Listen to our essay and decide for yourself.
“With everything, with any kind of thing, my aim seems to be to distort it. Distort it from what we know it as, even with music and visual things, and to change it from what it is to what it could be. To see the potential in it all. To take a note and wreck it and see in that note what else there is in it
that a simple act like distorting it
To take a film and superimpose on top of it so you can’t quite tell what it is anymore, it’s all trying to create magic, it’s all trying to make things happen so that you don’t know why they’ve happened.”
-Paul McCartney March 9, 1967 for Movie Journal in Village Voice
PHOEBE: So in this clip, Paul mentions Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal, and Jean Luc Godard’s One Plus One. He talks about his love of films, especially experimental films, and basically being a student of film in the mid 60s.
We also know from his 1997 biography, Many Years From Now, that in the mid 60s, particularly in that ‘66 through ‘68 era, he screened a few indie films at his house in London. I know that he had a screening of Scorpio Rising by Kenneth Anger, and another of Andy Warhol’s, Empire. And in the Michael Braun book, Love Me Do from 1964, Paul mentions the Trial (Orson Welles movie), and 8 ½.
So we’ve a pretty good sense of Paul’s movie background in 1967 going into the making of Magical Mystery Tour. He’s mentioned Bergman, Godard, Fellini, Truffaut, Orson Welles, Andy Warhol and also Dick Lester and British comedy, such as Morecambe and Wise. And Nat Jackley (the comedian that John loved who got into the movie).
And we know that Paul been making his own short films for a while by the time that he conceived of the Magical Mystery Tour project. So he’s made short films and he knew enough basic filmmaking, like he knew how to rewind the film and expose it again. He liked making double exposures and fun stuff that was becoming more popular in the 60s; artsy little tricks.
KRISTEN: Well, you know, what I think is interesting about Paul’s influences that you mentioned, like these great European art cinema directors like Bergman and Fellini…and then you’ve got the new wave directors, the experimental. And even the American director that you mentioned, Orson Welles isn’t, like, run of the mill American director, like he’s the artsy one, right?
But what I think is really interesting is that in the 60s, that was a pretty standard mix for people who are really into film culture, like new wave and European art cinema directors. I’m surprised he doesn’t throw Kurosawa in there, because that’s kind of in the mix, right? Or Buñuel. But that group of directors, art cinema directors from the 1950s and then the new wave, specifically the French New Wave directors from the 50s and 60s, were so a part of film culture at the time, in the 1960s. Like all of the 20-somethings, you know, the people Paul’s age, were definitely really getting into film culture at this time.
You had cine clubs, movie clubs popping up all over the world. They were really, really important in France, but in England too, they would have been really popular. And definitely like, college campuses in the US, college-age students would get together and they would watch the latest -or not even the latest, but they would watch The Seventh Seal or they would watch, Rashomon or whatever, and then they would discuss it. And it would be, sort of this thing where, like in France, these cine clubs were supported by the government. I mean, it was a sanctioned thing.
PHOEBE: They still are (in France)!
KRISTEN: Right, right. And so, you know, it was really, really popular.
And then experimental films were thrown into the mix too. And so you had these kind of pop-up theaters or movie clubs, independent theaters and college campuses. You had this real film culture in the post war era, and really coalescing in the 1960s with college age people and Paul – even though he’s not a college student – he’s in that kind of spot, that sweet spot, age-wise.
So it absolutely makes sense that he’s doing this and it’s not even, like, super unique or unusual. This is something that a lot of (especially 20-something) artists and intellectuals were absolutely doing.
And you know the fact that he’s showing Kenneth Anger and Andy Warhol, like he’s definitely showing the cutting edge sort of pop culture, experimental filmmakers, which is pretty cool. You know, he’s not showing like, Stan Brakhage or Maya Deren- like, maybe he is? But he’s not showing the ones that are maybe a little bit more challenging. He’s showing the ones that are a little bit more accessible, which is great, though! Like those are, they’re fantastic, like Kenneth Anger is amazing.
