COLUMN 101, JANUARY 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)
THE 'NAKED' BEATLES CD:
IS SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY GETTING A BUM RAP?
SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY
self-proclaimed Beatles purists giving Paul McCartney a bum rap? I mean, read
this excerpt from a New York Observer column by Ron Rosenbaum, a
journalism stylist I've always admired:
Paul McCartney is a fool. I just
wanted to get that on record before I proceed to the chief focus of this column,
which is the Phil Spector tragedy. I'll
get to Sir Paul, and his idiocy in relation to Phil Spector and the
"Naked" Beatles album---Sir Paul's deluded ego trip---in due time.
Rosenbaum's column meanders like the Pacific Coast highway from San Francisco
to Bolemas before getting to these final few paragraphs:
On one Web site, some wise guy said that whether or not
Spector was guilty of the murder he's charged with in LA, he's guilty of the
"murder" of the Beatles songs on Let it Be.
I disagree. I
think that Sir Paul has deluded himself that his syrupy ballads like The Long
and Winding Road---the ones that lacked the edge that John Lennon brought to
their collaborations and made them brilliant together--?were syrupy because of
Spector's syrupy orchestrations. But,
in fact, they were syrupy in and of themselves, and sound even more syrupy when
"naked." Spector, one might say, was trying to go over the top to make
it a self-conscious syrupiness, a meta'syrupiness.
Sir Paul doesn't get it.
But the thing
that really makes me think Sir Paul is a fool is the way he rejuggled the order
of the songs. Let It Be originally
opened with one of the most perfect and beautiful and memorable Beatles songs
ever written or sung, Two Of Us. After that everything and anything they
did on that album could be forgiven. It
cast a super-powered spell over all that followed, however uneven.
Two of Us is the perfect road-trip love song, but (as Mr. Riley
has noted) it also allows itself to be construed as the story of Lennon and
McCartney---the two of them---and their long and winding road.
After all, it's about riding and writing, which not only sound alike but
in some ways resemble each other (both narratives that wind from a beginning to
an end). And in the song, the
"two of us" are always writing postcards, letters, chasing paper ....
Come on! It's a loving look back at
the very, very best part of a long and winding road of a writing partnership.
It defines the album, defines the Beatles.
the delusional Sir Paul doesn't get it. He's
still bitter about John and Phil and who the Walrus was.
He's still fighting old Beatles battles.
This is the Sir Paul who wants to be known as the principle author of the
very worst Beatles song (Yesterday---you know he's petitioned to have its
authorship read "McCartney and Lennon" rather than the traditional
"Lennon and McCartney." That tells you everything.
Let him have it, Yoko.) This is the Sir Paul who buries Two of Us
in the fifth slot, in the middle of the album, after making us endure the
"naked" version of The Long and Winding Road. Switching the
order makes the album a lesser work of art.
Sources I've talked to give a confusing story of how this "Naked?
version of Let It Be came to be. We can't just blame it on the
engineers. My own opinion? The surviving Beatles in-crowd that runs Apple Corps
Ltd. are more purist than the more recent "purist? variety, typified by Ron
Rosenbaum. Or typified even by me.
Were the Let it Be tapes the last ever recorded by the Beatles as
a group? The Fab Four, then managed by Allen Klein, were hardly talking to one
another and couldn't agree on anything. John considered the album
unfinished and, as leader of the band, let Allen talk him into the idea of
getting madman genius Phil Spector to put on the finishing touches. The release
of the album had to coincide with the looming premiere of Let It Be, the
movie and they were in too much of a hurry to wait for the four partners to
agree. Besides, John Lennon was a
madmen geniuses, too. And madman geniuses are attracted to madman geniuses.
Phil, for whom I have the fondest of memories, did a masterful job---an
opinion I think shared by all Beatles fans. The Beatles aura endures to this
day. Their music remains as magical as it was the day we first heard it.
New Beatles fans continue to be born daily. The Beatles are eternal.
Their ability to enchant us remains unrelenting. Since that day when the
possibility that the Beatles could ever again perform for us ended with a turd's
deranged desire to be wiped onto a newspaper's front page, the surviving
Beatles in-crowd has kept us spellbound. Apple continues revealing to us almost
everything we ever wanted to know and hear about the Beatles---their inside
jokes, their unedited tapes, their untold thoughts, their written
confessions, their anthologies.
Stories of the
Lennon-McCartney breakup have by now become folklore. There is no secret that
Allen Klein's management left a sourness in the psyches of the surviving
Beatles in-crowd. A survivor's prerogative is that he always gets not only the
last word but he also gets the last laugh. The surviving Beatles in-crowd considered
Allen Klein's partnership a mistake and the "naked? CD is one way of
correcting that mistake.
Paul hates my
guts," Phil once told me. Paul has no time for me, either, but I see no use in
re-fighting the wars of our now-ancient fancies. That's kid stuff. We're
long past our days of Beatles fanhood. Why take the time to condemn Paul as the
'snooty? one at this late date, even if he is? He's still one of the four
giants that carried an era of good cheer into this world. Paul's a
"Beatle." A living
shrine and I think he's earned the right to behave like one. The world faces
more important disagreements than John versus Paul. Let's not be guided by
petty prejudices spawned when we were kids. The world faces more deserving of
our venom and ire.
So, now Apple is
readying a DVD of Let It Be, the movie And the CD that goes with the
movie is Let It Be minus madman Phil's however eternal adornments. It's
not like the Taliban blasting the ancient Buddhas out of the mountainside.
see it as a good business move. Now, true Beatles fans will have to own both
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMN 101
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMNS
Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
The Blacklisted Journalist's E-Mail Address:
THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