It's funny; the myth developed that I was the melodic, soft one and John was the hard, acerbic one. There was some surface truth to that; but, in actual fact, back then one of his favourite tunes was 'Girl Of My Dreams'. That was through his mum. Another was 'Little White Lies', which was certainly not cool either, but was a good, well-crafted song. 'This Boy' was one of those.
RINGO: I used to wish that I could write songs, like the others - and I've tried, but I just can't. I can get the words all right, but whenever I think of a tune the others always say it sounds like such-a-thing, and when they point it out, I see what they mean.
PAUL: George used to write his own songs, or (as in the case of 'Do You Want To Know A Secret') we'd write one for him. All the guys had their fans - Ringo had a big following because he's a nice guy, a great drummer, so he needed a song on each album. Likewise with George; a lot of the girls were mad on him, so we always wanted to give him at least one track. Then George started to catch on: 'Why should you write my songs?' And he started writing his own.
From when George first started, he would deliver one song per album. It was an option to include George in the songwriting team. John and I had really talked about it. I remember walking up past Woolton Church with John one morning and going over the question: 'W'thout wanting to be too mean to George, should three of us write or would it be better to keep it simple?' We decided we'd just keep to two of us.
He wrote 'Don't Bother Me'. That was the first one and he improved from that and became very good, writing a classic like 'Something'.
GEORGE: 'Don't Bother Me' I wrote in a hotel in Bournemouth, where we were playing a summer season in 1963, as an exercise to see if I could write a song. I was sick in bed. I don't think it's a particularly good song; it mightn't be a song at all. But at least it showed me that all I needed to do was keep on writing and maybe eventually I would write something good. I still feel now: I wish I could write something good. It's relativity. It did, however, provide me with an occupation.
I knew a little bit about writing from the others, from the privileged point of sitting in the car when a song was written or coming into being. I remember once sitting with Paul in the cinema on the corner of Rose Lane, not far from where he lived, near Penny Lane. They showed an ad for Link Furniture: 'Are you thinking of Linking?' Paul said, 'Oh, that would make a good song,' and he wrote one that went, 'Thinking of linking my life with you.'
John was always helpful. He said things like, 'When you're writing, try to finish the song immediately, because once you leave it it's going to be harder to complete,' which is true. Sometimes, anyway. He gave me a few good pointers and I did actually do some writing with him later on. I was at his house one day - this is the mid-Sixties - and he was struggling with some tunes. He had loads of bits, maybe three songs, that were unfinished, and I made suggestions and helped him to work them together so that they became one finished song, 'She Said, She Said'. The middle part of that record is a different song: 'She said, "I know what it's like to be dead," and I said, "Oh, no, no, you're wrong..."' Then it goes into he other one, 'When I was a boy...' That was a real weld. So i did things like that. I would also play him, on occasion, songs I hadn't completed. I played him a tune one day, and he said, 'Oh, well, that's not bad.' He didn't do anything at the time, but I noticed in the next song he wrote that he'd nicked the chords from it!
Writing on my own became the only way I could do it, because I started like that. Consequently, over the years, I never really wrote with anyone else and I became a bit isolated. I suppose I was a bit paranoid because I didn't have any experience of what it was like, writing with other people. It's a tricky thing. What's acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another. You have to trust each other.
GEORGE: I'VE GOT A TAPE-RECORDER IN THE CAR, SO I CAN SING ON THAT AND WORK ON IT WHEN I GET HOME.66
JOHN: NORTHERN SONGS IS A LONG-TERM THING AND IT RESTS ON PAUL AND I WRITING SONGS UNTIL WE'RE SIXTY. UNLESS SOMETHING HAPPENS, THERE'S NOTHING TO STOP PAUL AND I WRITING HITS WHEN WE'RE OLD. IT'S SO PROFITABLE AND, ANYWAY, WE'RE GOOD FRIENDS - THERE'S NO REASON ON EARTH WHY WE SHOULD GIVE IT UP.65
NEIL ASPINALL: Brian knew Dick James, who was famous for singing 'Robin Hood' on the TV series and had started his own music-publishing company. John and Paul were beginning to write their own songs and Brian played him some tapes of theirs.
