Thursday, 12 September 2019

Previous excerpts from the boardroom tape

Anthony Fawcett: One Day At A Time (1976)
In conjunction with our last post about Mark Lewisohn playing a tape containing a business meeting on September 8, 1969 with Paul, George and John, we mentioned that said tape has been quoted from in books back in the seventies. Thanks to forum poster tdgrnwld over at bootlegzone, we are able to bring you those quotes. Here is tdgrnwld's post:

The following appeared in Anthony Fawcett's 1976 book, One Day At A Time (p. 95-97):

John, Paul and George discussed this problem at Apple in the autumn of 1969, on one of the rare occasions when they got together. John glared at Paul and said, sarcastically: "It seemed mad for us to put a song on an album that nobody really dug, including the guy who wrote it, just because it was going to be popular, 'cause the LP doesn't have to be that. Wouldn't it be better, because we didn't really dig them, yer know, for you to do the songs you dug, and “Ob-La-Di, Ob- La-Da" and "Maxwell" to be given to people who like music like that, yer know, like Mary [Hopkins] or whoever it is needs a song. Why don't you give them to them? The only time we need anything vaguely near that quality is for a single. For an album we could just do only stuff that we really dug."

“We always carved the singles up between us,” he told Paul. “We have the singles market, [George and Ringo] don’t get anything! I mean, we’ve never offered George ‘B’ sides; we could have given him a lot of ‘B’ sides, but because we were two people you had the ‘A’ side and I had the ‘B’ side.”

“Well the thing is,” Paul answered, without even looking at George who sat a few feet away, “I think that until now, until this year [1969], our songs have been better than George’s. Now this year his songs are at least as good as ours.”

George was quick to correct Paul: “Now that’s a myth, ‘cause most of the songs this year I wrote about last year or the year before, anyway. Maybe now I just don’t care whether you are going to like them or not, I just do ‘em… If I didn’t get a break I wouldn’t push it. I’d just forget about it. Now for the last two years, at any rate, I’ve pushed it a bit more.”

“I know what he’s saying,” John said, “‘cause people have said to me you’re coming through a lot stronger now than you had.”

“I don’t particularly seek acclaim,” George said. “That’s not the thing. It’s just to get out whatever is there to make way for whatever else is there. You know, ‘cause it’s only to get ‘em out, and also I might as well make a bit of money, seeing as I’m spending as much as the rest of you, and I don’t earn as much as the rest of you!”

Like the others, George was now out on his own musically. "Most of my tunes," he said, "I never had the Beatles backing me."

"Oh! C'mon, George!" John shouted. "We put a lot of work in your songs, even down to 'Don't Bother Me'; we spent a lot of time doing all that and we grooved. I can remember the riff you were playing, and in the last two years there was a period where you went Indian and we weren't needed!"

"That was only one tune," George said. "On the last album [White Album] I don't think you appeared on any of my songs--I don't mind."

"Well, you had Eric [Clapton], or somebody like that," John replied, in a hurt tone of voice.

There was a long pause as each Beatle seemed lost in contemplation, wondering. Not wanting to admit that they were becoming individual musicians, Paul grasped at the remnants of truth and spoke slowly, almost whispering. “When we get in a studio, even on the worst day, I’m still playing bass, Ringo’s still drumming, and we’re still there, you know.”
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There is more dialogue on pages 92-95 which is possibly from the same meeting (this one Fawcett ascribes to September 1969), wherein John complains about having to fight to get his share of songs on an LP, or single A-sides, and basically admits to having given up.

I’m pretty sure this was Schaffner’s source in Beatles Forever (1977), although he may have gotten to hear the tape as well. There are a few people out there who claim to have heard portions of it (I certainly haven’t).

