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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Who's your favorite Beatle? Your favorite Bond?

Yes, I know I am the only sentient creature in the Milky Way Galaxy who likes this album. 

Freed finally from having to read books nominated for the Prometheus Award (I'm one of the nominating judges), I have now begun to read other books, such as John Higgs' Love and Let Die, his book about the Beatles and James Bond. The first Bond movie and the first Beatles record ("Love Me Do") were both released on Oct. 5, 1962.

Of course, the Illuminatus! trilogy reflects the impact of Bond and the band from Liverpool. The character of Fission Chips is an obvious Bond parody, and Hagbard Celine is the captain of a golden submarine, just like the song. 

For many years (and I don't know if John talks about this, I'm not very far into the book), people have been asked to name their favorite actor portraying Bond and their favorite Beatle. There is naturally debate over the best Bond film and the best Beatles record. Here are my picks. 

My favorite Bond is Roger Moore. Perhaps this is related to his Bond movies coming out when I was a teenager, but I liked the tongue in cheek approach he took to the role. But my favorite Bond movie is You Only Live Twice. My favorite Bond villain is Christopher Walken, in A View to a Kill. My favorite Bond theme song is "Live and Let Die." 

I have changed my favorite Beatle over the years. As a teen, I liked George Harrison, perhaps because I viewed him as an underdog and because I thought All Things Must Pass was better than the other early Beatles solo albums. I then decided John Lennon was the interesting one. I finally settled on Paul McCartney, as it became more obvious to me he was the top musical force in the Beatles. I also thought he seemed more like an adult family man, and he was obviously the one former Beatle who worked the hardest as a solo artist to make music and explore his talents as widely as possible. 

My favorite Beatles album is Revolver. I mostly listen to Paul McCartney via a playlist of my favorites, but if I have to pick a favorite album, it would be a dark horse, Red Rose Speedway. Yes, I know nobody else likes it. I also like Electric Arguments


Eric Wagner said...

I love all four Beatles, but I would lean toward George as my favorite today.

I have not seen any of the Bond films from the last 23 years. I love Connery as Bond, especially in "The Rock." I also like Woody Allen as Bond in "Casino Royale."

Rarebit Fiend said...

@Eric I love the part in the third volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where the literary version of bond executes Woody Allen's Jimmy Bond. I also think Casino Royale is rated too low as a film, something that Higgs also does in Love and Let Die. (Maybe I just love the Swinging Sixties too much.)

@Tom- my favorite Bond would probably either be Sean Connery or Roger Moore, since I have watched their films the most. Live and Let Die is almost certainly my favorite film, but I dislike Moonraker. I find this somewhat interesting as Moonraker is probably my favorite Bond novel I've read, whereas I didn't really care for the novel Live and Let Die. I really love Timothy Dalton's Bond (and in conversation usually say he is my favorite) as he is the closest they got to the Bond of the books and I also really like George Lazenby's performance in On Her Majesty's. There were a couple times where I showed up on Halloween without a costume and simply told people I was dressed as George Lazenby.

The Beatles entered my life at the same time as Bond and both were a huge influence on my childhood so I think Higgs book is awesome (the man doesn't seem capable of writing mediocre books). Out of The Beatles, I think I've always been a Paul guy. I went through a phase of preferring John, but nowadays I am pretty straightforward that Paul is my guy. I also love Ringo and Higgs points out, you gotta have all four to have The Beatles. And George Martin was a fucking genius. I'm pretty sure he had a strong influence on all of my favorite tracks. All Things Must Past is probably the best of all their post-Beatles work...but I prefer Band On The Run. (I would also argue that Band On The Run is a perfect album.) I've followed McCartney's solo career more than any of the others and have kept up with it pretty well. Adie made fun of me for listening to "Fuh You" a lot when we were getting together. (All of this said, I think Ringo's had some of the best post-Beatles songs of all of them. I think I like that his vocal range and mine are about the same so I can sing along and not be flat/sharp. I didn't really care for a lot of Lennon's solo work.) Goodnight Vienna is really good. I'd also say that a lot of McCartney's 21st Century releases have been really enjoyable.

Now for the shocker- I loathe "Imagine," and can't stand "Yesterday" or "Something." I also really dislike "Across the Universe."

We do song journals for the last half of the school year in my classroom and this week is Beatles week: Monday was "Love Me Do," Tuesday was "Eight Days A Week," today was "Tomorrow Never Knows." Tomorrow we're listening to the first three tracks of "Sgt. Pepper's" and on Friday it'll be "Hey Jude." Or should I do "All You Need Is Love?"

Oz Fritz said...

I haven't seen many Bond movies. As a kid my mother took us to see "Live and Let Die" at a drive-in when it first came out and I really enjoyed it partly because of McCartney's great theme song. Roger Moore did an excellent job playing Bond, I thought. I also enjoyed the Bond parody "Our Man Flint" and its sequel. That featured James Coburn as the Bond-like character.

