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Was Ringo Really the Best Beatle?

Here’s a charming and often incisive--if a bit too objectivist/capitalist--summation and refutation of "the Gospel of John and Oko." The author, who grew up under Soviet communism, makes a pretty good case that we’re still unduly influenced by such silly progressivist imaginings. (Thanks to the always free Frank Warner.)

Discussions - 15 Comments

Excellent...and distressing. He’s right about the most talented Beatle, of course, but John was the early voice of the Beatles on most of their hard rock songs. At 14 I picked him out of the group as my favorite, too, but grew disgruntled with his "philosophy" later on. But I did nothing to actively counter it as I drifted through my life--not coincidentally, playing in bands. Their influence was that complete.

This IS an interesting article, and it says a great deal about the naivete of its writer, I think. First, he writes as though American (or any complex) society adheres to one or two ideologies that are themselves simple. He wonders, for instance, that John Lennon’s "message" failed to become THE party line.

Second, he doesn’t appreciate what happens when youth heroes die when they are young: They never get a chance to mature, and their message never gets a chance to evolve or, more likely, to entropy! Unlike Paul (and other artists who have had the good fortune to live a long life) we never got a chance to see how John turned out.

The author seems to understand that we can be brainwashed into Marxists, rebels, and peace-niks, but he doesn’t seem to understand that such "brainwashing" is the same process that makes us capitalists, establishmentists and hawks.

Finally, when did revolution and rebellion become un-American? I remember way back when Clinton was President, and hating the President was a conservative value. That was back when John and Yoko were getting less play than Lynard Skynard and Tobie Keith.

Party on, Peter!

Ringo would certainly be the best dinner companion.

I don’t know whether he’s the best Beatle or not, but I do know that he had the best looking wife of the lot. That’s for damn sure.

Dan, I finally agree with you about something! From "Cavemen" to "The Spy Who Loved Me," she proved that Ringo was the luckiest husband of the 4.

On the other hand, only Paul can claim to have a wife with a prosthesis who is also a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars."

She was blazing hot in "The Spy Who Loved Me." She was in that black evening gown, with a high slit showing a great pair of legs. She was on fire. And she just oozes sex appeal.

Of course that subject might warrant its own separate thread, which Bond woman is the hottest

Ringo was the drummer. Drummers are always the best, as ex-drummers can attest.

Reading this reminds me of why I am so glad that I didn’t grow up in the 60s. I’m doubly glad that by the time I was old enough to know who the Beatles were, I was also old enough to consider them "Mommy’s music" and thus not to think they were particularly good or cool. But then, I’ve never been much of a judge of pop music. In my mis-spent youth I plastered my bedroom with pictures of Rick Springfield and Michael Jackson. Ghastly!

John and Paul were the heart of the amazing musical accomplishment, obviously. The article documents the idiocy Lennon allowed to appear under his name, ideas in the key of "Imagine" but even more preposterous.

Here’s Martha Bayles on the subject of Yoko’s spell over John in terms of his music: "The turning point came at the Toronto Rock and Roll Festival in 1969. Appearing live for the first time since 1967, Lennon was sharing the lineup with his idols Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Gene Vincent. Accordingly, he was extremely nervous: ’I just threw up for hours before I went on.’ Yet once he took the stage...he became his old self, launching into roaring covers of three 1950s hits, "Blue Suede Shoes," "Money," and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy." Yet, just as the old excitement was returning, who should take the stage but Art--a mysterious figure in a white shroud who turned out, after a few baffling moments, to be the source of a thin, off-key whinnying that kept creeping in at all the wrong moments."

"...And that was only the beginning. The next step was a real-life enactment of every musician’s nightmare: the star’s tone-deaf girlfriend getting up to sing with the band. When Ono cast off her shroud and joined Lennon in a new creation called "Cold Turkey," the whinnying gave way to gobbling, choking, gibbering, skawking, screaming, yowling, yipping, keening--and finally, over the droning background of a number called "John, John, Let’s Hope for Peace," the cry of a baby rabbit being tortured to death. The audience swallowed it, because at that point the audience was swallowing anything Lennon dished out. Even so, he seemed a bit worried: He announced Ono’s solo performance by saying, "Now Yoko is going to do her thing--all over you." And at the end of the set, he joined Clapton and the other musicians for a hand-rolled smoke, perhaps to stave off another attack of nausea."

That’s from Bayles’ Hole in our Soul and the writing is consistently that good. If you’re interested in popular music, you will go order it right now.

Hi Peter et al, The later Lennon was tedious and if I never hear "Imagine" again as long I live it will stil be too soon. Fat chance of that, alas. Still the Lennon of "You’ve got to hide your love away", "Norwegian Wood", "In My Life" and others is incomparable. To paraphrase Auden: "Time with that strange excuse shall pardon Lennon and his views".

Julie wrote: "I was also old enough to consider them "Mommy’s music" and thus not to think they were particularly good or cool."

I am old enough to grow up in that era. I’m also darn near a heretic for saying this: I believe the Beatles were influential, but I don’t believe they were particularly great. Good, yes; great, no. Their influence due mostly to lucky timing. And by extension, John Lennon was influential, though he was really just a foolish 60’s dime-store faux radical. Hopelessly naive, his deification due to his untimely death; were he still alive he’d be pretty much a laughing stock ... that "crazy Beatle and that nutty Ono chick.

It’s unfortunate the 60’s had to take place. More unfortunate still is that the effects of that awful period can still be felt today.

Thanks to Carl and Hugh, among others. Lennon/McCartney at their best were incomparable, and John was the best of the Beatles and the most annoying and embarrassing on his own. Paul separated from John was and is nothing all that special, although as far as I can tell a good guy. Ringo is a good and surely underappreciated drummer and comparatively very short on pretense.

I do think the Beatles were great, and I grew up with them. I remember watching the Beatles cartoon on Saturday mornings, and memorizing their early pop tunes. And when I compare those tunes to their work on Abbey Road, and Revolver, I find it amazing that they developed so fast and so well as a group. They may be a living example of a Gestalt.

As for who was the best, I miss George, and identified with him more than the others. I listen to his "All Things Must Pass" cd more these days than I do any other Beatles or solo efforts.

Paul lost me during the 70’s with "Silly Love Songs," and "Someone’s knocking on the door....."

Coincidentally, this:


just arrived in my inbox.

Pretty cute, I thought.

George deserves serious consideration as the best Beatle soloist, and as most genuinely spiritual Beatle.

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