Spiraling Towards Divorce: Cold Turkey, the 4/4/4/2 Meeting, and the L/M “Myth” – 8 L/M Breakup Series
In part 8 of the L/M Breakup Series, Diana and Phoebe explore the events, meetings, maneuvers and negotiations that took place during the first half of September 1969. They trace how things start to escalate and go off the tracks following the relative harmony of the Abbey Road sessions. Covered in this episode are: John and Yoko’s cold turkey experience, Mary McCartney’s birth, The Isle of Wight festival, the 4/4/4/2 meeting and the “myth” of Lennon/McCartney.
Hello, I’ve really been enjoying your podcast but as an Asian American woman it upset me to hear you (in 3.b) both be so dismissive to the possibility of a racist element in the reaction to Yoko in the 60s. Your gleeful and mocking disdain for Yoko in general left me feeling uncomfortable. But that it extends to the point you can not envision how challenging the world was for an Asian woman living in a very white, conventional England in the sixties is upsetting to say the least.
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Thank you for this thoughtful ask on an important topic!
We deeply regret any implication that we don’t believe Yoko faced special and unfair challenges due to race or nationality, because we are absolutely positive that Yoko faced racism, sexism and anti-Japanese sentiment in the 1960s (and probably still does today).
In 3.b we were specifically suggesting that the cause of the negative public reaction to Yoko was not solely about race, but mainly due to her behaviors, attitudes and artistic eccentricities such as her unconventional fashion sense, her jarring and very unusual singing style, her bizarre art and artistic “happenings” (the nude album, the interviews in black bags, throwing acorns at their TV audience, etc). Yoko was a conceptual artist whose career was founded on shock value and making people uncomfortable, so from our POV it is disingenuous for John & Yoko to be surprised or offended when people react with shock and discomfort.
John and Yoko were weird, unconventional and provocative (which they embraced), and this alienated almost everyone virtually overnight, which is why we find it unhelpful to attribute her negative public reception to the single cause of racism. This is not to say we don’t believe she experienced racism; of course she did! But both things can be true at once. She can experience racism and she can also be disliked for reasons having nothing to do with racism.
Similarly, we don’t think the reaction to Linda, as touched on in this quote was based soley in anti-semitism. At the same time it would be absolutely insane to suggest that Linda had never experienced anti-semitism in her lifetime.
In the breakup series we are mainly focused on the dynamics within the group, and we believe their primary issue with Yoko seems to have been her disruptive and unwelcome presence within a creative space which for years had been the sole domain of the bandmates.
In any case, we sincerely apologize for upsetting you.
We never want to reduce Yoko to her sex or race, which we feel is both unfair to her and an impediment to a candid examination of her work (which we think has been absent from Beatles discourse). One of our biggest complaints is how Beatles authors only evaluate Yoko as an influence on John, and never allow her to stand or fall as an individual artist in her own right.
As for our occasional mocking of Yoko (which often includes John), we can assure you that has nothing to do with race either. Any disdain on our part is reserved for the self-aggrandizing tone with which John and Yoko often discuss themselves and their art.
We acknowledge that it can be difficult and challenging to be critical about a woman with such a controversial place in history, perhaps undervalued as an artist and subject to some unfair prejudices. We have tried to strike a balance in terms of being empathetic to Yoko as a person while simultaneously subjecting her to the same rigor we would any artist, including the Beatles – whom she famously considered herself to be as good or better than.
Thanks again for taking the time to write to us and share your reactions. We will continue to consider this important topic in the future.
50 years ago today, the Let It Be album was released!
Listen to “If I Ran Away From You,” our series on the Beatles’ breakup, to hear our analysis of the songs, as well as the interpersonal dynamics of Lennon/McCartney during the recording of the “Get Back” project!
“If I Ran Away from You: Part 7.B″ Love, War, and the Games that Ended the Beatles
In this two-part episode Diana and Phoebe dig into the relatively under-explored Abbey Road period and the songs that resulted from it. They examine both the songs and the events surrounding the creation of the album through the lens of the breakup.
In the second installment, they discuss the Medley, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and the overarching themes of the album.
“If I Ran Away from You: Part 7.A″ Love, War, and the Games that Ended the Beatles
In this two-part episode, Diana and Phoebe dig into the relatively
under-explored Abbey Road period and the songs that resulted from it.
They examine both the songs and the events surrounding the creation of
the album through the lens of the breakup.
In the first installment, Phoebe and Diana will explore the recording
sessions as well as the songs “Come Together”, “Something”, “Maxwell’s
Silver Hammer,” “Oh Darling,” “Octopus’ Garden,” “Here Comes the Sun,”
In the second installment, they will discuss the Medley, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and the overarching themes of the album.
Episode 6 is the best episode yet!! I love how you pointed out Paul’s reasons for endorsing the JohnandYoko union, even though he knew it wasn’t ideal. You made a lot of really fantastic, articulate points. Your take on this whole breakup is literally the only one that I’ve seen that makes sense.
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Thank you so much, listener! We worked incredibly hard on it, so we appreciate your acknowledgement, and are so happy you enjoyed it! 🙂
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!
Thanks so much for the podcast. I’ve devoured each episode voraciously the past week and it’s been such a source of enjoyment. Your characterization of John is spot on. Definitely not some macho guy nor a sincere revolutionary. While I’ve had the same take on him for years as y’all, I’ve never connected the dots between his personality traits and the breakup. The sequence of events you lay out and your analysis of it MAKES SENSE.
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Thank you so much, listener! 🙂 We really appreciate this and we’re so glad thst you’re enjoying the show!
Congrats on Episode 3! I agree on your reading of the Ballad, and the how and why of its construction. I also remember in one of the first episodes, how you mentioned the way John would anticipate being rejected & preemptively push people away or offend them so he would not be the one passively abandoned (for no reason). John’s obsession with Paul hurting him, leaving him – it’s all a self fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it ? And he could never get over it. (1/2)
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Hi there, and thanks so much for the comment! 🙂 We’re glad you enjoyed Episode 3! I (Thalia) enjoyed it so much as well!
I’ve always thought it strange how the fandom and authorship just sort of accepted the idea that John and Yoko have some otherworldly love that we mere mortals just can’t understand, something more special than we could ever fathom. I always joked that they marketed themselves as the loveliest lovers who ever loved (in the history of love)! And that their art is so important, and of such a high purpose, that of course most people just aren’t high-minded enough to understand it.
I do agree that this myth was built by John and Yoko for multiple purposes: partially to promote them as a couple with a higher purpose and help him form a new identity and satisfy Yoko’s desire to be famous, and partially it’s what John had to tell himself to keep from feeling hurt (didn’t work) and to protect his public image (I don’t want to look like the dumped one, that’s embarrassing). I think Diana and Phoebe are also right in acknowledging that there was a love between John and Yoko, and that all these factors coexist.
But at the end of the day, John’s legacy was built within Lennon/McCartney, and you really can’t compare Lennon/McCartney to Lennon/Ono (and I think Ono knows this, which is maybe why she feels threatened to this day). They are two completely different kinds of partnerships. For this comparison to continue into present day is extremely unfair to McCartney (and to the Lennon/McCartney relationship).
Thanks so much for writing in! We hope you continue to join us!
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.