X-Post: Lennon Turns 26

Posted in Something about the Beatles on October 9th, 2016 by bill

This post also appears today on The Beatles Plus 50.

On this day in 1966 John Lennon — DOB October 9, 1940 — celebrated his 26th birthday in Spain with his wife Cynthia, Ringo Starr, and Ringo’s wife Maureen. He’d been through a lot in barely a quarter-century; at an age when most people were just starting their careers, he was in a band that was more popular than Jesus.

Looking over Lennon’s bio just now, it struck me that his life was organized pretty neatly into decades. He was 20 when the Quarrymen became The Beatles in 1960; 30 when they broke up at the end of the 60s; and 40 when he died at the dawn of the 80s.

A cynic might say that Mark Chapman mercifully spared Lennon his “Dancing in the Street” moment, but you have to wonder what he would have done with the years he lost. He would have been 50 just as the 90s started, a beloved godfather to the Nirvana generation, and 60 at the turn of the millennium. He’d be turning 76 today if he’d made it this far. I picture him as a grumpy but lovable old man, still wearing those glasses, yelling at Beatles fans to get off his lawn.
Read more »

X-Post: The “Fab Four” Were Titaniced and Replaced with Despicable Spies

Posted in Something about the Beatles on September 1st, 2016 by bill

This post also appears on my other blog, The Beatles Plus 50.

Now it can be told. According to a website I just found,

On August 31, 1966, the “Fab Four” were titaniced and replaced with despicable spies who were thoroughly familiar with the SOE Training Manual, first issued in December 1941, at the British run “school for killers” called Camp X in Canada!!

Aside from “car accidents,” the favorite way for the British Empire to get rid of their enemies . . . or people who have outlived their usefulness . . . is by burial at sea. Burial at sea leaves no physical evidence that the person ever existed. The mighty Russian Orthodox Romanov dynasty ended in a watery grave . . . and Lord Kitchener’s military career ended in a watery grave in 1915.

Likewise, the Beatles’ “musical” careers were cut short when they were buried at sea. The bodies of the “Fab Four” were dumped into San Francisco Bay, and their places were taken by 4 doubles or doppelgängers!!

And they couldn’t say it on the Internet if if wasn’t true, right?

In all honesty you have to check out this site to see what is either one of the most baroque, wackadoo conspiracy theories I’ve ever seen or a magnificently detailed and deadpan hoax perpetrated by someone with way too much time on their hands. Among the things you’ll learn:
Read more »

X-Post: The Beatles’ Last Show (August 29, 1966)

Posted in Something about the Beatles on August 29th, 2016 by bill

This post also appears today on my other blog, The Beatles Plus 50.

Mark Twain once famously said that “The coldest winter I every spent was a summer in San Francisco.” The good people of San Francisco apparently took this as a challenge. Unsatisfied with the opportunities for frostbite offered by, say, the perpetually fogbound Inner Sunset, in 1958 they decided to build a stadium on an exposed, windswept point south of the city.

This was Candlestick Park, where the Giants and the 49ers played for many years, and where the final show of The Beatles’ 1966 U.S. tour took place. I went to Candlestick several times, and I can tell you from experience that even on a good day you had to bundle up to avoid freezing. And August 29, by all accounts, was not a good day. Says Bob Spitz:

Gusts whipped through the stands with almost biblical vengeance. Banners strung around the stadium flapped ferociously against the squall and drafts picked up great clouds of dust and blew them volcanically across the infield.

That may why Candlestick was only about half full. If you ever choose to time-travel to San Francisco on 8.29.66, you’ll be able to walk right up to the box office and buy a ticket. Be sure to take a parka.
Read more »

It was 50 years ago today…

Posted in Something about the Beatles on November 22nd, 2013 by bill

…Nov. 22, 1963…that the Beatles’ second album, With the Beatles, was released.

I seem to remember that some other important historic event happened on that day as well. I can’t think of what it was just now.

Happy Birthday, John

Posted in Somebody's birthday, Something about the Beatles on October 9th, 2011 by bill

I like this picture because the kitty on Lennon’s shoulder is a dead ringer for my cat Johnny. Don’t know who that lady standing next to him is, but she kind of gives me the creeps.

I’ve got blisters on my fingers

Posted in Audio transmissions, Something about the Beatles on December 8th, 2010 by bill

After reading a piece on Dangerous Minds the other day where they posted the various individual tracks of “Helter Skelter” (thanks to Lady E for pointing that out), I was inspired to create my own mix in GarageBand. I’m reasonably pleased with the results; it ended up sounding very 90s somehow, with touches of early Nirvana grind, Pixies loud/quiet/loud dynamics, and Sonic Youth dissonance. See what you think:

PLAY Helter Skelter Dub

Oh, I almost forgot: Play it loud.

