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I Was the Fifth Beatle (an Essay)
The Beatles Were Instantly Successful
as the English rock band, The Beatles, formed in Liverpool in 1960. The "Fab Four": John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, became widely considered as the most influential musical act of the rock era. More girls yelling in a packed arena than even Elvis could attract. The Bealtes' early musical styles began with skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the Liverpool foursome later tried several musical styles, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock--often fusing classical elements and rebellious-based recording techniques in innovative ways. Soon, this Liverpool band, thanks to their bulging popularity, were dubbed "Beatlemania," and as the group's music grew in maturity and pomp, in latter years, led by songwriters, Lennon and McCartney, they, along with Starr and Harrison came to be perceived as an early icon of the counterculture in the 1960s.
When the "Fab Four," had went as far as the four multi-talented lads from Liverpool could climb and all of the teenage girls' money was made, the end had already reared-up its sad and filthy head and although in Sept. 1969 John Lennon privately told the other Beatles that he was through, there was no public acknowledgement of the break-up until Paul McCartney announced on April 10, 1970, that he was leaving the Beatles--so in exacted time, "The Day That The Music" had died. It, The Beatles musical engineer had came to the station. But Don McClean, a struggling Pop artist, jumped from the train with his lyrics, "American Pie," that served him comfortably in music's strange faces begin to change.
Anyone with a keyboard today and with the use of a common Webster's Dictionary, they could write (this) essay with a lot more serious nods and winks, but I can't. I simply cannot maintain this much-thought about piece, but if I were to try to keep frowning, this would not make any sense to you. It wure wouldn't make sense to me--and I was one of the millions + who grew to maturity on the music of The Beatles. Now I wish that I had all of that grass-mowing money back. I would have one great I.R.A. in my local bank. Why am I feeling so filled by eating these sour grapes? In The Bealtes early song offerings to the middle, I loved their lyrics (silly or sane) and their music was clean, articulate and above enjoyment. Not cluttered and fussed over. Just a great way to get with friends and throw on a few Beatles LPs and your evening was made.
After The Beatles called it quits, or "creatively separated to do other things" as the music labels' publicists say, who was left for prepubescent kids to worship while their parents went mad from worrying about what had their kids become? The Beatles to me, signified more than four groovy guys with great hair and a sharp wit and had musical talents. These guys not only changed our lifestyles, but WERE our lifestyles. No other solo act or group could then or now, lay claim to being who we talked about, joked about and grew like in our thinking and that was what I think was our parents' main terror. The "what" in our thinking. Sure. We were exposed to "grass" (not the kind that I slaved and sweated with my dad to make a few bucks), but the grass that some of us smoked. Not me. I was always living in someone else's shadow and fearing the criminal consequences. I had frequent nightmares that I, age 15, would be dragged up to a judge's bench, probably made from Oak. And the frowning judge, past retirement age, wearing a jet-black robe with gavel in hand said, "young man, whatta you in here for?"
"uhhh, sir, I was standing, (sob--crying. Not calling him a S.O.B.), near my friend, Keith, who was puffing on a joint and I was talking (sob) to hm about learning the guitar and . . .(sob) then these professional cops, errr, police officers tackled me and here I am."
"hmmmm. Interesting. Say, uhhh, boys, (the cops) did you see this young 15-year old take any puff of that illegal substance?"
"(cough, cough), uhhh, not really, sir. He's being honest with you, judge," the two police officers dressed in clean, pressed uniforms replied.
Then I awoke to my chest heaving from fear and the sheets on my bed soaked from sweat. Fear will cause people like me to react in these ways.
You have just read the first of my really personal reasons as to why "I Was Never Going to be The Fifth Beatle." Oh, I know that George Martin, was listed as The Beatles producer, and main string-puller, but do you want to know what his real job duties included? Halfway grinning, losing stoic and very English, smoking his Brier pipe, agreeing with the Beatles when they wanted a lyric change. And dressing like an English prosecutor. Martin may have claimed to be the Fifth Beatle, like I am trying desperately to tell you, but I could have handled this work.
I truly believe that if John or Paul alone or together were to approach Martin about having their next album cover manufactured with livestock manure (equipped with that smell), he would have busted a rib before he said no to this most-powerful musical force which had evolved from a band of four very talented guys wearing expensive shoes and clothes. Martin wasn't stupid.
My main idea for being the 2017 version of "Me, Being The Fifth Beatle," came to me not long ago and it couldn't have arrived a more perfect time. Look! Back in The Beatles time, the crowds were prone to riot and clash with Bobbies and American police when the Fab Four walked into Shea Stadium. Just for showing up? A riot? Sure. But today, we see a more tolerant society in the United States--with Colorado pioneering the way to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. In our day and The Beatles day, 1964, you could not have strong-armed our country into giving into legal pot. No, sir.
