Friday, July 11, 2008

When Beatle Authors Get Conned

Mistakes, beyond the careless ones, happen when an author trusts the wrong source or hears something that isn't really there. Here are some of my favorite examples of Beatle authors getting conned:
  • Glass Onion: Geoffrey Giuliano's interview compilation contained a doozy: an extremely rare conversation between John Lennon and Samuel Beckett! Trouble was, it was the invention of someone's imagination and the meeting never happened. Posted originally on the Hapless Dilettante website, it originally came with some fictional introductory text, but Giuliano stripped that out and presented only the "interview" portion, where Lennon reveals, among other things, that the eggman was Jerry! You can still read the fake interview here.
  • Off The Record: Keith Badman collected enough material to fill three large books on the Beatle and solo years, and mistakes were bound to creep in. Probably the biggest error was the inclusion of (fake) original lyrics for "Yesterday," which had the working title of "Scrambled Eggs." While it's true Paul called the song "Scrambled Eggs" before coming up with the title "Yesterday," the lyrics are pure fantasy, posted originally on a newsgroup on April Fool's Day, no less. If April 1 wasn't enough of a giveaway, Badman should have zeroed in on the poster's reference to the source of the information: a non-existent Jane Asher book entitled Things He Said Today! But Badman didn't clue in to the humor, and to compound the joke he asked permission from Northern Songs to reprint the fake lyrics in Off The Record, and, oddly enough, they granted permission for these lines they don't own and Paul didn't write.
  • Revolution in the Head: I admit that I haven't verified this in print (having little interest in actively seeking out what I know to be errors), but early editions of Ian Macdonald's tome reportedly (according to a 1997 Amazon customer review) covered the fake track "Peace of Mind," which for decades bootleggers have attempted to pass off as a Beatles home recording. The song is anything but the Beatles and apparently Macdonald removed any reference to "Peace of Mind" in later editions of the book, as it was not present in the version I read. The true identity of the recording artists on the track remains a mystery to this day.
  • The Beatles Recording Sessions: Mark Lewisohn, in writing about the sessions for Abbey Road, was taken in by a bootleg recording purporting to have Paul McCartney singing lead vocal on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," when it was in fact an unknown cover band (likely coming from the B-side of their own composition "Oh, I Need You," also bootlegged alongside of it). Lewisohn later removed any mention of this recording in his later book The Complete Beatles Chronicle. Ironically, a version of Paul singing lead on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" from the Get Back sessions later surfaced, and not surprisingly, it sounds completely different from the previous fake bootlegged version.

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