• When Nativity Was The Beatles' Scene

    From Curtis Eagal@21:1/5 to All on Sat Dec 25 11:02:13 2021
    Celebration of Christmas was part of The Beatles' phenomenon, distributing special discs to their fans, which started out with sardonic readings of a script penned by their publicist, progressing into mangling holiday standards; by the psychedelic era,
    John Lennon started one off with an interjection about an "Interplanetary remix." Despite the increasing strangeness, and the eventual sense that the group was separating, the discs expressed what seemed sincere sentiments, however not without some
    underlying thematic tension with the humor: for the chorus of "Christmastime Is Here Again," what should be, "Ain't been 'round since you know when," begins to sound like, 'They've been WRONG since you know when." A cover of Auld Lang Syne slipped into
    an anti-war variant, mentioning Vietnam along with 'bodies floatin' in the River Jordan.'

    Since the collective endeavor was apparently to create remembrances for situations in the Christian story in reverse stages beginning with the Ascension, songs focused on the Nativity of Jesus belonged in the latter part of their catalog. The "Magical
    Mystery Tour" project took a step back from the Sgt. Pepper Ministry period to the Lost Years, leaving the Infancy time (until age thirteen) for the subsequent White Album sessions, at first tentatively entitled "Music From A Doll's House." The group
    actually needed to meditate on the various strange stories about the childhood of Jesus that did not make it into the Bible, yet were available to fill the gap: birds and beasts fashioned from clay on the Sabbath made animate when told it was an offense;
    playmates in a game of hide and seek temporarily turned into goats; a snake biting one of his companions induced to suck back its own venom; another friend fallen dead from a roof brought back to give testimony about his own demise. Donovan also being in
    India provided a new guitar picking technique adopted by John and Paul.

    The double White Album deftly touches on the key Infancy episodes, with each song appearing like a different genre of music, and a humorous undercurrent (evident in the Beach Boys parody of the opening track). The two records together suggest an internal
    regression, working backwards to the horrific Slaughter of the Innocents (ordered by Herod) climax of "Revolution 9": so it is odd that Side Three opens with "Birthday," a throw-away dance tune (alluding to the Cha-Cha), whose riff powerfully conveys,

    'Shepherds Threw A Party For Him" -

    and the instrumental section commences with the re-emphasis of a portion,

    'Threw a PAR-TY -...'

    The stylistic wildness coexists with a somewhat vapid message, which appears out of the established sequence. The next step backwards for "Get Back" had Jesus conceived yet unborn, the Holy Family traveling to Joseph's birthplace for the Census ordered
    by Augustus, in other words, going back 'to where he once belonged.' Some of the guitar parts are played very fast, but longer notes intrude in the middle section where the articulation matches,

    '...Joseph and Mary rode a MULE to Bethlehem...'

    Joseph and Mary were then a "Two Of Us" expecting a Third (yet without the extensive shared memories in the lyric). George Harrison would complain about how being in the band was like being trapped inside a box - his tune "Old Brown Shoe" had lyrics that
    combined opposites, like 'right/wrong': but it also had to fit the Christian format, so the riff can be heard as,

    'Joseph - Had A Dream.'

    The reason Jesus was not killed by Herod's slaughter command is that Joseph was warned in a dream and escaped to Egypt (the Magi also had a similar warning) - and from April 1968, there were nightly Marian apparitions in Zeitoun, Egypt, at the Coptic
    church built where the Holy Family was believed to have fled (this did not cease until the early 1970s, when the Egyptian government cordoned off the area to charge admission). Any doubt this is the intention should consider how the guitar solo
    masterfully seems to elaborate,

    'In The Dream,
    They Were In Danger...'

    Then within what follows in the solo, a clear repetition relaying,

    '...Slaughter of, Slaughter of...'

