couldn’t let go of a juicy story. And since there were no public or official acknowledgment of McCartney’s death, the legend-makers countered that the band must have secretly replaced him with a double. The Sgt. Pepper album, released in the summer of 1967, provided an identity to this supposed imposter. Someone who knew about the Pepperpots three 1964 albums subsequently added this background to the narrative.

The rumor probably grew underground for a little over two years, as people distorted the tale from telling to telling, and embellished the account with other items. From then on, selective cognisance would have led such people into seeing any and all artistic statements made by the Beatles as affirmation of this hypothesis, contrary evidence be damned. With the release of each subsequent album or movie, those within that very small circle of humanity received more grist for the rumor mill.

The gossip would have first circulated in England, perhaps within music circles, and spread to the US via traveling musicians. These musicians subsequently regaled fellow American rockers with the tale until it reached the ears of Drake University (Iowa) student Dartanyan Brown. Brown told his roommate, Tim Harper, who on 17 September 1969 wrote the account for their campus newsletter, The Times-Delphic. The Times-Delphic story then spread among the students of that campus, and to those students visiting that campus until the story began to percolate in the US Midwest. On 9 October, Larry Monroe of Ann Arbor station WOIA discussed the rumor on air, thus introducing it to southeastern Michigan. Three days later, Eastern Michigan student Tom Zarski brought the rumor to the attention of WKNR DJ Russ Gibb. One-by-one, radio stations across the country patched into the live broadcast of Gibb’s subsequent discussion until the story received national US exposure, which then turned into international exposure.

It’s nearly certain that this narrative evolved independently of the Beatles themselves, who were probably shocked that anyone would think something like that could have occurred. McCartney might have been even more upset to realize that some of his so-called fans might have secretly wished the rumor were true, which in effect meant that they secretly wished he were dead.


*Something else might have also fueled gossip about McCartney’s supposed demise. Apparently, a simultaneous January 1967 rumor held that Monkee Davy Jones had secretly died.

The Monkees were deliberately based on the Beatles. Producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider pitched the show to Screen Gems as an American TV version of the Beatles film, A Hard Day’s Night. Critics often derided the group as the Pre-Fab Four.   So naturally there were intentional parallels between specific members of each band. George Harrison and Michael Nesmith were the sour ones, Richard Starkey and Peter Torkelson the friendly get-alongs who smoothed things over.  John Lennon and Mickey Dolenz played the smart-asses. McCartney (dubbed by fans "the cute Beatle") and Jones were the heartthrobs. Thus, there seemed to be an overlap in their stories at this time.

In reality, Jones went into seclusion in January 1967 to fast. Although a citizen of the UK, he had received his draft notice from Uncle Sam, a turn of events that could have possibly ended the show. By fasting, he hoped to fail the physical. Following a rather spirited demonstration by British fans held outside the London US Consulate that March, the US Armed Forces declined to induct him.

**In his final interview with Playboy, Lennon casually mentioned that Evans co-wrote the song "Eleanor Rigby." That could imply that Evans’ input into the group’s creative work might be more profound than previously stipulated. 

***A year earlier, someone presented what appeared to be Evans’ diaries to the general public. These turned out to be forgeries. In 1986, a publishing house employee told Yoko Ono that during cleaning they had discovered a trunk of items belonging to the Beatles. Ono arranged to fly it and its contents to Mal’s estate in London. Evans’ widow, Lily, subsequently obtained the authentic diary, and did not release any contents to the public until after the phony diaries emerged.

****If you look closely, the internal logic of the clip suggests that there are two Pauls because McCartney’s second image comes via an onboard video monitor.

*****In his 1981 book Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation, Philip Norman underscored the importance of the watershed events of 1967 with respect to how the four interacted, writing, "In general, the [Sgt. Pepper] session proceeded with a friendliness that no Beatles album was ever to know again."


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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Word

Love, love me do.
You know I love you.
I’ll always be true.

So please
Love me do.
–John Lennon and Paul McCartney, "Love Me Do" (1962)

As anyone casually acquainted with Beatles’ music could tell you, the word ‘love’ crops up quite a bit in their titles and lyrics. During the heartthrob days of Beatlemania (1964-1965), it’s no surprise that the they used this term almost exclusively in the context of sexual or romantic love.

