Beatles Saturday:the hangover

I should have gone for the lunchtime Coltrane.

In the end I got as far as side one of the White Album by sheer bloody hard work.

The thing is, I’ve always loved the Beatles.  But rather as one does with an old friend or the boiler, I’ve learned to forgive their faults.  However, listening to their output back to back over a period of six or seven hours does throw their faults into quite sharp relief.

There’s not a lot in the way of evolution between Please Please Me and Revolver.  It strikes me that the first three albums could have been recorded in the same session so similar is the sound.  Things do move on a bit with A Hard Day’s Night and Help! the songs and production getting somewhat better but there’s still a lot of unspeakable tripe there.  I don’t want to spoil the party so I’ll go?  Good, f**k off then you boring bast**d.  They’re gonna put me in the movies?  Great.  Happen it’ll put an end to your singing career.  Go with him?  I should if I were you, love, I can’t see how you’ve put up with the whining for this long.

The great numbers remain great numbers.  Twist and Shout, When I Saw her Standing There, A Taste of Honey, all terrific.  Yesterday  and You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away are absolutely stand out songs, the latter especially so.  But it’s against a background of songs which are by turns rubbish, whingey, needy, sexist, misogynistic and sometimes, downright sinister.

Consider We Can Work it Out.

Try to see it my way, do I have to keep on talking til I can’t go on
While we see it your way, we run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone
We can work it out

Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting
I have always thought that it’s a crime, so I will ask you once again…

Basically, we can work it out just so long as it’s totally on my terms because your position is simply wrong and when it’s all gone tits up it’ll be your fault.

More creepy and stalker-ish is You Like Me Too Much:

Though you’ve gone away this morning, you’ll be back again tonight

Telling me there’ll be no next time

If I just don’t treat you right

You’ll never leave me and you know it’s true

‘Cause you like me too much and I like you

You’ve tried before to leave me, but you haven’t got the nerve

To walk out and make me lonely, which is all that I deserve

The implication of mistreatment coupled with the tone of self-pity is probably familiar to many working in domestic violence units and only further emphasised with the lines:

If you leave me

I will follow you and bring you back where you belong

‘Cause I couldn’t really stand it, I’d admit that I was wrong

A few years later, when all the Beatles needed was love there was a certain amount of penitence in Getting Better:

I used to be cruel to my woman

I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved

An admirable admission of guilt but I can’t help but feel that…

Man I was mean but I’m changing that scene and I’m doing the best that I can

…is really enough, certainly not when one considers what has to be atoned for in the song Run for your Life.

Beatles lore has it that John Lennon penned this hateful little ditty to supply a needed last track on Rubber Soul, lifting much of the lyric from an Elvis Presley number called Playing House.  Lennon is later said to have regretted the songs inclusion.  Sat next to his achingly beautiful and poignant (alleged) tribute to gay manager Brian Epstein, You’ve got to Hide Your Love Away, there is much to regret in this twisted, misogynistic, toss sack of a song.  I reproduce the lyrics in full here, without permission or apology, so that the full horror of the thing can be considered.

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl

Than to be with another man

You better keep your head, little girl

Or I won’t know where I am

 

You better run for your life if you can, little girl

Hide your head in the sand little girl

Catch you with another man

That’s the end’a little girl

 

Well I know that I’m a wicked guy

And I was born with a jealous mind

And I can’t spend my whole life

Trying just to make you tow the line

 

You better run for your life if you can, little girl

Hide your head in the sand little girl

Catch you with another man

That’s the end’a little girl

 

Let this be a sermon

I mean everything I’ve said

Baby, I’m determined

And I’d rather see you dead

 

You better run for your life if you can, little girl

Hide your head in the sand little girl

Catch you with another man

That’s the end’a little girl

 

I’d rather see you dead, little girl

Than to be with another man

You better keep your head, little girl

Of I won’t know where I am

 

You better run for your life if you can, little girl

Hide your head in the sand little girl

Catch you with another man

That’s the end’a little girl

Na, na, na

Na, na, na

Na, na, na

Na, na, na

The Beatles are now part of our cultural wallpaper.  We accept them as part of what we are as a nation, hence the inclusion of so much Beatles material and iconography at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.  But until a few days ago, we’d have said the same about Jimmy Saville, wouldn’t we?  A bit odd but you’ve got to forgive him, he’s a product of his generation and he’s done so much for charidee, he’s a national treasure…

John Lennon was 25 when Rubber Soul was released, producer George Martin, 39.  Between them surely they should have known better?

My next all day back to backer in the shop will be British jazz-Tubbs, Stan, Loose Tubes, Andy Sheppard.  Ahh…looking forward to it already.

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