Revolver Deep Dive Part 1: Taxman

Side One, Track One

“Taxman”… in Which Everybody Gets a BIT of Money

 

by Jude Southerland Kessler and Bruce Spizer

 

Through 2023, the Fest for Beatles Fans blog will explore the complexities of The Beatles’ revolutionary 1966 LP, Revolver. This month, taxman-by-day (a.k.a. corporate tax attorney) and Beatles music authority in all other hours, Bruce Spizer, will provide our “Fresh New Look” at this song, penned over five decades ago.

 

Bruce is an integral part of our Fest Family and is the author of The Beatles Are Coming!, Beatles for Sales on Parlophone Records, The Beatles Story on Capitol Records (Parts 1 and 2), The Beatles on Apple Records, and The Beatles Swan Song. In recent years, he has created the insightful Beatles Album Series, including The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper: A Fan’s Perspective, The Beatles White Album and the Launch of Apple, and his latest release, The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver. For our February blog, Bruce joins Jude Southerland Kessler, author of The John Lennon Series, for exciting, in-depth coverage of the opening track of this important and pivotal LP.

 

 

What’s Standard:

 

Date Recorded: 20-22 April 1966

Time Recorded: Work done on the 20th followed work on “And Your Bird Can Sing.” That session, in its entirety, was from 2:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

On 21 April, work took place between 2:30 p.m. – 12:50 a.m.

On 22 April, work took place between 2:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Studio: EMI Studios, Studio 2

 

Tech Team

Producer: George Martin

Balance Engineer: Geoff Emerick

Second Engineer: Phil McDonald

Stats:

 

On 20 April, four tracks were recorded. Only two were completed. (Rodriguez, 126)

 

On 21 April, eleven rhythm tracks (electric guitars, bass, and drums) were recorded. George overdubbed two vocal tracks, with backing vocals from John and Paul. Ringo added a tambourine. Paul recorded the incredible lead solo. John and Paul sang the rapid falsetto “Anybody got a bit of money” lines. Paul’s count-in is present. (Winn, 13)

 

On 22 April, a reduction mix of Take 11 combines both vocal tracks onto one track of a new tape. That is referred to as Take 12. The newly-available track is then filled with a cowbell. The falsetto line, “Anybody got a bit of money” is erased. The “Mr. Wilson/Mr. Heath” bit is added. Some errant guitar notes are erased. Another “rasping lead guitar solo,” as Beatles guru Mark Lewisohn phrases it, was added by Paul. (The Beatles Recording Sessions, 76) John C. Winn points out that it was, “spliced on to the main body of the song and George’s final ‘me’ at the end of the song.” (14)

Editing was done on 27 April and 16 May.

 

Instrumentation and Musicians:

George Harrison, the composer (with assistance from John Lennon) sings lead vocals and plays one of three guitars that he had available. These guitars were, according to Hammack’s Recording Reference Manual, Vol. 2, either the 1961 Fender Stratocaster, the 1964 Gibson SG Standard, or the 1965 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino. (129)

John Lennon, lyrical contributor, sings backing vocals, and some sources have John manning the tambourine.

Paul McCartney, plays bass on his 1964 Rickenbacker 4001S bass and provides the lead solo on his Casino electric guitar (Hammack, 130). Paul also provides backing vocals with John.

Ringo Starr plays his 1964 Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl Super Classic drum set; he also mans the cowbell and most sources say the tambourine as well.

 

Sources: The Beatles, The Anthology, 197, Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Chronicle, 218-219, Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions, 76, Spizer, The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver, 22-35, Rodriguez, Revolver, How The Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll, 126-129, Hammack, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, Vol. 2, 129-131, Margotin and Guesdon, All the Songs, 324-325, Winn, That Magic Feeling, 12-13, Emerick, Here, There, and Everywhere, 126, Turner, A Hard Day’s Write, 102-103, Riley, Tell Me Why, 182-183, Spignesi and Lewis, 100 Best Beatles Songs, 147-149, MacDonald, Revolution in the Head, 160, Davies, The Beatles Lyrics, 142-143, and Babiuk, Beatles Gear, 178-185.

 

What’s Changed:

 

  1. A Harrison Album Opener – Almost always, John Lennon had been afforded the honor of opening his band’s LPs. He’d done so on With The Beatles, Beatles for Sale, A Hard Day’s Night, and Help! On The Beatles’ first LP Please Please Me, the opening track was a collaborative effort (“I Saw Her Standing There”) that introduced the lads to the listening world. But not until the band released Rubber Soul did Paul McCartney motor into the opening slot with “Drive My Car.” Traditionally, one expected Lennon to kick albums off, but of course, one could readily accept Paul at the helm. George had been accustomed to one-sies (and rarely, two-sies) at the mic on each long-playing record. Now, to be selected to open the record was a rather revolutionary honor for George.

 

Indeed, in Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll, Rodriguez points out that “Not only would [Harrison] get an unheard-of three songs on the album, but he had the first cut as well. It was an honor that left him ‘dead chuffed’…” And George handled this nod with aplomb. (128) Note: As Bruce Spizer will point out, Rodriguez is referring to three original songs on an LP and not counting cover songs sung by George.

 

In his book, Here, There, and Everywhere, new Revolver Engineer Geoff Emerick commented, “I thought George’s strongest song on Revolver was ‘Taxman,’ and George Martin must have agreed, since he decided to put it first of the album – the all-important spot generally reserved for the best song, since the idea was to try to capture the listener immediately.” Emerick and a host of other Beatles music experts cite the extremely clever lyrics as the song’s strongest feature. Part of that charm came from…

 

  1. A Lennon/Harrison Collaboration – By 1966, Beatles fans were accustomed to John’s collaborations with Paul and to John writing songs such as “Do You Want to Know A Secret” and “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” for George. But this time, George penned the album’s opening track by himself and then approached John for a bit of assistance.

 

Years later, John stated, “[George] came to me…I didn’t want to do it. I thought, ‘Oh no, don’t tell me I have to work on George’s stuff. It’s enough doing my own…But because I loved him and didn’t want to hurt him, [I] said okay.” (Margotin and Guesdon, 324) In Beatles Lyrics, Hunter Davies points out that to enhance “Taxman,” John added the lines: “…if you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat.” Davies says, “John’s input made [‘Taxman’] wittier and smarter and the finished lyrics were much better.” (142) In his extraordinary work, Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll, Robert Rodriguez concurs to some degree. He states that Harrison had already crafted strong lyrics, but says, “It was John who gave the already-biting lyrics some extra sting.” (126) Beatles music experts also point out that this section was re-written in a call-and response-pattern, and it certainly revealed a band angst, a general feeling of resentment towards the British income tax system (which was taking over 90 percent of their income), not just from George’s perspective but from all of The Beatles.

 

  1. A Change in Engineers – Just before the group began to record Revolver, long-time engineer, Norman Smith was replaced by Geoff Emerick. As Andy Babiuk points out in Beatles Gear, Emerick “was a young engineer, eager and willing to experiment. Emerick had worked on Beatles sessions as far back as A Hard Day’s Night in 1964, but now he joined George Martin’s production team as chief engineer to help translate The Beatles’ ever-expanding musical ideas.” (178) And Babiuk states that with Emerick on board, the watchword for Revolver was “experimentation.” (178)

 

For example,  in “Taxman,” there are not one but two count-ins. George clearly voices what is ostensibly “the real thing” as part of the song. Yet in the background, Paul is speaking the actual count-in. Not only does the verbal count-in reflect back to the first song of their first LP, but the dual count-ins (one real and one “for show”) function symbolically, perhaps representing the fans’ fantasy version of The Beatles’ life spread atop the surface of the harsh, underlying real world in which John, Paul, George, and Ringo actually lived and breathed. The juxtaposition of the dual count-ins signals a new level of creativity and a new depth of meaning in each song on Revolver.

 

Harrison also wryly employs the popular “Batman!” theme shriek for a hero when decrying the band’s actual anti-hero, the “Taxman!” Rodriguez points out that the “Batman!” theme was well-known in England in 1966, having been covered in an instrumental by the Markettes and later by The Who. So, using the comic theme, Rodriguez suggests, is George’s way of “giving his listeners a wink [and]…letting them [know] that, real tax issues aside, his rant shouldn’t be taken at face value.” (Revolver, How The Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll, 127) It’s a tacit joke between the artists and the audience. Thankfully, Martin and Emerick were open to such crafty ideas, and without a blink, they found a way to “make it so.”

 

  1. Unique Subject Matter – George Martin readily admitted that the songs on Revolver were “far more varied than anything [The Beatles had] ever done before.” (Spizer, The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver, 23) And it wasn’t only the boys’ music that was innovative! The song themes themselves were sweepingly different. Instead of the traditional “moon, croon, spoon, June” songs, Revolver frankly discussed death, loneliness and isolation, loss, drug usage, and yes, taxes.

 

George commented, “’Taxman’ was when I first realized that even though we started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes. It was and is so typical. Why should this be so? Are we being punished for something we have forgotten to do?” (Davies, The Beatles Lyrics, 142)

 

By 1966, The Beatles’ eyes were wide open. They were no longer young, green boys, fresh on the scene. The new “studio Beatles” were sophisticated world travelers who had learned how to wrangle with the music industry’s “big cigars,” fans, governments, and press…and to survive. They had faced near-death experiences, complicated personal relationships, and yes, even financial worries. As Hunter Davies points out, “Brian Epstein [had] tried a few tax-saving devices – sheltering one million with a financial wizard in a tax haven in the Bahamas. The money disappeared…” (The Beatles Lyrics, 142) The Beatles of Revolver have learned a thing or two, and on their 7th LP, they tell us about it.

