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Anonymous asked:

I just read both interviews, Part 1 and 2 of Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone Interview of 1971. It sounds as though John and the other Beatles DID have a realistic gripe about Paul taking over, directly projects, handing out musical assignments, etc., etc. and I’m sure he had the ego by this point to match! I would probably have become irritated by Paul as well. And no hints or even reading between the lines of John being emotionally hurt by Paul with regard to loss of intimate relationship.

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Hello and thanks for writing in, Listener!

First, I’d like to point out that we haven’t reached the Lennon Remembers portion of our Break-up Series, and will dig into it much more thoroughly in a future episode (stay tuned!).  

Presumably this ask isn’t in response to anything we’ve actually discussed on the podcast, in which case I feel that I should explain that what we do on our show is reevaluate conventional wisdom and contextualize public statements within the realities of actual behaviors. In other words, not taking things like Lennon Remembers at face value is AKOM 101.

If what we were doing on this podcast was as easy as simply reading the most infamous interview John Lennon ever gave (the one upon which the conventional story of the Beatles break-up is founded), it wouldn’t be much of a podcast or a very groundbreaking analysis, would it?

Second, I’d like to mention that listeners/readers can hear the entire (3.5 hours!) interview on You Tube.  Very evocative with audio!  Wenner’s editing in the print versions often make John sound more coherent and less vitriolic towards everyone but Paul than the audio reveals (i.e. the shitty comments about Paul are always printed but the ones about George, Brian, etc often aren’t).

Next, we’d like to state the usual disclaimer (which everyone is probably already aware of but is a good reminder anyway!):  John later disavowed this interview.  In fact, he was so angry at Jann Wenner for publishing it as a book, it apparently created a permanent rift between the two.  You may choose to view/value this interview as John being super honest, but please consider that in this allegedly “truthful” book/interview, John:

  • claims George is musically/creatively inferior to John
  • declares the McCartney album “rubbish”
  • reveals his belief that he and Paul’s confidence levels are intrinsically, inversely related to one another
  • says George was so aggressively rude to Yoko that John wished he would’ve punched him over it
  • proudly admits that he “maneuvered” the other Beatles to get Klein in as manager
  • bemoans the fact that everyone says Brian Epstein was so great “just because he’s dead” and that Brian cheated and robbed the Beatles
  • makes derisive comments about “fags” at least five times in the printed version alone and calls Lee Eastman “a wasp Jew, man, that’s the worst kind of person on earth.”
  • admits to lying in interviews and deflects accountability on the basis of being “just a guy” who mouths off about stuff

As for Paul, John is admittedly all over the place, swinging fairly wildly from nostalgic (reminiscing about having “a good mind like Paul’s” on his side and co-writing with their “fingers in each others’ pies”) to bitter (”Paul thought he was the Beatles,” etc).

As for the accusations that Paul was tyrannical, we’ve addressed these before (particularly in Break-Up Episode 2).  Just as Geoff Emerick, Michael Lindsay Hogg and Doug Sulpy (and even John, when he was feeling more generous) have articulated, we too feel that Paul stepped up and led the band in a time of need and deserves unequivocal credit for that.  We believe much of the subsequent complaining from the other Beatles is akin to the kind of griping one directs at a colleague who gets promoted (“who died and made you king!?”) and while some of it was likely based in genuine irritation at Paul’s communication style, much of it was probably petty.  This is why we are looking at the situation from all angles, to get a better sense of what is reality v. spin.  In any case, we don’t dispute that there were power struggles within the band.

Any reader is free to choose John’s side in any/all of these battles.  But our overall takeaway from this particular interview is that John was unloading a lot of pent-up rage; against teachers, fans, Aunt Mimi, his mum, critics, Paul and anyone else who didn’t properly recognize his genius and praise him for it.

“That’s what makes me what I am. It comes out, the people I meet have to say it themselves, because we get fuckin’ kicked. Nobody says it, so you scream it: look at me, a genius, for fuck’s sake! What do I have to do to prove to you son-of-a-bitches what I can do, and who I am? Don’t dare, don’t you dare fuckin’ dare criticize my work like that. You, who don’t know anything about it.”

