Well well well. Oh, well. Well well well...
I'm quoting, of course, a song on John's first solo album. The one that bluntly told fans, "I DON'T BELIEVE IN BEATLES."
And yet, for quite some time, Believers have been using the "50th Anniversary" excuse to drum up their continued love for Ringo, Paul and the late George and John. It's gotten to be a bit much, no? Yes?
It's a triumph that everything The Beatles did 50 years ago is still relevant (to people over 50, at least). But it's also a bit depressing to be reminded of how...long...ago...it was. Especially when it involves some fairly SO WHAT bits of trivia.
50 Years ago TODAY, The Beatles performed what turned out to be their LAST ticketed show. It was the last time you could buy a ticket and go to a venue and see them. (They would perform a spontaneous live rooftop concert for the "Let it Be" documentary film). The show, ending their USA tour, took place in the Giants' baseball stadium Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. That's 3,000 miles from their first remarkable triumph, the Mets' Shea Stadium (which no longer exists), Queens, New York.
Great. Another excuse for the mainstream media to dust off some old Beatles photos and give older people a chance to read about music that doesn't involve Kanye or Beyonce.
But what do we make of this? Is this 50th anniversary sparking the release of a fabulous live album of that show? A great DVD of it?
At what point in the day will Ringo or Paul give a TWEET about this?
I think we know that if John was around, he'd say, "Be more concerned with what's going on NOW."
He was suggesting this with every solo record he made.
When he began his solo career, he punctuated it with blunt interviews in in two issues of Rolling Stone (later collected in book form as "Lennon Remembers").
Tony Hendra's brutal parody "Magical Misery Tour" (from National Lampoon's "Radio Dinner") used mostly Lennon's own words from that interview against him. If comedy is tragedy + time, then parody might be anger turned inside out. Lennon's rage was turned into a ludicrous tantrum.
Hendra was so close in voice and attitude that the signature line "Genius is Pain" could almost have been lifted directly from a track on John's first solo album. Hendra recalls, "Lennon was the ultimate sacred cow...I have never been so nervous as the night we recorded this cut. It was, to put it mildly, a high-profile assault, and I'd never had the slightest talent for impersonation...I had no idea why I was doing it, only that it was right and new, another of those leaps in the dark. It was frightening even just to attempt it. Lennon might have been sacred, but I was scared."
John was a huge fan of iconoclasts, but there's no report on whether he was a fan of this devastating satire. Fortunately most fans who read John's interview agreed that their hero had a bit too much "self-obsession" (as Hendra called it) and considered the parody pretty valid, and the music very solid (piano by Melissa Manchester, who turns up at the end as an unconvincing Yoko Ono).
Hendra had some electronic help to get the right nasality and pitch (ironically, John would often demand his producer use echo or other tricks to "fuck up me voice" with studio enhancements). A few lines may be beyond the average Beatles fan. Not everyone might know that the "Eastman" mentioned, is Linda McCartney's father, who was suggested by Paul as the right attorney to handle the mess that Apple had become. Some may or may not recall Lennon's tart "Turn Left at Iceland" news conference remark.
Mostly, the lyrics are pretty straightforward, and some taken direct from the interviews:
"I RESENT performing for you fuckers, tell me, what do you know? A lot of faggot middle-class kids wearing long hair and trendy clothes. Look, I'm not your fucking parents and I'm sick of uptight hippies coming knocking at me door with a fucking peace symbol, get this, fuck that, I don't owe you fuckers anything and all I got to say is FUCK YOU. The sky is blue.
"And Mick Jagger, I think that Mick's a joke with all his stupid faggot dancing. I always did. Wiggling his ass you know, it's just a lot of bullshit. And where does he come off saying all those tarty things about The Beatles when every fucking thing we ever did Mick tried to copy and you know we even wrote his second fucking record for him, no, The Stones aren't the same in class as The Beatles either music wise, or power wise, and never ever were. Pardon me, sir!"
"Paul said he hated Yoko, tell me, why should Yoko have to take that kind of shit? Shit from those fucking sons of bitches? George said she gave off evil vibes. I should have beat the fucking shit right out of him. Him with his fucking Hare Krishna.
"Me auntie, she tore up me fucking poems. She just threw the bastards out. I can't forgive her, 'cause she didn't treat me like a fucking genius. Look, you bastards, I'm a genius, like Shakespeare and Beethoven and Van Gogh! Don't you dare criticize my work! "Don't Worry Kyoko" was one of the fucking best rock and roll records ever made! I'm a fucking artist! I'm sensitive as shit! I throw up before I go onstage! I can make a guitar speak! If I could be a fisherman I would, but I can't, because I'm a fucking genius!!
"I was the Walrus! PAUL wasn't the Walrus! I was just saying that to be nice, but I was actually the Walrus! Him and that rubbish he's been singing! Eastman was an animal! A fucking stupid middle-class pig. I won't let fucking animals like that near me! Yoko is a supreme intellectual! I'll tell you why nobody likes her music — because she's a woman and she's Oriental, that's why!
"Where are you Mother! They're trying to crucify me! Genius is Pain...Genius is Pain...(primal screams) Turn left at Iceland...(more screams)"
And speaking of screams...fer cryin' out loud, ENOUGH with the fucking "50th Anniversary of..." Beatles references.