Wash your hands and keep social distancing!
Another Kind of Mind will be back soon with a new episode to help you through the quarantine!
Wash your hands and keep social distancing!
Another Kind of Mind will be back soon with a new episode to help you through the quarantine!
Hello! Allow us to elaborate. Firstly, the name isn’t an indictment on denim. 🙂
Jean Jackets refers more to a specific mentality, really. The type that believes the Beatles were “John’s band,” and that John was always both right and righteous. They romanticize John’s childhood and struggles with mental illness as qualities that make him “deep” and earn him a free pass for the worst of his behavior. Because they see John as a savior, they tend to characterize his bullying and vitriol as a righteous man doling out justice. Therefore they consider it unfair to discuss how John’s behavior was damaging to others and would prefer to find fault with his targets and normalize all of it (usually at the expense of McCartney). To them, John was perfect in his “imperfection” and the idea that subsequent generations might have a different, more complex and less reverential take upsets them. Jean Jackets essentially believe that their personal experience is empirical reality, making “outside” perspectives irrelevant and unwelcome. They are deeply invested in hierarchy and maintaining Lennon’s perceived supremacy within the band.
These are the people who have dominated 99% of all Beatles discourse, authorship, etc for the past 50 years (Rolling Stone is a great example). They are fiercely protective of this privilege and hostile towards anyone who challenges the traditional narratives (i.e. invades their turf). In my experience, their love of Lennon is sincere.
While the term “Jean Jackets” evokes a SWM baby boomer with a ponytail in denim outerwear, the Jean Jacket mentality can transcend age, sex or race. So this isn’t specifically against boomers, or men as a whole or even people who believe the traditional narrative. It’s about people who fiercely cling to and perpetuate the traditional narrative, even when confronted with new ideas, evidence or insight that might shed a different light on the story. Don’t be a Jean Jacket!
Again, we aren’t trying to demonize a fabric. 🙂 All the Beatles could look cute in said clothing:
From the John&Yoko ask- “It is certainly common to look back with fondness on one’s own courtship and also possible to fall in love before you realize you are in love (John described experiencing something similar in 1964)” Couldn’t find this earlier quote from him, do you mind sharing it? (Thanks for the great podcast and sharing your knowledge!)Our Tumblr Asks
Sorry about that, listener! I was referring to this comment from John about writing the song If I Fell. He described the lyrics as “semi-autobiographical, but not that conscious.”
So not exactly the same but similar to realizing in hindsight that he was falling for Yoko, unconsciously.
this isn’t related to a specific episode but I’m confused about the beginning of John & Yoko’s relationship. I’ve heard so many different things about when/how it started- from she was stalking him to meeting at a gallery to Paul’s manuscripts (or pictures of Paul’s butt?!) to they were sleeping together two weeks after meeting- also varying dates on the 2 Virgins night (before or after NYC?) And was he really pining after her in India? Did he try to bring her? I trust you guys- what’s the deal?Our Tumblr Asks
Hello listener, thanks for the ask!
Regarding John & Yoko’s origins: some stories are inconsistent, and some things are unknowable (i.e. internal emotions), but we’ll do our best to lay out what we do know.
Yoko approached Paul first, through a contact (probably Dunbar) related to Indica Bookshop and Gallery. Since Paul was a patron, supporter and friend of Indica and was somewhat known within the art community as a rich celebrity with a growing interest in the avant-garde (music, films and art) he was an obvious choice for an artist seeking funding/exposure. Yoko was an avant-garde artist (performance, gallery and film) whose biggest claim to fame at that point was working with John Cage. This was the credential/name drop with which she approached Paul at his house in Cavendish sometime in late 1965. Paul (being Paul) invited her inside to make her pitch: she was collecting manuscripts from various composers as a birthday gift to Cage. Paul declined. (For the record, Paul has never suggested or intimated that Yoko came onto him at that first meeting, so let’s assume she didn’t and this was strictly business) The following year, in November of 1966, Indica hosted an exhibition of Yoko’s work. This is where John Lennon first met Yoko, when he was introduced to her by Indica co-owner John Dunbar.
This was Yoko’s initiation into the Beatles’ world and it should ALWAYS be told like this, FULL STOP, END OF STORY. Anyone in 2020 who tells the story any other way is a bald-faced liar and a coward.
Does this sound like an overreaction? Is Paul’s part in this story really SUCH a big deal? Let’s reverse things and imagine….
In 1965, John Lennon develops a keen interest in photography. He immerses himself in the photography world, creates a dark room in his house and brings his photo influences into the Beatles’ artwork. John also finances and helps launch a photography gallery in Weybridge.
