Where To Put The Past?
The target for the worlds' first attempt at living taxidermy. Hopefully....
This site, as I'm sure you are aware, has an antiBeatles policy, something that in this day and age is more admirable and grand a gesture as ever. It is of course an absolutely necessary stance, the reason being the cultural arrogance (read: ignorance) of people who consider, or who have had that view thrust upon them, that the moptops are not only the be-all and end-all of pop, but are, still, its Now, its Omnipresence, its Omniscience.
Lester Bangs on an idea to stuff Elvis: "..I know he should be stuffed and put on display somewhere, I don't know for the life of me where that should be. Because I guess he really doesn't belong anywhere, anymore, does he? Does he?"
A similar problem awaits the plucky anti-Beatles iconoclast, the twist being it seems they 'belong' evrywhere. The band are as alive as they are dead. George Harrison (a home-owning, ultra-rich Budhhist? Hmmmm...) croaks it, and there they all are in the papers, on all the front covers and all over commercial radio, which some of us are alas forced to listen to. Yes it's an onvious condition of postmodernity, the dead souls shining out in cellulouid/video perpetuity, but a disturbing, not to mention BLOODY ANNOYING one, nonetheless.
This is to be expected. The real trouble is that this is less a symptom of a problem (postmodern consensus) and more a curse of the age. The cycle, we can see, is always in motion. The 80s saw a glut of moptop rereleases and advertising to show the YTS generation what real pop was like (see Jon Savage's essay in Time Travel about the posters on London buses and Manchester carol-singers belting out Beatles songs). The Oasis (de)generation bonded with their old folks over copies of 'Abbey Road' at the hight of Britpop, conveniently forgetting pop's biggets lessons about reinvention and seperation from the nuclear blueprint. And it isn't going away just because the survivors are tottering into retirement age. If it was 'just' the old pics, the old tracks, that'd be understandable (like I say, bloody annoying but understandable), like Taussad's waxworks for the odd school visit. But they don't let it lie there! Post-September 11th, Macca, now clearly in the gerbil-jowels stage of the human ageing process, was interviewed. On tv. Not on Jools, not on Parkinson....but CD:UK.
Oh, it was painful. CD:UK, in all its hithero reliable pure poppiness, its glitzy, stupid, artless, throwaway beauty, deigning to bring on old Thumbs-Aloft AND EXPECTING US (AND THE KIDS) TO CARE. Now, the producers may have thought they had a coup on their hands, but really...The interview slot was extended to a good 10 minutes or so of awe-filled banter as Cat, Ant 'n Dec asked away, the questions revealing their obvious sense of "this-is-a-Legend!". He was asked aout, yes, the Beatles and how he thought pop music had changed, and in response he plumped for the easy option of saying that "we" (ooh, the casual way he deploys the iconography of the Holy Quadrinity)went into "the studio" (that forever mythic space) with a song written just the day before, banged it out in a couple of takes and voila, hit record. Interesting how he decided to play that one safe, and not veer into a rant about 'pop music these days', where the young 'uns see it in terms of production and ost-production, of dance steps, marketing and possible careers (and mabye, if yer lucky, songs). Now THAT would have been...not-pointless.
But it's the fact that he was even on at all that really galls, wheeled on in front of a crowd of teens and pre-teens, grinning awkwardly anytime the old fart cracked a joke, and applauding on cue, the poor lambs. "Wow," they no doubt thought, because they were made to feel like they had to, "this is One-Of-The-Beatles!!" And wether or not they ever actually go out and buy any of the man's records with that accursed group, another coin has fallen into the money-slot of cultural perceived memory.
Honestly, Ringo didn't go far enough just narating Thomas the Tank Engine. Taxidermy while still living is an interesting scientific idea...surely Macca would be willing to leave his mark on science? Then we could bury him under the Cavern and, please God, get on with OUR decades, OUR musics. OUR culture.
© Dee Dee 2002