P.S.: It was only after posting this that I found out today is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and now I feel a little guilty for putting so much focus on a Paul song. Although you can hear John playing very raw and aggressive bass on “Helter Skelter” – which is, let’s be honest, Paul writing in a consciously Lennonesque vein. I can just picture him stamping his little feet and wailing, “I can rock out too, y’know, it’s not joost John who can do that.”

P.P.S.: Then he probably would have said something about the fridge-a-dilly.

P.P.P.S: For some thoughts about the Lennon shooting, read here.

Tour de France 2010, Stage 17

Posted in Somebody's birthday, Something about the Beatles, Tour de France on July 22nd, 2010 by bill
Schleck and Contador by Monet

Schleck and Contador by Monet

Today’s writing is dedicated to George Clinton, the Benjamin Franklin of funk, who turns 70 today. For those of you keeping score at home, that means he was born exactly 15 days after Ringo Starr in July 1940. Ringo and George (Clinton) share one essential quality, which is that it’s hard to think of them without feeling just a little bit happier. “With a Little Help from My Friends,” The Mothership Connection, “It Don’t Come Easy,” Maggot Brain…we’re glad these things exist, aren’t we? And its nice to know their creators are still walking the Earth. Love on ya, boys.

And what does this have to do with the Tour de France? Well, you’re reading about them in the same place, aren’t you? So they must have something to do with each other.

Stage 17 was the big showdown on the Col du Tourmalet, and it was a cold, rainy, foggy day. The images on the TV were dreamlike and impressionistic, with the raindrops on the camera lens giving everything a sort of Monet quality. And then, out of the fog, there are two figures, one in white and one in yellow: Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador, having left everyone else behind and shooting to the top of the mountain.
Read more »

It Was 43 Years Ago Today

Posted in Something about the Beatles on June 25th, 2010 by bill

June 25, 1967:

The Beatles, the Vatican, Satan, LSD, etc.

Posted in Something about the Beatles on April 20th, 2010 by bill


Knox of Pixels at an Exhibition fame (an excellent site devoted to iPhone photography—check it out sometime) recently pointed me to the blog Dangerous Minds, which in turn pointed me to a couple of recent news items involving the Beatles.

One concerned Ringo’s response to the Vatican’s recent decision that the Beatles were OK after all:

The Vatican offered its latest peace offering to The Beatles in its recent issue of L’Osservatore Romano, its official newspaper, on Monday.

“It’s true they took drugs, lived life to excess because of their success, even said they were bigger than Jesus and put out mysterious messages that were possibly even satanic,” the newspaper said.

But, “what would pop music have been like without The Beatles?” it reasoned, describing the band’s music as “beautiful.”

Read more »

The Blue Soup

Posted in Read it in books, Something about the Beatles on September 9th, 2009 by bill


I was at the Red Cross today, feeling a little lightheaded as the blood ran out of my right arm, when I read the following passage in Kurt Vonnegut’s Happy Birthday, Wanda June:

HAROLD: America’s days of greatness are over. It has drunk the blue soup.

PENELOPE: Blue soup?

HAROLD: An Indian narcotic we were forced to drink. It put us in a haze — a honey-colored haze which was lavender around the edge. We laughed, we sang, we snoozed. When a bird called, we answered back. Every living thing was our brother or sister, we thought. Looseleaf stepped on a cockroach six inches long, and we cried. We had a funeral that went on for five days — for the cockroach. I sang “Oh Promise Me.” Can you imagine? Where the hell did I ever learn the words to “Oh Promise Me”? Looseleaf delivered a lecture on maintenance procedures for the hydraulic system of a B-36. All the time we were drinking more blue soup, more blue soup! Never stopped drinking blue soup. Blue soup all the time. We’d go out after food in that honey-colored haze, and everything that was edible had a penumbra of lavender.

PENELOPE: Sounds quite beautiful.

HAROLD: [Angered] Beautiful, you say? It wasn’t life, it wasn’t death, it wasn’t anything! Beautiful? Seven years gone — like that, like that! Seven years of silliness and random dreams! Seven years of nothingness, when there could have been so much!

And because one corner of my brain is devoted to the Beatles 24-7 these days, I thought immediately of Mr. Lennon:

Everybody seems to think I’m lazy
I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy
Running everywhere at such a speed
Till they find, there’s no need

Please don’t spoil my day
I’m miles away
And after all
I’m only sleeping

Yes, yes, the eternal question…drink the blue soup or face reality head-on. Lennon was a blue soup guy; Vonnegut’s character Harold Ryan is not, though it must be noted that he is more or less the villain of the piece. It’s a question most of us face every day, save those courageous few who have sworn off the stuff for good. The blue soup, mind you, isn’t necessarily a substance; it could be a comforting delusion or an unquestioned ideology. To see with clarity and deal with the consequences, this is no easy thing. In the future, I’d like to do more of it; at the moment, however, dreamland beckons.