One day, photographer Linda Eastman shows up at Kenwood to show John her portfolio and ask for one of John’s original photographs. John declines. Paul later meets Linda at her exhibition at Weybridge Gallery. 18 months later, Paul starts dating her, calls her his new partner, declares her the greatest influence in his life, and brings her to every Beatles session. Paul and Linda have a joint photography exhibit at the Weybridge Gallery in 1968, hosted by one of John’s closest friends and mentors.
Paul then loudly and repeatedly proclaims that he was the only Beatle ever interested in photography, he’s responsible for all the visual art in the Beatles oeuvre and implies that John couldn’t stimulate him anymore because he was too square and conservative to understand or appreciate photography.
Be honest and try to imagine that. No one would EVER let Paul and Linda get away with that level of bullshit, but for some reason, Jean Jackets are slavishly obedient to whatever John and Yoko say, regardless of facts.
So anyway, back to those facts…
After the meeting in November 1966, Yoko began to pursue John Lennon at his home, the studio and even Brian’s office. She constantly asked for funding and money, but was probably seeking publicity as well. There are rumors that she was also pursuing John sexually, but to our best knowledge they are unsubstantiated. In 1967, Yoko was REALLY trying hard to get her career off the ground and/or get famous; there are numerous accounts from multiple people in the Beatles circle (Hunter Davies, Michael Lindsay Hogg, Robert Fraser, Barry Miles) that Yoko was hustling nonstop at that time. So while Lennon was her main target, our impression is that she was probably just trying to make inroads with anyone who could help her become famous. Accounts consistently suggest that John intermittently found her intriguing (when he didn’t find her scary or annoying), so I imagine she kept soliciting him because that’s where she made the most progress. Anyway, her stalking is a matter of fact, corroborated by EVERYONE. Also corroborated by everyone is the fact that John began to sometimes talk to her and occasionally let her inside (the same way the Beatles treated other Apple Scruffs), starting in/around late 1967.
Tony Bramwell tells a very bizarre story about John being panicked one day in late ‘67, regretful and paranoid after giving Yoko a hand-written letter and a lock of his hair (?). A frightened John asked Tony to retrieve the items from Yoko. Considering the fact that John believed (until his death) that Yoko had magical powers, it sounds as if John asked her to make some sort of voodoo/love potion. Perhaps their early friendship began as sorceress/client (but who knows? That’s just a guess).
We know that John continued to receive tons of mail from Yoko while he was on retreat in India. According to John, he eventually began to really look forward to receiving these items. Yoko would send bizarre, artsy stuff like a maxipad with a drop of red paint in the middle. Who wouldn’t enjoy weird mail like that? 🙂 According to John (in both 1970 AND 1980), he still only thought of Yoko as a weird artist by that point. He insists he was NOT interested in her sexually or romantically, only intellectually, and there is nothing to suggest that he was lying about that. More importantly, John was having some kind of emotional breakdown in India; he wrote and talked about feeling suicidal in Maharishi’s camp. John never specified the exact cause of his breakdown, although he did later pinpoint ongoing feelings of self-hatred and worthlessness.
After returning from India, John was highly emotional, erratic, depressed, and abusing drugs and alcohol at an alarming rate. Derek Taylor recounts John taking some acid trips at his house over two weekends. During one of these weekends, John’s now-friend Yoko (who he still insists he wasn’t sexually interested in) showed up and helped “rebuild John’s ego.” In other words, Yoko threw John a life raft and helped pull him out of the darkest, bleakest depression of his life.
Then in May, after months of erratic behavior, John declared he was Jesus in an Apple board meeting (!). The following night, with Cynthia away for the weekend, John invited Yoko over (or had Mal invite her) and the two of them dropped acid, made some tapes and had sex for the first time. As far as we can tell, this information is accurate as it is corroborated by Pete Shotten (who was making the tapes with John before Yoko came over and replaced him!). Pete said in the morning John came downstairs and shocked Pete by saying Yoko was the answer to all his problems and he was so certain he’d go off and live in a tent with her. That sounds shocking until you realize John was on acid at the time (in that light, not quite as shocking). 🙂 In any event, after that point John and Yoko became basically inseparable for the next 5 years.
There are rumors/theories that John and Yoko were already having sex for months, but so as far as we can tell these are based on nothing but speculation. We believe John’s initial interest in Yoko was intellectual and personal rather than sexual, as he contends. We think John slowly warmed to Yoko over that 18 month period; while initially he might’ve found her annoying, frightening and disturbing, eventually he began to find her quirky, intriguing and charming. We believe their relationship was founded in friendship and that Yoko’s emotional support (and her professed admiration for him as an artist) during that acid trip at Derek’s was vitally important to their bond.
Now, here’s where things get murky.
