Thursday, September 14, 2006

Who’s Your Favorite Beatle?

A friend of mine once claimed there exists an entire branch of psychology based on who your favorite Beatle is. While that is very likely not true, it ought to be. What better way to classify one’s personality than to determine whether or not you’re a Ringo-person, a Paul-person, a George-person or a John-person? As a therapist, imagine the thrill of diagnosing a Ringonian with latent Paulistic tendencies, or a Johnoid-Georgophrenic suffering from a Yoko complex? Instead of asking for someone’s astrological sign at a nightclub, why not ask who their favorite Beatle is? Is it John, the smart one? Or is it Paul, the cute one? Or how about Ringo, the funny one? Or George, the shy one? So much information can come from that one choice.

Growing up, my favorite Beatle was John. I thought he was the natural leader of the group; I felt he was clever and witty, his singing style was really cool, and he was the handsomest of all the Beatles. I liked all his transformations, from the fresh-faced mop top as he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show to the brooding, politically-active poet with the funky round glasses. He had an edge. He was the wise kid in your algebra class who never looked at the board and doodled in the margins of his textbook, the one the teacher was a little afraid of, the type your parents would really prefer you not to hang out with.

I’m thinking of the Beatles because last Saturday night I went to a concert performed by a group called Beatlejuice, a band which plays nothing but Beatles songs and does them surpassingly well. The front man is Brad Delp, former lead singer of the rock group Boston, an extremely charismatic guy who can imitate both Paul’s and John’s singing voices. The five-man group also features a keyboard man whose synthesizer can replicate all the studio effects the Beatles did in their later albums, such as Sgt. Pepper’s and the white album. And they don’t even attempt to look like the Beatles, something I appreciate (they’re all in their fifties anyway). Their appeal crosses all demographic lines — indeed, that night there were as many people under twenty as there were over sixty. I was a little disconcerted when the octogenarian sitting next to me whipped her bra onto the stage and yelled, “I love you, Ringo!” but other than that it was a hell of a show. Last Saturday was the third time I saw Beatlejuice.

The next day I found myself in “Beatles-mode” and dug out an old VHS tape the missus bought one time called The Beatles Unauthorized, a 51-minute compilation of old, black and white film clips showing a couple of Beatles concerts, several of their press conferences, and various news and TV show segments. The sound quality was extremely poor and the cinematography was generally on a par with how your great-grandfather might handle a camcorder. It showed the Beatles’ first concert in the U.S. (which was broadcast on closed-circuit TV in theaters) in Washington, DC, on a small, spare stage set in the middle of an auditorium ringed by screaming teenagers. Ringo’s drum set was placed on a tiny, round platform that was designed to rotate, so in between songs the lads could spin it 180 degrees to face that portion of the audience they previously had their backs to. Every time Ringo beat on the drums the platform wobbled like a teacup perched precariously on a bony knee. There were a few boxy amplifiers set to either side of Ringo’s drums like you might expect to see at a high school dance, two microphone stands, their guitars, and that was it. Just the boys in their Beatle suits, Beatle haircuts and Beatle boots. You could tell they couldn’t even hear what they were doing all that well; they more shouted than sung. And meanwhile every screeching adolescent girl in the joint achieved catharsis at a decibel level previously thought unattainable by humans.

You really get the idea from watching that tape that the Beatles were just kids made of flesh and bone, not the gods we thought they were. They seemed so frail and unprotected on that bare stage. When they had poor Ringo nearly throw out his tonsils singing “I wanna be your lover, baby, I wanna be you man” in all that din, I thought of how sore his throat must have been the next day and how hot and uncomfortable he looked in that suit, whacking away at his drums on a fragile, unsteady platform. Being a Beatle must have been completely nuts.

So who is your favorite Beatle? And why? And no claiming you don’t know anything about the Beatles, because that’s like saying you never heard of Mozart.

26 Comments:

Blogger LL said...

I don't know anything about the Beatles... and who's this Mozart fellow of which you speak?

3:17 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Paul is my favorite because I have a penchant for the underdog. John is too obvious, and clearly the leader and front man.

Very nice post Mr. Schprock. I didn't see that old video, but your description of the stage was so vivid that I could almost see it.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

I'm afraid I absolutely can NOT stand The Beatles, but if I have to pick one, it'd be Ringo. John's voice is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

It was all I could to do to read this post. If it had been anybody but you, Schprockie, I doubt I would have.

4:45 AM  
Blogger :phil: said...

Great Post!
It's John for many of the same reasons you stated. He was the one who questioned authority and used his celebrity status to try to make the world a better place.

Second is George. I think he wrote some fantastic songs and I love his guitar playing.

I like Paul the least, it's bubble gum musak.

I'm sure Kathleen is a nice person (I'm not sure why I think that other than if she's a reader of yours, she must be OK) but I never understood how people who like music don't like The Beatles or Bob Dylan. I guess it's the old generation gap at work but I love music from my parents era (Big Band and Swing) yet I can't stand Rap or basically anything that is popular for the past 15 years. So there you go. I'm an old fart and Kathleen is a young whipper-snapper :-)

6:54 AM  
Anonymous dreadmouse said...