Yet, as the band matured, the word ‘love’ took on a broader meaning in their conscious expression. By the time of Sgt. Pepper’s release, their use of the term had expanded. We can see this in numerous lyrical allusions to post-sexual romance (e.g., "Real Love"), the non-sexual love of friends ("In My Life") and family ("Julia"), and a broad love of humanity, much resembling the Christian concept of caritas ("While My Guitar Gently Weeps").

At the same time, the word became more than an expression of sentimentality. From their lyrics, the Beatles seemed to view love as either an ideology within itself, or a key component to any meaningful social reorganization. While that’s speculative (obviously McCartney and Starkey could shed more light on this point), what’s beyond dispute is the evangelic tone of some of their work, rallying support for a new world based on love ("The Word," "All You Need Is Love"). 

In order to understand the importance of love in Beatles’ lyrics, it’s perhaps helpful to examine the broader context in which this took place. Many, at the time (and to less an extent now) saw the 1960s as a revolutionary period, with permanent changes to Western ideas of class, race, gender equality, and power. As arguably one of the most visible figures in contemporary culture, the association between the Beatles and the changing ethos came from many sources. For example, a 7 September 1966 Variety article titled "Beatles Unwitting Agent of Red Revolution, Sez One Right-Wing Group" chronicled ardent ultraconservative fears that the Beatles, through their music and celebrity, could wreck the prevailing social order. Likewise, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and others understood the group’s ability to marshal public opinion toward a more enlightened society, and consequently attempted to involve individual members (particularly John Lennon) into their activities and public relations.

Between the right-wing hardliners and the leftist protesters, the band’s sympathies lay closer to the latter. It seems clear in hindsight that its individual members--perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly-- saw it as their responsibility to do what they could to effect what they saw as positive social change. To some extent, they networked with the above radicals and others. But as noted earlier in the series on Lennon, both John and McCartney grew apprehensive about the unclear goals and haphazard methodology of the New Left as exemplified by Rubin and Hoffman. In their words, they really needed to see a plan of action.*

With no plan forthcoming, Lennon and McCartney formed their own, an envisioned "Western communism." The immediate practical application of this plan resulted in the formation of Apple Corps Limited. While ostensibly a business, Apple Corps was structured differently than most. For starters, there were the numerous subsidiaries and joint ventures mentioned earlier. There was also a different air about it. For example, the company had a position titled House Hippie, filled by writer Richard DiLello.  In his 1973 memoir The Longest Cocktail Party: An Insider’s Diary of the Beatles, Their Million-Dollar ‘Apple’ Empire and Its Wild Rise and Fall, DiLello chronicled what he saw as futile attempts to implement this ideology in a business setting.

Worse, the band was in the process of personally and professionally coming apart at the seams during Apple’s launch. And before they could realize this vision, they split up for good, with the company now under the stewardship of a hostile party, namely Allen Klein.

Just speculating, but if the Beatles saw themselves as bearing some responsibility for this positive social change, then in addition to all of the other negative things associated with the breakup they might have also had a nagging feeling that they had let down their audience, or betrayed the optimism of the era. What’s certain is that some regarded the creation of Apple as devolution into the status quo, a sellout gesture. In his 2005 book Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band that Shook Youth, Gender and the World, Voice of America  commentator Steven Stark quoted Marianne Faithful as saying, "People had lost faith in the Beatles....They seemed phony and hollow by this point."**

While love as a component of ideology was neither unique to nor pioneered by the Beatles, the band nevertheless championed the notion that this should serve as a basis for society, and love became the dominant literary feature of their music.  Of course, that wouldn’t explain the communist aspects of a "western communism." After all, the term ‘communist’ would imply a redistribution of wealth, or more accurately a redistribution of capital and power.

So, what (and for that matter, whose) capital did the band plan to redistribute? More importantly, what does that have to with the Paul-Is-Dead rumor?

The answer to the first question: a capital that wasn’t monetary. Answer to the second: their own.

Answer to the third question: see next post.

*Lennon expressed this sentiment directly in the song "Revolution," writing "You say you got a real solution/Well, you know,/We’d all love to see the plan."