I think that he’s just so a part of that moment, that late-60s sort of film culture, experimental film culture moment. And it’s just starting to seep into Hollywood at this time. And this sort of counterculture interest in experimental and new wave and art house filmmaking is about to completely change Hollywood and give us new Hollywood. And so, you know, he’s right on track at this time, as far as youth film culture, which I think is really cool.
Full episode here
Ahhh, thank you! We really appreciate that feedback. ❤️
We think this is an important issue to discuss, especially going forward because it will not and cannot go away, and as public awareness for these topics grow, Beatles fandom is going to HAVE TO figure out how to address them honestly.
So glad you are enjoying the show!
Listen to the Context v. Excuses episode here
In this episode, we discuss the violent incident at Paul’s 21st Birthday and John and Brian’s trip to Barcelona.
We use this as a springboard for broader topics, including: how John tends to be unfairly singled out as the only Beatle with a problematic history, the reluctance to look critically at Brian Epstein’s behavior as it pertains to the band, how homophobia curtails discussion of the fallout from the Barcelona trip and the absence of McCartney’s perspective in the reporting of this incident.
Phoebe and Thalia explore these issues, followed by a panel discussion with newest AKOM host, Iris.
TW: domestic abuse, substance abuse, sexual assault, homophobia, violence. Also, please be prepared to hear negative info about John, Paul, George, Ringo and Brian.
Paul McCartney’s 21st Birthday Party
June 18, 1963
1. Jim McCartney and friends
2. Jim McCartney, cousin Di and Hank Marvin
3. Jim McCartney, Aunty Jin and the Shadows
4. Celia Mortimer (Mike McCartney’s gf), Ringo’s stepdad and mum (Harry and Elsie Graves), George Harrison’s dad Harry
5. Paul and Jane Asher
6. Cynthia and John Lennon, Bob Wooler
(thanks to the gilly for pics)
June 20, 1963
From the GQ interview with Peter Jackson
Interviewer: It’s lovely to watch the rapport between them all.
Jackson: They’re all good friends and they remain good friends all the way throughout the series. This is before the Allen Klein period, when they start to argue. It’s fantastic to see them still be mates, still composing. I read books that say that in this period John and Paul no longer wrote songs with each other, but that’s not true, as we’ve got many scenes where John and Paul are sitting writing songs. I mean, it’s on film, it’s on camera. So it’s really amazing to see how wrong a lot of these accounts have been. And it’s not because I have special insight or I have secret understanding; it’s just that it’s there on camera. You get overwhelmed by it all.
NOTE: “it’s really amazing to see how wrong a lot of these accounts have been”
The traditional narrative claims that the minute Yoko entered the scene, she replaced Paul as John’s partner (see Jonathan Gould’s Can’t Buy Me Love for a recent example). Not true. And if you don’t believe us, “it’s there on camera.”
In the Breakup Series we continually make the case that John and Paul worked together until the end! Yoko didn’t replace Paul. She was an additional partner for John.
If you haven’t already check out the breakup series, we challenge a lot of the accounts because as Jackson says, “it’s amazing how wrong a lot of these accounts have been.”
I would contend that Yoko did indeed replace Paul as John’s partner, if only for the reason that John’s zero-sum game orientation to relationships and tendency toward enmeshment with significant others, coupled with Yoko’s inherent artistic competitiveness, made it necessary for him to do so.
Hmmm, I must have missed Yoko musically collaborating with John on Don’t Let Me Down, I’ve Got a Feeling, Gimme Some Truth, Come Together, Sun King, the Ballad of John and Yoko. 🙂
Because that was my point, authors tend to ascribe everything John did from 1968 onwards (including White Album songs that were written in India) to Yoko. And that’s problematic because it’s simply not true — there WAS an actual partner named Paul sitting there still writing with John (as Peter Jackson says is evident in the film) and also, denying it erases McCartney’s contributions to Lennon/McCartney and gives Yoko undue credit.