I'm of an age (37) where I know most of the Beatle's music but I don't know much about the Beatles themselves.

The only one I'm familiar with as any kind of person is Paul because he's really the only one who continued to produce music that I'm aware of. Which makes my choice "Paul" by default, I suppose, even though he doesn't make any of my favourite artist lists. (Not that I have favourite artist lists, but if I did, he wouldn't be on them.)

8:22 AM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

John.

And just yesterday I was talking about the Beatles with a co-worker who was growing up during Beatlemania (or however it is spelled...) and she was telling me about trying to take a picture of the TV when they were on the Ed Sullivan Show and that her best friend wouldn't talk to her for months because she admitted to also liking the Monkees. (that traitor!) LOL. The topper was when she told me about her teenaged daughter saying to her, "Paul was in a band before Wings?" Hahahaha.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I just wanted to thank you first for the high praise you gave me of my post, "The Sticker." Coming from you it means a lot, Mr. Schprock. I wrote to you in the comments section, but I know you're busy so wanted to mention it. I didn't proof-read or edit it. That's the rough draft. I blubbered so hard through the end, I didn't want to go back.

Anyhow, my favorite Beatle was Ringo and really, he just seemed like a lot of fun. My mother's favorite was Ringo so it kind of rubbed off on me. I ended up dating lots of drummers. Haha.

My husband loves and actually looks like the son of John Lennon. He's the real Beatles fan in our house and plays/sings many of their tunes.

10:00 AM  
Blogger SzélsőFa said...

I don't consider myself a Beatles fan - I was never really moved or touched by their music. If I had to choose, that would be George, for his dreamy eyes and inclination to eastern philosophy. At least that's all that I know about him. I have to emphasize that I don't really know much about them. John was too sceptic and cynical for me, Paul and Ringo were too... real life persons. Will we get our verdict upon our choice, btw?

12:57 PM  
Blogger Chloe said...

I never felt cool enough to love John the way others did - vocally, proudly - kind of felt that I didn't have anything to rise up against, being born a middle-class white girl. I loved him secretly, but couldn't bring myself to say it aloud, fearing I'd be dismissed a poser, easily the worst fate one could have in high school.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous fringes said...

I'll take John. Love him.

7:21 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

Not much of a Beatles fan, I'm afraid. If I had to choose, probably John. However, just for Phil, I will say I'm a Dylan fan. :P

12:28 PM  
Blogger Flash said...

What if you don't like the Beatles? Is there a 5th branch for those people. Or what if you just like them all?

I'm one who doesn't like the Beatles, so I'm afraid I can't choose one.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Thank you, Trina & Flash.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

I hope you're not still sick. Please come back with some funny.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Wordnerd said...

When I was younger, I didn't appreciate the Beatles nearly enough, so I thought Ringo was both cute AND funny. Now, it's a tie between the quiet hipness of George and the poet that was John. Paul? Sorry. I'll never forgive him for those awful duets with Michael Jackson. The doggone girl is MINE? Kill me now.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Farrago said...

Well, I've thought about this, and considered other readers' posts, and it comes down to this firme: They were "The Beatles," not "The Four Beatles."

I like John for the poet and songwriter he was, for his eye cocked to the world situation of his time, and his courage to speak out about it.

I like Paul for the poet and songwriter he was, for his steadfast conviction to the love ballad despite the pressures of the world and his most frequent co-writer to write socially aware music. Together they were the most prolific songwriters of the 1960s.

I like George because he was the least naturally musically talented of the four. His was a long struggle to learn to play the guitar, but he did it, and learned how to write songs along the way.

I like Ringo because he always looked like he was having fun, and never seemed to seek the spotlight for himself. In 14 albums he had only one drum solo, of 13 seconds' duration (Abbey Road), and it never seemed to bother him not to have more.

So I like The Beatles. Their achievements after the band dissolved do not apply, as they were and are no longer Beatles.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone always forgets about Pete Best! I like all of the Beatles equally, but if I had to choose one, it would have to be Pete. He was one of the main reasons Brian Epstein took notice of the group and decided to represent them in the first place. When the Beatles' signed with EMI, it was Pete's photo alone that graced the front cover of Mersey Beat magazine announcing the story. The heading next to the photo read: 'Congratulations to Pete, Paul, John and George'. His name was first, that's how popular he was!

Pete Best is on a lot of their early tracks such as "Ain't She Sweet," (#19 in 1964),"Besame Mucho," "My Bonnie," and "Cry For A Shadow." He was an excellent drummer and it was cool that he kept his own haircut and didn't go with the Beatle mop top. A true individual. Pete Best rocked!!!!

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have to disagree with farrago's comment about george harrison being the least musically talented of the four. composition didn't come as quickly or perhaps as naturally for him as it did for lennon and mccartney, but once he got going he wrote just as well, if not as prolifically, as the other two. also, his post-beatles music is way better.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous rhett said...

Pete Best? Are you related to him or something? Its true he was the frontman of the band but add in his drumming ability and attitude and you'll understand we he was replaced. And, you'll also understand Best's music career after. I always liked Paul personally, however as I get older George has grown on me. People that don't like The Beatles are like those kids that don't like chocolate.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Jill said...