**Stark’s characterization of both rise and decline of Beatles’ influence is somewhat overstated in both respects. He implied that the Beatle’s cultural importance was Pollyannish in nature, overestimating the good will of fellow human beings.  They subsequently lost out to more reactionary and aggressive tendencies then evolving within the counterculture:
The new mood hardly comported with the Beatles' commitment to an exuberant vision of collectivism. To many, the band now seemed strangely irrelevant.
Also, you’ll note the above link on the term Voice of America. I do this because I want to make clear for readers unaware of the organization that its viewpoint is hardly neutral, and was created specifically for official propaganda purposes.


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Thursday, July 31, 2014


I'm a loser,
And I've lost someone who's near to me.
I'm a loser,
And I'm not what I appear to be.”
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “I'm a Loser,” Beatles for Sale (1964)
We can examine many different aspects of the various texts released under the Beatles' name.  For starters, their physical appearance became a method for both identifying them, and identifying with them,  We can add to this their speech, mannerisms (on stage and off), their movies, their individual and collective biographies, their television appearances, the artwork on their album, and so forth.  The sonic text of their music offers much to the musician/musicologist. And we can see these in context of various influences, chief among them rhythm & blues, British Music Hall, raga, British and American folksong, and music of the Common Practice.

Only recently have musicologists begun to look at song lyrics as part of the sonic text. In more general terms, scholars have felt more comfortable in examining lyrics as literary artifacts. Looking at the literary component of Beatles' songs one can see two very dominant themes, usually expressed separately in individual tunes, but sometimes combined in the same work.

The subordinate theme is death. For a band depicted by detractors as being little more than bubblegum, Beatles lyrics contain numerous allusions to sudden and/or violent demise and other morbid imagery.

If you're thinking that songwriters make deliberate, conscious attempts to include certain themes and, for a lack of a better term, embed clues into their lyrics, then I can tell you haven't written many songs. There's little to indicate that any of the four engaged in the type of conscious textual layering that comprise a bulk of the clues.

Songwriters, for the most part, have conscious inspirations, and things they intentionally mean to get across. But in addition, the songwriter brings her or his own history, feelings, emotions, private thoughts and unconscious machinations to the process.  What lies below the threshold of consciousness might very well come out in verse.  When the songwriter, or fan, looks back at the song from any appreciable distance, they can perhaps see that the songwriter, in today's parlance, might have divulged TMI.

Simply put, any songwriter—perhaps any writer period—is apt to divulge something that they did not intend to, but is nevertheless weighing heavily on their minds: something that is either on the back burner of their thoughts, something that they're in denial about, or something they can't really articulate.

It's in this context where we can discern the first authentic Paul-Is-Dead clue—i.e., an item that points towards an unambiguous narrative concerning McCartney's demise in a 1966 automobile accident. If I were forced at gunpoint to bet on it, I'd wage a dollar that the group didn't initially plan on taking up this narrative. Yet, it could very well have accurately reflected something on the band's mind.

Figure 1. Sgt. Pepper cover

Peter Blake, one of the artists who designed the now-iconic photo, maintained as late as last March that the event depicted is an old fashioned band concert in the park.* Okay. Maybe everyone involved with the project had a band concert consciously in mind. However, it's not all that farfetched to view the Sgt. Pepper cover as a funeral scene. We have a daytime outdoor setting. (Have you ever been to a nighttime funeral?) We have flowers, a headstone (in the shape of a drum), and a host of celebrity mourners.**

By the summer of 1967, the time of Sgt. Pepper's release, the Beatles individually and collectively had seen death strike close to home. John Lennon was severely traumatized by the death of his mother, Julia Stanley, and shaken by the death of his uncle George Smith, the only father-figure he really knew. Together, the band dealt with the passing of former-member Stuart Sutcliffe (who appears on the Sgt. Pepper album cover, left edge, midway back). And during the recording session itself, the Beatles had fresh reason to mourn.