Dick James got the rights to the single 'Please Please me', and all the subsequent songs, too. We were all pretty naive back then and I think that The Beatles have all since regretted the deals they got into regarding song ownership.
PAUL: We were desperate to get a deal. It's like any young novelist who just wants to be published. They would just die for Doubleday; they wouldn't care what the deal was, so long as they could say to their friends, 'Oh, my new book's coming out on Doubleday.' - 'What, the real Doubleday?' - 'Yeah!' So that's all we wanted; to be published: 'Our record's coming out on EMI.' - 'What, the EMI?'
But Brian did do some lousy deals and he put us into long-term slave contracts which I am still dealing with. For 'Yesterday', which I wrote totally on my own, without John's or anyone's help, I am on 15% because of the deals Brian made; and that is really unjust, particularly as it has been such a smash. It is possibly the smash of this century.
But you can't be bitter. George martin didn't get much at all off the Beatles deal and I've asked him, 'In retrospect, aren't you bitter about it, George?' He says, 'No, I had a great time. At one point during the boom I had thirteen solid weeks at Number One with you, Cilla, Billy J. Kramer, Gerry and the Pacemakers - all Brian's acts - but I didn't get a bonus or anything.' he got a straight contract fee. I said, 'You are a good man not to be bitter,' which is true; he has kept his karma together that way. So I feel the same, but I think if Brian did have a failing then it was this: he wasn't astute enough.
JOHN: I think Dick James might have carved Brian up a bit. I mean, what happened after Brian died? Dick James Music Company - a fucking multi-million music-industry company. Northern Songs, not owned by us; and NEMS, not owned by us. That was all Brian and his advisors' setting up.71
And Dick James has actually said that he made us! I'd like to hear Dick James's music, please. Just play me some.70
GEORGE: Brian didn't get very good deals on anything. For years EMI were giving us one old penny between us for every single and two shillings for every album. And there was the fiasco where Brian's father gave away the rights to The Beatles' merchandising. His father didn't have any authority to give away the rights, yet he gave them to some guy who gave them to somebody else, who gave them to somebody else.
If we'd known in 1962/63 what we know now, or even what we knew back in 1967, it would have made a real difference. We would have got better royalties if only we had known what was happening; and the royalty rate we got caused so much trouble and so many lawsuits later. We could have had a proper royalty rate.
I wasn't writing songs then, but John and Paul were. When I first started writing songs, it was presented to me like this: 'Do you want your song published?' and as John's and Paul's songs were being published by Dick James, I said, 'Yeah, OK, I'll have my songs published.' Nobody actually says, 'And when you sign this bit of paper to have your song published I am going to steal the copyright of your song from you.' So I signed this contract, thinking, 'Great, somebody's going to publish my song,' and then years later I'm saying, 'What do you mean, I don't own it?' I mean, that was terrible theft. Things like that went on all the time.
JOHN: We never talked in terms of finance. We were just a songwriting team; we started at sixteen and we decided that we'd call them 'Lennon/McCartney', and we said here's a song we wrote; because even with ones where we'd have it 90% finished, there's always something added in the studio. A song is - even now when I write a song - not complete. I can never give my song to a publisher before I've recorded it, however complete the lyrics and the tune and the arrangement are on paper, because it changes in the studio. So we just always did it like that, but nobody ever thought about the money. There was enough money for everybody in the world. Who's going to talk about money?74
PAUL: WE'VE GOT PEOPLE WE TRUST - OUR MANAGER. OUR RECORDING MANAGER, OUR PUBLISHER, OUR ACCOUNTANT - THEY'RE ALL TRUSTWORTHY PEOPLE, I THINK. SO WE LEAVE IT TO THEM AND I DON'T HAVE TO WORRY.65
RINGO: In April 1963 Paul, George and I decided to holiday together in Tenerife. Klaus Voormann's parents had a house there. They didn't have electricity, so we really felt we were Bohemians.
