Saturday, 15 May 2010

class in the beatles, and yoko

... another factor I hadn't fully considered arrives to further complicate the internal cocktail of The Beatles: class. Last year's publication of Philip Norman's John Lennon: The Life brought it home that within this quartet was a fragile class system all of its own. When the well-educated, middle-class Lennon, generously funded by his aunt and uncle, met the lower-middle-class McCartney and told his aunt they'd recruited the working-class Harrison and the genuinely impoverished Starr, she made it crystal clear that *he hadn't been brought up to hang around with boys like that*. It never fully registered, with me at least, that in a relationship originally forged from a shared love of Elvis and Little Richard, there must have been tense or envious times when the others considered Lennon intimidatingly informed and pretentious - or just spoilt and over-indulged.
To further disrupt this far-from-level playing field, you can apply the Yoko Ono theory that non-members of groups have an immense, often invisible, influence. I first became aware of her when I was 12, so Yoko deniers like myself grew up thinking she'd massively reduced the potential lifespan of the group. Her own perspective is, of course, precisely the opposite: John would have wanted to abandon the group anyway and only attended the sessions from '67 onward because she encouraged - and very often *accompanied* - him. There would have been no White Album, no Let It Be and no Abbey Road without her.
- Mark Ellen, Word, August 2009