Based solely on Lennon Remembers, one could reasonably believe John didn’t like anyone but Yoko and Allen Klein (of whom he also speaks with reverence).  Fortunately, John gave a million other interviews in his lifetime, so even though this one is given a disproportionate amount of weight (probably b/c it is the most inflammatory and “raw”) we can compare John’s comments, behavior and art over a broad spectrum of time.  We feel this gives us a better, more thorough and more authentic portrait of John’s POV.  This is a good idea with ANY public figure, but especially important in John’s case, since, by his own admission he has a tendency to say what he feels in the moment and doesn’t necessarily stand by his own statements afterwards.

John in 1976:  “I get a bit absolute in my statements. [laughs] Which sometimes get me into deep water, and sometimes into the shallow.”

To your other point, our overall impressions about John’s feelings regarding  “loss of an intimate relationship” with Paul certainly do not hinge on Lennon Remembers, nor have we ever suggested they do.  In fact, LR is commonly used as the primary proof-point by McCartney detractors and Lennon/McCartney deniers (those who willfully and sometimes passionately  ignore and/or deny the deep love between John and Paul, as described by John and Paul themselves and everyone in their lives) that Paul was a tyrant who destroyed the Beatles with his massive ego.  

We have never disputed the existence of Paul’s ego.  But consider this: John refers to himself as an egomaniac REPEATEDLY throughout this interview.  Why is there a loud faction of people who consider John being an avowed egomaniac perfectly reasonable (sexy even!), but find it unforgivable that Paul is the same way?  Consider these excerpts from Lennon Remembers:

Do you think you will record together again?

I record with Yoko, but I’m not going to record with another egomaniac. There is only room for one on an album nowadays.

How would you assess George’s talents?

[…] Maybe it was hard for him sometimes, because Paul and I are such egomaniacs, but that’s the game.

Who do you think is good today? In any arts…

The unfortunate thing about egomaniacs is that they don’t take much attention of other people’s work. I only assess people on whether they are a danger to me or my work or not.


But the Beatles were artists, and all artists have fucking’ big egos, whether they like to admit it or not […]

Yes, John rants repeatedly about Paul’s ego during this interview- while he simultaneously declares his own genius and artistic superiority over others. We find it mind-boggling how this irony continues to evade some people, but there it is.  

George Harrison has repeatedly complained about BOTH John & Paul’s egos (and their shared ego IRT “Lennon/McCartney”), but again, this is often ignored in favor of singling out Paul as the villain.  

Furthermore, it’s helpful to bear in mind when consuming Lennon Remembers that John and Yoko had received training in media-messaging by this point and were very savvy at Public Relations.  We know from people close to them that they drafted their stories in advance before offering them to the public. This fact, combined with Lennon’s tendency to “mouth off” means we have the right and responsibility to question and examine John’s claims rather than simply  parrot them mindlessly.

If you are genuinely interested in our take, we recommend our Break-Up Series. We think you will find it well-researched and thoughtful, even if you disagree with some of our conclusions.

Or if you simply dislike McCartney and find him “irritating,” that’s fine too.  Not everyone has to like everyone!

For additional discussion/analysis of Lennon Remembers, I recommend any of several threads on Erin Torkelson Weber’s site, the Historian and the Beatles.

the flawed lens of Lennon v. McCartney

Jann Wenner’s bio

how Rolling Stone shaped the breakup

discussing a podcast appearance

Thank you so much for this ask!  It is always a pleasure to share information.  Have a wonderful day.

-The AKOM crew

“If I Ran Away from You: Part 5″ Love, War, and the Games that Ended the Beatles

In this episode, Diana and Phoebe explore the Battle for Northern Songs, which raged throughout the Spring and Summer of 1969. They go deep into this topic, providing detail and context as they investigate Paul’s infamous extra shares and explore the psychological impact of the loss of their publishing rights.
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Anonymous wrote:

Just want to say thanks for the great podcast. Has completely changed my view on Paul and the Beatles. Like, once you realize that Paul was disengaging possibly more than any of them, so many things start to click and make sense that didn’t before. It’s amazing how pervasive the narrative that he was desperately clinging to the band seems to be.

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Hi listener,

We’re always thrilled when people have this kind of reaction to our show, so thank you for writing to us!

This narrative is so persistent and pervasive, isn’t it? When we really examine the actual behavior of John and Paul at that time, and put it under a microscope, this narrative simply makes no sense.