 

  1. Paul Takes the Lead – In our next section, Bruce Spizer will discuss Paul’s remarkable lead guitar work, but we must note here that having Paul rather than George play the lead solo in the middle and at the end of “Taxman” was a landmark moment. From Revolver on, the vastly talented McCartney would increasingly begin to assume roles traditionally allotted to the other three.

 

A Fresh, New Look:

 

Who better to give us all a unique and insightful look at “Taxman” than our own Fest Beatles music expert, Bruce Spizer?! (And let us not forget that in addition to being a Beatles author/historian, Bruce is Board Certified in Taxation by the Louisiana Bar Association, making him a “Taxman” by trade.) In his latest book The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver, Bruce reminds us that when Revolver was released, Melody Maker observed that there are “still more ideas buzzing around in The Beatles’ heads than in most of the pop world put together.” (31) Let’s chat with Bruce about those incredible ideas and innovations in “Taxman.”

 

Jude Southerland Kessler: Bruce, the fact that a George Harrison composition opens Side One of Revolver is significant in many ways. Tell us about this interesting new development in Beatles music history and why it matters.

 

Bruce Spizer: George had always been intimidated by John and Paul when it came to songwriting. Who wouldn’t be? He had to wonder at first if his songs were good enough to be on a Beatles album. And it only got worse when The Beatles phased out cover versions of songs from their stage act as album material. Any song George got would eliminate a Lennon-McCartney composition, so it had to be good.

 

Although George had received co-writer’s credit for coming up with the guitar solo on Paul’s early composition “In Spite Of All The Danger” and wrote the Hamburg days instrumental “Cry For A Shadow” with John, John and Paul decided to exclude George from their songwriting team. Harrison would have to go it alone. He got his first proper song, “Don’t Bother Me,” on the group’s second U.K. album, With The Beatles. After being shut out for the next two albums, he had two songs each on Help! and Rubber Soul. But on Revolver, he not only had three songs, but was given the all-important opening track, a show of confidence from George Martin and his fellow band mates.

 

This validation of his songwriting ability encouraged George to write more songs and to push for having them included on The Beatles albums. He had four songs included on The White Album and two of the best songs on Abbey Road. George no longer lacked the confidence to write songs and was even beginning to push to have more of his songs being included on the group’s albums. When George realized during the Get Back sessions that he could not get his songs recorded when limited to two or three songs per album, the seed was planted for him to put all of his own songs out on a solo album, leading to his excellent LP All Things Must Pass.

 

So, the placement of “Taxman” as the lead track of Revolver is significant because it contributed to George’s growing confidence as a songwriter, and it forced John and Paul to recognize that George’s songs were worthy of inclusion on Beatles albums even if it meant fewer songs written by John and/or Paul.

 

AMERICAN NOTE: While fans only familiar with The Beatles’ core catalog of British releases will tell you that Revolver is the first Beatles album to open with a George song, that is not quite correct if one counts songs in which George is the lead vocalist. Capitol’s April 1964 release, The Beatles’ Second Album, opens with George singing lead on Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.”

 

BRITISH NOTE: While Revolver is the first British album containing three George compositions, it is not the first to have three George lead vocals. I want to tell you the answer, but I need you to think for yourself. Don’t bother me with asking for clues. The answer is With The Beatles, on which George sings lead on his own “Don’t Bother Me,” Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” and the obscure girl-group song by the Donays, “Devil In His Heart” (gender changed in the lyrics and title to “Devil In Her Heart”).

 

Kessler: A comparison of the opening of “Taxman” and the opening of “I Saw Her Standing There” on Please Please Me produces some interesting similarities and differences. In Revolution in the Head, for example, Ian MacDonald says that the differences in these two introductions clearly symbolize “a new start in The Beatles career.” How so?

 

Spizer: In my book The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver, I compare the two openings as follows:

 

Revolver opens with a slow, lazy “One, two, three, four, one, two” count-in by George augmented by tape sounds and a cough. Paul’s original count-in for the song’s backing track can be heard as well, just as Harrison ends his count. It is a far cry from Paul’s youthful, exuberant “One, two, three, faaa!” count-in that preceded “I Saw Her Standing There,” the opening track on the group’s first Parlophone LP, Please Please Me, and the second song on Capitol’s Meet The Beatles! LP. In comparing those early albums to Revolver, the music and lyrical themes that follow are as different as the count-ins.”

 

Looking back, Paul’s “One, two, three, faaa!” count-in to the lead track on the Please Please Me LP was a stroke of genius on the part of George Martin. He wanted to get The Beatles’ first album off to a memorable and rousing start with what he described as a “potboiler,” so he chose “I Saw Her Standing There,” a high-energy rocker. He edited Paul’s count-in from Take 9 (with the volume increased) to the opening of the master take of the song. It was the perfect introduction to a great 14-song set of performances taken from The Beatles’ stage show.

 

In my upcoming book, The Beatles Please Please Me to With The Beatles, I discuss how the Beatles and George Martin selected the songs for the first LP:

 

“With only a single day available, Martin knew time was an issue. ‘I asked them what they had which we could record quickly, and the answer was their stage act.’ This would consist of a mix of Lennon-McCartney original compositions and cover versions of songs by other artists.”

 

Although Martin had ruled out recording The Beatles in concert at the Cavern, he wanted to capture that sound in the studio. In my upcoming book I write:

 

“Engineer Norman Smith placed the microphones further from the amplifiers than what was normally done so that they would pick up not only direct sound from the amplifiers, but also the ambient sound of the room. This gave the songs a more raucous sound, resembling what was heard at the group’s live performances.”

 

By 1966, the boys had grown up. They and George Martin were no longer looking for that “live-in-concert” sound. As stated on the back cover to The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver:

 

“With Revolver, The Beatles were looking for more color in their recordings, trying new instruments and techniques. But they were not using studio wizardry to cover weaknesses; they were looking for new sounds to enhance their already brilliant songs.”

 

In effect, the studio became an instrument all its own for The Beatles to experiment with. The whirling tape sounds heard in the introduction to “Taxman” foreshadow the role that recording tape would play on the album – new techniques such as artificial double-tracking, varispeed recordings, backwards tape recordings and tape loops. Although many of these tape tricks are heard throughout the album, it is the album’s final track, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” that takes full advantage of the techniques that the Abbey Road engineers used so effectively on the album.

 

The Beatles’ next few projects continued to take advantage of the studio, although The Beatles briefly attempted to get back to the sound of their Please Please Me LP during the Get Back project, foregoing overdubs and other tape effects and going for a “live-in-the-studio” sound, culminating with their famous rooftop concert, where their sound bounced around London buildings instead of studio walls.

 

Paul’s fast and youthful count-in on “I Saw Her Standing There” is appropriate for an album whose ten new songs were quickly recorded in 14 hours on a single day by a group referred to as “the boys.” George’s slow and mature-sounding count-in on “Taxman” is equally appropriate for an album recorded in 300 hours over a two-and-a-half-month span by a group of maturing young men whose musical abilities were evolving at a mind-numbing pace.

 

AMERICAN NOTE: Americans who bought the Vee-Jay album Introducing The Beatles, which featured 12 of the 14 songs appearing on the Please Please Me LP, were literally short-changed on the opening. Engineer Roger Anfinsen, who worked at Chicago’s Universal Recording Studios, prepared mono and stereo masters of the Vee-Jay album in late June 1963. Either on his own or following instructions from Vee-Jay, Anfinsen edited most of Paul’s count-in at the beginning of the tape, perhaps thinking it did not belong on the album. Thus, both the mono and stereo versions of Introducing The Beatles open with Paul shouting “Faaa!”

 

Kessler: Although George wrote the lyrics to this song with some assistance from John  Lennon, many music experts call “Taxman” a “true group effort.” Do you agree with this observation, and if so, why?

 

Spizer: I guess people call “Taxman” a “true group effort” because John assisted George with the lyrics, Paul contributed a great lead guitar solo, and all four Beatles play on the song. That was not always the case on Revolver. No Beatle plays on “Eleanor Rigby,” and Paul and Ringo are the only Beatles playing instruments on “Good Day Sunshine” and “For No One.” John also does not play an instrument on “Love You To” or “Here, There And Everywhere.” But over half the songs on the album have all four Beatles fully participating.

 

Nonetheless, when the album came out in 1966, Melody Maker astutely noted that “The Beatles individual personalities are now showing loud and clear,” with only a few of the LP’s songs really being Beatle tracks. “Most are Paul tracks, John tracks, George tracks, or in the case of ‘Yellow Submarine,’ Ringo’s track.” George’s fascination for Indian music and Paul’s liking of classical music effects clearly come through. Out of George’s three songs on the album, “Love You To” and “I Want To Tell You” are clearly “George tracks,” while “Taxman” is more of a group effort.

 

As for Paul playing the guitar solo, that had to have been an awkward moment for George. After all, he was the group’s lead guitarist, and it was his song. But the final result was well worth it. According to Paul: “George let me have a go for that solo because I had an idea. I was trying to persuade George to do something…feedback-y and crazy. And I was showing him what I wanted, and he said, ‘Well, you do it.’” Although George may have capitulated with a taste of resentment and sarcasm, he was later appreciative, saying: “I was pleased to have Paul play that bit on ‘Taxman.’ If you notice, he did like a little Indian bit on it for me.”

