Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Beginning of the End For the Beatles?

By John D. Cherry

While trying not to openly implicate John and Yoko, Paul said "The White Album ... was the tension album. Never before had we recorded with beds in the studio and people visiting for hours on end, business meetings and all that. There was a lot of friction. It was the weirdest experience because we were about to break up; that was tense in itself." Shotton said "The Beatles' recording sessions had turned into a very serious dour operation-a far cry indeed from the festive atmosphere that had surrounded the creation of Sgt. Peppers" (Beatlesongs).

So, John significantly heightened tension in the group by bringing Yoko into the studio. "Her presence clearly increased the tension in the musicians' relationship. Ono stumbled into this atmosphere with the naïve belief that she and Lennon were now collaborators" (Kozinn). John's answer should have been to leave her at home, and get off the drugs, like heroin, which had created a roller coaster personality. All the while, John's musical contribution had suffered. Ironically, many of the songs written for "The White Album" had come when the Beatles were with the Maharishi, and John with still with his wife, Cynthia, at the time.

Paul continued to try and provide leadership, and his music soared to new heights. While John had thirteen songs to Paul's eleven, most of the album's highlights were from Paul, such as "Back in the USSR," where he also played the drums, "Blackbird," "Rocky Raccoon," and "Helter Skelter." The range of Paul's ability was again evident from the quiet elegance of "Blackbird" to the raucous "Helter Skelter." John had "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "Sexy Sadie" among his highlights, but the stark reality of his state was front and center with "Revolution #9." It was not really a song, but a musical montage of tape loops put together by John and Yoko.

Before retiring four years ago, Cherry worked in athletics for 25 years at The University of North Carolina. His first book, published in August of 2008, was "War on U.S. - How Policies and People are Destroying America," and it covered a variety of subjects outside the political spectrum, including the best and worst of music. The first book is available on this website and on

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