Stay with us – we have a lot of interesting topics coming up!

– Thalia and the AKOM crew

From episode 3.A of If I Ran Away from You, our series on #thebeatles breakup. Beatles authors often place John at the center of the Beatles story, and we think this is the story of all of them, and most especially John and Paul!

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Listen to our Breakup series: If I Ran Away from You (and our other episodes, too)!

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Anonymous asked:

Since there’s evidence to show John’s interest in Paul (in that he feels rejected by him), what do you think of the evidence suggesting Paul maybe felt similar feelings, if not to a lesser “interested” degree? Similar to how Philip Norman’s phrasing of “bohemians should try everything” minimizes John’s feelings for Paul, I feel like the dude-fandom-writers “romanticizing” of Paul’s pining for John (so that John is seen as the strong one/hero) has actually washed down Paul’s true feelings as well

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Hi listener!

This is a great question.  You make an excellent point- that the fannish tendency of writers (looking at you Doggett and Lewisohn!) to position Paul as forever smitten by and pining for an indifferent, dismissive John probably obscures Paul’s true feelings as well.

Having said that, we aren’t aware of any evidence that suggests Paul had “similar” (i.e. sexual) feelings for John.  Of course it’s possible, but entertaining this idea would be pure speculation.  However, if you know of any evidence whatsoever (i.e. testimony from Paul or his intimates) that Paul wanted an affair with John, please let us know.

Paul is SO much more publicly forthcoming about his love for John than vice verse.  We see this as both a blessing and a curse.  On one hand, Paul’s testimony is very informative about the depth of their relationship.  On the other hand, it gives a lopsided impression of their feelings for each other, and gives ammunition to those who wish to see the relationship as lopsided.

As we point out on the podcast, 95% of Paul’s loving comments were made after John’s death.  But even in 1970, as Paul was attempting to finalize the divorce, he was able to articulate to the press several times (i.e. to John, through the newspaper) that he loved John.  To our ears this doesn’t sound “desperate” or “thirsty” but quite the opposite!  To us it sounds like Paul is trying to soften the blow of his departure, reassuring John that despite the mess of the break-up, John is still valued and loved.  Again, YMMV, but to us this sounds like it comes from a place of maturity and true, deep compassion.  

One thing we do believe is that Paul did cherish being the most important person in John’s life and perhaps Paul’s (romantic, possessive) feelings may have gotten murky by ’68 when Yoko entered the scene and Paul realized his position as #1 might be threatened.  By 1970 (when he commits to the divorce), Paul is able to articulate that he was jealous of Yoko when she first arrived, indicating that he is aware of his feelings and capable of taking responsibility for them.  

By 1985, Paul understands and is able to say aloud that he was “like (John’s) girlfriend” so he recognizes that they are like a couple (in terms of intensity of emotion).  However he also makes the point that he couldn’t fight for John because he was “not a girl.”  While this is somewhat open to interpretation, it sounds to us as if the stumbling block in Paul’s mind is mismatched gender; they love each other but are both guys, so therefore it doesn’t work (at least in Paul’s heterosexual mind).  Maybe in another lifetime, another incarnation… But not this one.  So Paul stepped aside.

Whereas John seemed to have loved and wanted Paul as he was. i.e. John loved Paul the man, as a man.

Is it possible there’s more to the story?  Sure.  But if there is, we simply don’t have those details.  And we believe the way both John and Paul continued to struggle with comprehending and defining their relationship throughout their lives was genuine.  Our best evidence is that while they weren’t lovers, they were something more than friends and they probably existed in this indefinable middle ground for a long time.  Paul seems to have dropped enough hints/taunts (on RAM, for example) to indicate that he was aware of some underlying sexual tension between them, and that he was aware of John’s desire for him. So even if Paul wasn’t interested in or willing to pursue a sexual relationship, he did seem willing to fan the flames and probably greatly enjoyed being desired, and sometimes deliberately stoked the heat between them.

Ultimately, John and Paul reached some sort of impasse in 1968-69, and we DO know that John contemplated an affair with Paul (and was deterred because he believed Paul was straight and therefore uninterested).  This is the actual information we have, and therefore what our assumptions are based on.

We definitely believe Paul loved and missed John throughout the 70s, and continues to love and miss John now.  We also believe that John & Paul had a special connection that they both found impossible to replicate.  Again, the main difference is that Paul is (at least now) much more able and willing to articulate these things without shame. 