 

George allowing the band’s bass player to usurp his guitar solo on his own composition shows that George put the group and the quality of the song ahead of his ego. Now that’s a group effort!

 

AMERICAN NOTE: While the British version of Revolver has 14 tracks, the Capitol version only has 11 songs. This is because Capitol placed three of the British album’s songs on an earlier release, Yesterday And Today. Unfortunately, all three of these songs, “I’m Only Sleeping” “And Your Bird Can Sing” and “Doctor Robert,” were songs with John on lead vocal. This gave Americans the impression that John had contributed very little to the album.

 

Kessler: Revolver firmly established The Beatles as recording artists rather than a stage band or a touring band. Tell us about some of the techniques used on “Taxman” that would have been difficult to duplicate on stage.

 

Spizer: Before Revolver was released, Paul was quoted as saying about the album: “They’ll never be able to copy this one!” He was most likely thinking of songs like “Eleanor Rigby,” “Love You To,” “Yellow Submarine,” and “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and to a lesser extent, “For No One” and “Got To Get You Into My Life.” “Taxman” is actually one of the album’s songs that could have been played live; however, it would not have sounded like the album track unless you had an extra guitar player for the song’s solo and people adding tambourine and cowbell. And, of course, you’d need great musicians to handle Paul’s stop-and-start bass guitar riff working in tandem with Ringo’s energetic drumming, not to mention George’s distorted rhythm guitar and Paul’s aggressive guitar solo.

 

The Fest loves Bruce…and we sincerely appreciate his sharing insights on “Taxman” with us. You can meet Bruce in person, get a copy of his book, and hear him speak throughout the weekend at the

 

New York Metro Fest for Beatles Fans, 31 March – 2 April at the Hyatt Regency, Jersey City

 

For more information about Bruce and his books HEAD HERE

 

Follow Bruce on Facebook HERE 

 

Join Bruce Spizer on “She Said She Said” as he talks about The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver

 

For more information about Jude Kessler and The John Lennon Series, HEAD HERE

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Rubber Soul Deep Dive Part 14: Run For Your Life

Side Two, Track Last

“Run for Your Life,” The “Excellent” Potboiler Closer

 

by Jude Southerland Kessler and Jim Berkenstadt

 

For the last 18 months, the Fest for Beatles Fans blog has explored the intricacies of The Beatles’ remarkable 1965 LP, Rubber Soul. This month the Rock and Roll Detective, Jim Berkenstadt, author of Black Market Beatles, Nevermind Nirvana, The Beatle Who Vanished, and his recent best-seller, Mysteries in the Music: Case Closed, joins Jude Southerland Kessler, author of The John Lennon Series, for a fresh, new look at the raucous early-Beatles-sounding final track of this creative LP. Jim – who served as the official historian for the Harrison family in the making of George’s biopic film, “Living in the Material World” – has been the Featured Author at Beatles at the Ridge and is a long-time Guest Speaker the Fest for Beatles Fans. We’re honored to have him with us.

 

What’s Standard:

 

Date Recorded: 12 October 1965 (the first day of recording for Rubber Soul)

Time Recorded: 2:30 – 7:00 p.m. (In his Complete Beatles Chronicle, Mark Lewisohn says this was the time frame spent on “Run for Your Life.” The session continued until 11:30 p.m., but the rest of the time was spent on John’s “This Bird Has Flown.”)

Studio: EMI Studios, Studio 2

 

Tech Team

Producer: George Martin

Engineer: Norman Smith

Second Engineer: Ken Scott and Phil McDonald

Stats: Recorded in 5 takes

 

Instrumentation and Musicians:

 

John Lennon, the composer, sings double-tracked lead vocals and plays his 1964 Gibson J-160E acoustic guitar. At the outset of the EMI tapes for the day, you can hear John talking to Paul about his “Jumbo Gibson.”

 

Paul McCartney, sings accompanying double-tracked vocal harmony, plays bass on his 1963 Hofner 500//1 Violin Bass, and according to Hammack, tambourine. (Hammack refers to the tambourine work as “a dominant part of the backing track,” p. 61)

 

George Harrison sings double-tracked backing vocal harmony and plays either his 1963 Gretsch G6119 Chet Atkins Tennessean electric with Gretsch Bigsby vibrato (more preferred) or his 1961 Fender Stratocaster electric with synchronized tremolo.

 

Ringo Starr plays one of his Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl Super Classic drum sets and according to some experts, tambourine.**

 

**This information is from Jerry Hammack’s The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, Vol. 2, p. 61.

 

Sources: The Beatles, The Anthology, 193-199, Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Chronicle, 202, Lewisohn, The Recording Sessions, 63, Kruth, This Bird Has Flown: The Enduring Beauty of Rubber Soul, Fifty Years On, 64-68, Womack, The Beatles Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 796-797, Margotin and Guesdon, All the Songs, 308-309, Winn, Way Beyond Compare, 362-363, Hammack, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, 61-62, Miles, The Beatles Diary, Vol. 1, 216-218, Turner, A Hard Day’s Write, 98, MacDonald, Revolution in the Head, 129, Riley, Tell Me Why, 170-171, Womack, Long and Winding Roads, 125, and Harry, The Ultimate Beatles Encyclopedia, 570.   

 

What’s Changed:

 

  1. Unpolished Performance – In his book, Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Recordings and the Sixties, Ian MacDonald says of “Run for Your Life”: “The performance is slapdash, Lennon muffing the words and “ popping” the microphone several times by getting too near to it. The guitar-work, some of which is badly out of tune, is similarly rough…” Likewise, in Way Beyond Compare, John C. Winn notes that “…a thumping sound [is present] during the guitar solo.” (p. 362)

 

Whilst one might assume that The Beatles were getting “sloppy” in their artistry, we must remember that these are characteristics of the Please Please Me LP, which was designed to sound like a raw, unpolished Cavern Club performance. On the “Please Please Me” single, for example,  we recall that Paul and John sang completely different lyrics on the “Last night I said these words to my girl” follow-up, and the bobble was kept intact, despite the fact that many “helpful” fans wrote the boys to alert them of their “error.” (Smile.) The glitch, according to Martin, added charm.

 

It is true that in the autumn of 1965, the boys were under tremendous pressure to get Rubber Soul recorded and polished quickly. Barry Miles in The Beatles Diary, Vol. 1 comments: “The Beatles were trapped on a deadline-powered treadmill.” (p. 216) They hadn’t paused once all year from the making of their United Artists film “Help!” and its accompanying LP to their European Tour to the July movie premieres and a live Blackpool show for the ever-demanding BBC to the 1965 North American Tour and the impending 1965 UK Tour. So, time was a commodity of which The Beatles had precious little.

 

But that did not stop Rubber Soul from being one of their most artistic, incredible LPs. In fact, John Lennon commented, “We were…getting better, technically and musically…we finally took over the studio. On Rubber Soul, we were sort of more precise about making the album…” (p. 21) Thus, the glitches in “Run for Your Life” seem to have been left in the song intentionally. They gave the track an early Beatles flavor. On an album replete with new outlooks, new instruments, and new sounds, here at last, fans could find “the lads from Liverpool.” For many, it was a refreshing, “ahhhhhh!” moment.

 

  1. John Lennon (instead of Paul McCartney) “does Elvis” – One wonderful feature of The Beatles’ Cavern Club shows was Paul’s talented homage to Elvis in songs such as “That’s All Right, Mama.” Able to closely imitate the American star to a “T,” McCartney always brought down the house with his Presley renditions. Here, it was John Lennon’s turn to pay tribute to the icon. Indeed, John wrote this entire song based on two lines from one of Elvis’s classic rockabilly tracks (“Baby, Let’s Play House,” composed by Arthur Gunter): “I’d rather see you dead, little girl/ than to be with another man.”

 

Then, employing a jagged, halting vocal style, John performs “Run For Your Life” a la E! In fact, in All the Songs, Margotin and Guesdon tell us that “In the first take, John’s voice was wrapped in a slap-back echo, which [gave] a rockabilly feel to the piece.” (p. 308-309) And to make the sound even more authentic, the song was laced with George Harrison’s “chord slides,” to enhance that 1950s Elvis sound. Having met and talked with Presley in his Los Angeles mansion only a few weeks earlier, John offers this Rubber Soul nod to his hero, of whom he had often quipped, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”

 

  1. A Glimpse Back at The Early Beatles – As we’ve observed in songs such as “Drive My Car,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Girl,” “What Goes On,” “You Won’t See Me,” and even “Michelle” (who doesn’t even know the adoring male exists), the women of Rubber Soul are not the up-on-a-pedestal, helpless women in “Ask Me Why,” or “Do You Want to Know a Secret” or “I Need You.” Rubber Soul’s women are strong, independent, and many times, unemotional. And their romantic relationships are quite complicated. In “Run for Your Life,” for example, the female is suspected of infidelity.

 

John’s reaction to her unfaithfulness, however, isn’t as open-minded or “as 1965” as the other songs on Rubber Soul seem to be. Lennon reacts like John of old: John of the Casbah, John of the Cavern boards, John of gritty Hamburg. He reveals himself as the jealous “Northern man” that he’s always been. His attitude is inappropriately edgy, as are his threats, founded in wounded machismo. And in later years, John regretted and apologized for these lyrics.