During the fall of 1966, two friends of the band died suddenly, violently. The first, Kevin MacDonald [left], remains rather obscure, with very little information about him outside of the normal PID channels. The vast majority of Beatles biographies do not mention him at all. Yet, according to contemporary sources cited by such researchers as R,E, Prindle, and our friends Dr. Tomoculus and Redwell Trabant, he received financial backing from George Harrison to open up a trendy discotheque known as Sybilla's. In their 2009 book  The Beatles' London: A Guide to 467 Beatles Sites in and Around London, Piet Schreuders, Mark Lewisohn and Adam Smith affirm the connection writing:

The basement of this building [at 9 Swallow Street, Mayfair] seems always to have housed night-clubs, right from its 1915 opening as the Studio Club. Between 22 June 1966 and 5 August 1968 it was Sybilla’s, a fashionable London venue part-financed by George Harrison and named after an aristocratic model, Sybilla Edmonstone. All four Beatles attended a private launch party here on 22 June 1966. (On the actual opening night, 23 June, they were in Germany.)

Sybilla’s was designed by David Mlinaric and operated by the company Kevin MacDonald Associates. An advertising copywriter, MacDonald recruited influential and wealthy friends to finance and support the venture, although he died on 15 October 1966, less than four months after it had opened.
According to most sources, MacDonald fell ten stories to his death in 1966, Sources conflict, however as to some of the details. Some say he simply walked off the roof of a building he'd never been to before. Others say that police found his fingerprints on a tenth-floor window ledge, thus indicating defenestration. Whatever the case, his death is generally characterized as a suicide.***

What's important to note here is MacDonald's connection to old money. Specifically, he was the great-great-nephew of media mogul Viscount Rothermere (Harold Farnsworth), founder of the Daily Mail. Philip Norman and other biographers have noted the Beatles', in particular McCartney's, desire for social mobility. In effect, this meant leveraging their fame for peerage (which they received and subsequently rejected) and/or higher social status. The opportunity not only to hobnob with aristocrats but partner with them as well seemed like something that all four would have seized upon given the chance. MacDonald encouraged such alliances by stating his open support for a reorganization of power away from aristocracy and towards a meritocracy, where the best and brightest would rule regardless of class or race. A 23 July 1966 Evening Standard interview cited by Prindle quotes MacDonald as saying.
Sibylla’s is the meeting ground for the new aristocracy of Britain...And by the new aristocracy I mean the current young meritocracy of style, taste and sensibility.... We’ve got everyone here.... The top creative people.... The top exporters.... The top brains.... The top artists.... The top social people.... and the best of the PYPs (swingingese for pretty young people). We’re completely classless.... We are completely integrated.... We dig the spades man.
Another aristocrat often cited as a co-founder of Sybilla's, has drawn considerably more attention from Beatles biographers. Tara Browne (right), a scion of the Guinness brewing family, is often credited as the one who personally introduced McCartney to LSD. As Steve Turner wrote in The Gospel According to the Beatles:
Paul didn't take LSD until late 1966, after the release of Revolver. He took it at the Eaton Row, London home of Tara Browne, the socialite and heir to Guinness money, who was soon to die and be immortalized in the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'.... John had warned Paul that he would never be the same again after it, and he has since said that this proved to be true.
Browne died from multiple head injuries following a collision with a parked vehicle on 18 December 1966. His passenger, model Suki Portier, received minor injuries. Again, many of the details remain a subject of debate. Some say that he was traveling in excess of 105 m.p.h. after failing to note that the light had changed from green to red. But some contend that Portier didn't say anything about excessive speed or traffic lights when describing the incident to authorities. More contentious, police reported that neither alcohol nor narcotics played a role in that evening's tragedy. Yet Marianne Faithful, a mutual friend of Browne and McCartney, spread the story that Tara was tripping on acid when the collision occurred.

Although McCartney disputed it, Lennon openly stated that Browne's death became the inspiration for the first verse of “A Day in the Life,” telling Playboy days before his death in 1980:
I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash.
And the circumstances fit. The press prominently covered Browne's death. Regardless of what the police declared, Lennon might have very well taken at face value Faithful's contention that Browne was tripping out at the time (hence the line “He blew his mind out in a car”). He could have also believed other gossip concerning the crash.

