Monday, 20 October 2014

Spanish English teacher influenced Sgt Pepper?

John Lennon spent 44 days in Almeria, Spain in 1966, filming "How I Won The War" and starting to compose "Strawberry Fields Forever".  A movie and a book have recently been released about it. The book, "Juan & John" is written by Javier Adolfo Iglesias. It tells the story of Juan Carrión and his encounter with Lennon.

The book.

Juan was the first teacher to teach English in Spain by the use of songs by The Beatles. He started doing this because he was fascinated by the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo, and he realised that teaching English with the aid of popular music could be a good way to make his students learn. When he became aware that John Lennon was in Almeria in 1966, Juan decided to contact him to talk about his experience, and also to ask if The Beatles could start to print the lyrics of their songs on their album sleeves. It was getting hard to transcribe them from the records, or from listening to the music on the radio.

The back of Sgt Pepper

Juan managed to find John, and the two spent half an hour talking - later they exchanged letters. As we now know, after this encounter The Beatles printed their song lyrics on the back of their next album, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. They continued this practise for a while, they included a sheet with lyrics in the booklet for their Magical Mystery Tour EP, and the "White album" had the lyrics on an accompanying poster. It may now look as if all of this have been due to the influence of the Spanish English teacher.

Film poster. The film is available on DVD, also with overdubbed English sound or subtitles.

A film, "Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados" ("Living is easy with eyes closed"), a fictionalised account of Juan's travel through Spain to visit Lennon was made by David Trueba and premiered in 2013. The film won six Goya Awards in Spain, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Writing and Best Leading Actor. It has been selected as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards.

An amateur documentary about Juan & John, "Profesor Pepper" was made by the book's author, Mr Iglesias, in 2011. You may find it on Vimeo, and it's in Spanish.

Juan is now 92 years old, and though retired, he still teaches an English class every day by using Beatles songs.


CrackinThunder said...

The movie from Spain I was able to catch on a foreign flight; apparently not available in the US as yet. It was very worthy of its accolades....well acted and a very touching story going on with some of the characters in it.

Nicola said...

It's really a great film! Plus the music is made by Pat Metheny..what more can you ask? Oh, yes...maybe english subs :D Still worth watching it and understand the 60-70% as I did :D

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