    The story of the Magi finally received its majestic and stately recollection in "Come Together": John Lennon started the tune for Timothy Leary to run for governor of California against Ronald Reagan, but since that did not happen, Lennon said he
    considered himself like a tailor with a suit that was not picked up, making it into something for himself. Each of the four stanzas is about a member of the group: John as the 'spinal cracker' for an accident when he was driving resulting in Yoko's
    spine being cracked; Ringo Starr briefly leaving the group during the White Album sessions feeling left out ("One and one and one is Three"), after finding the others also felt the same way regarding themselves. The 'gold-and-frankincense-and-myrrh'
    rhythm is apparent in the instrumental middle, with the full transcription revealing awareness of a report from the Sanhedrin on the Nativity that the Star that was being followed became an angel (which could be the origin of the Little Drummer Boy
    legend, part of Richard Starkey's childhood holiday memories). And in the coda, the recurrent riff suggests,

    'They Followed A Star.'

    The rest of the Abbey Road LP material thematically predates the actual Nativity, focusing instead on The Annunciation and Visitation. While many people think "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" was something the others only tolerated, I knew someone who thought
    that was their best song ever, with the futuristic synthesizer and storyline somewhat like "A Clockwork Orange" - the hammer-striking-anvil noise was used as a metaphor for The Hammer Of God descending to bring some chaos into the planned nuptials of
    Joseph and Mary, namely by an unexplainable pregnancy.

    After the lyric "limousine" in "You Never Give Me Your Money," the guitar can be heard approximating the utterance,

    'Virgin Mary'

    - she is not referred to as 'His Mother,' since the subject is The Annunciation, when She was still a virgin. It is not a 'guitar battle' in The End, but three guitarists elaborating on the passage following "Polythene Pam," each advancing the story with
    their designated parts, growling, chattering, wailing in retelling the story of Mary's decision. That might be too fast to hear, even with the transcription available (in my book, "A Temple Of Many Mansions") - these were not acquired by simply listening
    to the tracks, but concentrating on the purpose and logic of each phrase, so the messages could be reconstructed like making out ideas from a garbled audio book.

    Easier to hear is the tender treatment offered by George Harrison in "Something," which he admitted could have been inspired by Patti - the guitar solo in the middle section appears to begin with,

    'Gabriel -
    Who was AN an-gel...'

    Anyone feeling selecting a subject like Jesus Christ brings The Beatles down would be living proof Lennon was correct in his controversial statement about relative popularity. The converse is actually true, that 'The Testimony of Jesus is The Spirit of
    Prophecy,' so that any Christian message could be tangential to something else just as plausibly audible.

    The Sgt. Pepper album had many easily recognizable tangents, one being storybook fantasies along the lines of The Grimm Brothers' tales: the measured riff in "Fixing A Hole" resembles,

    'Parable teller'

    But also,

    'The Beanstalk climber'

    You might hear 'CIN-der-EL-LA!' in the opening of "Lovely Rita," where the harmonic descent suggests,

    'Had - A - Fair-y - God -

    Yet taking the lyric "Maid" intact, instead of "god-mother,' it could end, 'Of - ORLEANS!' Saint Joan of Arc was also called The Maid of Orleans. Lucy was another saint, who was blinded - in the fade of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,' the keyboard part

    'Light Of The World'

    - then a variation,

    'THE Light - Of THE World,'

    before another using the word 'Illumination.' McCartney said he was thinking of bananas when writing "She's Leaving Home"; Lennon told George Martin that "Being For The Benefit Of Mister Kite" should 'sound like an orange.' The entire format of the album
    has a song for each member of the Solar System prior to the finale. So rather than Sgt. Pepper being a true 'concept album,' where the songs are deliberately related, it was a hodgepodge collection of songs that thematically naturally belong together
    without attempting the sort of 'pop symphony' musical connections established on Side Two of the Abbey Road album. Yet the prismatic quality of the Pepper music is a peak they never seemed able to surpass, through no fault of their own. Abbey Road feels
    less dated and more sophisticated, and like Revolver appears to utilize a very powerful single tangent, advancing into the Seven Natural Wonders, from the Seven Ancient Wonders of the 1966 album featuring their first use of reversed recordings.

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