I also love all four Beatles. McCartney seems the most musically adept of the four. Someone once said that every group has a member who functions as the music boffin (expert) for the group. McCartney had that role for The Beatles. George also seemed very important for their sound and direction. Some say that Ringo, probably the least experimental of the four, functioned as the heart of the group. When asked to choose, I have to narrowly go with John as my favorite for different reasons one of them being his social activism, particularly the anti-war protests.

It seems a toss up over who had the most spiritual influence on the world between George and John; George with his exploration and support of Eastern mysticism, mostly Hindu, or John who turned many on to Aleister Crowley by putting him on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's ..." and writing the song, "All You Need is Love."

If you watch the recent extended documentary "Get Back" that Peter Jackson put together, we see a sequence where they discuss the question, why do a live concert? John appears the only one with a good answer for how a live Beatles concert could benefit their audience and the world. The other Beatles and the film director in the doc sound like they have absolutely no idea. When it comes time to actually make the decision to play on the roof, George doesn't really want to do it, Lennon and McCartney keep silent. Finally Ringo speaks up and says something like, 'well I'll go up there and play, I don't mind." Lennon follows with "if he's going then I'll do it" and they decide to play what became their last concert. The Beatles seems the best example of synergy a group can bring. Without any one of them, it seems doubtful we'd be discussing this today.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Eric, I am a bit more caught up with the Bond movies than you are, but I did not see the last one. In general, I have not enjoyed the Daniel Craig films as much as I liked the ones with Connery, Moore, Dalton or Brosnan.

@Gregory, I like all of the songs you dislike, and i particularly like "Across the Universe." Elvis Costello and Steely Dan both wrote songs attacking "Imagine," they both thought it was dumb for a rich guy to claim he wasn't into possessions. I actually don't know the song "Fuh You," I will have to go have a listen. Having people make fun of you is an occupational hazard of being a Paul McCartney fan.

I think you are correct about Lennon, in the sense that none of his albums are very good (this is not the received wisdom, obviously) but I think a few individual songs are great, including "Instant Karma!" and "No. 9 Dream." Like McCartney, I think solo Lennon is best appreciated by compiling a playlist, and I plan to do that with Lennon.

"Moonraker" is particularly crazy and over the top, but that's what I liked about it. "You missed, Mr. Bond." "Did I?"

@Oz, when I was a teen, Bond movies were like a religion for me and my friends, we had to see all of them. It took a long time for my interest to wane.

It seems like Ringo was the glue that held them all together. There's a scene in the "Get Back" movie where Linda and another person are talking about how much they love Ringo. Ringo had a truly terrible childhood, I would bet he is the one who enjoyed success the most.

When I saw "Get Back," I had the inspiration that maybe instead of a favorite Beatle, we should pick a favorite Beatle wife. I kind of like Maureen Starkey, she seems down to earth like her husband.

Adie said...

George has been my favorite since high school. I wasn’t actually someone who grew up on the Beatles, to Gregory’s occasional consternation—until their divorce my parents raised me on a steady diet of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sondheim, Gilbert and Sullivan, classical music, and Billy Joel. But when George died and the local classic rock radio station had all-Beatles weekend, the songs I found myself most drawn to were his compositions—“Long, Long, Long”, “Here Comes the Sun”, and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to name a few. (I also thought he was the best-looking. And unlike Gregory, I do quite like “Something”.) I also recently discovered All Things Must Pass and that would have to be my vote for best post-Beatles solo album.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Adie, I think All Things Must Pass is the best solo album, too. The reason is that when the Beatles broke up, George had a big pile of songs he had written while still a Beatle, that the other Beatles had not allowed him to record! And it's interesting that as a Beatle, he pushed against the limitations of the band by bringing in outside musicians, using Indian musicians for example for songs like "Love You To" or bringing in Eric Clapton to play on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

I thought your mother was into Elvis Costello and other rock music. Was that something that developed later in life?

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

The love triangle of George Harrison, Pattie Boyd and Eric Clapton also is crazy. "Layla" is about George Harrison's wife! And when George temporarily quit the Beatles during the "Let It Be" sessions, Lennon remarks they can replace him with Eric Clapton. Clapton did not just play on All Things Must Pass, he also plays on Lennon's Toronto live album.

Spookah said...

When I watched the Get Back docu, I suddenly decided that my favorite Beatles was Billy Preston.
The guy just pops up out of nowhere because he basically 'happened to be in the neighborhood', and his playing is so effortlessly stellar that the Beatles simply can't be grumpy and stuck with no inspiration any longer. His parts totally elevate the songs, and he genuinely seems happy to just be in the studio with the band. What a hero.

Chad said...

“Speaking as a child of the 90s” [Eddie Vedder], my fave Bond song is Chris Cornell’s You Know My Name from Casino Royals, which is also my favorite Bond film and actor.