Monday, June 02, 2008

Beatles Talk

Another in the special series in which FREDERICK JAMES lets his tape recorder listen in on informal conversations between John, Paul, George and Ringo.

F.J.: This month's BEATLES TALK session is going to be a bit different. As you know, I've been responsible for several features in past issues of our Monthly Book where we've taken a bunch of current Beatle rumours and knocked them for six. After all, if you can't find out the real facts in their own magazine where can you find 'em? Recently the biggest and most ridiculous rumour of the lot has been going the rounds. I'm talking about the one that goes "Are the Beatles slipping?" Now before we get going let me make it very, very clear that this isn't going to be a "Defend The Poor Old Beatles" affair. Let's face it, the most popular and most famous group in the world needs no defending. George looks as though he's ready to start the ball rolling so let's make a start with him.

GEORGE: I just wanted to say something general about Number One records. The papers are making a lot more news out of the charts nowadays and this has two results. First of all people who never buy any pop records know a bit more about the Top Twenty and this is a good thing. On the other hand when they read a story saying "Fred Nurke topples Elvis Bone" they think Fred Nurke is now the most highly-paid and highly-honoured entertainer in the world and this guy Bone has had it forever.

JOHN: We're quite safe at the moment. It's nothing to do with us. We haven't got a record anywhere near the Top Twenty this week!

GEORGE: And we can't possibly have until the next one is released--but what I'm getting at is this. You can't blame anyone who isn't a fan for reading through the Top Twenty in the papers and saying to themselves "There you are, The Beatles aren't in the Top Twenty any more. They're right out of things. They've had it!" Or Elvis Bone or Fred Nurke has had it as the case may be!

F.J.: If I can come in here for a moment . . . .

JOHN: Well it's your own tape you're wasting.

F.J.: Do you think it really matters to a group as important as The Beatles whether or not you ever have a record at Number One again--let alone whether you happen to have a new one selling at the moment?

PAUL: You're joking! Of course it matters. The more success you've had in the charts the more you're going to worry when things aren't going quite so well.

JOHN: Yes, but what he means is that if we can make successful films and things they're more important than the Top Twenty anyway.

PAUL: Do you think they are?

JOHN: Me? No, I don't. I'm just telling you what he means.

RINGO: Alright--so if "Help!" doesn't go to Number One straight away we're going to sit around and cry!

GEORGE: I expect we would too! It's funny really--I mean funny peculiar--when you've got a new record out you can't wait to hear how it does after the first week. It doesn't matter how many Number Ones you've had, the next one is always the most important.

RINGO: When we tell people we had a great big shindig to celebrate getting to Number One they can't understand it.

PAUL: Yes--they say "Aren't you used to that yet?" I don't think we could ever get used to it. We hope for a Number One right away but it's still a surprise each time it really happens.

F.J.: Well, I'd say that with or without another Number One, there aren't any real signs of The Beatles slipping. You've only to look at your own fan club membership list. Or take the American tour in August, for example, where you'll have 55,000 Beatle People watching your first concert at Shea Stadium in New York. According to reports I've read from the States you could have sold out all over again with extra concerts right through the tour if there'd been time to add the extra dates.

PAUL: There must be a few less Beatle fans than there were, say, eighteen months ago. Whenever there's something new happening you'll find people sort of jumping on the bandwagon to have a go. Then some of them get fed up and jump off again. I don't think you can get away from that.

RINGO: In other words, what we've got now--readers of the Monthly and fan club members and so on--are the REAL fans. The ones who don't just buy each Number One record BECAUSE it is a Number One record.

F.J.: If you're reading the Monthly Book now . . .

JOHN: Well they must be mustn't they?

F.J.: . . . you can stand up and take a bow. You're all officially long-term Beatle People as of this moment!

JOHN: Thank You, Beatle People. You can't actually see the four of us kneeling down because the microphone's pointing the wrong way. Thank you, thank you, thank you. That was me miming for the other three.

F.J.: You say you'd be worried if you didn't get a Number One . . .

RINGO: If we don't? WHEN we don't, you mean. You can't go getting Number Ones for ever.

F.J.: Alright, WHEN you don't get to the top first week off--but what about some of these press stories. The "Beatles slipping" ones. Do those worry you?

JOHN: It's difficult to answer that. If we say "Yes" that's not really true but if we say "No" it sounds all big-headed as though we can't take criticism.

PAUL: None of us minds criticism. We want that. We want to know what people think, whether they're fans or writers or whatever they are. It would be terrible if we just didn't want to know and tried to pretend we were little gods with a halo round each of our heads.

JOHN: It's angels that have a halo.

PAUL: It's just as bad to read stupidly good things about ourselves as it is to see stupidly wrong rumours.

GEORGE: It's bad when all the writers say wonderful things about something just because it's "in" and fashionable to do so. Constructive criticism is far more sensible than blind praise.

F.J.: Let's get on to one of the other current rumours. I've seen some of your fan mail from people who have got the idea you don't fancy tours any more.

RINGO: No. Untrue. I think doing live shows is one of the most important parts of working in the entertainment world. We all do.

PAUL: You see this is a case of somebody twisting something we've said to make a story turn out THEIR way. His way, her way, or whatever. If a journalist comes up to us and we're sitting backstage at some theatre and it's freezing cold and Mal hasn't come back with the food and . . .

GEORGE: And then the reporter says "Do you still love touring?"

RINGO: And we all yell out "No. We're never doing another one. So there!"

JOHN: And he believes us. He honestly does--or else he wants to think he does for the sake of his story.

RINGO: Anyway, we're spending a lot of this year doing "live" shows one way and another.

JOHN: Of course it's more comfortable to live at home and just go down to a film studio every morning. No travelling and packing and bribing waiters to give you a sandwich in the hotel after the show. Everybody finds SOMETHING to grumble about so that they can be happy--but none of that means we don't enjoy touring.

PAUL: We'd have done a Spring tour of Britain for sure if we hadn't been working on "Help!" No, we're not against tours and we'll certainly be doing plenty more concerts here and abroad.

F.J.: I know there's plenty of tape left but I can see this session running overtime or overspace as far as the Monthly Book is concerned if we don't stop here. May I just round off by saying that I'M sure "Help!" will be a Number One record AND a Number One film. Beatle People won't agree that John, Paul, George and Ringo have any chance of slipping while they go on writing, singing, playing and acting just the way they have been doing so far this year. Good luck on the European tour, boys, and see you when you come home!

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