John was also later quoted as saying that in retrospect he realized he was unconsciously falling in love with her from afar whilst in India – which may or may not have been the case. It is certainly common to look back with fondness on one’s own courtship and also possible to fall in love before you realize you are in love (John described experiencing something similar in 1964) so debating this is kinda pointless and we choose not to nitpick this particular point. However, people have since used this to extrapolate that John was, as you put it, “pining for Yoko in India” which is simply not what John described. John described gradually looking forward to her wacky mail and developing a strictly platonic curiosity about her. If you are highly invested in the John & Yoko love story, it’s easy to spin this into secret “pining,” but when you consider that John was, as he put it, suicidal and going insane, it doesn’t quite make sense. What makes even less sense is why John wouldn’t immediately ask Yoko out upon returning to London in early April, especially since she was aggressively pursuing him at that point. Yoko was present for at least one of the Derek Taylor acid trips in May. Why did John wait an entire month to initiate a private moment with her?
John also said (in Lennon Remembers, I believe) that he privately considered “bringing” Yoko to India (though not as a love interest, but rather in her contemporaneous role as amusing curiosity, i.e. Magic Alex 2.0). Once again, this may or may not be true, but we have no reason to doubt him. Nevertheless, this has also been spun fannishly into “John was pining for Yoko as a girlfriend” which (again) isn’t what he said. 🙂
To be perfectly candid, John & Yoko’s public persona is almost entirely artificially crafted. THIS is corroborated (and detailed) by nearly everyone close to them- May Pang, Ray Connolly, the Dakota staff, etc. That doesn’t mean their love was fake, just that their relationship was much different from how they portrayed/sold it (or how fanboys like Lewisohn portray it). At the end of the day, they are just celebrities who we don’t actually know. We want things to make sense, which is why I think the “John was secretly pining for Yoko for years and his mind was obliterated by love” appeals to some people. It’s a cleaner, more familiar boy-meets-girl story.
Rumors and conspiracy theories are plentiful and can lead you down all kinds of rabbit holes (fun or infuriating, depending on your POV). The “John & Yoko were secret lovers” one makes things a bit sleazier and sexier (I believe Albert Goldman really leaned into this one!). But if you really want to consider everything, you should also consider this: Yoko’s Tarot card reader John Green insists that Yoko claims Paul was the one she wanted all along.
She told him: Paul was her first choice (as boyfriend), which is why she approached him first. She moved on to John only to make Paul jealous (!), which ultimately backfired when Paul then refused to make advances on John’s new girlfriend. According to Yoko, Paul’s sense of propriety (?!) ironically prevented him from being with Yoko (even though Yoko KNEW Paul was always in love with her)! So Yoko inadvertently got stuck with John, who she didn’t really want. Also she was convinced, in the late 70s that Paul was still in love with her and only married Linda because he was devastated he couldn’t have Yoko!
Green swears this is what Yoko told him (for the record, she also thought Mick Jagger was in love with her). Do we believe Yoko said it, that she believed it? Who knows, maybe?!? Green’s credibility is certainly questionable. But it’s no crazier than much of the nonsense in Goldman’s book (or Francie Schwartz’s), and Green is alleging to quote Yoko directly. Parts of this account do ring oddly true; Yoko does seems interested in Paul in the contemporaneous audio/footage from the late 60s. John did ask Paul not to sleep with Yoko (which Paul seemed a bit nonplussed by). John and Yoko are bizarrely convinced in the early 70s that Paul and Linda’s marriage is doomed (is it because Yoko convinced John that Paul is actually in love with her???). Many believe Yoko was jealous of John’s affection for Paul; could Yoko also be jealous of Paul’s affection and respect for John? Maybe. But this story blatantly contradicts the entire John & Yoko Myth and is so over the top weird… there’s just no room in our understanding for this alternate reality where Paul and Yoko are the true star-crossed lovers 🙂
The point is that you can’t believe ALL the theories and rumors because they often directly contradict each other. Sometimes you just have to use your own best judgment.
We hope this was helpful and that we didn’t just confuse you further.
Thanks again for writing in!
-Phoebe and the crew
Thank you so much to our lovely listeners for being so supportive, and for leaving us all those positive reviews on iTunes!
Can you help resolve this discrepancy in my mind? In the podcast 2B, you can hear Paul say, “I’d rather do it (write) myself” and he was handing out his music to the other 3, like their marching orders. Then we see Linda said later, “Paul was DESPERATE to write with John again!”? Which way was it? It surely can’t be both, can it?Our Tumblr Asks
Thank you for this very interesting question!
I think there are probably several issues at play here but the most relevant is how they defined writing together. We know that Paul and John didn’t really need each other to write songs, and as they progressed they wrote nose-to-nose less often, however occasionally they did (i.e. notably, during Sgt. Pepper, on songs such as A Day In The Life, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, A Little Help from My Friends, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite).
But even though they weren’t always co-writing songs they remained “writing” collaborators — in that they were each other’s editors, sounding boards, co-writers, second opinions, producers and overall contributors to each other’s work. They were also emotionally invested in their joint output. I suspect this is what Linda was referring to when she made this comment.
