Friday, May 28, 2010

...ancient wool unraveler...
The title of this post is a song Paul McCartney wrote and which he recorded with his group, Wings; it's on their "London Town" album released back in 1978. But, my friends, we're going back even further than that, as you'll see...
PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: Lately, I've been reading a lot of books about President Kennedy's assassination. First, there was "Four Days in November", by Vincent Bugliosi, in which he presents an hour-by-hour chronicle of all that happened leading up to That Dark Hour and the Days of Mouring until he was laid to rest. Then, I read "The Day Kennedy Was Shot" by Jim Bishop, who also wrote "The Day Lincoln Was Shot." It was Bishop's contention that President Kennedy may have known he was being shot at. The first bullet struck the ground beside the Presidential Limousine, causing bystanders and perhaps the President himself, to be sprayed in the face by flying dust resulting from the bullet's striking the pavement. Kennedy didn't have a whole lot of time to react to that, since the next bullet hit him 2 seconds later, and the fatal bullet probably 4 or 5 seconds after that. Bishop's book focuses on November 22nd, 1963, in almost minute-by-minute fashion. Intriguing 'read', for sure. Photo below: JFK and Jackie just moments before heading into downtown Dallas...he had about a half-hour to live at this point.
I thought I was all done reading about JFK. Nope, not at all. I found another Kennedy book, this time written by Hugh Sidey, the President's historian. This volume concerns what happened in his Presidency and will give me an insight into the living, breathing JFK. Strange, how I found these books; as soon as I finished one, a trip back to the Thrift Store led me to another. And another. So now I'll catch up on the things President Kennedy did; his human-ness and his sharp wit. I've already learned that Kennedy wore a quarter-inch lift in his left shoe, due to leg-length differences, resulting in back pain. I know how he felt; I wear a quarter-inch lift in my right shoe for exactly the same reason. And his back, like mine, hurt most of the time. Now here's where the irony comes in: After I read this book, the next one in My Stack To Read is "What Happened", an accounting of the Dubya-Bush Prezzidency written by Scott McClellan, who quit as the Spokesman of the Bush White House, because he, McClellan, didn't want to lie anymore. I would dare say that there'll be a few differences between the administrations of Kennedy's and Dubya-Bush's. I sure hope so...
TWISTS AND TURNS IN THE BEATLES' LEGACY: Some of you, if not a lot of you, know that before Ringo Starr became the Beatles' Drummer, Pete Best was in the drum chair, and during those barren times before the Fab Four were 'discovered', they'd been gigging all over England in the middle of horrendous English winters , driving around the country in an old, beat-up van, and later were signed to play in Hamburg, Germany, in the red-light district of that town, where they played 10 hours a day, six days a week. They came back to England as a super-stompin' band. Then, on the very brink of fame, Pete was replaced; some say ;cos he wasn't a good drummer; some say he didn't fit in, from a personality standpoint, with the Fab Four. I think it was a combination of both. Anyhow, after Pete got sacked by the Beatles, which devastated him, he got another group together, named logically enough, the Pete Best Combo, and continued in the music business for a few years, chucking it all in in the late '60s, when he got a Government job in England. I'd heard he'd been a Bread Baker at one point in his life. He and The Beatles never spoke in all the years since, and that's sad. Photo at left: John, Paul, George and Pete with stars in their eyes.
What I've always wondered about Pete, is, how did he feel when each Beatles hit was played on the radio? After all, he'd been dismissed from the group on the Very Brink of stardom. When the radio played a Beatles song, did he have to turn the radio off before the song was over? Did he re-live the disappointment and feel the same hurt he felt, each time one of the Beatles' songs reached his ears? The Beatles were all over the radio back then, hit after hit after hit. I know my feelings got really hurt when I was dismissed by a couple of bands down thru the years. Like Pete, I played drums. It's not a gentle experience getting kicked out of a band. It's like several relationships being broken off at the same time, and it really does hurt. In some ways, being in a band is like being in an intense relationship with four or five other people. And that only intensifies the hurt when they all throw you out. Been there, done that. Not fun.
However, Pete is a beneficiary of that old axiom, "good things come to those who wait". When Pete and The Beatles were in Germany, they recorded some songs with Tony Sheridan, an English vocalist who was a top draw in Germany. Pete played drums on those songs, which were recorded in 1961. Most of them were rock versions of old standards, such as "My Bonnie" or "When The Saints Go Marching In". John Lennon sang one such tune; a rock version of "Ain't She Sweet". And John Lennon and George Harrison teamed up to write an instrumental, "Cry For A Shadow". Fast-forward to 1995: Pete Best played drums on all those old pre-fame Beatles recordings. some of which made it onto the "Anthology I" album 34 years after they were recorded. Good ol' Pete, playing drums on those old songs recorded in Germany. And at last, Pete was acknowledged for his drumming, with Royalty Checks. Pete said in an interview that he likes to think of that as "payment for services rendered." Pete Best does some touring with his own band now, and he seems like a nice person who deserves those good things coming his way.
Having written all this, I realized that there IS a tie-in factor between The Beatles and John F. Kennedy, however. The Beatles' second album in England was titled "With The Beatles", and was first made available to the public on November 22nd, 1963. The day JFK died. Perhaps Kennedy himself heard "Please Please Me" or "From Me To You", two full-tilt Beatles songs which were big hits in the United Kingdom in 1963 and were released in the U.S. that same year. Those two tunes were initially flops over here, but after "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was released in December '63, all of a sudden the gates broke open and Beatles tunes flooded the marketplace. Finally, we all remember JFK as that dashing young man who was struck down all of a sudden. Were he alive today, he would be 93 years young.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the writing...M's won tonight!!

11:41 PM  

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