top of page

Cheers, then, mate

Wednesday 1/31/24

Okay, back to normal. What was he up to before? Probably up to something. Yeah. Probably. The rats are running scared.

I shouldn't disparage actual rats like that. A rat can swim three miles at sea. Also, a rat can survive being flushed down a toilet. I feel like those things should be respected. A smart animal the rat. Actual rats.

Walked six miles. Did 100 push-ups.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the day my parents took me home from the foster home in New Bedford. Thanks, parents.

Here's a cool baseball stat: Ty Cobb won the Triple Crown in 1909 and stole 76 bases on top of that.

Here's another one: Only four AL players in the 1970s had a season in which they batted .300, hit 30 homers, and drove in 100 runs. Carl Yastrzemski in 1970, Dick Allen in 1972, Jim Rice in 1977, 1978, and 1979, and Fred Lynn in 1979. Not a lot of offense in that decade, save in 1977 and 1979.

Added that new Beatles piece that I just wrote about the rooftop gig to Just Like Them: A Piece by Piece Guide to Becoming the Ultimate Thinking Person's Beatles Fan. I keep adding to it. I thought I was all done, and I might even add some more. There's a pretty good chance. This is from said piece:

The emotional synchronicity is pleasing. The Beatles always felt balanced. They began their album career with a count-in, and closed it with a definitive ending that let everyone know that here was where it stopped. The rooftop gig isn’t any different. Paul McCartney met John Lennon on a day in 1957 where the latter played on the back of a lorry, which is no more or less serviceable as a stage than a roof. The early Beatles—and the early pre-Beatles, for that matter—took what they could get and made the most out of it that they could. That’s a spirited way to be—and can lead to some good things, too. Plainly.

The Beatles also hadn’t played a gig as a five-piece since the days of Stuart Sutcliffe, and well before Ringo Starr came along and took the spot of drummer Pete Best. What one notes about Billy Preston is just how much he belongs. For all of their creative forward motion, we have a tendency to think that the stasis of the quartet—that the Beatles were precisely these four people and no one else—was vital to their constant and inventive thrust. People could come and go from the Rolling Stones, for example, but not from the Beatles.

Up until the middle of the 1960s, George Martin was their de facto piano player when requiring one. His fill-in role came to a close around the time of “In My Life,” but the four actual Beatles cook with Billy Preston. They clearly dug playing with him, and vice versa. You could suggest that the rooftop gig doesn’t happen without Preston’s attitude and chops. His assimilation into the Beatles’ sound—at least at this juncture of where they were at—is suggestive of someone who had left the room and has now returned for all to carry on.

The Beatles start (and close) with “Get Back,” which they play three times during their forty-two-minute session, meaning they went on for longer than they did at any concert in the States. You never think, “They’re doing this damn song again!” because each time the band busts into “Get Back,” you’re ready to get right back in that indelible groove yourself.

It takes all of about five seconds to know that these guys were next-level rock and rollers. We are very far removed, in terms of musicality, from that group at other end of the sixties. The Beatles of 1961 would want to study an act like this hard if they caught their act.

Many of George Harrison’s best moments as a guitarist with the Beatles were decorative. He augmented rather than carried. Think of the whole of the A Hard Day’s Night album. Yes, there’s the cranking guitar solo on “Can’t Buy Me Love,” but you never forget the opening chord to “A Hard Day’s Night,” the acoustic guitar fills on “And I Love Her,” the closing, chime-like notes of “If I Fell.” The guitar solo on “Nowhere Man” from Rubber Soul is itself so memorable because of its tintinnabulous tone. It feels ornamental, in the perfect manner, rather than this stand-alone entity, which is how almost all guitar solos feel, despite being part of a song.

Harrison both decorates and cranks at the rooftop gig. “One After 909” was among the earliest songs that Lennon and McCartney wrote together. Then it became among the earliest songs that the Beatles recorded for EMI in March 1963, though it didn’t gain release. There before the beginning, right near the beginning, and here in the final chapter, “One After 909” had seen some stuff, we might say. Harrison gives it the guitar solo it always deserved, and one far better than any of his various attempts six years before, which had produced a sardonic zinger from Lennon.

Lennon gets in his fair share of licks as well. That’s him playing lead on “Get Back.” Being tasked with this job suggests a sop to the man who still regarded the Beatles as his band, as all of the other probably did to some degree, too. He gave the baby life in the first place. There’s a sentiment of, “Take us home, Johnny.”

These were Northern blokes, and yet there was Lennon and Starr wearing the jackets of their significant others. No sexism allowed—too much to be in touch with rather than getting hung up on that nonsense.

Girlfriends, wives, pals looked on, almost as if this was a rehearsal on a Saturday in a garage for a band that had no expectation of going anywhere but was happy to have these people in attendance. Call it one of the little things in life, which doesn’t really diminish because you happen to become a very big band.

I've been listening to the Jam's "The Eton Rifles" a lot. It's about galling classism.

And I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure it'll be fine.

bottom of page