Regarding the quote “I’d rather do it myself”: Paul made this comment specifically about the challenging nature of having to collaborate with John while Yoko was sitting next to him. He even clarified that it wasn’t anything Yoko was saying or doing per se; rather it was the impact of her presence on his own thinking that made things difficult – because it made HIM feel self-conscious and judged. And being self-conscious, while trying to be creative is the kiss of death! So he backed off.
Perhaps Paul (understandably) took John’s need to have her there, next to him every day, as an indication that John wasn’t interested in collaborating with him anymore. And there IS something very odd about what John was doing — by putting his creative partner (Paul) in a situation where he was not able to perform well. What exactly WAS John doing? What was he trying to achieve? We flagged this behavior in one of our episodes because we think it deserves more analysis and exploration. Traditionally, writers have lacked any interest or insight about this behavior, assuming it was simply reflective of John’s obsession with Yoko and lack of interest in Paul. But I think it could be read as either passive-aggressive behavior — intended to hurt Paul (perhaps in the way that John felt?) or a reflection of just how fragile John felt at that time, i.e. he needed an emotional support blanket/advocate (Yoko) beside him at all times.
John made the point, years later, that Paul just seemed to WANT to do things on his own at this time. John’s apparent lack of awareness of how much his own actions may have affected Paul was perhaps a reflection of John’s own insecurity and lack of sensitivity to the situation he was putting Paul in -most likely because he was too focused on his own feelings to notice anyone else’s. (In fact, I think this is an issue that all the Beatles had at this time: They all started taking things too personally and stopped being able to recognize each others’ palpable hurt and pain).
I WISH John could have seen that Paul always wanted to work with him; and that it was only when given the choice of having to write with John WITH YOKO BY HIS SIDE that Paul chose to write on his own (for the most part, they did continue to collaborate throughout ‘69).
Also, I can imagine that Paul’s actions might have ALSO stemmed from a sense of wounded pride: i.e. if you don’t want to work with me anymore, then fine, I will do it on my own. And he could. And he did. Perhaps this is what was worrisome to John? That Paul didn’t seem to NEED him? Maybe John wanted him to say, I need you, but Paul had an ego too and wasn’t about to do that.
Nevertheless, Paul seems to have always WANTED to work together if the original premise of Lennon/McCartney was available to him. He never seems to have wanted their partnership to end (until the breakup/Klein). In fact, John and Paul were apparently still working together while in India, so whatever happened was likely something interpersonal, not creative (as is often claimed).
But back to your question. Linda’s comment about Paul being desperate to work with John again came from an interview in the 80s. But it is unlikely that he was “desperate” for inspiration as Paul never seemed to lack inspiration, productivity or innovativeness (to put it mildly). Linda makes the point, in that same conversation, that if John had had writer’s block Paul could have helped him! I think Paul was desperate to write with John again simply because he loved their partnership. He knew their chemistry was so good that they could create magic together. And if John needed inspiration, he knew he could give it and he wanted to give it.
As for your point. “he was handing out his music to the other 3, like their marching orders”—well I have no idea where this is from, but it certainly isn’t supported in any evidence I have seen (except by authors with agendas and no evidence). All three Beatles were bringing in songs to work on during the LIB/Abbey Road period, during which Paul was very collaborative and supportive. You can listen to the LIB tapes – there were no “marching orders.” While he might have had a point of view of how he wanted his songs to sound, so did John and so did George. I would encourage you to listen to the tapes yourself if you doubt us!
But to summarize, I don’t think there is a dissonance in Paul’s actions. Paul always seems to have treasured his partnership with John and didn’t want to end it, but when John made it difficult for them to work together in the late 60s, Paul acted somewhat reasonably by backing off and writing on his own. When John needed help in the late 70s, Paul was eager to work with him again. Not out of need, out of desire.
-Diana and AKOM
I have just started listening to your podcasts-3 of them and just finished 1A and 1B. Love the dry sense of humor and insights given! I know you can’t know everything but do you have ANY ideas or postulations about what was said in India? The immense hurt John felt and the palpable break between Paul & John was just plain weird!! I agree that John was probably high-maintenance and sometimes just plain mentally ill. He was so fortunate that he had Paul for as long as he did to nurture him!Our Tumblr Asks
Boy, do we wish we knew what happened in Rishikesh! We’ve speculated privately about numerous scenarios, but at the end of the day all of it is mere guesswork.