Nicholas Schaffner: The Beatles Forever (1977)

Here's what Nicholas Schaffner said in "Beatles Forever", from pages 130 & 131 of the Third edition 1978:

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"In any case, shortly after Year One's [peace and music festival] organizers passed word that the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and a convoy of U.F.O.'s were all likely to appear, in Toronto the coming July [1970], Lennon called the whole thing quits. The reasons given involved business differences, but after Altamont [Dec 6, 1969], the rock festival was on its way out anyway. The counterculture had lost one of its most potent symbols; and it was about to lose another.

The Beatles' few remaining meetings seldom produced anything but further disagreement. Once, when Paul tried to corral the others into going back on the road, John stunned him with the words: "I want a divorce." Both McCartney and Klein persuaded him to reconsider, or at least not to sound off to the press.

On another occasion, preserved on tape (the Beatles having caught Andy Warhol's habit of letting tape recorders eavesdrop on intimate conversations), John and George presented Paul with an ultimatum. Lennon said he was tired of playing a bit part in "pre-packaged productions," conceived by and tailored to the genius of Paul McCartney. Henceforth the three Beatles must each be awarded precisely four songs per album, with Ringo getting to add one or two if he so desired. Paul complained that that kind of arbitrary regimentation was more suited to the military than to the Beatles, but the others insisted it was the only way to insure a fair shake for all.

That proved to be a moot point, however, as the fabulous foursome never made it back into the recording studio. In the absence of fresh Beatles product (the Get Back/Let It Be tapes continued to languish on the shelf) Klein patched ten old songs together to create an LP for the American market; his title, The Beatles Again, was revised by public demand to Hey Jude."​

5 comments:

mightyquinn said...

John Disclosed to a Legedary U/k music Journalist a year before that hew was leaving the Beatles But asked him not to say anything for a while , Which to his credit he never .Interesting that we could ? have had another Beatles album After Abbey Rd, But as John said you have all the records - just make a tape ! ( Solo tracks ! ) -- The article Does have Beatles folks a buzzing + Why not ! Cheers to ALL from Liverpool .

Nils said...

John glared at Paul? How could Fawcett know?

Shad Radna said...

The memory plays tricks, etc., but I'm sure I've seen a black and white clip on YouTube with at least Paul and George in around 68/69 where Paul says he really likes the songs that George has been doing recently and George says yes but he wrote those songs a year or two ago. Inevitably I can't find it now but it sounds suspiciously like the exchange between Paul and George here. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

I know it isn't just deja vu because I've thought about that clip a lot since I saw it. I've never really understood George's beef. Nobody forced him to record Piggies and Savoy Truffle; he had an opportunity there to give us two of the good songs he'd written, but he didn't.

It's also worth bearing in mind just how dismissive of George's talents John was after the band split. Paul characterized this era as three versus one - a recurring theme on Ram. (I'm sure John's line in the "Paul" verse of Come Together - "He say 'one and one and one is three'" - is dismissing this idea, saying all of them were really individuals pursuing their own interests.) If this really is a transcript of a recording made for Ringo's benefit, it sounds like John's the one playing "the politician" here rather than Paul. But given all of the dramatic reconstruction stuff, this reads more like a transcript of a film clip than a tape recording.

piper909 said...

I wondered if anyone would dig out the Fawcett book and point out these sections. I've owned this since original publication (this illustration, BTW, is from the 1981 "revised" edition, hurriedly rushed back into print after John's death). Fawcett was an assistant to the Lennons at this time and presumably may be the ultimate source of these tapes, or at least copies he might have made. He may well have been in the room at these meetings -- I doubt John or Yoko carried in the tape recorder themselves -- and remembered the body language and facial expressions accompanying the dialogue. As far as I know, Fawcett is still alive. I hope Lewisohn has been interviewing him now for volume 3!

piper909 said...

PS: There are also many period quotes from John and Paul about how much they liked "The Inner Light", which was given to George as the B-side to Lady Madonna, and also how they thought "Within You Without You" to be one of their favorite tracks from Sgt. Pepper.