Fabs as a religion<BR>

Fabs as a religion

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In article <1993Sep2.150900.6363@lmpsbbs.comm.mot.com> hensley@ssd.comm.mot.com writes:

>I've been to the Chicago Beatlefest the past two years now,
>and I've noticed, among other things, that there are a large
>number of people there whose sole livelihood appears to
>be the Beatles. It's almost as if these people worship
>the Beatles.

Livelihood is one thing. To me, that means making a living off the Fabs---which saddens me, even when its done with the best of intentions. For this reason, attending a Beatlefest is always something of a mixed bag for me. I enjoy the opportunity to visit with r.m.b.'ers (if they attend...some do) and pick up some nuggets of new information. The incessant commercialization is disheartening, though.

There are scholarly book services, however, such as Popular Culture Ink, who specialize in academic investigations of the Beatles, and that's nice from the standpoint of would-be authors who have a tale to tell as well as fans/fanatics hungry for detailed information. I can see the reason for that. I wouldn't follow that business route myself, but who knows? Perhaps Popular Culture Ink's people aren't looking to make money either. The could certainly have picked a more lucrative field if they were!

Then there are those who manufacture trinkets and detritus such as satin jackets, key chains, mugs, pencil cases---items their purchasers clearly enjoy, but which, for me, turn one of my own personal interests into utter triviality. But I have to admit that once upon a time I collected Beatles trading cards, too. :-) And nowadays I admire those with sufficient funds to invest in the rarest of artifacts from Sotheby's and Christie's. I suppose one gets one's pleasure where one can.

>It would seem that spending all one's free time listening to
>Beatle music, thinking about the Beatles, reading books about
>the Beatles, collecting Beatle records/CDs/whatever, etc.,
>is a form of worship. (I guess it depends upon the amount
>of free time one has.)

That's something different, as I interpret it. And very personal, to boot. How one spends one's free time, and how one chooses to worship, is best left up to the individual.

Free time is relative. My measurable free time is limited by the vagaries and complexities of life in the 'nineties, something which doubtless affects a few other r.m.b.'ers. :-) When I can squeeze time, or steal a spare moment that doesn't quite belong to me, I parcel it out amongst my varied recreational interests...one of which happens to be the Fabs.

No question, the boys have been in my mind and being almost thirty years now. Perhaps that seems odd. Perhaps it's rare to find a personal passion for something over that length of time. Possibly it's even more curious to keep four men in one's heart who no longer produce the musical artistry on which that love was based.

I don't do it deliberately. After all this time, it's natural, like breathing. I hear their songs in my head---seems like I always have---even without benefits of a Walkman. I can conjur up their faces, their accents, their words via very little mental effort.

Occasionally they come by for a visit in dreams (to pick up another recent thread)---always impeccably dressed in their Cardin suits, tonsorially groomed as they were in 1963-1964; polite, funny, irreverent, charming. We have tea and they talk about their music; sometimes I ask John about his writing. That's it; that's enough for dreams.

Special days crop up all year, and I recall them with affection: this Saturday, for instance, 4 September, when 31 years ago they entered Abbey Road Studios for their first official recording session; 23 August (just last week!), when *30* years ago they released "She Loves You". And then there are the "American" holidays (holy days? :-) like 7 February, 9 February; all their birthdays.... I don't light incense for them on their birthdays anymore, but I do think fondly of the Fabs and perhaps play a record or two by way of celebration.

There are rituals, of course, my own personal ones: never read while a Beatles song is playing; don't speak if you can help it; never turn off the radio before the Fabs song has finished.

Worship? I guess it is, after a fashion. What I do is a sort of worship, by dictionary definition: ardent, humble devotion; reverence; love expressed through a set of ceremonies. But it's a very personal response, I hasten to clarify; and in no way is it meant to be an affront toward those who reserve such feelings for a deity.

>In my opinion, John's statement about the Beatles being more
>popular than the Jesus applies to these people whose sole
>livelihood appears to be the Beatles. I think we as Beatle
>fans have to keep things in perspective. The Beatles are
>musicians, poets, whatever, etc., but they are not God,
>nor are they to be worshiped.

Speak for yourself. :-) Enlightenment comes via many paths. I wouldn't dare to suggest to someone that "worship"---however one wants to define it---is relegated to established religious avenues. My own interpretation of what the Beatles mean to *me* might well seem like blasphemy to a more orthodox believer in established faith. So be it. I know the difference between George Harrison and Buddha/Zeus/Amon-Re/Adonai, even if my prose doesn't always show it.

But experiences within my religion of choice (an "official" one this time :-) have brought me enlightenment equal to that found in musical, visual, and literary artistry. Perhaps you'd say that art merely reflects religious truth, as provided through the grace of one's deity-of-choice. That's fitting. If life is part of a divine plan, then surely it's a holy act to create such art, in which the beauties of the universe may shine forth. And surely it's equally a gift to receive such harmonic beatitude---to appreciate the wonders of mankind through a mirror of human effort. If you believe in a God, then you may see God *through* such a simple thing as a song. The song isn't God; neither are its composers. You know that; I don't think anyone else in this forum is confused about it either.

>(Please, no flames/discussions about John's statement. Let's please
>assume that he was just pointing out that the Beatles should not be
>more important than Jesus.)

John had a point. It's too bad that contemporary flamage caused him to partially recant what was a prescient and potent observation.

But if I left it at your interpretation alone, I'd be doing a disservice to John. Because he was *not* saying that the Beatles *should* be less important than Jesus. He was commenting ironically on the fluidity of divine hysteria---that Beatlemania seemed more popular than Christianity, and that Christianity would eventually "vanish and shrink". Read his statement closely and you'll see two other subtextual surprises. One is a hint of pride that the Fabs could even reach such heights. And one is despair that fans (mainly teens) seemed to have lost their spiritual focus. That was crosstalk from John's *own* sense of loss---his restless searching for something meaningful in the circus of his own circumstance.

He knew the Beatles weren't as important as Jesus. But he also knew that answers in *his* life weren't all coming from Christianity. John's search for satori was irreverent and unorthodox, unquestionably. Now and again such paths are the only way to travel. And as ever, that's a decision only the individual can make.

>I believe Doug Sulpy once said/wrote, "If Paul were to walk into
>the room you're in right now, tap you on the shoulder, and say,
>`Hullo mate, what's up?`, what would your response be?"
>Am I out in left field here, or what?

Well, it depends. :-) Is there a *right* way to react? If I couldn't find my voice, if I couldn't even stand up to shake his hand and thank him for the years of joy which have been mine because of his music--- would I make a fool of myself? Yes, probably. But who the hell cares?

I owe these four fellows more than I can fathom. Their songs have helped me through depths as well as heights. I owe them unbounded reverence. I'd even be glad to shake the hand of the bus conductor who gave John his first good harmonica. I owe him, too---everyone who helped these boys become what they were and are, everyone who meets in this esteemed newsgroup (now on the cusp of beginning its sixth year!) to celebrate---even to worship, if this comes closest to the truth---in whatever fashion one chooses, critically or uncritically as the case may be, a simple musical expression of the human soul. As far as I'm concerned, life's really too short to keep such revelations in perspective. :-)

>I might add that I sent a quick reply to Saki on this subject
>a few weeks ago, and I've not heard anything back yet...
>Did I touch a nerve?

You didn't even touch my mailbox. :-) If you had, you'd have gotten exactly the same response as this.

"This is pure madness," said one middle-aged woman. "There is nothing spectacular about the Beatles anyway. I am worried for my daughter, who might go crazy about them."______________________________________ saki (dmac@math.ucla.edu) Click here to return to the rmb home page.

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