It’s always dicey to delve into John’s psychology, but judging from his songs, in the window between Paul’s engagement and the trip to Rishikesh, John was very anxious about drastic impending life changes (Across the Universe); anxiously urging someone to communicate with him (Hey Bulldog); hopeful/relieved about a peaceful holiday that will allow him to embrace his nature (Child of Nature). Even though Yoko is aggressively pursuing him and he is rejecting Cynthia, John is “so lonely he wants to die” (Yer Blues) and John is obsessed and frustrated at having his concerns/issues repeatedly dismissed by a particular loved one (I’m So Tired).
We could speculate forever, but all we really know is this: John adored, respected and relied upon Paul prior to India, and after India was abruptly hostile, weird, aloof, super-critical, confrontational and provocative towards him. No one in history has yet been able to adequately explain this transformation.
I hope you won’t think of me of rude, but to me Lennon has always been a snake; he would never say the same thing and would often trash people and I hate it. He would openly make fun of poor Brian for being Jew and homosexual; he said nasty things during the screening of the movie Victim, a gay movie; he would call people ” faggot ” and other nasty names yet tries to cover it up by saying that ” gays are beautiful “…. Let’s not forget it please!Our Tumblr Asks
Hello listener, thanks for writing in. We’re going to assume you are not a troll, and are voicing some real concerns.
First of all, it’s obviously your prerogative to dislike John. Fandom is always 100% voluntary. Second, if certain behaviors are deal-breakers for you as a fan, that is also completely OK and I would never argue that you MUST forgive anyone. You can draw the line at whatever you want for any reason and never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Having said that, if you would like to love John and are having a hard time reconciling some of his past behavior, we’re happy to offer a few counterpoints.
To start, and this is less a defense of John’s behavior and more of a different perspective: all the Beatles have said and done stupid things and used inappropriate language in their lifetimes and if you really wanted to you could find problematic and cringeworthy comments/actions from all of them. The Beatles were born in 1940’s Liverpool, in an atmosphere of normalized racism, homophobia and misogyny. Unfortunately John died a full 40 years ago, when culture was very, very different and his legacy therefore includes some things that from a distance could appear shocking. Part of the reason why Paul’s or Ringo’s missteps, for example, are less bothersome is because they have lived long enough to grow, evolve, acknowledge and even apologize for some of their entitled attitudes and language. We absolutely believe if John were alive today, he would do the same. As a matter of fact, John actually did apologize for some of his language, behavior and old fashioned attitudes in the 70s. This is not to say he was perfect by 1980, or ever. He was a work in progress, just as we ALL are. Considering the world they were born into, the Beatles did a pretty good job of being decent people. Not a perfect job, but a pretty good one and we believe that all four were/are genuinely egalitarian at heart and all of them strived to be good people (to varying degrees of success).
This is a different argument from “Well, it was a different time so it was OK back then.” The point is not that racism, homophobia, sexism, ableism, anti-semitism, etc is or ever was OK. The point is that awareness was different at various times in history and context is an important factor. Likewise, the fact that John was suffering from internalized homophobia doesn’t make his homophobic comments “OK,” but it does help contextualize them. And to his credit, he did a lot of self-examination on the subject and tried to make up for it later.
In general, we believe John wanted to improve and strived to become a better person. Like all of us, he often failed. The difference is that John’s failures were big and public and unfortunately some of them had lasting damage on others, most specifically Paul, Cynthia, May and Julian.
The bigger issue for us is when die-hard John Lennon defenders (Jean Jackets, as we call them) refuse to examine or criticize John’s behavior. No one can seriously deny that John was a mixed bag; he undoubtedly had moments of greatness, but he also had moments of weakness and could behave in ways that displayed massive insecurity, cruelty and vindictiveness. The dark side of John was obsessive, jealous and petty and John’s behavior towards Paul post-breakup falls into this category. John said a lot of sweet, loving things about Paul over the years, but he said a lot of catty, childish and just plain nasty things too. To say these things to friends is one thing; to say them to newspapers where they will be printed and memorialized forever is either wildly irresponsible or downright malicious. We HATE that this behavior has been normalized (and even applauded!) over the years. It is only a garbage culture that values washing your dirty laundry in public over respecting your own family (yes, we consider the Beatles a family). So it troubles us when people fail to label John’s behavior towards Paul as such. It’s dishonest, deeply insensitive and massively insulting.
Still, we think it’s possible and permissible to love John despite his weaknesses. What’s not ok is to label his nastiness as being “cool” or “powerful” or “tough” and to champion this type of behavior. Venture outside of tumblr into the netherworld of Old School Beatles Fandom and you would be shocked how many people ADORE John the Bully. It’s truly depressing.
We at AKOM typically take up the mantle defending and advocating for Paul which, because Beatles fandom is so often divided into Lennon v. McCartney, can come across to some as being “anti-John.” But we are not at all “anti-John,” we are simply intolerant of the worst of John’s behavior. (Reasonably so, we believe) Furthermore, we see zealous John advocates everywhere – in nearly every Beatles book, on nearly every podcast and fansite. We definitely think he is sufficiently revered. On the other hand, we feel that Paul needs better advocates; people who can focus on him and his gifts and his strengths too.