Yet a very curious passage appears before Lennon's description of the catastrophe. Line-by-line:
And though the news was rather sad.
That seems a tad odd. Okay, maybe Lennon wasn't nearly as close to Browne as McCartney. It nevertheless seems a detached, depersonalized way to discuss the death of even a casual acquaintance. Perhaps it's stereotypical on my part (and British readers can correct me if I'm wrong), but I've noticed that the English often tend to downplay their personal grief, using such terms as “rather sad” to mean something utterly devastating. At the same time, they tend to hyperbolize the emotional impact of the trivial (e.g., this example is frightfully obvious).
Well, I just had to laugh.
Why would Lennon and/or McCartney laugh at the death of a friend, or anyone else for that matter? In the next line, Lennon explains:
I saw the photograph.
John's specifically referring to this photograph, published in the Daily Mail.

Figure 2. The remains of Browne's Lotus Elan

By many accounts, the car had become highly associated with its owner, for like Browne, it symbolized wealth, elegance and class. So it's not that difficult to speculate, because of his relationship to McCartney, that Tara might have driven Paul in that exact vehicle. Speculating further, one might imagine, because McCartney stipulated that Browne had introduced him to LSD, that the two at some point rode around under the influence. If that were true, then Lennon's laughter stemmed from a profound irony: his realization that McCartney could have very well have met the same fate had he continued hanging out with the beer heir.****

What's not speculation are the similarities between the facts and scuttlebutt surrounding Browne's demise, and the 1967, 1969 and 2010 Paul-Is-Dead rumors: a vehicle crash, a female witness, a failure to notice a change in traffic lights, McCartney's putative presence in the car, the deliberate allusion to the event on a track of the Sgt. Pepper album, and a (perhaps) unconscious allusion to it on the album's cover and liner sleeve.

I would posit that the first seeds of the Paul-Is-Dead rumor were planted earlier, in 1964, with the release of several albums by the band calling itself Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots. At this time, there was no master narrative, only a strategy and the practical expression of a collective ideology; an ideology that would develop and expand as the 1960s continued; an ideology that would realize its first substantive expression in the founding of Apple Corps Ltd.  Sgt. Pepper planted more seeds, incorporating conscious examination of death, and in turn inspiring the particular narrative that took hold concerning McCartney's fate.

One can imagine how such a narrative would have formed. If someone saw McCartney riding around with Tara Browne, they could have also associated Paul with that automobile. So when a famous photograph of said car made headline news, it would be a short step from saying, “The Lotus McCartney was riding in crashed,” to “That's McCartney's Lotus what crashed.”

Couple this with McCartney's first tentative steps into LSD experimentation, along with Lennon's admonishment that the experience would irrevocably change his life. In a sense, this means that whatever McCartney was before LSD would cease to be. While in western culture we tend to view death as a terminal event, one has to keep in mind the Beatles' fascination with Eastern culture, and their growing belief in cycles of death and rebirth, as exemplified in the song “Tomorrow Never Knows” (see previous post). Hence, we (and perhaps even McCartney) could say that he experienced a metaphoric death and rebirth during the fall of 1966.

While one would have to believe that the Beatles could very well distinguish between metaphorical death and its literal counterpart, these factors provide a basis for the development of a narrative that consciously focuses on McCartney apart from the other three. As many who have chronicled the PID rumor for some time have noted, McCartney is repeatedly singled out in the artwork and visual media produced by the Beatles. This often occurs through the positioning of someone's open hand over his head, or a by a different coloring scheme, or (as the case in Yellow Submarine) the inclusion of a duplicate McCartney.

Adding to this is the fact that McCartney had two audio doubles, as confirmed in voiceprint analyses performed by Dr. Henry Truby (linguist, University of Miami, FL), and the likelihood of at least one visual double.

In toto what this strongly implies is that there were deliberate allusions to McCartney as somehow separate from the other three as early as 1967, Tara Browne's passing, McCartney's relationship to Browne, and unconscious expression of grief over the losses of Epstein, Jacobs and others. There's nothing to indicate, however, that the band and their associates were specifically thinking of a PID storyline until fans made their own connection in 1969.

My first guess is that the Beatles were shocked, perhaps even horrified by the notion that fans would think that McCartney died in 1966. McCartney himself might have been further non-plussed with the realization that some of their fans might secretly hope the rumors were true. Moreover, both Lennon and McCartney openly expressed frustration at fans who read too much into their lyrics, despite the fact that they most likely included a number of in-jokes referring to the latter's separatism.

But, after thinking about it for awhile, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starkey, Aspinall, Evans, Taylor et al might have begun to see this particular narrative as something they could exploit for positive, maybe even altruistic ends.