Which gets to the bigger point.  We find the major difference in what John and Paul are willing to admit about each other somehow involves internalized shame.  Paul simply doesn’t exhibit the shame John does on this subject.  Paul’s ability to wax poetic about how John had beautiful hands, for example, reflects to us a lack of embarrassment about his feelings.   John’s ability to speak openly about his love for Paul was much more compromised, often coinciding with his level of comfort with his own sexuality. (You can do the math on that one). And vitally, what John said behind closed doors about Paul (to Yoko, to Harry Nilsson, to his own diaries, etc) was often more revealing than what he said in public.

I sometimes feel like the fandom displays an overwhelming desire for equivalence in this area, I guess because this is more palatable?  But John and Paul were of course, individuals with separate identities (sexual and otherwise) and by the time they broke up we do believe they wanted different things. Also, fans and authors alike tend to show resistance towards allowing Paul to have multiple and complex emotions like they allow for John.  So while we do think John was the center of Paul’s universe in the 60s, we also think Paul had other interests, attractions, and loves and this is seldom acknowledged. So although we always consider their love deep and mutual, we do acknowledge that their wants and needs occasionally fell out of sync and caused hurt feelings on both sides.

Also, the fandom seems to underestimate Paul’s incredible powers of seduction, and his natural inclination to flirt.  And the authorship (who is apparently 24/7 horny for Lennon) seems in literal denial about Paul’s desirability.  We feel this also drastically skews the read on the Lennon/McCartney dynamic.

Anonymous asked:

This was an amazing episode. The further you go in this series the more baffling it is that no one has seriously broken down John’s love for Paul in a prominent Beatle’s book. I really liked that you pointed out how Paul now uses hyperbole to try to explain his relationship with John. I hope you guys are getting enough appreciation and not too much push back, this is a really refreshing series with some very important points that I hope continues for a long time.

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Thank you so much! Your words mean a lot to us, and it is very reassuring to know that someone out there is listening and appreciating the hours (lifetime!) of research and thought we’ve put into this analysis.

To be perfectly frank, we haven’t gotten ANY pushback on any of our analysis about the Beatles. The only pushback we’ve gotten thus far has been about our criticism of Mark Lewisohn. (None of it was substantive, however, it was all of the generic, “hey, he’s a good guy!” variety)

As to pushing back on actual substance… we encourage it! We can defend all our viewpoints, they are all based in logic, common sense and facts, so are open to challenge and debate.

Anonymous asked:

One of the points that I’m most thankful to you for making, about what the traditional narrative gets wrong, is about how John sees Paul so differently from how the jean jackets see him or think John sees him. That’s a topic that makes me say “yes finally” every time you touch on it. You’ve also done a great job analyzing the songs which is such a strangely under-explored area. Anyways, all the breakup stuff is so important but sad, it makes me want to listen to some happy early-beatle stuff

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Hello Anon,

We agree that highlighting how John saw Paul, based on his own words, is critically important for getting to a more nuanced view of their dynamic, and a more realistic view of the narrative as a whole. Correcting this issue is important because John’s POV has been so misconstrued by the Beatles authorship. They seem to have projected their opinions of Paul onto John, or they have taken John’s tantrum-filled words of the early 70s and imagined this is how he always felt about Paul, which he himself said it wasn’t!

Time and again, John provided us with insight into how he saw Paul, which is: strong, powerful, gifted, brilliant, tough, driven, obstinate and infinitely talented and attractive (as we mentioned, John was the one that referred to Paul as looking like a “God” in LIB!) We can also infer, based on things that John has said later that he sometimes felt unloved by Paul (or not loved enough), and used by Paul. He also repeatedly complained of Paul’s insensitivity, which hurt him deeply. But probably the highest measure of John’s esteem for Paul was that he saw him as his only true competitor, a view he held until his death.

Yet this has gone largely ignored by authors — perhaps because it doesn’t conform to their preferred narrative? Or else they can’t see beyond John’s bravado, which sometimes obscures his more honest, vulnerable moments.

