How the band influenced me.
I was born in December 1947, a first generation of the Baby Boomers. A critical aspect of my growth and development was the explosion of The Beatles into public consciousness and prominence. The first concert I ever attended was the Beatles in the Seattle Center Coliseum in 1964; it started a change in me that never stopped—much like the importance of the public and private lives of John, George, Paul and Ringo have never lost their grip on our iconic sense of them.
Why I’m NOT Gonna Watch “Get Back” The Beatles Documentary
Elephants die when their 6th and final set of teeth grind down to nothing —
I’m a Beatles aficionado. My biggest “viewed” stories are all Beatles pieces, written mostly because as I get older and old, I recall the excitement and pure joy of loving them. And I still brag, to this day, about having been in a room with them (that “room” being The Seattle Center Coliseum) on their first American concert tour, in 1964.
Yet, for all this love I can’t bring myself to go back to our childhoods. And watch hours of film of them when we were all once young. I’ve seen clips from Peter Jackson’s 7 1/2 hour documentary about the end of the Beatles existence. I’m struck by how young they looked, how alive, talented full of future possibilities as they prepared to move from pop icons to individual glories (and horrors).
We were all that young once, but we can’t get it back.
John and George-Harrison never got to their elephant equivalent of a final set of teeth, they died too young. Ringo and Paul McCartney are chewing the last tree trunks of their final acts —
For myself, I’m in no rush to be reminded of how merciless time can be and how much we lose while unaware that those losses are even happening.
I don’t want to watch the Beatles quarreling gently while working together, unbeknownst to themselves, for the last time.
At some point, we all watch the slow-motion train wreck that is our lives and realize that the last of our teeth have ground down to nothing, and that we can no longer sustain ourselves. Indeed, as we walk deeper into the deepest darkest jungle, stumbling our way, instinctively, to the hidden graveyard, lying down on a soft bed of green, leaving our elephant hides and ivory, we are each of us, alone and long and far away from those magical days when we were at our most golden and on a still young set of teeth. No thanks, Peter Jackson; I struggle mightily enough already, just by looking at pics of myself from that same time that the raw “Get Back” shit was filmed.
I remember smiling at the camera oblivious to what was coming — but whatever else was to happen, this ending would be my lying down alone in the jungle. Get back. Get back to where I once belonged . . . if only . . . Get Back. Get back. Not yet.
Beatles as “Woke” & Why It’s GREAT!
With the Oscars nearly upon us let’s look back at Yesterday…the movie
If you’ve seen the movie Yesterday, you’ve been shown better than I can tell about the genius of The Beatles. If you haven’t seen it and you are working on your own creative efforts in any genre (music, writing, painting, tap-dancing…whatever… anything…) you have a treat in store for you. See the movie.
I’ve always both loved and admired The Beatles — not so much because of the super-hyping of 1963–64 (although I loved them then too, and even got to go see them in concert in Seattle in 1964!). But as the years rolled on, my teenage love affair with them grew to a full-blown admiration of their growth, their genius, and their creativity. Yes, their wokeness, and of course they led me to being Cooler than Cool: Another New Passage.
I was once a young poet, then an older poet and now I’m an old poet, so the progress of creative work interests me greatly. None of us know at just what point our creative capacity will slow down, dry up or simply die, but some of my greatest models, Picasso, Paul McCartney, Charles Bukowski worked well (& in the case of McCartney, are STILL working) all their lives.
Posting our creative efforts and views, whether in politics, philosophy, the arts, human affairs, or whatever area we explore, for many of us is a self-rewarding, self-reinforcing activity.
Thinking of the great ones who came before us and laid down a path for us to try and follow is, in my never humble opinion, a wise thing to do. Indeed, a woke thing to do.
And who knows which of us, through luck, charm, talent, or perseverance will end up immortalized (somewhat anyway,) in film or bronze or both?
To be “woke” is little more and nothing less than to be engaged on Step seven of Buddha’s noble eight-fold path — “pay attention to where you are and what you’re doing — be awake and aware.”
So yeah, the Beatles were certainly woke. If you think that’s bad, so be it . . . Fuckin’ idiot!
John Lennon Wasn’t Really Asking Us to Imagine
He was telling us what he knew we all should know and believe
I have never much liked John Lennon’s song Imagine.
For me it always seemed so obvious. I didn’t need to imagine anything, listening to the lyrics they were self-explanatory; Everybody living for today, no heaven or hell, no nationalism or religion and therefore no wars — Who would need to imagine the benefits of such a world?
Who would need help to understand its simplistic ideals and message? To me it seemed like John might have well have been saying 2 plus 2 equals 4, love is better than hate, peace is good war is bad.
And added to the rest of the Beatle’s and John’s oeuvre, it is impossible not to know that this is exactly how John Lennon felt about the world and his life; about OUR lives.
But the ways the world has unfolded since Lennon’s death in December 1980, it’s clear that he was right about the need to articulate the obvious. Imagine ALL the people with brains containing functioning minds. Imagine all the people able to take a next, second step in understanding a problem and reacting out from facts and truth rather than emotional preferences maintained solely to keep them happy and comfortable.
Yep, imagine that.
John would be pleasantly surprised I’m sure, if the world were more that way after all, he had all this figured out a long time ago.
Right up until someone who could only imagine his own life having any value by murdering his idol, killed him… Imagine that.
How could anyone in their right mind choose William Shatner over Ringo Starr to take up into space with them?
In many ways, I confess, this is a rhetorical question. Clearly the answer is, nobody could but there’re a lot of people, NOT in their “right minds.”
