19
Oct 09

The Most Important Game Ever Made #16: In Which The Beatles Find Out

FT2 comments • 325 views

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The boys are obviously exhausted, the microphones don’t work properly, Ringo looks ready to top himself right there and the haircuts have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. Offstage, all sorts of trouble is brewing – the ‘bigger than Jesus’ comment, increasing tensions within the group, an album cover where the band smilingly cavort amidst bloody hunks of butchered meat and baby dolls – and history tells us that the Beatles are on the brink of Tourpocalypse.

As a result, that’s got to be the worst performance of ‘Day Tripper’ I’ve ever seen. Beatlebots to the rescue!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ-_-cptIno

Wow! What a difference a robot version of yourself makes. Compared to the Beatles, who on their YouTube video look prey to all the ills that flesh is heir to, the Beatlebots are mechanised perfection, filled with simulated energy and haircuts that don’t look like they were modelled on their own cartoon. (Apart from Ringobot, who looks like a Victorian chimney-sweep. Which I suppose is better than looking like a drooling care-in-the-community case, or like he’s going to climb on top of the stadium with a sniper rifle and start killing people while screaming ‘Pete Best forever! Ringo never!’ over and over again as tears course down his cheeks.) The sound – and the sound of Day Tripper rocks, I should mention – is clear, strong, and vastly improved on anything that came before, and there aren’t any double chins to be seen anywhere.

So this level probably works as a metaphor for the game as a whole – you’ve heard of the legend, now buy the myth. Speaking of metaphors, what’s ‘Day Tripper’ a metaphor for? What’s all this driving/travel imagery in aid of? According to Wikipedia (DON’T JUDGE ME) it’s all about DRUGS! Yes, DRUGS! ‘Day Tripper’ is apparently John picking on ‘weekend hippies’ and people who don’t eat enough acid. I can just about see the ‘sunday driver’ metaphor working for that, I suppose, but it’s kind of a reach. Not to dismiss the author’s intent or anything, but let’s just go with the simplest solution: blue balls.

After that riff, the song could start with a how-to on grouting bathroom tiles and we’d be hooked. Instead we get ‘got a good reason for taking the easy way out now’. What’s he talking about here? Suicide? Ringo! Put down the gun! Well, let’s assume not, unless this is a Police-style overreaction-to-romantic-problems song. Things get clearer when we hear that ‘she’s a big teaser’ and ‘she took me half the way there’. Let’s pretend I don’t understand what that means – my friend wiki informs me that the line was originally written as ‘she’s a prick-teaser’, presumably a groovy drugs reference that I’d dig if I wasn’t a weekend hippie. Anyway, our unsatisfied narrator goes back for more – he ‘tried to please her’ but ‘she only played one-night stands’. No second chances in this game. Presumably, since the girl is a ‘sunday driver’, which indicates going slowly, and on a ‘one-way-ticket’, which indicates she doesn’t expect to come back from her destination, she was on a no-sex-before-marriage kick and by coming on too strong, he’s blown his chances for good. And presumably the ‘easy way out’ in this context is to jerk off into a sock.

It’s the oldest story in the world. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy meets sock. Open and shut case, officers. Or not – if ‘Day Tripper’ is a narrative of aching, unreleased sperm, what’s that a metaphor for? How deep does this go?

How come all the metaphors are about touring? Tickets, driving, one-night stands, one-way tickets, travel metaphors. Tour metaphors. You know who else is a big teaser? The most fickle whore of all – fame.

It took the Beatles so long to find out, but they found out. Fame’s taken them halfway there – and where ‘there’ is, they’re only just starting to figure out, though it probably involves sitars – but only halfway. They’re trying to please the pop-cultural beast – ‘Day Tripper’ was written to be a Christmas chart hit, which it was – but it’s fickle, it only plays one-night-stands, and they’re only going to be able to keep ahead for so long. They look like cartoon versions of themselves. Ringo looks like he’s about to tear open his pinstripe jacket and reveal half a kilo of C4 strapped to his chest. Paul and George are on the outs. As a band in the traditional sense, the Beatles are exhausted, shattered shadows of their former selves, and that ol’ day tripper Fame doesn’t give a toss. There’s only one way out – the easy way out – ending it all. Disintegrating the band, as a touring proposition if not a branded musical collective, and moving on from there. If Fame wants to come calling after that, she’s welcome to, but the Beatles aren’t going to do the chasing.

This is the band saying an angry, smirking, overtly sexualised Goodbye To All That. No wonder it sounds so great!

NEXT: More thumbing the nose at fame with ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’.

Comments

  1. 1
    Andrew Hickey on 22 Oct 2009 #

    Oh, it’s *definitely* at least in part about blue balls – “She’s a big teaser” was originally “She’s a prick teaser” until George Martin overruled them…

  2. 2
    Andrew Hickey on 22 Oct 2009 #

    And maybe I should have read the next paragraph *before* commenting…

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