 

But the “antiquated attitude” John expressed was not intended as an anti-feminist statement. As Tim Riley points out in Tell Me Why, this is merely Lennon “let[ting] off steam.” (p. 170) According to John, “‘Run for Your Life’…was just a song I knocked off” (Kruth, p. 66), “just a sort of throwaway song of mine that I never thought much of.” (Riley, 170). It’s merely a hard-charging, angst-filled rock anthem that gets the blood pumping.  On an LP featuring sitars, melodies that hint at a droning tabla sound, exotic French lyrics, baroque orchestration, and elevated themes embracing the agape love of mankind, “Run for Your Life” sweeps the listener back to an earlier era. (Arthur Gunter wrote “Baby, Let’s Play House” in 1954, and Presley released it in 1955.) Here, in this final track of an extremely metamorphic LP, we encounter our band of old: The Beatles. As Jerry Hammack so aptly observed in his Beatles Recording Reference Manual, Vol. 2, “ ‘Run for Your Life’ might have been a warning shot across the bow of expectation that these were still the same lovable mop tops that had burst upon the scene just three years earlier.” The past was still a part of them all – and of John, in particular.

 

A Fresh New Look:

 

Recently, John Lennon expert Jude Southerland Kessler sat down with the Rock and Roll Detective, best-selling author Jim Berkenstadt, to talk about this LP-closing rocker. Accustomed to routing out rock’n’roll’s greatest mysteries in books such as Black Market Beatles, consulting to the late George Harrison and The Beatles Apple Corps Ltd, and his latest release, Mysteries in the Music: Case Closed, Jim agreed to give us his unique perspective on “Run for Your Life.”

  

Jude Southerland Kessler: Jim, thank you for taking time out from the making of the new movie based on your book The Beatle Who Vanished to talk with our Fest Family about “Run for Your Life.” You know, in John Kruth’s book This Bird Has Flown, The Enduring Beauty of Rubber Soul, Fifty Years On, he tells us that if one listens to the EMI tapes for 12 October 1965, one can hear John – preparing the band to record “Run for Your Life” – directing the others to “make it heavy!” (p. 63)  Kruth says this was “years before anyone had heard the term heavy metal, or used the term heavy instead of profound.” (p. 63) So, what is John Lennon after here, Jim? And how do The Beatles accomplish that “heavy” goal?

 

Jim Berkenstadt: Thanks, Jude.

 

Even though many have described this track over the years as a toss away or album filler, I loved this song the first time I heard it, which was Christmas Day, 1965. I will never forget get it.

 

The musical and vocal elements are what make the song “heavy”. I don’t think Lennon meant heavy in the sense of the future genre “heavy metal.” I think he meant that suggestion as a way to get the entire band to play it as a hard rocker. Clearly, his recent visit with Elvis in LA, and John’s love of early Elvis recordings was on his mind when he began to write the song. It is interesting that The Beatles recorded the song exactly 10 years after Elvis released his song, “Baby Let’s Play House.”

 

I believe John wanted a tougher rock sound to match the macho, edgy vocals and jealous lyrics he was writing. Even the acoustic strumming at the start sets the driving pace, as the loud opening lead guitar riff kicks in, pulling the listener in to pay attention to Lennon’s opening and threatening lyrics. At the same time, we hear a very hard 2 and 4 backbeat from Ringo on drums and Paul overdubbing the driving tambourine. I think the double-tracked backing vocals and harmonies in the chorus are very strident, crisp and aggressive too. At the same time, they are beautiful and precise in their execution. The guitar slides that accompany the tough lead guitar solo by George are amazing. All of these elements combine to push the listener to pay attention. The song achieves its “heavy” goal with its driving passion and sound. Musically it is very hooky and catchy. You cannot get the song out of your head after only one listen.

 

Kessler: Kruth also says that “Run for Your Life” was “tacked on at the end of the record, stashed behind a second Harrison number (on the U.K. version).” (p. 66) But traditionally, George Martin had always given special attention and consideration to the closing “pot-boiler” on each of The Beatles’ LPs. Tell us about some of the other exceptional closing songs, please, Jim. And do you think “Run for Your Life” measures up?

 

Berkenstadt:

The Sgt. Pepper LP featured “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (Reprise),” which has a similar hard-charging feel that provides us with another closing “Pot Boiler” like “Run for your Life.” And my favorite LP-ending song by The Beatles will always be “The End,” from Abbey Road, with the group trading solos in a rousing farewell to their fans. But, it is important to recall that The Beatles matured and changed with each album they created. I think Rubber Soul was a transitionary album that drew a bit from the old days and also shared a more mature future musical direction as well. For that reason, comparing closing numbers is a bit of “apples and oranges.” However, I think “Run For Your Life” really holds up as a great album closer 27 years on.

 

Kessler: Okay, the elephant in the room! Our friend Ken Womack, in Vol. 2 of his Beatles Encyclopedia informs us that in 1992, Ottawa’s radio station CFRA banned “Run for Your Life” for its misogynistic lyrics. When Beatles fans wrote in to inform the station that the offensive line was a direct quote from Elvis’s “Baby Let’s Play House,” that song was then banned as well. But CFRA did not ban Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” or Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Run for Your Life” in which she sings “I’d rather see you dead little boy than to be with another woman.” They did not ban Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine Blues” or the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb” or Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman.” For that matter, they didn’t ban female rockers performing songs such as the Crystals’ “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)” or Joanie Summers performing “Johnny Get Angry.” So, what’s really at play here, Jim? Does John Lennon’s penchant for being constantly censured figure into the mix?

 

Berkenstadt:

Censorship of music has always been a slippery slope. In my new book, Mysteries in the Music: Case Closed, I reviewed 100s of pages of de-classified FBI investigation documents into whether the song “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen was in fact obscene. In that case, the FBI and the Governor of Indiana (who basically banned the record from radio in violation of the First Amendment) were pre-disposed to find something wrong with the song. I detailed their sloppy investigations which were an embarrassment. The 3-year FBI witch-hunt cost taxpayers around $62 million dollars in today’s money, and never found any evidence of obscenity. The details I revealed in the book demonstrated what they failed to find and what they should have discovered. Readers will enjoy this fresh new deep-dive on the topic of music censorship.

 

The censorship of John Lennon’s song doesn’t necessarily indicate that they were picking on Lennon per se. Censorship really is a totally subjective process. Perhaps the station chose Lennon for a public relations reason? Admittedly, Lennon and The Beatles were bigger than all of the other artists they could have picked on. By selecting him, perhaps they thought they might gain more listeners from the controversial publicity? Or maybe someone didn’t like The Beatles at that station? We may never know the motive behind this action. I think the only way to truly answer this question would be to locate all of the decision makers at the station in 1992, and ask them about their motives in the censorship of Lennon’s song and try to determine why they chose the Lennon/ Beatles song and not the others.

 

Ironically, the biggest pop song of last year was not investigated by the FBI for obscenity. It was a Cardi B hit called, “WAP.” I will let your readers look up what that stands for. LOL.

 

Kessler: Jim, so many Beatles experts link this 1965 song to earlier Lennon “insecurity” tracks such as “No Reply” and “You Can’t Do That.” Others see “Run for Your Life” as a precursor  to “Jealous Guy,” “I’m Losing You,” and “Crippled Inside.” There is an obvious common denominator in John’s life story…the story he tells us over and over and over throughout his career. Talk a little about that, please, Jim, and what other songs do you see as part of this “Lennon Litany of Loss”?  

 

Berkenstadt:

Sadly, as many Beatles fans know, John lost his mother two times. The first time was after his parents broke up and John went to live with his Aunt Mimi. This alone would have been traumatic enough for a young boy to see his mom get together with another man and start a new family without him in the home. But then, as he was starting to spend more time in his teens with his mom, and she was teaching him guitar chords and giving him his first guitar, she was sadly killed by an off-duty drunken officer who hit her with his car. The loss of family at a young age can create a lifelong trauma, not easily remedied. I think John’s trauma did lead to many songs of loss, sadly.  Perhaps the most poignant song he ever wrote was “Mother.” Who can forget the grief-filled and chilling lines of John’s Plastic Ono Band song:

 

Mother, you had me but I never had you,
I wanted you,
You didn’t want me
So I, I just got to tell you
Goodbye goodbye.
Father, you left me but I never left you,
I needed you,
You didn’t need me
So I, I just got to tell you
Goodbye goodbye.

This is such a broken-hearted song. It is my belief that John did benefit from putting his grief and feelings of loss into his music. In a way, it was a healthy form of therapy. And it probably served to help others who had similar childhood traumas to relate to Lennon’s honest and brave “Litany of Loss” songs.

 

Kessler: Jim, thank you so much for your insights into this controversial but (as Margotin and Guesdon observed) “excellent song.” (p. 309) I’m enjoying your intriguing Mysteries in the Music: Case Closed book so much! And I can’t wait to see you in Chicago in just a few weeks for the Fest!

 

For more information on the Rock and Roll Detective Jim Berkendstadt, go to:

 

Mysteries in the Music: Case Closed (free excerpt download and signed copies)

The Beatle Who Vanished (free excerpt download and signed copies)

 

HEAD HERE to learn more about all of Jim’s projects  

 

You can meet Jim in person at the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans, Aug. 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare where he’ll be discussing and signing his most recent book, Mysteries in the Music, Case Closed.