Paul was my favorite Beatle for a long time, but only because I thought he was good looking (as did/does every other girl who has ever listened and seen the Beatles--in real life or in photographs), but I must say that for musical talent and general understanding of the world, George Harrison is the best. He seems to me to be the most-rounded member of the Beatles. He was also the youngest, something I have experienced my whole life. Also, he could play the sitar. How many people do you know of that can play the sitar? That just kicks butt. =)

Paul is still a great musician, but in recent times I have been a little put off him by his attitude. Is it just me, or does it seem that he is acting a little high of late? In recent news clippings and concerts he just does not seem right, although the concerts are understandable. Perhaps the loss of Linda is bugging him again as he gets older.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George Harrison because he was... real, I guess is the word.
Paul seemed so shadowed by facades and his charm and John always had his edginess and wit to hide behind. And Ringo always seemed just too adorable to be real. I've read the 900 page Beatles biography, and I have to say that I was astounded by how rude and terrible Paul and John were. Paul really is nothing to me but a pretty face. And John, he's just a bad ass. But George was no different than I expected. He was a beautifully awkward man that was just doing the best he could.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the beatles were all wonderful. i love pauls cuteness and talent, his voice was candy.

i love georges spirituality and smile. plus he wrote here comes the sun! great song.

and i love ringos quietness, yet with his friends he was sooo funny.

but most of all. I love john. hes not only my favorite beatle but also my favorite musician of all time. i highly admire his attitude toward the world. and how he was always honest and outspoken. he was funny, and whatever his religious views were it didnt matter because all he wanted was peace. i admire his singing voice and music. his music seemed most real. or at least had more of a purpose and a powerful message. songs like imagine and give peace a chance and all you need is love are only scratching the surface of who john really was. he also wrote songs like i am the walrus which are just fun to hear!
I even admire his character. many people say john was a cruel indevidual. i dont beleive cruel is the word to use for a man who said "I dont beleive in killing for any reason whatsoever." He also said "There is hitler in all of us but there is also love and peace. so just give peace a chance!"
The point is
John was flawed. but he admitted it. John was a bad father to Julian, but he was an amazing faher to sean because of his past mistakes. Poeple blamed john and yoko for the breakup of the beatles. but john was in love. REAL love. and he wanted to be with his family. he saw what the beatles did to his relationship with julian. he was too busy to be with him. so i admire john for redeeming himself and putting family first. also John was an angry indevidual, but he was not violent or cruel, and who can blame him for being a little messed up when his childhod was so sad and lonely. his first wife once said, "John always worried he wasnt loved, and so he was always testing people for that love." so where some people say john was rude to them. it ws his way of testing them for their love. it was as if he was silently saying, "do you love me?"
Anyways, we had never met john so we cant know everything for sure. but i choose to beleive in the people who knew him best, not your average john hater. i beleive in those who loved him and knew the true john. Ringo said about john, "he influenced me greatly, to take risks. he had the biggest heart of any man i had ever met to this day. he was a loving giving caring human being."
and paul said in his tribute to john, "I love you."

these are the reasons john is my favorite beatle and musician. plus he was cute before he started having those bad hair days.
these are also the reasons john wil never be forgotten.

Rest in peace and love John.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ringo is my favorite, followed closely by Paul. Then comes George. I don't know why, but I've never been a fan of John. He seemed a little too cocky too me.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Eleanor Rigny said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Eleanor Rigny said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Eleanor Rigby said...

I've always liked The Beatles. 'Liked' being the main word in that sentence. But this Christmas... something changed. I rediscovered The Beatles and I am in LOVE.
I cant't believe that I have lived 17 years on this planet and only really found out what The Beatles are all about. Their music is out of this world, surreal. Nothing nowadays comes close to what they produced.
Anyway, to get to the point of this comment. I recently bought The Beatles Anthology DVD boxset and Oh Lord...11 hours of unmeasured bliss it was. Whether listening to their songs or watching The Beatles setting off on their epic journey, right through the Beatlemania period and finally to their tumultuous and 'the end of an era' break-up, The Beatle that always stood out for me was, most definitely, Paul. From his unreal voice, to his mesmerizing stage performances and his unchallenged song writing ability, he is just absolutely AMAZING. Don't get me wrong, I adore all The Beatles and I think that both George and John were both fine song writers too and sweet Ringo was a class drummer, but it seems that I'm just drawn to Paul's songs more than the others. Eleanor Rigby, Helter Skelter, Rocky Raccoon, Hey Jude, I'm Down, Penny Lane, The Long and Winding Road- this man could do no wrong. And after reading some of the other comments here, I completely agree that if Paul wasn't in the band and it was up to John to keep them going they would have probably broken up a lot sooner than they did. So, there it is. Paul McCartney all the way. I shall now contradict myself in saying that really The Beatles shouldn't be split up and the favourites chosen because really, the beatles came as a Beatle package.
Alas, because I do have to choose, Paul gets my vote. (Plus, he was absolutely adorable when he was younger!). I just wish I had been a Sixties kid. Ye got all the greats!

8:30 AM  

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