All You Need Is Love + Cash
"Some kinda druid dudes lifting the veil…," from "Mind Games," written by John Lennon, Mind Games, released November 2, 1973, Apple/EMD/Capital Records.
So, George Michael bought the piano John Lennon used to compose "Imagine" for two million dollars, and has promised to donate it to a Liverpool museum after he writes one song. Our fascination with The Beatles continues at a gay pace, as reaffirmed by their new book, The Beatles Anthology (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000) which entered The New York Times bestseller list this week at #1. Not bad for an oversized, $60.00 coffee-table book! All you need is love plus cash and the clock gets turned back before 10:49 p.m. EST, Dec. 8, 1980, when Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon and things got weird for many people. Twenty years later things remain weird for some and the new Beatles' book helps, but not enough. I wonder if more love is needed, more cash, or both?
It's difficult to regard The Beatles as a gay band, but it would be good exercise, and I could use the humility. Everyone knows The Beatles were/are a "gay" band, right? Ignorance, denial, or political correctness can't protect, excuse, or even sympathize with this feared confrontation. We adore The Beatles, as both a group and as individuals, with our sincerest social and familial attentions. Still, they were gay, weren't they?
I'm 42, was made to twist in front of my older brother's friends to The Beatles in 1964 and some of 1965, until he graduated high school, became a marine, and went to Vietnam. It was Bruce Springstein's New Jersey, across the water from Metropolis, Ed Sullivan and Murray the K said it was so, it was, and The Beatles were an influence even as a way youngster. Though not focused on albums and record-players, as a first-grader I was moved to "discover" a quarter in my mom's purse, quietly borrowed my brother's bicycle (from Rob, who was five years older than me, not the "Beatle" brother, Tom, who's ten years older and still doesn't own a bicycle), and went off to a Saturday morning matinee to take in A Hard Day's Night by myself. Okay, other Saturdays would sustain Mothra, Godzilla sequels, or bad cowboy flicks, but that first Beatles' movie will always hold a cherished spot next to Gone With The Wind and the works of Shakespeare. Good stuff! [Note: Gone With The Wind and the works of Shakespeare are also gay, but those are other columns.]
With my "Beatle" brother away, I followed The Beatles peripherally as popular culture, heard various singles on the radio, saw Help at the movies, vaguely recall debate over Sgt. Pepper's and Magical Mystery Tour, but it wasn't until the release of the double lp, The Beatles (the "White Album"), that I started to seriously pay attention. I recall the hoopla surrounding the length of "Hey Jude," shared the delight of the rooftop "Get Back," and the breakup passed with little notice, as I began to revel in the solo lps, like George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. With the ass-end of hindsight, it seems clear I was correct to be weary of The Beatles. Their gay agenda nearly got me, many weren't as fortunate (oh, my brother is not going to like being gay), and I survived because of comic books and …a plethora of other (and often better) music. I still listen to 60s' Cream, Hendrix, Dylan, and some Woodstock-related material, but would sooner soil myself standing in line to purchase manly stocking-stays than listen to a Beatles' album, cassette, or cd. Solo, non-gay; sure. The Beatles, that gay 60s group; no, thank you…
Non-gay, non-Liverpudian folk reading The Beatles Anthology may be confused with the term "Teddy Boy," for a British tough, but when Brian Epstein (The Beatles' manager) is flatly described as "gay," most readers understand that not all homosexuals are happy, smiley people. Of the infamous 1963 vacations, Paul (who went with George to Tenerife in the Canaries) comments:
"Brian Epstein was going on holiday to Spain at the same time and he invited John along. John was a smart cookie. Brian was gay, and John saw his opportunity to impress Mr Epstein who was the boss of this group. I think that's why he went on holiday with Brian. And good luck to him, too--he was that kind of guy; he wanted Brian to know whom he should listen to. That was the relationship. John was the leader in that way, although it was never actually said."
John follows with:
"Cyn was having a baby and the holiday was planned, but I wasn't going to break the holiday for a baby: I just thought what a bastard I was and went. I watched Brian picking up boys, and I liked playing it a bit faggy--it's enjoyable."
Whoa, John-dude, rein in those details, fella'! Later, John says his relationship with Brian "was not consummated," he fought with a tabloid writer who suggested otherwise, and became so shocked at the violence, that he never again got into a fight, except for occasional spousal abuse.
I always suspected "Beatle-boots" were gay. Oh, the long hair remains debatable, but one merely has to take a look at Michael Jackson and his passion for dressing like Sgt. Pepper to draw the proper conclusion. What about "Beat It"? And didn't Jackson hold the rights to a lot of Beatles' songs for a while? An uncomfortable pattern is emerging…
Before John went into his late 70s retirement, the last two musical contributions were with Elton John and David Bowie. After Milk and Honey, the album Lennon was working on at the time of his murder, the next release was titled Menlove Ave., said to be a street John lived on as a child in Liverpool. Menlove? Vanna, two consonants and a vowel, please. Gay!
The Beatles Anthology is a pricey collectible, though with a 40% discount because it made The New York Times bestseller list, it becomes affordable at certain bookstores. Wonderful pictures, letters, and manuscripts are reproduced, but not identified. In fact, the entire index is all but useless. The book addresses the touchy subjects of sex and drugs with careful revisionism. This, in my opinion, is its major fault. The "cute" image is preserved, but the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, may never be known. No alley-sex in Hamburg? If "Cold Turkey" was offered to The Beatles, can anyone comment on John's experience with heroin? Too cute and that's that…
Was John gay? Probably not; who cares? Did he experiment sexually? Probably; who cares? Well, it would have been nice for the remaining Beatles to allow for John's unique approach to life, get over the image thing, and declare their love for their lost comrade regardless of where his private life led him.
And George Michael at John Lennon's piano? Well, Michael has said that he wants to sleep with both Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Perhaps he's going to write a seductive ballad to impress them. I'm sure John is chuckling, no matter how things turn out…
Waiting on The Stones' tell-all,