 

To purchase Jim’s books, go to: Amazon.com: Jim Berkenstadt: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle and www.thefest.com

 

Follow Jim on Facebook here 

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Rubber Soul Deep Dive Part 13: If I Needed Someone

Side Two, Track Six

“If I Needed Someone”

 

Through 2021 and 2022, the Fest for Beatles Fans blog has explored The Beatles’ remarkable 1965 LP, Rubber Soul. This month, Lanea Stagg, author of The Recipe Records Series including the original Recipe Records, Recipe Records: Sixties Edition, Recipe Records: A
Culinary Tribute to The Beatles, and The Rolling Scones: Let’s Spend the Bite Together joins Jude Southerland Kessler, author of The John Lennon Series, for a fresh, new look at the exciting next-to-last track on this unique, creative LP.

 

What’s Standard:

 

Date Recorded: 16 October (superimpositions added 18 October)

 

Time Recorded: Late in the evening of 16 October, probably around 11.30 p.m. Most of the session (from 2:30 p.m.-midnight) had been spent on “Day Tripper.” In Way Beyond Compare, John C. Winn says, “Before going home for the night, The Beatles also started work on a George Harrison composition, “If I Needed Someone.” (P. 364) And Mark Lewisohn in The Complete Beatles Chronicle gives us a time stamp by saying that the boys turned to George’s creation “with the clock ticking towards midnight…” .

Studio: EMI Studios, Studio 2

 

Tech Team

Producer: George Martin

Engineer: Norman Smith

Second Engineer: Ken Scott

Stats: Backing track (of bass, drums, rhythm guitar, and twelve-string electric guitar) recorded in one take on 16 October 1965. (p. 364)

 

Then, on 18 October, George double-tracked the lead vocal, accompanied by John and Paul’s harmonies to create the famous Beatles 3-part harmony. Then, Ringo on tambourine and George were on lead guitar recorded together on another track.

 

Instrumentation and Musicians:

 

George Harrison, the composer, sings lead vocal, plays on his 1965 Rickenbacker 360/12 (12-string electric guitar).

John Lennon sings harmony vocals and plays rhythm on his 1961 Fender Stratocaster with synchronized tremolo.

Paul McCartney sings harmony vocals and plays bass on his 1964 Rickenbacker 4001S bass.

Ringo Starr plays one of his Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl Super Classic drum sets and plays tambourine in superimposition.[i]

 

Sources: Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Chronicle, 202, Lewisohn, The Recording Sessions, 64, Gunderson, Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How The Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours of 1964-1966, 90-91, Everett, The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men through Rubber Soul, 318-319,  Margotin and Guesdon, All the Songs, 306-307, Winn, Way Beyond Compare, 364, Hammack, The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, Vol. 2, 71-72, Miles, The Beatles Diary, Vol. 1, 218, Turner, A Hard Day’s Write, 98, Spizer, The Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records, 203, Babiuk, Beatles Gear, 167-168, Womack, Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of The Beatles, 125,  and Mellers, Twilight of the Gods: The Music of The Beatles, 61.

 

What’s Changed:

 

  1. Influence of the Byrds and the Folk Rock Sound – During the 1965 North American Tour, when Capitol’s Alan Livingston threw a party for The Beatles and invited stars such as Edward G. Robinson, Groucho Marx, Eddie Fisher, Jack Benny, and Rock Hudson, George opted to “go his own way” for a meeting with the chart-topping folk-rock group, the Byrds. The California group’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” (written by Bob Dylan) had hit Number 1 on 26 June 1965, and the Byrds had said in several interviews that they liked The Beatles’ music, were inspired by them, and in fact, played the exact same instruments that The Beatles played.

 

Indeed, Harrison’s 12-string Rickenbacker lead became an important part of the Byrds’ signature sound. Honored by this homage, George wanted to get to know the group and made the effort to visit them. As a result of this meeting, plus a second visit to the Byrds in studio (on 27 August, this time accompanied by Paul), George began to compose a new song in West Coast folk-rock genre. In fact, Harrison specifically stated that the guitar riff of the Byrds’ “The Bells of Rhymney” and the melody of their song “She Don’t Care About Time” inspired “If I Needed Someone.” (Turner, 98) More about this coming up in Lanea Stagg’s “Fresh, New Look.”

 

However,  “If I Needed Someone” isn’t at all derivative of these two Byrds compositions. Instead, George’s second original song on the Rubber Soul LP is actually a study written around the D chord. George marveled that “a million other songs” had also been written around the D chord. He said, “If you move your fingers about, you get various other melodies…it amazes me that people still find new permutations of the same notes.” (Margotin and Guesdon, 306 and Turner, 98) And yet, the influence of the Byrds’ jingle-jangle sound – enhanced by Ringo’s work on tambourine – gives “If I Needed Someone” a unique timbre.

 

  1. George’s New Guitar – On the 1965 North American Tour, at the end of the Minneapolis press conference, a special presentation took place. The co-owners of a local music store named B-Sharp gifted George with a Rickenbacker Fireglo (red sunburst) 360/12 (12-string electric guitar). Both Andy Babiuk in Beatles Gear (pp. 168-169) and Chuck Gunderson in Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How The Beatles Rocked America: The Historic North American Tours, 1964-1966 (p. 91) give us the backstory for this presentation. They say that when Liverpool’s Remo Four had visited the shop some weeks before The Beatles landed in Minneapolis, the group spotted the instrument and commented, “George [Harrison] would love this!” Right then and there, owners Randy Resnick and Ron Butwin decided to give the Rickenbacker to George when The Beatles arrived in Minneapolis on 21 August. George was thrilled! And as a result, both Butwin and Resnick were given VIP seats in the Twins dugout for the concert in Metropolitan Stadium. It is this new guitar that George uses on “If I Needed Someone.”

 

  1. Toughness in Romantic Relationships – As we’ve discussed previously, all of the songs about women on Rubber Soul are 180-out from the early Beatles’ head-over-heels attitudes in “She Loves You,” “From Me to You, “Ask Me Why,” “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” On Rubber Soul, love has become complicated. “Drive My Car” featured a hard-charging female determined to get to the top and only interested in a man who can “drive her car.” “Girl” shone a light on a callous woman who “put you down when friends are there/you feel a fool.” The girlfriend in “You Won’t See Me” doesn’t “treat me right,” and even the enchanting “Michelle” doesn’t realize that her suitor exists! In “If I Needed Someone,” however, the problem isn’t rejection of the male. It’s his (rather reluctant) rejection of her with the wistful caveat that “Had come some other day/Then it might not have been like this/But you see now I’m too much in love.” Rubber Soul’s relationships are clearly not simple or sweetly romantic. As Wilfred Mellers points out, “In all these songs, there’s a toughness, beneath lyricism or comedy that is not evident in other songs.” (p. 61)

 

A Fresh New Look

 

Note from Jude Kessler: It has been my distinct pleasure to work hand-in-hand with author Lanea Stagg almost daily for the last ten years. Together we produce the monthly podcast “She Said She Said” on Apple Podcasts, Podbean, and Spotify. In our five years with that show, we’ve been blessed to interview Julia Baird, May Pang, Ken Mansfield, Roag Best, Helen Andersen, Chas Newby, Leslie Cavendish, and so many others in The Beatles family as well as a host of Beatles experts and authors. From 2012-2019, Lanea and I co-chaired the Authors and Artists Symposium for Walnut Ridge, Arkansas’s “Beatles at the Ridge.” And in 2016, we worked together to chair the GRAMMY Museum of Mississippi’s Beatles Symposium. Lanea is not only the author of the Recipe Records Series, but is also the author of two successful children’s books, Little Dog in the Sun and Little Dog About Town. She has been a Guest Speaker at the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans, Abbey Road on the River, and the Monmouth University White Album Conference. Her articles have appeared on the All Music website and in 2021, she worked with Angie and Ruth McCartney to feature her recipes @GourmetNFTOfficial. I was so thrilled to be able to sit down and chat with Lanea about George Harrison’s second song on Rubber Soul.

 

Jude Southerland Kessler: In the “What’s New” segment of this blog, we discussed the strong influence of the Byrds on this George Harrison number. What elements of the “jingle-jangle folk rock” movement has Harrison employed in “If I Needed Someone”?

 

Lanea Stagg: It is a very curious musical event when one band gives another “the nod” by borrowing another band’s riff, or other sound.  When we hear that curiosity today, we don’t really think of this as “a nod,” but more as stealing!

 

George’s song, “If I Needed Someone,” actually contained “the nod” to California band the Byrds, who were comprised of Roger McGuinn (known as “Jim” at that time), David Crosby, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, and Chris Hillman.  But…the Byrds (as Jude noted in the “What’s New” segment) had created their sound based upon influence from The Beatles’ music, specifically from the film A Hard Day’s Night. McGuinn was very taken with the sound of Harrison’s 12-string Rickenbacker, so he acquired one as well. Chris Hillman stated in 2008 for Central Coast Magazine, “McGuinn saw George playing a Rickenbacker 12-string in A Hard Day’s Night. McGuinn had been playing a Gibson acoustic 12-string when he saw Harrison,” and the rest became history.

 

When George met up with the Byrds in California, they discussed their sounds. The Byrds had released “The Bells of Rhymney” in June 1965,  and George was very fond of the jangly 12-string Rickenbacker riff. George incorporated the riff as “a nod” back to the band.

