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Tuesday , December 14, 2010

LJ ON JL: Weeks 2-3; Chapters 5-9

(Wherein ngfm's resident Beatlemaniac Laura Jane Faulds shares a weekly round-up of fun anecdotes and oddities gleaned from Philip Norman's John Lennon: The Life. For more information on what the Helter Skelter this column is all about, please click here)

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from left: The Guy With The Cock In His Voice; the Sputnik satellite; Buddy Holly; Hamburg Painting No. 2 by Stuart Sutcliffe

+ At early Quarrymen gigs (FYI: before the Beatles were the Beatles, they were the Quarrymen), John Lennon would often "go at his guitar so hard" that he'd break a string. When this happened, he'd hand the guitar to his bandmate Rod Davis, steal Rod Davis' banjo, and play it while Rod Davis changed his guitar string for him. God! You're so sexy and confident, Teenage John Lennon!

+ Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there was a popular singer named Rudy Vallee whose nickname was The Guy With The Cock In His Voice. Isn't that hot, kind of? It must have made Rudy Vallee feel like such a playa!

+ When Frank Sinatra played NYC's Paramount Theater in 1947, it was discovered post-show that dozens of bobby-soxers actually urinated themselves due to Sinatra-related excitement. That must have made Ol' Blue Eyes feel like such a balla! And also kind of uncomfortable.

+ When rock-and-roll hit the UK in the late 1950s, it actually triggered a NATIONAL GUITAR SHORTAGE. Like, get with it, England!

+ John Lennon on copulating with his teenage girlfriend and getting his ass bit up by aphids: "THAT WAS A GOOD LESSON IN KARMA AND/OR GARDENING."

+ Philip Norman is a weird writer. He just described alterations tailors as being "the sartorial equivalent of the backstreet abortionist."

+ At age fifteen, Paul McCartney was the only pupil in his class able to spell the word "phlegm".

+ John's Aunt Mimi initially took a dislike to Paul McCartney because he would choose to sit on a kitchen stool at teatime, as if, in her words, "He always wanted to look down at you." Chill out, Aunt Mimi! Dude's, like, fifteen years old!

+ When John would receive his university grant money from the Liverpool Art Institute, he would exchange it all into half-crowns, turn off his bedroom lights, and throw it up in the air so that, when he was broke weeks later, he would find them and feel rich.

+ One of Late Teenage John Lennon's favourite pranks was to walk into predominantly white pubs and holler "Right! ALL FOREIGNERS OUT OF HERE!"

+ When Ringo Starr played for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, their set included a special solo set billed as "Starr Time". Additionally, mad-sexy lead singer Rory Storm was wont to punctuate his performances by climbing up rafters and hanging 40 feet above his audience from the ceiling. Clearly, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were the greatest band of all time.

+ I am going to start describing jangly piano parts of songs as "whorehouse piano"(-esque) from now on. For that matter, I think I'm going to name my thirdborn son Whorehouse Piano Jane-Faulds.

+ Mid-century Liverpool slang for slut= "tottie". I am unsure as to whether I like that or not.

+ Paul McCartney on John Lennon before knowing him: "You saw rather than met him." I love the idea of angsty, unsatisfied Teenage John skulking around Liverpool, calling loads of attention to himself both on purpose and by accident.

+ John Lennon's nickname for Normies was "spaniels". I'm stealing it.

+ "I was always thinking I was going to be a famous artist and possibly I'd have to marry a very rich old lady, or man, to look after me while I did my art... I didn't really know what I wanted to be, apart from ending up as an eccentric millionaire. I had to be a millionaire." -John Lennon

+ One of the earliest pre-Beatles line-ups included JL's childhood best friend, Pete Shotton, on worse-than-mediocre washboard, an embarrassing hangover from their skiffle days. John felt guilty about kicking his BFF out of the group, so he dealt with the situation by getting drunked and smashing Pete's washboard over his head. They laughed.

+ One of John's art school profs described him as being "a fellow who seemed to have been born without brakes."

+ "Death Before Work" (and/or "I'd rather commit suicide than get a conventional job") was apparently Late Teenage John Lennon's motto. Good point, Late Teenage John Lennon.

+ Aunt Mimi on Baby George Harrison: "He's a real wacker, isn't he? You always seem to like the low-class types, don't you, John?"

+ I wonder what would have happened to pop music if Buddy Holly hadn't died in a plane crash in 1959.

+ Did you know that, while on an Australian tour in 1957, Little Richard saw the Russian Sputnik space satellite in the sky and interpreted it as a personal summons from God? I certainly did not.

+ The Beatles' first band name was the Quarrymen, their second Johnny and the Moondogs, and their third THE BEATALS. It is a myth that the name was ripped from The Beetles, Marlon Brando's character's gang's name in The Wild One. It is also untrue that it has anything to do with Beat poetry or a drumbeat. It has to do with BEAT-ING THE COMPETITION.

+ In the late 1950s, The Beatles were drummerless for an entire year. "The rhythm's in the guitar," they would say. God, The Beatles! Get your act together!

+ Once, when John was still a student at the Liverpool Art Institute, he was hanging out at a club called The Basement, owned by a stupidly-named and probably-talentless painter named Yankel Feather. John got drunked and started playing "Roll Over, Beethoven" on the bar's grand piano; Yankel told him to quit it or leave. In retaliation, John stormed out of the bar, and, on his way, dragged his housekey across one of Yankel's hanging abstracts. "CHEERIO, BOSS," was all he said. In conclusion, I am going to start exclusively saying CHEERIO, BOSS in place of "Later, Bro" or "Bye" starting NOW.

Cheerio, Bosses!
-LJF

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4 Comments!!

i had the sentence 'skiffle was never enough for john lennon' in my head for like two hours today.

I was going to write "skiffle was never enough for john" as one of my points this week, but then I decided against it because it's a weird inside joke between us and would probably detract from whatever potential value this post has.

I'm taking the motto "I'd rather commit suicide than get a conventional job."
Great sum-up!

there are so many things right about this post that I honestly don't not where to begin. Tell me you've been to Liverpool? It really puts everything Beatles into perspective. I highly recommend getting yourself there if you have not been.

ah, John and his clever clever John-isms...look forward to hearing more.

PS: clearly, you ain't no spaniel



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