Thanks for such a well-researched and well-argued series! It still stuns me how defensive and angry people get about Yoko’s claims about John’s feelings for Paul. I wonder: if Paul had died prematurely and Linda publicly claimed that Paul believed everyone was bisexual, “didn’t mind” attractive men, wanted to have sex with men (but never found the right guy) and contemplated an affair with John…. Would people be pushing back this hard? I suspect jean jackets would run amok with that info!Our Tumblr Asks
Well, we agree.
The thing is that no matter how overexposed the Beatles’ lives have been over the years, there is still plenty we don’t know about John and Paul. But we do know that the standard story of their relationship and its fallout contains numerous plot holes. Essentially we are striving to get to the emotional core of their relationship and understand the events that occurred between them. Granted, it’s very hard to be objective about these topics and I think we all end up relying on our perceptions of John & Paul’s individual personas -along with our own particular life experience- to make sense of their behaviors. But when we get down to it, we don’t know these people. Memoirs notwithstanding, the vast majority of authors don’t know them either (Barry Miles being an exception). Still, we rely on books to feed us a comprehensible narrative. Yet once you realize that Beatles biographers can’t really be trusted to be objective and are often working from rehashed information and outdated stereotypes, it gets very difficult to suss out the truth.
If we treat the study of the Beatles’ disintegration with the seriousness we would afford, say, a basic civil lawsuit, it should go without saying that all credible evidence should be considered. We have argued repeatedly that the information provided by Yoko in the past 15 years (regarding John’s sexuality and feelings for Paul) is important and should inform the way we interpret the events of the break-up (and HDYS, for example). This is as close to a “break in the case” as we have gotten in 50 years and yet the mainstream authorship (and most of the fandom by default) is still unwilling to redress and reassess the Old Story or reconsider things we’ve collectively taken for granted for 50 years. Not to sound whiny, but it is very frustrating to hit this wall over and over and over again.
We understand that reconsidering new evidence is challenging and that people can be extremely resistant to abandoning ideas they cherish or have an emotional attachment to. We at AKOM certainly aren’t immune to having strong emotions about the Beatles, which is why we are constantly checking ourselves (and each other) and why we mandate that we consider every voice in the Beatles/McCartney/Lennon universe, not just the ones we like. Furthermore, we believe it is never wise to hold too tightly to any particular theory and important to remain receptive to new information as it comes to light.
We also believe the glut of wishful thinking demonstrated by everyone in Beatles world (fandom, authorship) is harmful to discourse.
But in terms of Yoko’s comments, let’s just pressure-test it for a moment. What exactly is unbelievable about it?
Is it plausible that John was bisexual? Yes.
Is it plausible he never fully acted upon his sexual attraction to men? Yes.
Is it plausible that he never acted upon it because he had an ideal version of a boyfriend/partner, one that was not just attractive but “mentally advanced?” Yes.
Is it plausible that John contemplated an affair with Paul? Yes.
Is it plausible that there was “something there, from John’s side, not Paul’s,” either in Yoko’s perception or John’s perception or reality? Yes, yes and yes.
Is it plausible that this is what John is “so angry” about? Yes.
We can’t “prove” these claims provided by Yoko, but we have no cause to dismiss them. So we should pursue them.
What would Yoko gain from revealing this info? Nothing. It does her no favors to suggest John had deep, sexual and/or potentially romantic feelings for Paul.
Did she regret letting the cat out of the bag? Perhaps, as she tried to scare Norman with a team of lawyers (but ultimately had no legal grounds to recant).
Is it consistent with how Yoko behaved toward Paul since 1968? Yes, she became suspicious about John & Paul two weeks after she and John started dating and we have evidence she worked to keep them apart on several occasions throughout the 70s (and eavesdropped on at least one phone call).
Does this information make sense of John’s confounding behavior towards Paul? Potentially, yes. This is what we’re exploring in our series.
We never want to oversimplify things. We’re not suggesting that John’s behavior was motivated solely by romantic rejection or that John didn’t have mixed feelings for Paul (evidence shows he very much did, at least post break-up). We just think that maybe a part of John fell for Paul and hated himself for it – not just for homophobic reasons, but for competitive reasons too – and that he ultimately took that anger and embarrassment out on Paul.
Feeling rejected is rough for everyone, but John’s sense of self was so closely tied to Paul’s validation and love. We suspect the notion that John cared more or wanted more would be something that would eat away at him for a long, long time (regardless of critical acclaim or being awarded the Coolest Guy in Rock trophy). Perhaps years. Perhaps always. And perhaps it would make him forever bitter about Paul in a way that cannot be explained by Paul’s “bossiness” or “granny music.”
Anyway, this got ridiculously long but thank you for the ask! And thank you for listening. 🙂
-The AKOM crew
For the record, we always welcome different POVs, ideas and constructive criticism. We do not respond to trolls. 🙂