 

I recommend listening to “The Bells of Rhymney,” and it won’t take long to recognize the riff. The song is a very old story, and quite sad, about a coal mining disaster in Wales. Harrison loved the sound McGuinn used with the Rickenbacker, and he “borrowed” the riff for “If I Needed Someone.”

 

In a 2004 interview for Christian Music Today, Roger McGuinn said, “George Harrison wrote that song [“If I Needed Someone”] after hearing the Byrds’ recording of ‘Bells of Rhymney.’ He gave a copy of his new recording to Derek Taylor, The Beatles’ former press officer, who flew to Los Angeles and brought it to my house. He said George wanted me to know that he had written the song based on the rising and falling notes of my electric Rickenbacker 12-string guitar introduction. It was a great honor to have in some small way influenced our heroes, The Beatles.”

 

Curiously, “If I Needed Someone” was not on the U.S. release of Rubber Soul. It wasn’t released in the U.S. until June of 1966 when it appeared on the LP Yesterday and Today. So, it was a BIG DEAL for George to send a copy of his recording to Roger McGuinn!

 

So, here we have George writing a song where he was inspired by the Byrds, and in “turn, turn, turn,” the Byrds were first inspired by The Beatles.

 

Kessler: Lanea, many music experts have tagged “If I Needed Someone” as the precursor to “Within You Without You” and “Love You To.” Some have even noted that it might have served as a springboard for John Lennon’s “Tomorrow Never Knows.” What musical connections do you see between this 1965 composition and George’s later Indian-inspired melodies?

 

Stagg: Musicology is not for the faint of heart! With so many elements to digest in a song – especially a Beatles’ piece – the casual ear might miss a tasty morsel.

 

I find this to be the case in George’s “If I Needed Someone.” First, we hear the satiny smooth jingle-jangle of the Ric as well as a steady bass, which is greeted with George’s declaration: “If I needed someone to love/You’re the one that I’d be thinking of.” The frosting on this delicacy is the harmony by John and Paul as well as Ringo’s tambourine. That all happens in 20 seconds!

 

What develops further in this song is quite full. As mentioned earlier in the “What’s Changed” segment, the song is built around the D chord. This produces a rather dronish sound…which conjures up the possibility of adding a sitar (which George was learning to play). However, here he chose not to.

 

Musician/songwriter Rande Kessler stated that George “was enjoying a playfulness around only a few chords, climbing and descending a small scale to produce a lilting, droning, chanting effect. It is almost a repetitive “humming” sound that is sung along with his Ric 12-string, more or less emulating a sitar. The melody doesn’t stray far from the original chord, and the bridge simply floats a variation that brings the melody back to the beginning. To me, ‘Within You Without You’ essentially takes that same lilting chord-orbit that George started with and uses the sitar to play along with the chanting melody…as an evolution from “If I Needed Someone” and its sitar-sounding capoed Ric 12-string.”

 

In Hunter Davies’s The Beatles Lyrics, George states: “[Rubber Soul] is my favorite. We certainly knew we were making a good album. We were suddenly hearing sounds that we weren’t able to hear before, everything was blossoming at the same time, including us, because we were still growing.”

 

Kessler: Many music experts have referred to this song as “a tribute to Pattie Boyd” (who became Pattie Harrison in January 1966). And yet, George’s response to the flirtatious “other” in this song is rather coy and complicated. I see a bit of a parallel between “if I Needed Someone” and another 1965 hit written by The Lovin’ Spoonful entitled “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?”. Do you? And do you think that this song serves as a tribute to Pattie Boyd?

 

Stagg: Many sources state this song is a tribute to Pattie Boyd. However, if I were Pattie Boyd, I would hope not! George Harrison is clearly leaving the door open for one, or perhaps more, potential love interests…in case things do not work out with Pattie.

 

George does proclaim, “I’m too much in love,” and therefore, announces to the ladies that his heart has been stolen away by the gorgeous Miss Boyd. Remember, George was only 22-years-old when he penned “If I Needed Someone.” He had been swarmed by women for years, and I’m sure had played a lot of games. Perhaps he was unsure if Pattie would continue to be in love with him, especially knowing the challenges attached to being a “Beatle wife.” He had seen how difficult that was for John. So, perhaps George is keeping one foot in the door…just in case!

 

“If I Needed Someone” is the beginning of George’s effort to pen meaningful lyrics. The song was released on the UK Rubber Soul LP almost one year after the release of The Beatles’ album Beatles for Sale, where George gave a cover performance of Carl Perkins’s “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby.” We envision George singing, “Everybody’s trying to be my baby,” over and over…and perhaps he really was experiencing the deluge of women trying to be his baby! Was that part of the inspiration for his 1965 lyrics: “Carve your number on my wall…”? Could George have written a follow-up to his experiences during that year where there was ALWAYS someone trying to be his baby?  George was enveloped in Beatlemania and the avalanche of women trying to get to him.

 

While Lennon and McCartney were able to create intricate lyrics as easily as taking a breath, George had to work harder at it. His early songs were rather unpolished and at times, even bland. On Rubber Soul, he penned lyrics for not only “If I Needed Someone,” but also “Think for Yourself.” “Think for Yourself” is a rather somber statement to fans as opposed to the syrupy songs they were used to from Lennon/McCartney. The tune is peppy, but the lyrics, not so much.

 

The boys were faced with many choices, and it feels as if George is choosing to “make up his mind” to pick up on Pattie and leave the other birds behind.

 

Kessler: Lanea, “If I Needed Someone” is ranked #54 in Spignesi and Lewis’s 100 Best Beatles Songs – a rather impressive rating! The song is so appealing that it has been covered by the Kingsmen, Cryin’ Shames, Hugh Mackels, Michael Hedges…and the Hollies. However, George Harrison despised the Hollies’ version of his song. He said, “I think it’s rubbish the way they’ve done it. They’ve spoilt it.” (Womack, Long and Winding Roads, The Evolving Artistry of The Beatles, 125) What do you hear in the Hollies’ version of “If I Needed Someone” that supports or refutes George’s appraisal?

Stagg:  I concur with George Harrison. Hearing the version released by the Hollies is a let-down, and if I were George, absolutely would not consider it a compliment!

 

While the Hollies perform the song in their unique and typical sound, they come off sounding tinny, and George’s beautiful riff was now played on what sounded like a plastic guitar! The Beatles’ brilliant performance of harmonies on George’s song really cannot be matched or recreated. The Hollies lack the crisp, clean, and more pure harmonies that The Beatles flawlessly added to George’s song. I think George was right, and I would send the Hollies back to the “Bus Stop!”

 

Head here more information on Lanea Stagg and her Recipe Records Series and children’s books

To hear our “She Said She Said” podcast, head here

Follow Lanea on Facebook here and on Instagram @LaneaStagg

[i] Instrumentation information from Jerry Hammack’s The Beatles Recording Reference Manual, Vol. 2, 71.

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Beatles Poetry Contest: The Three Winning Poems

Since January 2021, we’ve been examining The Beatles’ 1965 work of genius, Rubber Soul, taking deep dives into each track. Having concluded Side One, this month we took a short intermission to stand, stretch, and have a bit of fun.

 

We invited Fest for Beatles Fans poet Terri Whitney — who has written two books of poetry on The Beatles and other rock’n’roll greats — to serve as one of the judges in a POETRY CONTEST in her honor: The Rockin’ Rhymer Poetry Contest.

 

Thanks to all who submitted poems. They were all wonderful.

 

Here are the three winning poems…

 

Sai Matekar, Winner

 

In My Life/ Two of Us (or 6th july, 1957, the birth of the Beatles)

 

 

6th July, 1957

Woolton church fete, on a beautiful sunny day

Life became a song,

When, John found Paul

Soulmate found soulmate

Music found magic,

Loss found love,

When Paths lead to home,

Wrong Words and banjo chords,

Found lost rhymes and a tuned guitar

Together came

Motherless sons, two

They, cried

Till nothing was left inside,

On a neverending night

Lines, in fully formed songs

Songs, in half written lines

Hands four played one melody,

Strings across searching eyes

Knee to knee,

Growing and healing

Memories,

Longer and

On a long road,

John hugged Paul

When the world changed

 

And they

 

Changed the world

When Paul hugged John,

On a road, long

and longer memories

Of healing and growing,

Knee to knee

Eyes searching, across strings

One melody played four hands,

Lines written, half in songs

Songs formed fully in lines

On a Night, neverending

Inside, nothing was left

Till they cried,

Two Sons,

Motherless

Came together

A tuned guitar and lost rhymes,

Found banjo chords and wrong words

Home lead to paths,

When Love found loss,

Magic found music,

Soulmate found soulmate ,

Paul found John, when

A song came to life

On a beautiful sunny day, Woolton church fete

1957,July 6th


Phillip Kirkland, First Runner-Up

 

THE LIFE OF JOHNNY (ABRIDGED) 

 

Born of Mother (partly timey)

Virtual Orphan, Mimi cares

Wayward Johnny, daily howly

Auntie living deep despairs

 

Cocky muso young McCartney

Teaches roughneck, tuney strings

Jam together, fledgling combo

Rock ‘n’ Roll ‘n’ Blues ‘n’ things

 

Off to Hamburg, popping Prellies

Playing socks off, kiddies’ cheers

Man, we’re groovy little group now

Playing Cavern, Epstein hears

 

Richly contract, muchy money

Funny haircut, shiny suit

Liddypool is distant memory

Muchy fame and girls to boot

 

Arty Yoko, avant gardly

Wide-eyed Johnny, falls in lust

Beatles crumbly, end of era

Golden Apple turns to dust

 

Uncle Sammy, John and Yoko

Little Sean and baking bread

Starting Over, not for muchly

Mad assassin – Johnny’s dead!

