Montag, 27. Dezember 2010


The time I like best is 6am
when the snow is 6 inches deep
which I'm yet to discover
'cause I'm under the covers
fast, fast asleep.

Passt doch wunderbar zur Jahreszeit. Ist nicht von den Beatles, ist (wie das von der Jahreszeit her auch zu empfehlende The trouble with Snowmen) von ihrem Weggefährten Roger McGough. Heute vor fünfzig Jahren sind die Beatles zum ersten Mal in der Liverpooler Litherland Town Hall aufgetreten. Wie die Zeit vergeht. Als mir 1968 ein Professor zähneknirschend von seinem Vortragshonorar einen Fuffi abgab (immerhin hatte ich den Vortrag geschrieben), habe ich mir am nächsten Tag das gerade erschienene White Album gekauft. Ich hatte mal alle ihre Platten, habe auch alle Beatles Filme gesehen. Irgendwie haben sie Fröhlichkeit in unser Leben gebracht, Will you still need me, Will you still feed me, When I'm sixty-four? Ach, man kann sie immer noch gebrauchen, auf beiden Seiten der sixty-four.

Die schönste Beschreibung des Erfolgs der Beatles findet sich in dem Essay Eight Arms to Hold You von Hanif Kureishi. Da ich zu faul war, einige Absätze aus dem Buch abzutippen (es ist der Faber&Faber Ausgabe von London Kills Me mit drin), habe ich im Internet danach gesucht. In Nantes wurde der Text im Jahre 2005 für das Baccalaureat General verwendet (kein Lexikon erlaubt), finde ich irgendwie cool.

    One day at school—an all-boy comprehensive on the border between London and Kent—our music teacher told us that John Lennon and Paul McCartney didn’t actually write those famous Beatles songs we loved so much. 
    It was 1968 and I was thirteen. For the first time in music appreciation class we were to listen to the Beatles—“She’s Leaving Home”— with bass turned off. The previous week, after some Brahms, we’d been allowed to hear a Frank Zappa record, again bassless. For Mr Hogg, our music and religious instruction teacher, the bass guitar “obscured” the music. But hearing anything by the Beatles at school was uplifting, an act so unusually liberal it was confusing. 
    Mr Hogg prised open the lid of the school “stereophonic equipment”, which was kept in a big dark wooden box. Hogg put on “She’s Leaving Home” without introduction, but as soon as it began he started his Beatles analysis. 
    What he said was devastating, though it was put simply, as if he was stating the obvious. These were the facts: Lennon and McCartney could not possibly have written the songs ascribed to them; it was a con—we should not be taken in by the “Beatles”, they were only the front-men.
    Those of us who weren’t irritated by his prattling through the tune were giggling. Certainly, for a change, most of us were listening to the teacher. I was perplexed. Why would anyone want to think anything so ludicrous ? What was really behind this idea?
    “Who did write the Beatles’ songs, then, sir?” someone asked bravely. And Paul McCartney sang:
"We struggled hard all our lives to get by She’s leaving home after living alone, For so many years."
    Mr Hogg told us that Brian Epstein and George Martin wrote the Lennon/Mc Cartney songs. The Fabs only played on the records—if they did anything at all. (Hogg doubted whether their hands had actually touched the instruments.) “Real musicians were playing on those records,” he said. Then he put the record back into its famous sleeve and changed the subject. 
    It was unbearable to Mr Hogg that four young men without significant education could be the bearers of such talent and critical acclaim. But then Hogg had a somewhat holy attitude to culture. “He’s cultured,” he’d say of someone, the antonym of “he’s common”. Culture, even popular culture—folk-singing, for instance was something you put on a special face for, after years of wearisome study. Culture involved a particular twitching of the nose, a faraway look (into the sublime) and a fruity pursing of the lips. Hogg knew.
    Obviously this was not something the Beatles had been born into. Nor had they acquired it in any recognized academy or university. No, in their early twenties, the Fabs made culture again and again, seemingly without effort, even as they mugged and winked at the cameras like school boys. 
    Sitting in my bedroom listening to the Beatles on a Grundig reel-to reel tape-recorder, I began to see that to admit to the Beatles’ genius would devastate Hogg. It would take too much else away with it. The songs that were so perfect and about recognizable common feelings— “She Loves You”, “Please, Please me”, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”— were all written by Brian Epstein and George Martin because the Beatles were only boys like us: ignorant, bad-mannered and rude; boys who’d never, in a just world, done anything interesting with their lives. This implicit belief, or form of contempt, was not abstract. We felt and sometimes recognized—and Hogg’s attitude toward the Beatles exemplified this—that our teachers had no respect for us as people capable of learning, of finding the world compelling and wanting to know it. 

In dem Gedicht Hey, Dude bringt Roger McGough Paul McCartney dazu (Paul has probably forgotten about the incident by now/but I clearly remember that Saturday morning), Hey, Dude in Hey, Jude umzuschreiben. Ich weiß nicht, ob die Geschichte wahr ist. Ich zitiere mal die letzte Strophe, ich hoffe dass Roger McGough mir das erlaubt. Als ich ihn das letzte Mal sah, trug er einen zerknitterten, beigefarbenen Seidenanzug, das war sehr stylish. Aber das ist schon ein paar Jährchen her. Vielleicht sind zerknitterte beigefarbene Seidenanzüge nicht mehr so in. Er ist auch, wie ich an den Photos in seiner Autobiographie Said and Done sehen kann, älter geworden, aber seine Gedichte altern - wie die Songs der Beatles -  erstaunlicherweise überhaupt nicht:

He didn't say anything before going back upstairs
But the gentle squeeze of my shoulder spoke volumes.
As we left the house we could hear his guitar
As he unpacked his rich mind-hoard of love lyrics.
Outside, Michael and I selected a couple of the likeliest-
looking Beatles groupies and whizzed them down to the pub.

Selbst wenn das alles erfunden sein sollte, die letzten beiden Zeilen klingen absolut authentisch. Bräute aufreißen und in die Kneipe abschleppen: those were the times.

Roger McGough taucht in diesem Blog noch einmal in dem Post ➱Kathedralen auf.

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