Fortunately, we do feel like the culture is changing, and it is now much safer to discuss subjects like these frankly. Thank you for the ask and we hope we helped a bit.
Love the podcast guys. Pure speculation, but I was wondering if you thought there was any connection between JohnandYoko’s initial decision to get married in Paris and the fact that Paul and John had a trip there in their youth, that maybe John was trying to send a slightly antagonistic message.Our Tumblr Asks
Hmm… it’s certainly possible, but we doubt it.
We know that John took Cynthia to Paris in 1964 (as a sort of late honeymoon?) and Paul took a weekend trip there with Robert Fraser in early ‘66. The Beatles played Paris in ‘64 and ‘65. Plus John and Paul met up for a long weekend in Paris in late ‘66 (with Maggie McGivern and Brian and maybe Neil?). So they had both been back to Paris, separately and together, since ‘61.
In other words, John probably just loved Paris; it’s certainly not an unusual place to Honeymoon! If he had chosen, say, Caversham 😇 then yes, I would think that was a transparent “Fuck You” to Paul. But Paris? That’s a harder case to make.
Thanks for writing in!
-Phoebe and the AKOM crew
Happy Anniversary to an Epic Couple.
Anonymous asked: I love the fact that your not part of the McLennon fandom!Our Tumblr Asks
Hello Anon, thanks for writing!
We are most definitely not part of the McLennon fandom. As we recently stated to another listener: we are conducting a sincere, reality-based exploration of John and Paul’s creative and personal relationship and trying to determine what caused/provoked their break-up and its ensuing fallout.
We believe that John and Paul had a deep, intimate relationship that was complicated and often confusing, but so far we’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that John and Paul were lovers in the biblical sense.
If evidence suddenly emerges that John and Paul were sex partners throughout the 60s, we would say “good for them” and happily support them. Until then, we have absolutely no basis to think this was the case.
Our research suggests it is MUCH more likely that there was a combustible undercurrent of emotion and attraction between Paul and John, always. These feelings most likely fueled their creativity at the best of times and made them hostile and bitter towards each other at the worst of times. How conscious of this attraction either of them were at the time (or after their breakup) is hard to gauge, and it’s only by painstakingly compiling and contextualizing their comments on the subject AND their behavior that we can even get an approximate idea of how they processed it.
Our take is simply our take but it is based on facts, historical context, common sense and empathy. We encourage our listeners to likewise follow the evidence rather than fall into the trap of speculation, fantasy or rumor mongering.
We also passionately and officially object to anyone who mocks Paul for being effeminate and implies or states that he is too pretty/sensitive/loving to be heterosexual. This is deeply homophobic and extremely problematic (not to mention nonsensical!) and we really, really wish it would stop.
Having said all that, we respect the right of fans to enjoy the Beatles in whatever way they choose, so long as no one spreads misinformation, lies or rumors.
George isn’t even my favourite but the fact that he wrote “False” under the title of Norman’s bio of the group made him win a lot of points in my book… And yet not many people know about George’s dismissal of it…Our Tumblr Asks
It’s hard to believe (especially to those of us too young to remember or experience it), but “Shout” was the definitive biography of the Beatles until it was dethroned by “Tune In.” This narrative dominated for almost 30 years, despite having an absurd premise (John was ¾ of the Beatles) and the fact that NONE of the Beatles were actually interviewed for it (!!!) and apparently all hated it.
This is important to remember when we get agitated about Lewisohn. His version will not last forever. Things WILL eventually evolve. Beatles Historiography is still extremely homogeneous, but as the landscape becomes more diverse and a wider range of individuals bring different backgrounds, brains, experiences, outlooks and voices to this authorship, things will change.
Thanks for writing!
What do you think about the upcoming Let it be movie and the accusations (made by people who believe in the jean jackets’ version of Beatles history) that Paul is trying to rewrite history by showing that those sessions weren’t always miserable? I mean, Ringo has agreed to the project and anyway Peter Jackson will be the one to choose the footage to include in the film
And another thing… John, George and Ringo asked Michael Lindsay-Hogg to cut any scene that showed them in a negative light from the original Let it be movie, whereas Paul didn’t… So why is this not considered ‘rewriting history’?Our Tumblr Asks
Well, the sessions weren’t always miserable, as the footage will show.
I mean, to some extent I agree that focusing only on the positive will obscure the real story underneath (i.e. the band breaking up for interpersonal reasons). But I also suspect that the people who will benefit MOST from this new edit are John & Yoko. I’m almost certain the new film will not address A) the fight between John and George that led to George’s departure or B) the unanimous disapproval of Yoko’s intrusive presence. I anticipate multiple shots of Yoko giggling and looking cute and lots of footage of John & Yoko canoodling for the cameras.