I was always so confused reading Beatles books, thinking that Yoko must have been secretly writing with John in ways that I just didn’t know about — since authors were adamant that John “replaced” Paul with Yoko in 68….but in reality, that’s not the case. John was ACTUALLY still working with Paul until the end of the Beatles, no matter where his emotional loyalties lay.
So don’t think it’s true that Yoko replaced Paul as John’s partner the minute she entered the scene, that’s just Ballad nonsense. George Martin said they were still Lennon/McCartney, even in 1969.
From my perspective, Yoko became A creative partner and his GF /wife in 1968/69 and a co-activist. But she didn’t REPLACE Paul as main musical partner until the Bealtes were done. Paul was still there, putting in the effort doing the work of creating music. John still counted on him and as we discuss in our series, John was not checked out, nor was he disinterested in Paul as a partner — they were still provoking and reacting to each other. In fact, I don’t think John or Paul ever fully disengaged from the Lennon/McCartney partnership and I would argue they never truly broke up—they simply collaborated in a different form for the rest of their lives. If you believe otherwise, then cool, we just have to agree to disagree.
This is different issue — and not the point I was making — but I GET that John wanted to have everything in one person by 1968, and I think that was a conundrum, but the whole situation isn’t simple because Paul wasn’t an option and there was still creative and other chemistry between Lennon & McCartney…always. John didn’t just jump to Yoko, it was a long drawn out process. Suggesting it was a zero sum game and John just chose Yoko gives John all the power and control in the situation and that simply wasn’t the case. He wasn’t Henry VIII trading wives, even though the fandom loves to view him that way. Further, by 1971 John is partners with Yoko but his most passionate songs are about Paul, and he’s writing on his own, so I’m not sure if John ever made that zero sum game choice (in his mind). Although for sure they were a married couple!
I LOVE your podcast!! Not sure if I’m being presumptuous by making a request, but would you ever consider doing an episode about John’s “Paul’s the best PR man” quote and then going into all the ways Paul sucks at PR? (Because you’re so right, he totally does, LOL!)
~ Our Tumblr Asks
When people say that Paul is a “great PR man” I think they really mean one of three things:
1. That Paul TRIES to manage his image, and we can see him trying.
I mean, I absolutely agree with this. But we see him doing it precisely because it’s so ham-fisted and he’s so bad at it.
John, on the other hand, was downright masterful at brand-management. We have a tendency to chalk that up primarily to Yoko, but he was naturally good at it too. John always had massive personal charisma and was a very articulate speaker. He could pontificate eloquently about serious stuff but could also bullshit persuasively on topics he knew very little about. He could’ve easily run for office or started a cult. Not to mention the fact that John pulled the Jedi mind trick of saying “Paul is the best PR man in the world!” and got everyone to mindlessly repeat it for 50 years- this is testament to how good John is!
Paul, by comparison, is a lightweight chump, out there being nice to people, shaking hands, signing autographs and trusting people to write nice stuff about him. AMATEUR HOUR BY COMPARISON.
Paul mentally lives in another era, wherein if you are polite and gracious, the press won’t pry and attack you. But that “gentlemen’s agreement” evaporated long ago. Paul has tried to pushback on the press a few times, but he (predictably) gets pummeled. So he finds himself on a shitty hamster wheel of his own creation, being professional and kind and decent to people as meanwhile a cult of people who like to be edgy hate him for being “fake.” (which of course is every person’s natural, unalienable RIGHT! No one is oppressing you or prohibiting you from hating Paul if this is your desire)
In any case, the whole idea that “trying to manage your image” is somehow unethical or fake is… stupid and childish and not even a serious adult conversation. All celebrities do this and have since the beginning of time. Nowadays non-celebrities do it too (via social media)!
