Memories Of Mary

Since Mum’s death I’ve somehow stored most of her memories in a private, sealed box in my heart, but every now and then the lid flies open and beautiful pictures come pouring out…

Pictures… of helping in the kitchen by slowly stirring cake mixture in a giant bowl with a wooden spoon – fawn coloured outside, white inside – before licking spoon and bowl clean of the sweet dough… of guiding wet clothes through the mangle while Mum turned the two finger-crushing rolling pin mangles.. of her sneaking us first cuts of a hot Sunday joint before serving the main meal onto the plate… of pushing meat down into the mincer and withdrawing little pink fingers, before they, too, became mincemeat…. of waiting, mouth watering, for hot scones from the oven, the waft of hot air in the face when the door finally opened, and the feel of thick melting butter and hot scones in hungry mouths… of playing ships with Paul in the bath, being flanelled, scrubbed, and pumice-stoned when the dirt was deeply ingrained, then lifted out and towel-dried as only Mums (and Dads) can do… of her buttoning our shirts, tying shoe laces, trying tying ties, going to the ‘dreaded’ dentists and Mum buying me a brown lead toy cart horse to take away the pain… of having Vick rubbed on our chests when a cold was attached… of Mum flicking the thermometer professionally (just like a nurse) putting it under my tongue and then taking my wrist-held pulse…. of feeling her concern and love for our illnesses through walls, round corners and upstairs… of swaying to and fro on the Singer sewing machine’s carved steel foot pedal whilst Mum sewed above…. of the smell of small hand-sewn bags filled with Dad’s lavender that nestled amongst shirts and wardrobe clothes hangers… of resting my head in her lap whilst listening to the radio at the end of the day… and finally, pictures of being tucked into freshly aired beds and cuddling down with cold feet touching rubber hot water bottles. (‘I want the orange one.’ ‘No, I want the orange one, you had it last night.’)… of being kissed goodnight on the lips and then, ‘Go(d) bless’ from the door as all but the landing light went out (just in case of bogey men).

The Macs: Mike McCartney’s Family Album.

School of the Instinctive

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If I was to sit down and write a song, now, I’d use my usual method: I’d either sit down with a guitar or at the piano and just look for melodies, chord shapes, musical phrases, some words, a thought just to get started with. And then I just sit with it to work it out, like I’m writing an essay or doing a crossword puzzle. That’s the system I’ve always used, that John [Lennon] and I started with. I’ve really never found a better system and that system is just playing the guitar and looking for something that suggests a melody and perhaps some words if you’re lucky. Then I just fiddle around with that and try and follow the trail, try and follow where it appears to be leading me. And sometimes it leads me down a blind alley so I have to retrace my steps and start again down another road.

But I’m of the school of the instinctive. I once worked with Allen Ginsberg and Allen always used to say, ‘First thought, best thought.’ And then he would edit everything. But I think the theory is good. ‘First thought, best thought.’ It doesn’t always work, but as a general idea I will try and do that and sometimes I come out with a puzzling set of words that I have no idea what I mean, and yet I’ve got to kind of make sense of it and follow the trail.

… I work with other people all the time, [but] I mean obviously the biggie is I miss working with John because that was something very special and you know it’s very difficult to replicate that. In fact it’s almost impossible because we met each other as teenagers and went through a lot of life together: hitchhiking to Paris and holidays and working together and being in Hamburg together with The Beatles. So we were very intimate, we knew each other intimately as only teenage friends can.”

Paul,talking about songwriting, NPR, 2016.

 

I Don’t Know (Oh Johnny Johnny)

This song, purported to be a very early Lennon/McCartney demo with suggestive lyrics, has been kicking around the internet for so long now that I finally got intrigued enough to check it out.

I couldn’t find a copy of the audio from any “legitimate” source (that is, non fan-based), and it’s not listed in any official catalogue of unpublished Beatles’ demos.

Nevertheless, it’s cited in social media as a very early Lennon/McCartney song, likely recorded in 1960 at Paul’s home on Forthlin Road.

Anyone have any information about this song, and, if it’s not a Lennon/McCartney tune, what its true origins are?

 

Signs

Q: But your relationship with John, in every way, as a Beatle..as a band, you were very very close. I mean, that must have been very painful in that respect, not only the Beatles breaking up, but I mean that particular relationship breaking up.

A: Mm. It was, yeah. Um, in our songwriting, I had signs that the group was gonna break up, because… I mean, I think really what it was, really all that happened was that John fell in love. With Yoko. And so, with such a powerful alliance like that, it was difficult for him to still be seeing me. It was as if I was another girlfriend, almost. Our relationship was a strong relationship. And if he was to start a new relationship, he had to put this other one away. And I understood that. I mean, I couldn’t stand in the way of someone who’d fallen in love. You can’t say, “Who’s this?” You can’t really do that. If I was a girl, maybe I could go out and… But you know I mean in this case I just sort of said, right – I mean, I didn’t say anything, but I could see that was the way it was going to go, and that Yoko would be very sort of powerful for him. So um, we all had to get out the way. I don’t blame her. You know, you can’t blame her for being the object of his love.

Paul, discussing his break up with John on German television, translation courtesy of Amoralto.

Taxman

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Recording of “Taxman” commenced on April 20 with four takes of the rhythm track, but the work was scrapped, and 10 new takes were made on the 21st; the song’s count-in was added on May 16.

On the original recording, the song came to a full stop at the end, but on June 21 a new ending was created by splicing an alternate mix of the guitar solo (with cowbell added) onto the track and fading it out.

Ironically, while the song is easily Harrison’s strongest songwriting effort up to that time, he wasn’t up to the task of performing a solo on it. During the June 21 session, after two hours of struggling to come up with something, Harrison was urged by George Martin to let McCartney give it a go.

Strapping on his Epiphone Casino and likely plugging into a Vox 7120 — a hybrid amp with a solid-state preamp and tube power amp, as well as a built-in distortion circuit — McCartney let rip with one of the most stunningly sophisticated and ferocious solos in the Beatles’ catalog.

Writes Emerick: “there was a bit of tension on that session, though, because George had a great deal of trouble playing the solo–in fact, he couldn’t even do a proper job of it when we slowed the tape down to half speed.  After a couple of hours of watching him struggle, both Paul and George Martin started becoming quite frustrated…so George Martin went into the studio and, as diplomatically as possible, announced that he wanted Paul to have a go at the solo instead.  I could see from the look on Harrison’s face that he didn’t like the idea one bit, but he reluctantly agreed and then proceeded to disappear for a couple of hours.  He sometimes did that–had a bit of a sulk on his own, then eventually came back. [..]

[The solo] was so good, in fact, that George Martin had me fly it in again during the song’s fadeout.” Portions of it appear in “Tomorrow Never Knows” as well, played backward, from one of McCartney’s tape loops.

Guitar World, and Geoff Emerick, Here, There, and Everywhere: Recording the Music Of The Beatles.

You Can’t Do That

 After their breakup the deal was that John could say things about Paul, but if YOU did –if anyone said anything bad about Paul, John would take a swing at you. He’d say, “You can’t talk about Paul like that.” Paul was his best buddy. If you were talking to Paul, and you said something derogatory about John, he’d get up and leave. Paul was more of a peaceful guy, but John had that hot head, and he would say, ‘You wanna talk about Paul? Let’s go.’ You weren’t allowed to say anything bad about Paul or John to each one of them. They would defend each other to the nth degree – which I liked. I thought that was great. You knew that they were connected at the hip.

Alice Cooper