 


Presley Moffett, Second Runner-Up

 

Like Mother, Like Daughter 

 

Like mother, like daughter

Music is our common bond

And every moment in our lives is connected to a song

 

Mom gave me her copy of Sgt. Pepper

She bought the record

Sometime in the ’80s

The vinyl was missing, but the cover was still intact

She gave it to me and said, “I have listened to this album since I was your age in fact.”

 

Like mother, like daughter

Music is our common bond

And every moment in our lives is connected to a song

 

On the way to elementary school

Mom and I would listen to the 1 CD

It became a daily ritual

Driving down the street

Me singing my heart out in the backseat

We didn’t have real microphones

So we just used our hands, you know

 

Like mother, like daughter

Music is our common bond

And every moment in our lives is connected to a song

 

Even years later

I’m in college about graduate

And we still listen to The Beatles in the car

As soon as the first note starts

We get lost in the lyrics and forget everything else

It’s truly an escape from the chaos this world creates

 

Like mother, like daughter

Music is our common bond

And every moment in our lives is connected to a song

 

Sometimes we fight because we care

Because we never want to hurt each other

Or be unfair but

With all the challenges we face

The Beatles have ultimately brought us closer together

 

Like mother, like daughter

Music is our common bond

And every moment in our lives is connected to a song

 

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Life of George: A Beatles Birthday Celebration

On Feb. 25 we’re celebrating the life of George Harrison on his birthday.
Our Facebook Live concert event from 1 PM to 4:30 PM is free as a bird!
Our Zoom event from 5 PM to 11 PM is a paid event, with tickets available here:
A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales and donations will go to the Material World Foundation
George established the Foundation in 1973 to encourage the exploration of alternate and diverse forms of artistic expression, life views and philosophies as well as a way to support established charities and people with special needs.
Facebook Live performance schedule:
1 PM: Ellis and Ary
2 PM: Scott Erickson
3 PM: Joe DeJesu
Paid Zoom event beginning at 5PM features a full-length live concert by Liverpool and special appearances by Billy J. Kramer, Peter Asher, Laurence Juber, Joey Molland, and more!
Full info:
LIVERPOOL Live in Concert at Daryl’s House, playing George Harrison’s music from The Beatles, his solo albums, The Traveling Wilburys and more!
George Harrison’s friends and collaborators share stories, memories and music, in conversation with our M.C.’s Ken Dashow (Q104.3 -NYC), Terri Hemmert (WXRT – Chicago) & Tom Frangione (SiriusXM – The Beatles Channel).
BILLY J KRAMER is a native Liverpudlian, was also managed by Brian Epstein, and became very good friends with The Beatles. He was teamed up with The Dakotas and had many hit records on both sides of the ‘pond’, four of which were written by John. Being closest in age to George, the youngest Beatle, Billy has some terrific stories to share with us, and perhaps a song, too!
JOEY MOLLAND was a member of the Apple band Badfinger, and Joey’s power guitar was a key part of the group. George played on and produced their huge hit Day After Day. Joey also performed at the Concert For Bangla Desh in NYC in August, 1971. Joey has graced our stage dozens of times and he sure knows how to rock and roll with the best of them! In this Birthday Zoom, Joey will talk about his times with George in the studio, on stage and other fond memories.
PETER ASHER has had an amazing career in the music industry. First as half of Peter & Gordon, head of A & R at Apple (Signing James Taylor), Producer of the Year twice, produced Ringo and has written our bestselling book of all time – The Beatles From A to Zed. Peter will share is fondest memories of George from those early days and beyond.
LAURENCE JUBER was the lead guitarist in the final lineup of Wings. He has also recorded with George and Ringo. LJ won Acoustic Guitar Player Magazine Guitarist of the Year TWICE! Laurence has been a guest dozens of times at our FESTS dating back to the early 1980s and is one of the finest guitarists in the world. Laurence will talk a bit about George and treat us to a couple of George instrumentals we all know and love.
TOM SCOTT is one of the finest Sax players in the business. He worked closely with George on 3 of his albums, Dark Horse, Extra Texture and 33 1/3. He also joined George on his only U.S. tour, in 1974. We are honored that Tom will be sharing some of his stories about his experiences with George in the studio and on stage, for our George Birthday Celebration.
RUSS TITELMAN is a legendary record producer and three time Grammy winner who produced the George Harrison album from 1979. Three hits came out of that album, Blow Away, Love Comes To Everyone and Faster. Russ will give us a good idea of what it was like recording a new George album.
CHRIS O’DELL started working at Apple at the invitation of her friend Derek Taylor and was on the roof for the final concert. She worked for George and Pattie and stayed at Friar Park during 1970. Chris assisted George for the All Things Must Pass LP, helped recruit musicians for the Bangla Desh Concerts. The b-side of Give Me Love was Miss O’Dell, written while George was waiting for Chris to arrive at his Malibu home.
Be Here Now, a George Harrison Photo Presentation
CHRIS MURRAY is the curator of the Govinda Gallery in Washington, D.C. and his latest project was the outstanding book, George Harrison: Be Here Now, a book of the Photographs of Barry Feinstein, who was George’s official photographer from 1970-1973. Chris was invited by George to stay at Friar Park during this time. There are even some photo’s Chris took that are included in the book. This is going to be a special Slide Presentation by someone who was there!!
Sharing about George’s Journey to India:
PAUL SALTZMAN – Author of The Beatles in India book, his photos of the band, put away for 30 years, are among the best taken during the Beatles visit to Rishikesh.
SUSAN SHUMSKY worked for the Maharishi for 6 years and will be doing a slide presentation about TM including rare photos of George in Rishikesh in 1968.
GEORGE UKULELE STRUM
GiGi WONG-MONACO and CLAR have been a part of the Chicago FEST events for decades, Their Ukulele Strums are now legendary and they will be playing some of George’s classics during the evening.
HARRISON FAN ART EXHIBIT
Want to share your creations with the FEST Beatles World? Make something new or share something you’ve already done – During the Birthday Celebration we will display slide shows of art featuring George – any media. Hosted by Deco
Submit a good photo of your art entry (300 dpi, jpgs or pngs), with your name and your town/state, to mark@thefest.com, by February 20th to include your art in the show. No fee to submit your work, though all artists should be registered for the event.
GEORGE TRIVIA
Beatles historian Wally Podrazik will be posing questions to the audience throughout the evening. Show off your intimate knowledge of The Beatles, or learn something new!
…After Hours Fan “Hotel Lobby” Jam…
Play your George favorites for one another all night long.
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Rubber Soul: The Back Story

For the next 12 months, the Fest for Beatles Fans blog will each month move track-by-track through the magical LP that was Rubber Soul. Many people consider Revolver to be The Beatles’ “transitional” LP. Others, including myself, think the pivot point in The Beatles’ career was Rubber Soul. John Lennon, in fact, stated that Rubber Soul was “the album on which The Beatles began dominating the recording process.” (Hertsgaard, 168-169) In almost every way, the late 1965 LP was a bold directional change. Let me explain…

 

They had more than a month to devote to the new LP — a luxury never before afforded to the lads. Please Please Me — comprised of a few original songs and a plethora of numbers from their old Cavern Club show — had been honed on the Helen Shapiro Tour bus and recorded in a single day. The songs for A Hard Day’s Night had been written in between concerts in a Georges Cinq hotel room in Paris, January 1964. And the country-and-western themed tunes for Beatles for Sale had been hastily churned out prior to the 1964 North American Tour, refined in “catch-as-catch-can” moments on tour, and recorded in a handful of days immediately following the tour. Never had the boys ever been given a full month dedicated solely to the planning, writing, polishing, and recording of a new LP.

 

But the results of such an extravagance were well worth the wait…and the devotion. Rubber Soul was, according to New York Times and Rolling Stone journalist/author Mark Hertsgaard in A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of The Beatles, “…the finest album to date, and some say, [The Beatles’] finest album ever. With Rubber Soul, The Beatles offered, for the first time, an album with virtually no weak spots. It was made up of songs that were immediately captivating and enduring.” (p. 167)

 

The motifs of the late autumn 1965 LP were significantly more mature than the subject matter found on earlier albums. The popular themes of “she loves you,” “I love you,” and “you love me” were superseded by complex, mature, adult themes: struggling relationships (“Think for Yourself,” “What Goes On,” “Girl,” and “I’m Looking Through You”), casual dalliances (“Drive My Car” and “If I Needed Someone”), adultery and female-scorned liaisons (“Norwegian Wood” and “Drive My Car”), deep-seated jealousy and anger (“Run for Your Life”), and lingering self-doubt (“Nowhere Man”). But the album’s catalog was also graced with emotional songs of friendship and love, such as “In My Life,” “Wait,” and “Michelle.” And there is even a track, “The Word,” which celebrates agape love, that universal bond that could ultimately bring us all together.

