Monday, June 04, 2007

The Beagles

Ed here: Steve Mertz and I once flabbgerated a party at Max Allan Collins' house by mentioning that we didn't like the Beatles all that much and felt that the Stones were a much superior, infinitely more interesting band. Holy shit. People listened in disbelief. This was something like twenty-five years ago so our comments were even more heretical.

I haven't changed my mind. With all the hype over Sgt. Pepper's flooding every media venue available, I've listened till I can't listen any more. Even a quarter century ago most of the Beatles' songs had started to sound "quaint," of another era. There are a handful of masterpieces to be sure. But to sit down and listen to the Beatles for an hour...arrrgh.

On the other hand, to my completely untrained ear, most of the Stones songs sound fresh and vital even after almost forty years. Not all of them, of course. The ones that fail do so because they're ridiculously imitative (especially the ones that try and imitate the Beatles) or because they're just sloppy in both composition and play. But this type of failure is preferable to the Beatles' type of failure, which was their seemingly inexhaustible affection for treacle.

I admit I may be completely full of crap. Not the first time. But at least today, thanks to the only trustworthy enterainment columnist in America, Fox's (yes, Fox's) Roger Freidman I have actual proof that Paul McCartney is actually as much of a dick as I always suspected:

McCartney: Beatles' End Retold by Roger Friedman

Paul McCartney is about to be everywhere. His new album, "Memory Almost Full," hits Starbucks stores Tuesday in an unprecedented publicity and marketing blitz.

Of course, the main thing is: The album is very, very good. It's McCartney's best since the excellent "Flaming Pie" in 1997. Some of the songs on it are outstanding. "Ever Present Past," a kind of companion to his 1989 "My Brave Face," is a genius bit of pop. A five-song cycle that comprises the end of the album, along with a short rocker "Nod Your Head," could not be more perfect.

But still, the PR blitz means McCartney magazine profiles. Some of them, without meaning to, attempt to rewrite history. A very good piece in last week's New Yorker is a case in point.

To wit: It was McCartney, and not the always reviled Yoko Ono or the easily fingered Allen Klein, who brought about the end of the Beatles. At a meeting among all the parties in 1969, it was revealed that McCartney had violated a long-held agreement between him and John Lennon.

The pair had a tacit understanding that neither of them would ever buy more shares than the other in the music publisher that owned their songs at the time. Steven Gaines and Peter Brown describe the meeting in the very good Beatles biography, "The Love You Make." Brown was the Beatles' longtime publicist and present at every important event.

At the meeting, it was revealed that Paul and his lawyer/father-in-law Lee Eastman had been buying extra shares by the handful. Brown reveals in the book that at that point Paul had 751,000 shares of Northern Songs; John had 644,000. Upon learning this, Lennon, enraged, exited the meeting. Brown says he called Paul a "bastard." It was all over. The Beatles were done.

I asked Paul about this for a feature profile I wrote about him and Linda in 1989. Knowing Lennon would get so angry, would he do it again, I wondered?

Paul did not hesitate.

"Absolutely," he replied. "I was investing in myself."

It was almost the same answer Paul had given John at that meeting.

In that sense, it was a smart move. McCartney today, with the help of Eastman, is a billionaire. And whether you like his solo work or not, McCartney became even richer following the Beatles' break-up thanks to a wildly successful career.

But let's not allow history to be rewritten. Avarice broke up the Beatles, not a wife or a girlfriend.

From Roger Freidman copyright 2007, Fox News


Anonymous said...

I'm with you Ed the Stones can still be played and you wont cringe. Unless your playing Satanic Majesties, sometimes soem things shoudl be left in the sixties.

Actually rewatched Gimmie Shelter over the weekend never tire of it. It was right aftre I watched the highly dissapointing Brian Jones movie Stoned.

Cap'n Bob said...

George Harrison claimed he was the reason the Beatles broke up. He wanted to record more of his songs and didn't feel he could do it as a member of the band, what with Lennon/McCartney being so prolific.

I love both the Stones and the Beatles, but feel the Beatles have meant more to me personally in my life than the bad boys of rock.