Posts from 10th October 2004

Oct 04

Anti-Beatles Prejudice

FT + New York London Paris Munich4 comments • 918 views

Anti-Beatles Prejudice

It can be hard to disentangle judgement and prejudice at times (actually it’s always impossible, but you can do a fairly decent job most of the time). I occasionally wonder whether my dislike for and low opinion of the Beatles is merely a reaction to what I perceive as insane and unquestioning overvaluing in so many quarters – I certainly do react against it when someone is given an apparently unassailable status way above everyone else in their area; I’m aware of it also with Elvis, for instance, and since visiting Jamaica with Bob Marley too, both terrific stars within their territories, but I resent their being placed so far above Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Jimmy Cliff, Culture and so on. But the Beatles are the biggest, still guaranteed a place at the top of any all-time musical lists, and I know I have a knee-jerk anti reaction. Were they really the great songwriters everyone says (I can’t imagine I’ll ever think they were especially good performers), and is it just my prejudices preventing me seeing this? Fortunately the HMV sale always seems to sort me out.

I bought another pile of Trojan box sets this time (among other things), and I am presently listening to the Reggae Sisters one (i.e. all female singers), and enjoying it greatly. On the subject of Elvis, track 17 was maybe the best cover of ‘In The Ghetto’ I’ve heard, by Susan Cadogan; then the next track is a good version of ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’. Then the next started, and I was playing pinball on my PC and thinking ‘what is this clumsy drivel?’ Marcia Griffiths’ singing was fine, but the song was clearly terrible, hamfisted nonsense. Then I realised it was ‘Don’t Let Me Down’. Marcia had managed perfectly well with a gender-switched cover of the Impressions’ ‘Gypsy Woman’, despite the ‘man’ replacement losing a syllable, but she couldn’t make this flow at all.

It occurred to me the last time I had that same “this is rubbish – oh, it’s a Beatles song” moment. It was when I had bought Aretha’s first several Atlantic albums in a previous HMV sale. This Girl’s In Love With You starts magnificently – ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’ again, as it happens, ‘Share Your Love With Me’ then one of my all-time favourite songs, ‘Dark End Of The Street’. Then there is ‘Let It Be’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’*, and it feels to me that the standard drops hugely. She did ‘The Long And Winding Road’ on a later album, and that feels like its lowest point too. It’s not because she’s choosing material from outside her style/genre either, in that she makes a much better fist of ‘Satisfaction’ and even the highly unlikely ’96 Tears’. I could go on to rant about Beatles covers by other singers among my all-time favourites (Otis, Al Green, Tammy Wynette, the Temptations), which strike me the same way. I have learnt that I regularly find that Beatles songs, performed by the singers I rate the highest, singers who are magnificent interpreters of so much material, almost without exception shock me, feel awkward and third-rate, before I recognise that they are songs by the most revered songwriters in popular music’s history.

* the Four Tops or Ray Charles couldn’t make this sound anything but amateurish and clumsy either. Given how well Levi Stubbs, for instance, sells an awful, mawkish song like Bobby Goldsboro’s ‘Honey’, we know he isn’t easily defeated.


Blog 7Post a comment • 211 views

I have what I imagine is about an average amount of fear of crocodiles, heights and so on, but what I have always found much the most terrifying thing to imagine is being stuck in a narrow tunnel (and I am guessing it didn’t make the top 25, so I can post about it myself). The fear centres on the idea of my chest being trapped and immovable – I expect this is related to my very bad asthma. The most terrifying thing I’ve ever come across in the arts is in either The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen or The Moon Of Gomrath, two young fantasy novels by Alan Garner, where our heroes have only one way to escape from some monsters, by climbing into a rock tunnel. They have no idea if it goes anywhere or stays wide enough. It’s completely dark. They get to parts where there is a steep drop, so they know there can be no return. They get to water, and have to plunge into it with no clue whether they will get out again. There are parts where they have to really squeeze through. I found this almost unreadably terrifying.

My other big fear is snakes, but that’s different, in that I can contemplate them in the abstract without terror, or even watch them in a zoo or on TV with enthusiasm and fascination. If one slithered into the room right now I’d be at risk of dying of a heart attack, I think. Despite the heading of this post, it’s the bite and the venom that I’m scared of – I could face up to a huge python or anaconda if I knew its fangs had been removed or it wore a muzzle.

So for me that’s very narrow tunnels and snakes. Make something of that if you can, Mr Freud!


The Brown WedgePost a comment • 765 views

HISTORY OF HISTORY-of-ART BODYSHOCKS (dept of genealogy) :

ok learning that robert quine wz the nephew of willard van orman quine is one thing, but being told (by Tom) that Buster (Buster comic fame) is the son of andy capp has turned my entire understanding of BritComix upside down! His real actual name = Buster Capp = HE INVENTED GANGSTA RAP in 1960!!

[ph0t0shopp4z plz make andy’s cap go b4ckwds ok thx bye]

If so much of this here blog is devoted to the pleasures of food…

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 925 views

…may I interject with one of it’s pains? I believe that my kitchen is infested by weevils. Or some such vermin.

I’ve spent the evening alternately looking up the offending parties, comparing them to actual samples thereof, and emptying my cabinets. All in all, the damage is about 12 or so pounds of beans and like 5 pounds of rice. Pretty terrible, I can hear my grandmother psychically screaming at me from India about the waste of precisous food, but damn, I really don’t want to eat beans that other creatures have had a go at first.

Why am I finding that it’s becoming a fairly regular occurance that I’m spending saturday night at home, cleaning my kitchen? Disgusting.