2. That Paul is a huge, fake liar who isn’t who he says he is!
Again, this is kind of a silly argument. Of course we don’t know the “real” Paul. The Real Paul is a flesh-n-blood, powerful man and creative genius who has been in show business for a million years and is therefore rather predictably liked and disliked by many people.
Through the eyes of someone who doesn’t like him, he’s awful. Through the eyes of someone who does, he’s terrific! Of course he is all this shit. John Lennon wasn’t the man he projected into the world either.
Also, this smacks of “Paul is dead” conspiracy nonsense.
3. That everything Paul does or says is meant to make him look good!!!!!
I have some bad news. 😱 All celebrities tailor everything they say to make themselves look good. I know! It’s tough to realize this. But take a moment to let it sink in…. Everyone is the hero of his own story.
We will concede that Paul does sanitize stuff (especially nowadays) to make everyone look good. To criticize him for this in fine (if you somehow feel entitled to know all the dirt about everything), but to pretend it’s purely selfish is disingenuous. He strives to make everyone shine in the best possible light, and everyone fucking knows it.
Sure, Paul benefits if the Beatles as a group have a nice image. But also he just might love those people? And not want to trash them?
In any case, we don’t have an episode planned on this topic, but agree that it would make an interesting one. (It could also make a good episode of One Sweet Dream as Diana is very eloquent on this subject)
TL;DR: some fans find Paul’s brand of PR repugnant and distasteful and that’s fine. Some people find John’s brand of “telling it like it is” insincere and tiresome and that’s fine, too.
As always, fandom is optional and we don’t have to like anyone.
Wait im new to your blog (haven’t listened to your podcast yet, but planning to soon!) so im confused what a “jean jacket” is? (I mean I know what it is in the literal sense, but not personified yknow)
~ Our Tumblr Asks
Well our blog (such as it is) is mostly just an adjunct to our podcast. It isn’t updated frequently, but we do try to (eventually) answer all the mail we get here.
If you’re new to the podcast, you can jump in anywhere! I’d suggest you pick a topic that interests you and dive in. 🙂
If you’re into song analysis and extensive discussion of Mary McCartney, check out our Female Protagonists episode
If you’re into the 66-67 Beatles era and want to know more about Paul McCartney’s creative influence on the band’s psychedelic period, check out our conversation on the documentary Goin’ Underground.
Our very first episode is about the hot topic of leadership and our contention that John and Paul were equal co-leaders of the Beatles.
Last but not least, we have an interview with Chris O’Dell.
“Jean Jacket” is a term coined by me to denote a Beatles traditionalist, someone who clings steadfastly to the original Lennon-Remembers era narrative -despite new information or evidence to the contrary. I explain it in our introductory episode (but maybe we should post a definition somewhere).
Thanks for the ask!
I haven’t really seen it being discussed before, (if it has, my bad! I just haven’t seen it yet) but what songs do you guys think Paul wrote (or just speculated to have written) about his breakup with Jane? I would find it out of character for him to not process it through song in some type of way.
~ Our Tumblr Asks
Thanks for the question! Although this type of speculation can be controversial, it can also be fun. We think Jane was the inspiration of SO MANY of Paul’s Beatles songs! Even though both Jane and Paul are quiet/private about their relationship, it is a bit strange that Jane is never discussed as one of rock’s greatest muses (as opposed to say, Pattie Boyd).
In any case, here are a few that I personally think are either directly or indirectly written about Jane:
And I Love Her
Things We Said Today
Another Girl (what an asshole!)
The Night Before
You Won’t See Me (again, asshole)
I’m Looking Through You
We Can Work it Out
For No One
Can You Take Me Back?
Let it Be
Long and Winding Road
To be honest, most of those are sorta break-up songs (or at least lover’s quarrel songs)!
But I assume your original question is about their final breakup in summer 68. In that event, I would say all Paul’s break-up/sad songs of that era (or just all his songs in general) are potentially about Jane in some way. Of course in this late-Beatles era Paul is also processing the estrangement from John, which he also took very hard/seriously, so this could be (and probably was) factoring into those songs as well.
