Beatles 50th Blog

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 23, 1968

Paul McCartney Interview: All My Loving 5/23/1968

This chat with Paul McCartney appears in the program 'All My Loving - A Film of Pop Music,' directed by Tony Palmer.

At the time of it's airing, this 1968 BBC documentary was both highly-acclaimed and controversial. It captured the changing attitudes of the late sixties by mixing graphic news footage of police brutality and the vietnam war with the rock music of times. Heavily interspersed throughout are interviews with many of 1968's more influencial rock stars. Also appearing in this made-for-TV film were Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon and others. Tony Palmer spoke with Paul in an interview that was filmed on May 23rd 1968. The documentary was telecast on BBC television on November 3rd.

As the interview segment begins, the film has drawn a comparison between the growing seriousness of rock 'n' roll and other styles of music which in the past had been taken more seriously, such as opera and the classics.

PAUL: "I was always frightened of classical music. And I never wanted to listen to it because it was Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and sort of, big words like that... and Schoenberg. I mean, like... A taxi driver the other day had some sheet music of a Mozart thing, and I said 'What's that?' And he said 'Oh, that's the high-class stuff. You won't like that. No no, you won't like that.' And I said, 'well, what is it?' (giggles) He said 'No, you won't like it. It's high-class, that. It's very high-brow!' And uhh, that kind of way I always used to think of it. I used to think 'Well you know, that's very clever, all that stuff.' And it isn't, you know. It's just exactly what's going on in pop at the moment. Pop music is the classical music of now."

"People just take our music... and you know, in a line we sort of say 'She was just seventeen,' and they just read everything into it. Like, 'She was a seventeen-year-old nymphomanic, working on the streets of Broadway.' But you know, all we meant is 'She was just seventeen.' But it might mean all the other as well... I don't know, you know. (smiles) I have no idea if there's any Aeolian cadences and... myasmic climaxes and all of that." (laughs)

"We're the last people to know about our songs, because the pop world's never heard the pop world as such. It's like, if you look at a snapshot of yourself, you're looking at what tie you were wearing or whether you were looking nice in the snapshot. But anyone else will just take the snapshot and say 'Oh, that's good. That's a snapshot of Tony,' you know. We're always just thinking of ourselves as just happy little songwriters. (giggles) Just little rockers, you know. Just playing in a rock group. But it gets more important than that, after you've been over to America... and you've sort of... got knighted." (laughs)

"And when we were touring, everybody was at a sort of peak of hysteria. Instead of just thinking, 'Oh, that's nice...' I mean, we could have just thought, 'A ha!! Click!! Let's use this!!' but there's no desire in any of our heads to sort of take over the world, you know. That was Hitler -- that was what HE wanted to do. There is, however, a desire to get power in order to use it for good. (comically points to camera) When you've got power, you've got to use it for the good!"

"Because like everyone else, we read the papers... we go through all the things that most people go through. So when everyone wants to say a thing at a certain time, it's handy being a songwriter. You know, you can put your finger on it."


The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 22, 1968

John and Yoko attend press launch of Apple Tailoring

Three days after their relationship began, John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared in public for the first time, for the lunchtime launch party and press conference for Apple Tailoring (Civil and Theatrical), the second boutique from Apple Corps.

It took place at Club Dell'Aretusa, at 107 King's Road, Chelsea, London. Also present at the launch were George Harrison and his wife Pattie, and a number of other celebrities.

We're still involved in a hectic recording scene at the moment, although I've spent this week at the office. All that paperwork!

George Harrison

After the party Lennon and Ono walked the short distance to the new Apple Tailoring shop, at 161 King's Road, for the benefit of photographers. The boutique opened the following day.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 21, 1968

The Beatles working on their next album.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 20, 1968

The Beatles busy working on their next album.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 19, 1968

John Lennon and Yoko Ono record Two Virgins

The beginning of John Lennon's relationship with Yoko Ono was of huge significance, not just to the couple, but also to their families, The Beatles, and those who lived and worked alongside them.

It occurred at Kenwood, Lennon's house in Weybridge, Surrey. Lennon was nervous about inviting Ono, so made sure his childhood friend Pete Shotton was also present as she arrived.

Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins – John Lennon and Yoko OnoAt the time, Lennon's wife Cynthia Lennon was on a two-week holiday in Greece, at Lennon's suggestion, with 'Magic' Alex, Jenny Boyd, Donovan and his friend Gypsy Dave.

The lengthy recordings were made in the attic of the house, which Lennon used as a music room. The sounds included birdsong, vocal improvisations, sound effects, feedback and distorted musical instruments, and contained nursery rhymes, music hall songs and novelty piano tunes amid the less orthodox moments. One outtake segment from the recordings, known as Holding A Note, can also be heard as a bootleg.

When we got back from India, we were talking to each other on the phone. I called her over, it was the middle of the night and Cyn was away, and I thought, 'Well, now's the time if I'm going to get to know her any more.' She came to the house and I didn't know what to do; so we went upstairs to my studio and I played her all the tapes that I'd made, all this far-out stuff, some comedy stuff, and some electronic music. There were very few people I could play those tapes to. She was suitably impressed, and then she said, 'Well, let's make one ourselves,' so we made Two Virgins. It was midnight when we finished, and then we made love at dawn. It was very beautiful. (John Lennon, 1970 Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner)

The avant-garde recordings were released as Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins on 11 November 1968 in the United States, and on 29 November in the United Kingdom.

More controversial than the musical content was the cover artwork, which featured a nude photograph of Lennon and Ono. The rear sleeve, fittingly, sported a similarly naked picture of the couple with their backs to the camera, looking over their shoulders.

The photograph was taken not on this day, but later in the year, at Ringo Starr's basement apartment at Montagu Square, London, where Lennon and Ono were temporarily living.

Even before we made this record [Two Virgins], I envisioned producing an album of hers and I could see this album cover of her being naked because her work was so pure. I couldn't think of any other way of presenting her. It wasn't a sensational idea or anything.

After Yoko and I met, I didn't realise I was in love with her. I was still thinking it was an artistic collaboration, as it were – producer and artist, right? We'd known each other for a couple of years. My ex-wife was away in Italy, and Yoko came to visit me and we took some acid. I was always shy with her, and she was shy, so instead of making love, we went upstairs and made tapes. I had this room full of different tapes where I would write and make strange loops and things like that for the Beatles' stuff. So we make a tape all night. She was doing her funny voices and I was pushing all different buttons on my tape recorder and getting sound effects. And then as the sun rose we made love and that was Two Virgins. That was the first time.

John Lennon, 1980

Lennon gave the camera film from his unorthodox photoshoot to Jeremy Banks, a staff member at Apple Corps. Banks had it developed, and gave the prints to Derek Taylor, the company's press officer.

We were both a bit embarrassed when we peeled off for the picture, so I took it myself with a delayed-action shutter. The picture was to prove that we are not a couple of demented freaks, that we are not deformed in any way and that our minds are healthy. If we can make society accept these kind of things without offence, without sniggering, then we shall be achieving our purpose.

What we did purposely is not have a pretty photograph; not have it lighted so as we looked sexy or good. There were a couple of other takes from that session where we looked rather nice, hid the little bits that aren't that beautiful; we looked good. We used the straightest, most unflattering picture just to show that we were human. (John Lennon Anthology)

Although Two Virgins was to become one of the most controversial episodes of Lennon's life, his union with Yoko Ono caused a monumentally significant personal shift. It marked the beginning of the end of his time as a Beatle, and, influenced by Ono, saw him increasingly challenge public expectations with a series of confrontational artistic statements, political campaigns and experimental musical releases.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 18, 1968

The Beatles working on their next album.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 17, 1968

The Beatles recording their next album

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 16, 1968

John Lennon and Paul McCartney return from promoting Apple in New York

John Lennon and Paul McCartney had flown to New York for a four-day promotional trip for Apple on 11 May 1968. On this day they returned to London.

The trip involved numerous interviews, which mainly took place at hotels. The two Beatles stayed at their lawyer Nat Weiss's apartment at 181 East 73rd Street. They were joined in New York by 'Magic' Alex, Neil Aspinall, Mal Evans and Derek Taylor.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 15, 1968

Pattie, George and Jane Birkin at Heathrow Airport en route to the south of France to attend the Cannes Film Festival, at which Wonderwall was being screened.

The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today: May 14, 1968

Lennon and McCartney give interviews in New York

Q: Where are the other two Beatles?

John Lennon: No idea.