*Co-created by Jann Haworth. Actual photo taken by Michael Cooper.

**There are tons of material written about who is on the cover and why. I don't wish to get into a lengthy discussion about that, but you can find out more at Wikipedia and elsewhere.

***Doc T. expressed some doubts as to Harrison's actual ownership, citing in part a letter in which George writes the partnership to explain that he will settle his bar tab with them when he comes back from abroad. The question would be why he would have to settle a bar tab at his own club. Of course, depending on their own policies, each owner might have been held accountable in order to keep from drinking up the profits, an arrangement not unheard of in such partnerships.

****I actually came upon some accounts that McCartney had ridden in the vehicle less than twenty-four hours before the incident, but have not verified them.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

All You Need

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game.

It's easy.

Nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time.

It's easy.

All you need is love.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “All You Need Is Love” (1967)

Bang, bang! Maxwell's silver hammer came
Down upon her head.
Clang, clang! Maxwell's silver hammer made
Sure that she was dead.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Maxwell's Silver Hammer,” Abbey Road (1969)

Love is all and love is everyone.
It is knowing. It is knowing.

And ignorance and hate may mourn the dead
It is believing. It is believing.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Revolver (1966)

Whatever happened to
The life that we once knew?
Can we really live without each other?
Where did we lose the touch
That seemed to mean so much?
It always made me feel so...
--John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Starkey, “Free as a Bird,” Anthology (1995)

Now my advice for those who die:
Declare the pennies on your eyes.”
--George Harrison, “Taxman,” Revolver (1966)

Just like little girls and boys
Playing with their little toys,
Seems like all they really were doing
Was waiting for love.

Don't need to be alone.
No need to be alone.
It's real love, it's real.
Yes it's real love, it's real.
--John Lennon, “Real Love,” Anthology 2 (1996)

I'd like to be
Under the sea
In an octopus's garden
In the shade
--Richard Starkey, “Octopus's Garden,” Abbey Road (1969)

Spread the word, and you'll be free.
Spread the word, and be like me.
Spread the word I'm thinking of.
Have you heard? The word is 'love.'
---John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “The Word,” Revolver (1965)

Eleanor Rigby
Died in the church and was
Buried along with her name.

Nobody came.
--John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Mal Evans, “Eleanor Rigby,” Revolver (1966)

People stare,
Each and every day.

I can see them
Laugh at me,
And I hear them say,

'Hey! You've got to hide your love away.'
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “You've Got to Hide Your Love Away,” Help! (1965)

Hey Bungalow Bill!
What did you kill,
Bungalow Bill?
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” The Beatles (1968)

All these places have their moments,
With lovers and friends I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living.
In my life, I loved them all.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “In My Life,” Rubber Soul (1965)

Black, White, Green, Red,
Can't I take my friend to bed?
Pink, brown, yellow, orange,
Blue, I love you.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “All Together Now,” Yellow Submarine (1969)

The traffic light changed from green to red.
They tried to stop but they both wound up dead
--Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes, “Death Cab for Cutie,” (movie) Magical Mystery Tour (1967)*

I look
At you all,
See the love
There that's sleeping,

While my guitar gently weeps.
--George Harrison, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” The Beatles (1968)

I'm sorry that I doubted you.
I was so unfair.
You were in a car crash,
And you lost your hair.
--Richard Starkey, “Don't Pass Me By,” The Beatles (1968)

Love is old. Love is new.
Love is all. Love is you.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Because,” Abbey Road (1969)

I read the news today, oh boy,
About a lucky man who made the grade.
And though the news was rather sad,
Well, I just had to laugh.

I saw the photograph.

He blew his mind out in a car.
He didn't notice that the lights had changed.
A crowd of people stood and stared.
They'd seen his face before. But nobody was really sure if he was from the house of Lords.
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “A Day in the Life,” Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

If you want to know what's up with these song lyrics, then watch this space.

*Performed in the film by Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and featured on their 1967 album Gorilla.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Secret (?) Spot of Fun

The theories of CIA, KKK, UFO's, Paul in space, Don Knotts....fucking hell!!! I'M JERKING YOU OFF????? Keep it simple, follow the clues, have a spot of fun, That is the "story line" NOW. There is a method to my madness.
--Apollo C. Vermouth (possibly former Apple Corps Ltd. CEO Neil Aspinall), Nothing Is Real online forum (January 2008)

Do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?