That was the first time I had been anywhere where there was black sand. I'd never seen the like of that before. It was a real good holiday. Paul has some great photos of us hanging out in Spanish hats, looking dramatic. That's what I love about the Spanish - they are so dramatic.
PAUL: We went out there and stayed there for a bit, but we got worried because nobody knew us in the Canaries and we were a bit put off: 'You know us? The Beatles?' And they were saying, 'No, no... don't know you.'
I got terrible sunburn: that British tan that hurts so much later. That gave me quite an uncomfortable time. And I got caught in a riptide. I was in the sea and thought, 'Now I'll swim back in,' but I realised I wasn't getting anywhere. In fact, I was getting further away.
GEORGE: I REMEMBER BLACK BEACHES. WE STAYED IN THE SUN TOO LONG AND GOT INCREDIBLY SUNBURNT; TYPICAL BRITISH. RINGO AND I BOTH HAD SUNSTROKE THE FIRST OR SECOND DAY AND I REMEMBER SHIVERING ALL NIGHT.
I drove around a lot. I was into sports cars and Klaus very kindly let me drive his Austin Healey Sprite. We've got some photographs of Paul and me in it - we took it up to the volcano. It was like the surface of the moon up there, and there were telescopes and a big observatory.
PAUL: Brian Epstein was going on holyday t Spain at the same time and he invited John along. John was a smart cookie. Brian was gay, and John saw his opportunity to impress upon Mr Epstein who was the boss of this group. I think that's why he went on holiday with Brian. And good luck to him, too - he was that kind of guy; he wanted Brian to know whom he should listen to. That was the relationship. John was very much the leader in that way, although it was never actually said.
JOHN: Cyn was having a baby and the holiday was planned, but I wasn't going to break the holiday for a baby: I just thought what a bastard I was and went. I watched Brian picking up boys, and I liked playing it a bit faggy - it's enjoyable.70
It was my first experience with a homosexual that I was conscious was a homosexual. We used to sit in a café in Torremolinos looking at all the boys and I'd say, 'Do you like that one? Do you like this one?' I was rather enjoying the experience, thinking like a writer all the time: 'I am experiencing this.' It was almost a love-affair, but not quite. It was not consummated. But it was a pretty intense relationship.80
But those rumours back in Liverpool! The first national press we got, the back page of the Daily Mirror, was me beating up Bob Wooler at Paul's twenty-first. That was the first 'Lennon hits out' story. I was so bad the next day. We had a BBC appointment; they all went down in the train, and I wouldn't come. Brian was pleading with me to go, and I was saying, 'I'm not!' - I was so afraid of nearly killing Wooler.
Bob had insinuated that me and Brian had had an affair in Spain. And I must have been frightened of the fag in me to get so angry. I was out of my mind with drink. (You know, when you get down to the point where you want to drink out of all the empty glasses; that drunk.) And Bob was saying, 'Come on, John, tell me about you and Brian - we all know.' You know when you're twenty-one, you want to be a man - if somebody said it now I wouldn't give a shit, but I was beating the shit out of him, hitting him with a big stick, and for the first time I thought, 'I can kill this guy.' I just saw it, like on a screen: if I hit him once more, that's going to be it. I really got shocked. That's when I gave up violence, because all my life I'd been like that.72
He sued me afterwards; I paid him Ј200 to settle it. That's probably the last real fight I've ever had.67 From then on - apart from occasionally hitting my dear wife, in the early days when I was a bit crazy (I can't say I'm non-violent, because I will go crazy sometimes) - I stopped that.72
PAUL: So there was the homosexual thing - I'm not sure John did anything but we certainly gave him a lot of grief when he got back.