 

Not only are the themes of Rubber Soul more developed and considered, but the music itself is also enriched with variety. The enchanting harmonium work in “The Word,” “We Can Work It Out,” and more subtly, in “If I Needed Someone” is sublime, as is the harpsichord-sounding piano in “In My Life.” Harrison’s sitar work (once pared down a bit from the overpowering first takes) makes “Norwegian Wood” soar. And McCartney’s fuzz bass in “Think for Yourself” enhances the power of Harrison’s lyrics. Wonderfully, the Beatles signature techniques, such as handclaps and three-part harmony, are still present and still viable as the boys retain their unique identity. Indeed, in Rubber Soul, nothing is abandoned but much is added.

 

Given the opportunity to focus entirely on their work, the late 1965 Beatles raised an already-elevated bar. Their lyrics became edgier, allowing the listener to investigate myriad levels of meaning. Their story songs offered multiple conclusions. And as they embraced global influences (such as The Byrds in “If I Needed Someone,” The Yardbirds in “Norwegian Wood,” and Dylan on many of the new tracks), the boys rose to equal their peers and surpass them.

 

Noted Beatles music experts have widely varying theories about why Rubber Soul affected (and still continues to affect) listeners so powerfully. Some point to the music; others, to the unique Scouse wit, and still others, to poetic lyrics. And all of this mattered. But one can’t ignore the importance of the record’s inherent vulnerability as a tremendous point of connectivity.

 

In almost every song on the Parlophone LP, one or more of The Beatles is admitting weakness. And in the words of St. Paul, “…when I am weak, I am strong.” John, Paul, George, and Ringo find a universal connection to their fans in simply confessing that they — just like the members of their audience — often feel isolated, lonely, afraid, frustrated, angry, and unfulfilled. The Fab Four are no longer “fab.” In Rubber Soul, they become human. They emerge “a bit like you and me.”

 

In his classic work, Tell Me Why, Tim Riley states, “Rubber Soul intensified the bond with the audience…it drew [The Beatles] closer to their listeners, as the frenzy of their tours continued to isolate them.” (p. 153) By freely admitting their own flaws, failures, and fears, The Beatles bridged the gap that the stadium fans were always trying to hurdle. The band dismantled that barrier. In Rubber Soul, the fans and The Beatles find an avenue to “come together.”

 

I can’t wait to explore this album with you as over the next twelve months we walk, track-by-track though Rubber Soul. Up first, we’ll take a fresh look at “Drive My Car” with noted author, Dr. Kenneth Womack (author of the best-selling new work, John Lennon 1980) about this clever opening track. Join us in just a few days, and our Rubber Soul adventure will begin!

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The Beatles in June: Shine On

::: By Jude Southerland Kessler :::

 

As we, here at the Fest, continue our look at The Beatles in their months together, we wish you all peace…not only globally, but locally. The traumatic stresses of disease, isolation, financial loss, injustice, and violence have shaken us all over the last sixty days. We face a world filled with need, fear, anger, and resentment. As we walk through June 2020, what can we learn from The Beatles in four of their Junes together? What advice might they silently offer us? Let’s find out…

 

June 1964 – After 13 long days absent due to illness, Ringo was finally prepared to rejoin The Beatles’ first World Tour. Collapsing amidst a photo shoot on 3 June, he’d endured a nasty bout of tonsillitis and 11 days in University College Hospital, London. Now, however, Starr was suited-up to fly Pan Am from London to Australia to reconnoiter with his Liverpool mates. During Ringo’s absence, Jimmie Nicol (an excellent drummer in his own right, who very fortunately knew all of The Beatles songs and wore Ringo’s exact suit size…see The Beatle Who Vanished by Jim Berkenstadt for more info) had been standing in (er, sitting in) for Starr in Holland, Hong Kong, and Australia. And so, for one brief day on 14 June…there were myriad publicity photos of The Beatles with two drummers! But right away, Richard Starkey was back on the podium, banging away and flashing his winning Scouse grin. His throat was still a bit ragged but his humour was intact. When a reporter asked him, “Do you think your tonsillitis might change the group’s sound?”, Ringo chortled and said, “Only for a few days when I can’t sing…if you can call it singin’!” And the Fab Four were reunited.

 

June 1966 – June was always Brian Epstein’s “month of choice” for World Tours. And 1966 was no exception to that rule. On 23 June, The Beatles left London Airport in Heathrow bound for Germany…the country where they’d cut their teeth as teenagers, performing in Hamburg. Their first night in Hamburg — August 1960 — the four Beatles (with Pete Best as their drummer) played to 6 very disappointed male customers who’d strolled down to the dark end of the Reeperbahn to see strippers — only to find 4 singing British boys instead! Somehow, The Beatles won over even those reluctant patrons, and in just a few weeks, the lads were so popular that they were promoted to a much larger venue: the Kaiserkeller. Now, two years later, John, Paul, George, and Ringo were billed as headliners in the stately halls of Munich and Essen, and tickets sold as quickly as they were printed. One reporter, disdaining the price of admission, callously asked John Lennon, “If you had to buy a ticket for your own performance how much would you pay for it?” John, in typical Lennonesque fashion, swiftly returned, “Oh, we know the manager, so we get in free.” The charm that had courted reluctant punters way back in 1960 was still very much alive.

 

June 1967 – Done with touring forever, June of 1967 held not a World Tour this time, but a worldwide event! The Beatles had been chosen to represent Britain in the prestigious 25 June One World television special, slated to be broadcast live via satellite to 400 million viewers on 5 continents. And the song they’d selected to sing was truly, as Brian Epstein observed, “spine-chilling…the best thing they’d ever done.” It was, of course, John Lennon’s “All You Need is Love,” written specifically for the momentous affair. On 21 June, the boys began working on this landmark song in studio. Heads together as one, they prepared the anthem of peace, eager to send it out to a world heavily laden with the Vietnam conflict, Civil Rights unrest, military coups, wars, and entrenched divides. With a deep longing for concord, the boys tried to convey a simple message that would speak to all nations. As John later said, “It was a fabulous time…peace and love, people putting flowers in guns.” But as The Beatles, that night, focused globally and not locally, none of them realised that evening, that 21 June marked the very last time that Brian would ever be with them as they created in EMI. A pivotal moment went unnoticed.

 

June 1968 – After weeks and weeks of severe depression following John’s separation from Cynthia and from his son, Julian…weeks in which John Lennon actually contemplated suicide, the end of June 1968 found him finally rebounding with a new zest for life, as he prepared his You Are Here art exhibit slated to open on 1 July. The theme of the show was new beginnings and rebirth. As John and Yoko planned to dress entirely in white, to release 365 balloons to the world containing hopeful messages, and to zero in on John’s newly focused avant garde artiste side rather than his rocker image, “original” was the order of the day. John was, in effect, “starting over,” initiating a new life with a new lady at his side and a new message of peace. After months of agony, John had found a way to move forward.

 

You know, just when we think we’re alone in our struggles, we find it: the very mirror image of our griefs in the lives of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The burdens we face, they faced. Every one.

 

Illness. Ringo’s ongoing struggles with health began early in life as he spent a myriad of formative years in sanitarium healing from the after-effects of a ruptured appendix and peritonitis. Then later, at age 13, he was back in hospital and long-term care again with complications from pleurisy and “effusion on the lung.” Even as a young adult, Ringo was frequently niggled with severe tonsillitis until he finally underwent surgery in December 1964. Yet rarely, if ever, do we hear Ringo complaining about the lost years in school with friends of his own age. Rarely does he moan over the lost days and weeks he might’ve spent with his family or the isolation of sanitarium life. Instead, he talks about the nurse who supplied him with a drum and the positive outlook those years gave him. To quote Hunter Davies in The Beatles, “[Ringo] never remembered himself unhappy. He thinks he had a good childhood.” (p. 148) Hmm!

 

Criticism. No one faced more venom from the press and public than The Beatles did. At first, journalists were gleefully “on board,” promoting and praising the British phenoms. But by late 1964, the press was hungrily seeking a chink in the Fab Armor. They were whispering about “Beatle dissention” and possible break-ups, about the Lennons divorcing, about unfair ticket prices and unkind treatment of the fans. The Beatles lived in a fishbowl, always under scrutiny. And for the most part, (yes, there were days when the boys, too, were resentful) they faced it all with humour and wit. Under adversity, The Beatles endured.

 

Global darkness. 1967’s grim world must have seemed unbearably oppressive to our boys. By June of ‘67, 448,800 young souls had been lost in Vietnam. June race riots in Detroit left 43 slain.  Marches on Washington and rampant U.S. draft card burning events filled the headlines. In June, the Six Day War erupted in the Middle East, and the Nigerian Civil War boiled over in July. Turning their eyes globally, the boys might have missed the joys at their very elbows: the singular gift of a night in studio with their devoted manager, Brian Epstein. They might have been so intent on speaking out to a hurting world that they failed to treasure the simple and fleeting joys given to them, so close at hand. In this, too, there is wisdom for us to gather.

 

In each of these instances, The Beatles remind us to move forward…to keep reinventing ourselves, to keep pushing ahead. If one life phase subsides, then we can emerge into “Something New.” If the world threatens to overwhelm us, we can turn to those we love at hand. If we are heavy-laden, we can seek humor, music, faith, and friendship. We can work it out.

 

The Beatles never ever had a day without enormous obstacles to overcome: family losses, health challenges, public criticism, unrelenting work schedules. Yet, by simply putting one foot in front of the other, they kept going. It is a phrase we Beatles fans repeat without really thinking about it…but this month, we must make it our mantra: Shine On. You can do this, one step at a time. Shine on!

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