Whoa, whoa,

Let me whisper in your ear.
Say the words you long to hear...
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” Please Please Me (1963)

Whoever, or whatever the poster going the handle Apollo C. Vermouth was, I find a certain wisdom in his thoughts, or as he said a method to his madness. And for a few posts, I'll be taking his advice and having a spot of fun with the topic.

Of course, one person's fun can be another's drudgery. In many of these posts I have to rely on the expertise of others—court officers, investigators, pathologists, engineers (e.g., our friend John B), pilots (again, our friend (John B.), psychologists (you know who you are), artists (ditto, Russell, Foam, K9), those who witnessed or participated in the stories that I've recounted (e.g., Jackie, Judy, Stephanie, Keith, Erik, etc.), and so on. So it's kinda fun for me when I have an opportunity to use some of my own expertise for a change.
And what is that, exactly?

Good question. Let's just say my day gig involves analyzing texts. Textual analysis cannot prove intent, but can shed light on it. The real purpose isn't to put thoughts or motivations into the author's head—especially if these are contrary to what she truly thinks or feels. Rather, what people like me attempt to do is demonstrate a consistency of expression, if necessary assess the amount of conscious or unconscious deliberation that went on in the making of said expression, and correlate the intended meaning to the perceived, or some cases perceivable, meaning(s).

People in my field have long understood that when an artist creates a piece of work, that work no longer belongs to them. That might seem contrary to commonsense (not to mention intellectual property rights). But in reality, art is communication. It takes two to tango, as the old saw goes. For true communication to exist, there must be both a sender and receiver.

Most texts contain a combination of conscious and unconscious intent. The receivers of these messages (for our purposes here, let's just refer to them as 'audiences') will usually pick up on most of the conscious meaning, and to varying degrees some of the unconscious meaning that the sender didn't intended to convey, but nevertheless did. We often describe this as the blindness or self-delusion of speakers, especially those we see as pompous, cocksure, egotistical, ignorant, and so forth. As illustrated in Johari Window diagrams, we have sides to ourselves that we never see, but others do. So, when we express, what lies hidden to us becomes visible to everyone else.*

Figure 1. Johari Window

Consequently, when an artist produces a text, he or she can still deny that it has an unintentional meaning specified by others, and be quite sincere about that belief. Moreover, the artist might attempt to control perception of the unintended meaning either by vehement denials or ridicule, public relations, or in rare cases finding some way to silence the observation. But, as stated earlier, the artist no longer has total control of the message once its disseminated.

While audiences tend to make earnest attempts to receive the artist's message faithfully, their perception would also filter through biases or motivations that they are unaware of in themselves. Thus, in that box labeled 'Hidden' lies all of the meaning that the audience adds to the text, that the artist knows isn't there. It's here where the artist might observe that interpretation says more about the receiver than it does the message itself. Moreover, the artist can become keenly aware that the audience has or has not understood the intended expression.

And then, there's that fourth box labeled 'Unknown.' With respect to the Paul-Is-Dead mythology, it's where much of the speculation, discovery, hypothesizing and so on occurs. Consequently, it's a gray area where poking around is a lot of fun.

My point is that the Paul-Is-Dead hoax contains a storyline that audiences have largely generated themselves. Yet, there remain a small number of items, “clues” if you will, that the Beatles, individually and collectively, deliberately and unconsciously interjected.  And these point to a specific narrative that centers on McCartney. Apollo likened this to a novel in everyone has read the entire book except for the last chapter.

I have no clue what that final chapter consists of. Nor do I care to discover it, despite the rumored money prize to the person who “solves” the mystery.**

What I'd prefer to do is write my own final chapter to this story. One can take that for what it's worth. But at least I'd consider that fun.

*The old story of the “Emperor's New Clothes” is a perfect example of the concept. The king intends to demonstrate his superior understanding, sophistication and power. Of course, he is unwittingly telling his subjects that he is a vain and foolish man. What's worse, his subjects see that (and presumably much more), yet say nothing. They work harder at maintaining the illusion than the king himself.

**According to some, that's a $100,000 prize.


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