JOHN: Brian was in love with me. It's irrelevant. I mean, it's interesting and it will make a nice Hollywood Babylon someday about Brian Epstein's sex life, but it's irrelevant, absolutely irrelevant.80
RINGO: We went to Rhodes, Corfu and Athens. In Rhodes we wanted to see the Colossus so I asked the woman at the hotel bar, 'Excuse me, where's the Colossus?' She said, It's gone now, son' - that's how much we hadn't left home - 'but if you go down to the port...' which we did and we saw these two little plinths with two deers on, supposedly where the Colossus was. And I remember going around the Parthenon three times - I think to keep Jane happy - and it was really tiring.
JOHN: We don't think there is such a thing as the Mersey Sound. That's just something journalists cooked up, a name. It just so happened we came from Liverpool and they looked for the nearest river and named it. The only thing is that we write our own songs.64
NEIL ASPINALL: The interesting music in the early Sixties for us was American R&B. They were very American-influenced when they went to the clubs, to find out what was happening in London, since it wasn't yet our scene. We were the new boys in town. Around then we met a guy called Andrew Oldham, whom Brian brought in as a press representative. Andrew took us out to Richmond to see a blues band: The Rolling Stones. (He went on to become their manager, of course.)
JOHN: We made it and then the Stones came out doing things a little bit more radical than we'd done. They had their hair longer, they would be insulting on stage, which we'd given up.
We first went to see the Stones at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond and then at another place in London. They were run by a different guy then, Giorgio Gomelsky. When we started hanging around London, the Stones were up and coming in the clubs, and we knew Giorgio through Epstein. We went down and saw them and became good friends.74
GEORGE: We'd been at Teddington taping Thank Your Lucky Stars, miming to 'From Me To You', and we went to Richmond afterwards and met them.
They were still on the club scene, stomping about, doing R&B tunes. The music they were playing was more like we'd been doing before we'd got out of our leather suits to try and get onto record labels and television. We'd calmed down by then.
RINGO: I remember standing in some sweaty room and watching them on the stage, Keith and Brian - wow! I knew then that the Stones were great. They just had presence. (And, of course, we could tell - we'd had five weeks in the business; we knew all about it!)
We talked to them. I don't know what about and I don't know if we ended up backstage.
PAUL: Mick tells the tale of seeing us there with long suede coats that we'd picked up in Hamburg, coats that no one could get in England. He thought, 'Right - I want to be in the music business; I want one of those coats.'
JOHN: I remember Brian Jones came up and said, 'Are you playing a harmonica or a harp on "Love Me Do"?' because he knew I'd got this bottom note. I said, 'A harmonica with a button,' which wasn't really funky-blues enough; but you couldn't get 'Hey! Baby' licks on a blues harp and we were also doing 'Hey! Baby' by Bruce Channel.71
NEIL ASPINALL: The Stones that night were OK - like any band down the Cavern. They could do their stuff and that was all you needed to do. A lot of people couldn't.
I remember Ian Stewart was playing with them on piano and later I couldn't understand why he wasn't in any of the publicity photographs. He still seemed to be around, on the piano, but in another way he wasn't in the band at all. I suppose that's the way it worked best for them.
PAUL: John and I were walking down Charing Cross Road one day. We used to hang out there because it was where all the guitar shops were; that was our Mecca. If we had nothing to do for an afternoon, we'd go down there window-shopping. I remember seeing Mick and Keith in a taxi and shouting, 'Hey, Mick - give us a lift!' We jumped in; they were on their way to the recording studio and Mick said, 'Here, you got any songs we could have? We've get a contract with Decca.' We thought, 'Hmmm.' We did have one we'd written for Ringo, 'I Wanna Be Your Man'.