Maybe Paul’s upcoming Lyrics book will shed light on these? (HAHA, just kidding of course they won’t)
Thanks for the ask!
Happy 80th Birthday to the one and only Ringo Starr!
Happy 81st Birthday to this brilliant, amazing, one-of-a-kind man!
Everyone always talks about John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison in terms of creating this world. It’s important to note that Ringo Starr wasn’t just the guy who came in, did the drums and went home again. Remember, they’re a pop group. What Ringo’s doing with his drums is rooting all this playing around that’s going on in the music in a pop/rock medium. – Howard Goodall, composer
JOHN: Ringo was a star in his own right in Liverpool before we ever met him. Whatever that spark is in Ringo that we all know, but we can’t put our finger on it…
PAUL: I still remember the moment – the first time Ringo played with us – he kicked in, and it was like, “Oh my God!” I remember we were all looking at each other like “This is it!” I’m getting very emotional just talking about it.
GEORGE: Ringo would sit in with us, and every time he sat in, it just seemed like this was it. Historically, it may seem like the three of us did something nasty to Pete Best, and it may have been that we could have done it better, but history also shows Ringo was the member of the band. He just didn’t enter the film until that particular scene.
RINGO: My dream was to get into a better band, and then a better band, and that’s exactly what I did. I’m an only child and I felt like I suddenly had three brothers. We just wanted to play. Playing was the most important thing.
On this day in 1957, Paul impressed John with his amazing guitar skills and rock star charisma at the Woolton Garden Fete!
As John would reflect many years later, “That was the day, the day that I met Paul, that it started moving.”
Painting by artist Eric Cash
Happy Lennon/McCartney Meetup Day! 🙂❤️
Thru the AKOM Lens: Magical Mystery Tour
Learn all about the much-maligned Magical Mystery Tour with Phoebe and Kristen. They discuss the film’s influences, broader cinematic context and lasting cultural impact.
You won’t want to miss this in-depth look into an important but much over-looked milestone in the Beatles oeuvre! (x)
Why do you think John publicly insulted Paul all the way into the late 70’s, even after their reconciliation/lost weekend? I usually interpret anger like that as a reaction to fear and rejection. It’s just sad John went back on his positive statements, like during the lost weekend, and started bashing Paul again.
~ Our Tumblr Asks
Well, in a nutshell: I think as much as John tried to forgive/understand Paul and move forward, I think he resented the way things fell apart between them and never completely got over it. I do think they tried to reconcile many times in the 70s, and tried to express their love for each other (through their music at least) but they probably never had the kind of heart-to-heart they truly needed.
I also believe what Yoko told Philip Norman in 1981- that John was more hurt by Paul than anyone else in his life. I can’t explain what happened between them in 68-69 (wish I could!) but my impression is that John believed Paul didn’t value their relationship and felt like Paul threw them under the bus. Basically I think that original hurt never fully healed and kept resurfacing from time to time due to any number of possible triggers (seeing Paul on TV, talking to him on the phone, tangentially-related abandonment issues, etc) and whenever that happened John would resent Paul and feel justified in saying shitty things to newspapers, etc. A random memory of a hurtful thing could likely make John nasty or snide that day and a fond memory could likely make him wistful and affectionate on another day. This isn’t necessarily inconsistent. I think John always loved Paul and always was hurt by him. It was just a matter of what mood you caught him in.
FWIW, I don’t think it would’ve been impossible for them to heal their relationship, but it would’ve required time and privacy, which I don’t think they ever really got (although obviously we don’t know for sure). I personally suspect it would’ve also required an unequivocal declaration of love (and/or apology) from Paul to heal the original wound. Unfortunately that never came. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest they were planning to reconnect in 1980, but it seems like time ran out.
Sorry this got kind of sad! As always, this is just my opinion.