My Apology to John Lennon
I’m sorry John, you were right all along
So many apologies begin with what basically is an effort to justify the wrong. “What I really meant was…” “I was just having a bad day…” “Sorry, but you know, really…” John, your song Imagine didn’t appeal to me but is much beloved by millions of other souls who heard it in what I’m sure was exactly the way you intended for them to hear it and exactly the way you meant it. And most importantly, was what they needed to hear. You don’t need my apology because, listening to the message of the song itself, I don’t imagine that you can hear me. And because if you could you’d be exactly right to say back to me; “You have a right to your opinion, wrong and stupid and fucked-up as it is.” And if only you were here to say that to me and I was by some miracle able to look you in the eye and smile and simply agree, I allow myself to believe what I’ve always wished to believe that you and I were fast friends, back then and still are today and always will be, whether we ever knew one another or not. It makes me smile to feel this and I hope it would make you smile too. The only good thing about it is it gives me another reason to spend a little time with you — thanks for that as well. And for everything else.
THE BEATLES REUNION IS ON!! Love, Love, Love
John & George aren’t dead any longer
I’m so excited by this news, although to be totally honest, I’m just making it up because I wish it were true. I wish the boyz were back writing the pop tunes they wrote when they first broke into the world through George Martin’s ear and Brian Epstein's savvy and luck. I wish I could hear them perform the black songs of the ’60s like Mr. Postman ( a “girl’s” song until John got ahold of it) and You Really Got a Hold on Me, and the Isley bros. Twist and Shout one more time, only a hundred more times while I twisted and shouted to it full of joy and bliss. And I want a back stage pass to hang out with them and when they start to modestly put themselves down for writing such simple love, love, love lyrics to their melodies I’d tell them, “No, guys, that’s yer very best shit, better even than most of the brilliant innovation stuff of your final years together.” Love, love, love Love, love, love is all you need, which turns out to be both true and untrue, but I wish we could do it all over again and just roll around in the true part of it forever… Don’t you wish that too?
Paul McCartney and his dream of a melody
The story of how The Beatle’s Paul wrote the most recorded song in all of the Beatles tunes, is instructive to anyone trying to create anything new. The legend goes that McCartney woke up from a dream one morning with an entire melody he had dreamt — every note in place and even though he didn’t read or write music, he remembered the melody perfectly. Later that morning, he hummed the tune to the other Beatles and to their producer George Martin asking them to help him recall where he must have heard it before. But it was new to all of them. The melody required three syllables in its opening line: “da-da-da” became, for temporary purposes, “Scrambled Eggs” and stayed that way until eventually Paul got around to sitting down and writing lyrics. Maybe he was thinking of his mother Mary, lost when Paul was just a boy, or maybe of his recent or soon to be break-up with his long time girlfriend Jane Asher, or maybe neither of those things, but he ended up writing; “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away . . .” And thus did “scrambled eggs” find itself scraped off the breakfast plate of his mind into the garbage pail of history. Lesson to all we creative types: trust your dreams no matter how scrambled they may seem.
Paul McCartney and I Share This Secret Power
And this is how you may one day share it with usNot Sir Paul, but author at same age as Paul was when the Beatles broke-up
No, it’s not “The Look”. Unlike Sir Paul, I began losing my hair around age 25 or so. (Even in the pic above we can see the beginnings of a comb-over). Male pattern baldness is in your genes biding it’s time until it gets you, its viciousness kind of like a male mastectomy minus pain and threat of death, a psychic punch to the solar plexus of ego identity and in my era, a serious blow to social status/connectivity.
Unlike Sir Paul and his fellow bandmate Richard Starkey (he of many rings and peace signs and love) who kept their hair — well, some of us did not and so clearly this is not the secret promised in the title above. No, the secret is this: phrased in its most rudimentary form, getting older and eventually old, like Paul and Ringo have managed. Yet still learning, still learning, STILL LEARNING, like Michelangelo said of himself at age 81.
I implore you, no matter how shitty and horrible your circumstances seem to you, likely because they fuckin’ ARE that bad in that moment, regardless of that, you must do what Sir Paul (and for that matter, Ringo too) and I have all managed to do; stay alive, get old, keeping playing (working and playing mean the same thing in this usage).
George Harrison & Keith Richards
The indestructible and the destroyed, but not how you might think it
A week from today, I’ll be 74 years old (if I make it, which seems likely given my present health).
I have been alive during the lives and careers of everyone from JFK to MLK jr. to Muhammad Ali to Michael Jordon & LeBron James to Marylin Monroe & Marylin Manson to Jackson Pollok to Milli Vanilli (not sure how they made this list but WTF, why not).
Bottom line here: I’ve lived a long, lucky life and still have enough functioning memory to recall lots of great and ridiculous shit.
One of the terrific bullshit stories invented by the media to make money during the era of my youth was the imagined and claimed competition, rivalry and alleged dislike between my beloved Beatles and my beloved Rolling Stones.
I saw both groups in concert, live in Seattle in the 60's.
Come to find out, their disdain for one another was total bullshit; a faux fight and controversy invented to juice the teen record-buying public. So when I came across a headline the other day offering to list the great and indestructible Richard’s most admired guitarists I had to read it.
(Digression: 14 week ago I bought a Fender Acoustic guitar and began re-learning how to play after a 55 year hiatus. Keith is one of my idols.) His was a short list, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters are on it and a couple other old, dead black blues legends, but also, the last name on Keith’s list, was George Harrison. Not Clapton, not Jeff Beck, not Jimi Hendrix — just some early blues and R&R ax-men and my beloved George, who unlike Keith died before reaching 60.
It takes a lot to make my day these days. I’ve seen too much and just enough, But Keith, as he always has and always does, managed it.
I love the memes showing the “rode hard and put up wet” images of Richards’ from his long hell-bent life of self-destructive wildness, memes that query, “What kind of a world are our grandchildren going to leave for Keith Richards?”
I just hope it’s as good a one as he and George have made for us.