Because post-Beatles John could be so critical of Paul (a right he felt was  EXCLUSIVELY his), Jean Jackets erroneously assume he held Paul in low esteem rather than understanding that John held him to the highest possible standards.  So while the Jean Jackets position John as acting from a position of indifference and strength, in reality, he has said time and again that he saw Paul as a powerful and “extraordinary” man who was his true partner and a metaphorical spouse— one he also suspected of not loving him enough and potentially using him for his own gain. And while we don’t believe the latter, we know that John was highly paranoid so HE might have believed this. All important to keep in mind when examining his actions. And disinterested in Paul is the last thing he was!  

And while the breakup is a depressing topic, we find it is less tragic and more human when we go through it in detail—as we are doing. And perhaps one aspect that is less depressing is that they seem to have remained obsessed with each other. In other words, although the band broke up, their love for and interest in each other never died. We are tracing this story—all their drama seems to have been a series of reactions, games, moves, and countermoves.

Anyway, thank you for your note! We hope you will stay with us throughout the series and we promise to keep it really interesting. In fact, we will be dropping a few more episodes very soon—episodes we are very excited about. So please stay tuned!!

Diana and Akom

Anonymous asked:

I enjoy the show. Just as it is dangerous to overestimate any individual Beatle, I do think that it is equally dangerous to over romanticize John & Paul’s relationship and justify behaviors on the basis of some supernatural closeness. Close as they were there is also evidence of significant dysfunction. Do you believe John or Paul or both were emotionally manipulative/unhealthy dependence (see Attachment theory)? Would you all be willing to explore the more unsavory aspects of their friendship?

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Hi!  Thanks very much for the ask!  Glad you are enjoying the show.

First of all I think there is probably some level of emotional manipulation and/or dependence in every long-term relationship, so John & Paul aren’t necessarily unique in this regard.  And despite whatever their various inter-personal issues or problems were, it’s undeniable that Lennon & McCartney were also one of the most prolific and successful creative partnerships in the history of modern popular culture.  So, there’s that.  

It’s our contention that Paul and John both believed in their spiritual (“supernatural”) connection and we believe this is an under-explored area of analysis.  Their closeness doesn’t mean that their behaviors were always positive, but what it does suggest to us is that their behaviors are often linked, and the traditional narrative does not necessarily take this into account.  Our goal with AKOM is to inspire deeper reflection on under-reported issues like these.

But yes, to your point, it definitely appears they had their fair share of dysfunction, and we discussed a few of these issues in our most recent episode.  The next episodes in our break-up series also push many of these issues to the forefront, and we’ll be discussing them as they arise.

Diana and I have planned a future episode in which we unpack more of the problem areas in the Lennon/McCartney partnership and try to get underneath some of their lasting resentments.

Lastly, while I agree that it’s not helpful to over-romanticize John & Paul’s relationship, it can be tricky because John and Paul were both so prone to romanticize it themselves (especially after the break-up).  In that respect, it’s sometimes a difficult balancing act to empathize with them from their respective POVs while simultaneously trying to get to the truth of what was actually going on.  They were/are both, at the end of the day, artists who primarily wrote and sang (often collaboratively) about love.  How much of this romanticism and its accompanying behavior (i.e. unrealistic expectations, justification/forgiveness of various harmful behaviors) created problems in their personal relationship is a fascinating study in and of itself.

Thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy the rest of our Break-Up Series!

– Phoebe and the AKOM Crew

“I think John attaches so much meaning to telepathy: he and Paul are so special that they have this incredible ability to read each other in a way that other people can’t. But if they stop being able to do this, what does this say to John?”  -If I Ran Ep 2, Pt 1

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“If I Ran Away from You: Ep. 2 Pt. 1” Love, War, and the Games that Ended the Beatles

In the second installment of our Break-up series, Diana and Phoebe take a DEEP look into January 1969, when the Beatles record and film Let it Be.  

Part 1 reflects on the sub-textual conversation revealed in their behaviors and their music.  Part 2 (Coming very soon!) looks at some of the underlying issues of the break-up as they play out in this period.  

This multi-part series explores the emotional roots of the Beatles break-up with a focus on Lennon/McCartney.

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May I Introduce to You: The Minds Behind Another Kind of Mind

Welcome to our introductory episode, where we will walk you through who we are, why we wanted to do a podcast, and how we will approach the topics we plan to tackle in the future. Thanks for joining us! “We hope you will enjoy the show!”


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