The official story of the Beatles break-up that has been mutually agreed upon and cemented over the past couple of decades is this: John left the Beatles because he fell madly in love with a fabulously artistic woman and it became all he could think about. Paul was sad but had no choice when John left the group. John and Yoko went on to do great things with peace and live happily ever after, THE END. This story is the simplest, happiest, most palatable and most marketable. Most people, even amongst “hardcore” Beatle fans, believe it without question. It is the lowest common denominator of narratives. I would be absolutely shocked if Jackson’s film strayed from this view.
The irony is that this narrative does not flatter Paul at all, in fact it deeply undermines him as an artist and a person, to a degree that is absolutely infuriating. However, given the realities of the tragic demise of the Beatles and Lennon/McCartney, coupled with John Lennon’s erratic/turbulent mental state throughout the 1970s, it is understandable that Paul wants to focus on the positive. Not just for his sake, or for the sake of the Beatles, but for John’s too.
As to the Jean Jackets, Paul will simply never win with them.
-Phoebe and the Crew
Can’t wait for the next ep guys!! Thank you so much!!Our Tumblr Asks
Thank you, Anon! We love these words of encouragement.
I just listened to your introductory episode and man that was cathartic. I am really excited to hear more of what you have to say.Our Tumblr Asks
Thank you, dear listener! We hope you enjoy it and stay with us.
I’d love for you guys to have Mark Lewisohn on your show just to grill him. As someone who’s experienced workplace bullying and sexual assault, that he would go so far as to paint Klein as “heroic” when he said things like “reluctant virgin” is just so devastating to me. It makes me feel ill. I do NOT want this man to have a say in Beatles history. I love the Beatles. I don’t want that tainted by people who will paint over abuse just to feed their own self importance.Our Tumblr Asks
We vehemently agree, Listener! Thank you for writing in.
Our list of grievances with Mark Lewisohn is long, but in a nutshell we believe his intent is to publicly “redeem” John Lennon and we have seen copious evidence that he will go to whatever lengths he has to in order to do this.
That includes, but is not limited to:
This isn’t even to mention Tune In, which could be a whole separate post and episode. Suffice it to say, this book often reads less like a Beatles biography and more like John Lennon Fanfiction to us.
Lewisohn managed to distinguish himself by doing (some) research and unearthing some original documents. That he had some skill in research is not surprising given that he started his career in Beatledom as a researcher for Norman, on his book Shout — which Lewisohn still contends is a good book. Norman, on the other hand has evolved his opinion of his own work and thinks Shout was flawed, so has written a whole biography on Paul to make up for what he sees as the failure of Shout, which is his underestimation of Paul. Unfortunately, Lewisohn does not seem to have made this same journey. He pays lip service to John and Paul being equal, and then spends all of his time and energy trying to prove otherwise. Norman says that he has created a monster in Lewisohn. We take his point.
One of our biggest issues with Lewisohn is that he vigorously promotes himself as an unbiased truth teller, and his calm manner seems to telegraph this. But it is not true. The research that Lewisohn does and the spin that he applies to his findings are all heavily biased. As we mentioned in one of our episodes, he travelled to Gibraltar simply to experience where John and Yoko got married. Yet when Paul calls the May 9th meeting over management the metaphorical cracking of the Liberty Bell, Lewisohn doesn’t even bother to Google it so he can understand the metaphor.
What he chooses to research is also a form of bias. For example, we at AKOM are very interested in Paul’s relationship with Robert Fraser during the Beatle years — since Paul has commented that Fraser was one of the most important, influential people in his life. Paul McCartney was the concept artist behind Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Magical Mystery Tour film, the iconic Apple logo, and he co-designed the covers of the White Album and Abbey Road. All of these are pretty defining moments in the Beatles’ career. As Beatles fans, we’d like to know more about Paul’s art education and influences. But we would be shocked if Lewisohn dug into Fraser at all beyond his relationship as John and Yoko’s gallerist/curator (and heroin dealer, but since that isn’t a thing in Lewisohn’s world then maybe he will be ignored).
We think Lewisohn benefits massively from the fact that Beatles authorship was like the Wild West since its inception, when everyone with a connection to the Beatles (plus or minus a personal axe to grind) wrote a book about their experience. It was absolute chaos, with no rules, no checks and balances, uncredited sources, etc. Just an absolute shit show. What Lewisohn did was bring some order to the chaos with some proper documentation. But again, what he chooses to dig into often reflects bias. And this certainly does not mean that he is intellectually or emotionally equipped to interpret his findings. Doing this takes social intelligence and insight, which is a very different skill. As a creator of myths, he is no better (and no more insightful or original) than many of the others who came before him; he worships John Lennon and freely admits it. He is not even close to being unbiased. But in this dumpster fire of a fandom he has at least checked some boxes and done some digging. The fact is, the bar has been so low for so long that Beatles fans don’t even know how to expect or want better. But WE certainly expect better. We expect some breakthrough, fresh thinking. Not just Shout with Receipts.