Paul McCartney: In bed, probably. Oh, in England.

Q: What are your plans for opening a club in New York?

John Lennon: I don't know. There aren't any real plans.

Q: What about the rumors that you're going to buy Generation?

John Lennon: What about them? I didn't hear of it till Sunday myself!

Q: Will the four Beatles own 100% of Apple? And will you be equal partners?

John Lennon: Yes.

Q: Do you think that some of your records are influencing the minds of the younger generation?

John Lennon: Well, everybody's records influence the mind, you know. All at once. Everything influences everything. Nilsson's my favorite group.

Q: Would you comment on the mood of youth around the world, the protest movement, and what's going on?

Paul McCartney: People want to know what's going on, and no one knows at the moment.

John Lennon: Whether the movement is right or wrong, it's better than no movement.

Q: Do you have any specific reason for going on The Tonight Show tonight?

John Lennon: I don't know what happened.

Paul McCartney: We just seemed to be on it.

Q: I just wanted to ask you how you are!

Paul McCartney: Quite well! Hey, and how are you!?!

Q: High!

Paul McCartney: Six feet high and rising?

Q: Would you say that Magical Mystery Tour is a better or worse album than Sgt Pepper?

John Lennon: It's not an album, you see. It's turned into an album over here, but it was just music from the film. Then, it's not an album.

Q: Has the film been bought over here?

John Lennon: I haven't a clue and I really don't care.

Q: Do George and Ringo feel the same way as you do about the Maharishi?

John Lennon: Yes. We tend to go in and out together, I mean, with a few spaces. So, yes.

Q: Are the Beatles going to make another movie this summer?

John Lennon: Well, we don't know when we're going to make it, but it will be this year or the early part of next year.

Q: What did you think of the critical reception to Magical Mystery Tour?

John Lennon: Well, I mean, it's... it doesn't matter. But it does. Oh, it really doesn't matter, you know. Why it's not on now is what matters.

Paul McCartney: They were disappointed.

Q: Were the criticisms valid?

John Lennon: Valid? I didn't see any valid points. It was just hysteria and that bit.

Paul McCartney: You see, they expected a tinselly Christmas show, because it was shown on Christmas - and you know that it was very different from that, so we shocked them a bit.

John Lennon: They didn't like it, you know. They thought we were stepping out of our roles. They like us to stay in the cardboard suits they designed for us.

Q: What roles do they want you to stay in?

John Lennon: Well, whatever image they have for themselves, they're disappointed if we don't fulfil it. We never do, so there's always a lot of disappointment.

Q: Do you think press conferences are a drag?

John Lennon: Well, they're not something I choose to do, but they're fun. It's work and business.

Q: Paul, what do you think of Jimi Hendrix?

Paul McCartney: He's great.

Q: Why do the Beatles meditate?

Paul McCartney: Because it seems to be nice. Like cleaning your teeth, you know, it just has some kind of end product.

Q: What do you think of the Mothers of Invention?

Paul McCartney: I think they're doing very well.

Q: What did the Beatles have to do with the creation of the marvellous fantasy characters in the Yellow Submarine?

Paul McCartney: Not much. There's a really good artist named Heinz (Edelmann) who created them.

Q: Do you plan to sing in French or in any other language other than English?

John Lennon: No, we don't make plans. We did She Loves You in German, and that was about it, I think.

Paul McCartney: Then, the English version became a hit, you know.

Q: How often do you turn on?

John Lennon: It's happening all the time, you know.

Q: Will you be doing a TV special soon?

John Lennon: I don't know.

Paul McCartney: Maybe. Quite possibly.

John Lennon: We've got to do another album. We don't know what happens until we do that.

Q: Have you ever thought of making a record, a film, or a TV special over here?

John Lennon: It's quite possible, yes. Why not? Except that we live over there.

Q: But you could fly over again.

John Lennon: Yeah, sure. But is it worth the journey?

Q: Are there any plans for an Apple clothing store in the United States?

John Lennon: No. No plans.

Q: What is the meaning of I Am The Walrus?

John Lennon: It just means, I am the walrus. Or I was when I sat down, you know.

They also recorded an interview for Mitchell Krause for the Channel 13 programme Newsfront, and in the evening appeared on The Tonight Show, hosted by guest presenter Joe Garagiola.

Source: Beatles Bible