Ringo always used to do a song in the show. Back then he had 'Boys'. It was a little embarrassing because it went, 'I'm talking about boys - yeah, yeah boys.' It was a Shirelles hit and they were girls singing it, but we never thought we should call it 'Girls', just because Ringo was a boy. We just sang it the way they'd sung it and never considered any implications. So we tried to write something else for Ringo, something like 'Boys', and we came up with 'I Wanna Be Your Man' - a Bo Diddley kind of thing. I said to Mick, 'Well, Ringo's got this track on our album, but it won't be a single and it might suit you guys.' I knew that the Stones did 'Not Fade Away' and that Mick was into the maracas, from when we'd seen them down at the Crawdaddy. So we went to the studio with them.
JOHN: The story on 'I Wanna Be Your Man' was that they needed a record. They'd put out 'Come On' by Chuck Berry and needed a quick follow-up. We met Andrew Oldham, who used to work for Epstein then had gone to the Stones and probably got them off Giorgio Gomelsky. He came to us and said, 'Have you got a song for them?' And we said 'Sure,' because we didn't really want it ourselves.
We went in and I remember teaching it to them.74 We played it roughly and they said, 'Yeah, OK, that's our style.' So Paul and I just went off in the corner of the room and finished the song while they were all still there, talking. We came back and that's how Mick and Keith got inspired to write: 'Jesus, look at that. They just went in the corner and wrote it and came back!' Right in front of their eyes we did it.80
We used to write in the early days, when we had more time or seemed to, for other people. We thought we had some to spare. We wrote one for Cliff and we did it.65
PAUL: The idea of our being rivals with The Rolling Stones was newspaper talk. It was natural that we would seem to be rivals, but in fact George got them their recording contract. He was at a party with Dick Rowe, the man famous for having turned The Beatles down for Decca.
GEORGE: There was a big showcase, at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. The Beatles had become famous, and Gerry and a few others had had success and everybody thought, 'Bloody hell!' and was looking up to Liverpool. Nobody had ever played the Philharmonic - they wouldn't let you in, let alone do a rock concert. But suddenly every group in Liverpool was there - even ones that weren't groups before. (Groups were forming right, left and centre to try to cash in on Liverpool's supposedly swinging scene.)
Anyway, I remember meeting some executives from London, one of whom must have been Dick Rowe. He said, 'You'll tell us who the good groups are, will you?' And I said, 'I don't know about that, but you want to get The Rolling Stones.'
JOHN: We hung around with the Stones in two separate periods. The first was initially, when they were still playing in the clubs, and the later period was when we were both riding high and there was a discotheque scene in London. We were like kings of the jungle then, and we were very close to Stones. I don't know how close the others were; I spent a lot of time with Brian and Mick and I admired them. 74
RINGO: When we came down to London it was a little like Liverpool, because most of the bands had come from the North and we'd all jammed together. We'd all hang out at each other's places. We'd hang out with The Animals and the Stones, and some jazz guys that we'd meet in clubs. There were good clubs: the Bag O'Nails and places like that.
(One odd thing: when we first started going to clubs in London we found people would be kissing you on the cheek. That was very weird for me, coming from up North. We shake hands up there; that's the manly thing to do. I soon got into it, but I remember being shocked at first. Brian Morris, who used to run the Ad Lib, went to give me a kiss on the cheek and I was mortified: 'Oh, my goodness!' But that was just the London way.)
JOHN: WE WERE THE FIRST WORKING-CLASS SINGERS THAT STAYED WORKING CLASS AND PRONOUNCED IT AND DIDN'T TRY AND CHANGE OUR ACCENTS, WHICH IN ENGLAND WERE LOOKED DOWN UPON. THE ONLY CHANGE WAS OUR IMAGE.73
JOHN: There have been offers of a spot on the Palladium show, but we don't feel that we are ready. We have seen others go and be torn to pieces.61
GEORGE: In October, the big one was
1. /Jennifer BATTEN/[GUITAR] Jennifer Batten - Two Hand Rock For Guitar.pdf
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