We think it’s significant that Lewisohn was deeply disliked by George Harrison, who lobbied to get him kicked him off the Anthology project. He was fired from Paul’s fan club magazine, and yet no one seems to think he might hold a grudge about that, too? Lewisohn so distorted John and Paul’s relationship in Tune In that he believes he is the target of the lyrics in Paul’s song “Early Days.“ And he either thinks that’s flattering or funny, because Lewisohn seems to truly believe he knows John Lennon better than Paul McCartney does. We find it almost tragic that Paul is so bothered by the way his experience and relationship is being portrayed by authors (perhaps Lewisohn) that he wrote a song about it. In it, he conveys his frustration and heartache about how everything is misconstrued and we find it absolutely outrageous that Lewisohn would not take this to heart. Perhaps Lewisohn thinks Paul should listen to him for a change? And if he doesn’t like it, then tough, because Lewisohn knows better? We think Lewisohn should do some serious soul-searching about “Early Days” because if one of his main subjects is saying, “you are getting it wrong and it is breaking my heart”….maybe, just maybe, he should listen and rethink things. Maybe apply a little creativity, out-of-the-box thinking and empathy. This is what his heroes did.
Meanwhile, Jean Jackets are SO BUSY complaining that Paul McCartney doesn’t like Lewisohn because he “tells the truth!” that they fail to notice that Lewisohn has become a mouthpiece for Yoko Ono. He has already started white-washing John Lennon’s history, promoting John and Yoko as the true and only geniuses versus Paul as the craven, small-minded Lennon disciple who (through no virtue of his own) was born with the ability to write some nice tunes. Lewisohn’s version of John, on the other hand, is ALWAYS a sexy, visionary genius on the right side of every issue. He even went out of his way to recently trash Paul’s early 70’s albums, which -in addition to being obnoxious and we believe wrong (since we love them)- is totally outside his purview.
Lastly, to address your original point, Lewisohn’s claim that Klein may be viewed as the “hero” of his Beatles History reveals that he hasn’t shown sufficient empathy or interest in Paul’s experience. This claim at best ignores and at worst condones the fact that Klein was an abusive monster to one of the two founding members of the Beatles. As we discussed in Episode 4, Klein was a criminal who bullied Paul in his creative workspace, disrespected Paul in his own office in front of his own employees and actively pitted Lennon against McCartney for years. It’s hard to imagine ANYONE who inflicted more damage on the Beatles and Lennon/McCartney than Allen Klein. In addition to the wildly inappropriate “reluctant virgin” nickname, he verbally threatened to “own Paul’s ass” (to which Paul responded “he never got anywhere near my ass”). Klein was so disrespectful to Paul and Linda’s marriage he pitched the idea of procuring “a blonde with big tits” to parade in front of Paul to lure him away from Linda and destroy their relationship. Let’s also never forget that Klein contributed lyrics to the song “How Do You Sleep.” Allen Klein literally gave Paul nightmares. Anyone who so much as pretends to care about Paul’s break-up era depression (including his alcohol abuse, his inability to get out of bed and his terrifying sleep paralysis) would not champion Allen Klein.
Yes, Klein is a human being and therefore has his own POV, same as anyone else. But a Beatles biographer is beholden to four points of view only: John, Paul, George and Ringo. And when an outsider is openly hostile to one of the Beatles and damaging long-term to all of the Beatles, it is beyond inappropriate to portray him as a hero. This type of comment, made publicly to an audience of Beatles fans, invalidates and seeks to erase the real trauma inflicted on Paul McCartney by Allen Klein, and we think Lewisohn should apologize for his comments.
Instead, Lewisohn’s current buddy is Peter Brown, whose book, The Love You Make so offended and angered Paul and Linda that they literally burned their copy (and photographed it burning for good measure). This information doesn’t appear to bother Lewisohn in the least. Why not?
George referred to Norman’s Shout as “Shit.” But Lewisohn thinks it’s a great book. Why?
How any Beatles or Paul or even George fans tolerate Lewisohn is baffling to us; we don’t recognize a real human being in his version of Paul, and his version of John is a superhero rather than a man. We suspect that fans have come to accept the traditional story and at least appreciate some properly-documented facts.
But as we are constantly trying to demonstrate on our show, just because the story has always been told one way, doesn’t mean it’s right. Because in the end, Mark Lewisohn has no special insight. He wasn’t there. He is a guy who bought into a narrative during the Shout era, and is cherry picking his findings to support it.
You can find a discussion of Lewisohn here