From bcm.tmc.edu!seltaeb.ghgcorp.com!rmb-mod Tue Nov 12 23:55:09 CST 1996
In article <19961110202001.PAA11699@ladder01.news.aol.com>,
>That said, I agree with saki (but didn't have the space to get into this
>in my bibliography) that Hertsgaard greatly overstated the number of
>session tapes (as opposed to bootlegs readily available to the rest of us)
>that he heard. So far as I can tell, he heard session tapes for something
>like three songs. But those descriptions are worth having.
When it comes right down to it, I think all the "wish lists" about Anthology 3 are missing the mark. That was then, this is now. It's gone and done. It's yesterday's papers, last week's extraordinary (good job, lads!) Billboard. Another Number One.
But what's left when the dust settles?
The critic. The analyst. The man in search of meaning and more.
The "more" is what good criticism is all about: the celebration and explication of art. All of us, expressing our humble opinions in a venue such as this, are participating in the holy and celebratory act of criticism.
Don't be scared. :-)
Contrary to popular opinion, *good* critics don't tear down the artform copiously and eloquently created by artists.
Rather, they are art's cantors.
They sing glorious prayers to the wonder of human talent. It's too bad that many scholarly pursuits obfuscate this essential fact. There'd be *many more* enthusiasts of scholarship if its joys were accepted as a natural part of its being, if this tendency on the part of art's interpreters weren't beaten into prosodic insensibility by teachers who no longer believe in the power of passionate divination.
And when we talk about all the wonderful folks who have written about the Fabs in the past----the ones who have made themselves worth a mention in Beatles bibliographies all over the world---I still find that there's an essential element just on the edge of expression in all of them.
An inner truth is just within reach, yet still inexpressible, still elusive.
Give credit where credit's due. The Muse of Musicology visits some of us more regularly than others, and helps some communicate to the less technical what's going on in those pounding notes, those relentless words of love.
I admit I really do see it in Ian MacDonald, though he gets all torn up with culture and society and impenetrable critical Tarot. If he'd only let himself *dance*, for God's sake.
Same with Hertsgaard; there'd be less of the "I heard secret tapes that no one else knows about!" self-promotion and more of what must have brought him to seek out those sweet entombed notes to begin with, to release those truths to the rest of us not so fortunate as he.
I see it in lots of writing about the Fabs...which needn't be as indecipherable as the metaphor "dancing about architecture" usually communicates. You can do a fairly evocative dance to the Chrysler Building, if you're so moved, and uninhibited enough. You can do an equally inspiring foxtrot to the humble building at 3 Abbey Road, London NW8 too, if you'll let yourself go.
I do see this in a *lot* of prose. It's prominent in Hunter Davies' terrific joie de vivre and affection for the Fabs' early history.
It's evident in every phoneme of Mark Lewisohn's dedication to the best possible truth; he loves to death every wisp of studio documentation, and teaches us why we too should pursue such a path, whether or not our outcome will be the best possible result. (He has also taught us to correct ourselves with humility and zeal.)
Allan Kozinn weaves together the disparate threads of past scholarship and provides a proof of the Fabs' musical permanence.
Philip Norman (bless his inaccurate hide) promulgates the sheer raunchy excitement of four fellows caught in the maelstrom of mania, making music that reflects the simplest desires of the soul, the most complex needs of love.
Hertsgaard, Goldman, Riley...I swear there's passion in all their voices. There's not 100% reliability, alas. The tendency towards the vice of anti-hagiography (in Goldman and Seaman) is a nearly unforgivable transgression. Sanctification in analysis is equally bad.
But sometimes passion pushes us over the edge, flirting with gossip and wild anecdotal testimony, sometimes entirely too far to make sense of the boundaries of what's real and unreal in the Beatles' musical oeuvre. Love is far too easily admixes with "honesty", in some psyches, to the point where one cannot tell how to step back from brutality to express history with compassion and charity.
And then sometimes you can sense it; caution is thrown to the wind.
Bubbling just under the surface of more cautious words is the stuff of irrepressible fervor. Take any critic of decent intent (or even demi-indecent) and just below the skin is the same excitement you feel when you hear "Please Please Me" for the thousandth time, or sway in subconscious primal ecstasy to "I Want You (She's So Heavy)".
It's the same prime mover that defines our tears when we hear "In My Life" or "Golden Slumbers". It's the same impetus that forces us downstairs at night, late, while the rest of the house sleeps, to clamp on headphones to exult privately over five (count 'em) takes of "Misery".
You never get enough of the Beatles.
Like any of life's ultimate pleasures, that's as it should be, on whatever level your enjoyment exists. Click here to return to the rmb home page.
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