But nothing (much) remains the same, so I will expound on the sweet fantasy of why "I" have stopped dreaming about The Beatles for when you reach your 60s, your views change. But those you love do not. I am 63 going on 64 and I wonder . . .I really have to wonder at my age right now, would I stand a good chance of being the Fifth Beatle? Maybe a decent chance? Okay, a slim chance. If I am breathing, there is a slim chance that today, this year, with enough realistic-planning, I could be the Fifth Beatle and amaze everyone. You included. When the news breaks, people near and far, and let me clarify: those diehard Beatle fans who think that Paul was "really" killed in an auto accident and a clever impostor took over for him, would carve a trail to my house in hopes that I might walk outside and give them an autograph. And oh, the fun I'd have giving brief interviews with CNN, Fox News, with Meagyn Kelly, ex-CNN TV journalist, and even Erin Andrews, that hot, young gorgeous blond Fox Sports sideline reporter would have to talk to me about my extensive wisdom of football and more importantly, why did I wait 47 years to come out and confess that I have been living as The Fifth Beatle. What a blockbuster of a headline. Photographers by the hordes and surviving (the first)Woodstock addicts will be camping out in my yard--not knowing I am just a mortal man. Not any relation to The Beatles. With the exception of George Martin thanks to Ancestry.com revealed that I am his third cousin on his forefather's second cousin's wife.
I stumble back into my house--not due to abusing drugs or alcohol, but pure, unadulterated old age. I hear groans and sighs of depression at me not staying long outside, but when you are the Fifth Beatle and have just been discovered, normal people act strangely in this country.
Some well-versed true Beatle follower asks, "sing one of the Fab Four's hit songs--to prove that you really are the Fifth Beatle." I nod. And grin. But this piker doesn't realize that I can strum a few songs on my trusty acoustic six-string guitar. I am confident. I sing a few lines of "Cry Baby Cry" from the White Album and this once-idiotic college drop-out apologizes and I give him a bowl of Post Grape Nuts to prove that I am peaceful and able to make healthy choices.
The phone rings. It's a girl working for a political survey. She sounds nice. I am sitting here watching my friend, the true Beatle fan who I didn't realize was so hungry and is lost in that bowl of Grape Nuts like a groundhog digging himself a new home. I am almost at wit's end hoping this nice-sounding girl will ask my name. Pay dirt! She asks my name. "Young lady," I say. "I am the Fifth Beatle." She giggles and remarks, "But you sound, so, you know, old." I chuckle. Then sing a verse of "Michelle," and she all but proposes to me over the phone. Her in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and me in Hamilton, Ala. We might have to compromise on a secluded place where we live without my newly-found fans charging my house everyday.
In a surprise move, WVTM, Channel 13, Birmingham, an NBC affiliate, calls and asks to interview me for their Six O' Clock News. But I have to decline. News stories like me being the Fifth Beatle are so cheap and tacky. The girl who is the station's news reporters' dispatcher, also sounds nice, but I do not give in to her giggling and asking me to send her nephew, "Andy," a fourth-grader in Anniston, Ala., an my autograph. I consent. She hangs up. Now I feel as if I have been taken by this shady-but-sweet-sounding news dispatcher.
Sweet-talking girls on the phone, I find out, is my worst weakness. Now I have the need to gather some cash and get to the Shuttlesworth Airport in Birmingham to board a plane to Atlanta then connect to Mobile, Ala., to board another plane heading for Britain (my homeland) so I can arrange to take some serious courses of Transcendental Meditation. I have to do this. The Beatles spent time in India doing this. So did the Beach Boys. They came out singing even better than when they arrived. I am excited to meet my teacher.
Sadly . . .my thinking about flying to India failed. Crashed and burned. Not one close friend would even think about giving me a few bucks to help finance my much-needed trip to take a few lessons on how to successfully meditate and be a better Fifth Beatle, but even if I did make that trip, my life would change even more and I am speaking of a wardrobe change. The Beatles NEVER wore jeans. Did you ever think about that? In the many years of singing, acting, and divorcing, did they ever wear jeans--a sure sign that I've always thought that these nice Liverpool rockers were really Anti-Americans. These guys even wrote and released a solid Anti-American song: "Back in The U.S.S.R." Do you want to argue with me now?
As the Fifth Beatle, I may have to wear sweat pants when I am relaxing at home and Wranglers, size 48, please, when I am on a PR tour to my hometown to talk to crowds about my name and how I successfully lived a Beatle life; ate Beatle food; and even sang a few Beatle tunes. Now, thanks to my health issues, I am forced to wear sweat pants and Wrangler's--what a shameful turn of events. The Beatles, in latter years, all wore silk robes. But this is 2017, not the era of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who tried to teach The Beatles how to get to higher levels of awareness through Meditation. This is a more rough edged, less tolerant society. If I am to succeed at 63 being the Fifth Beatle, well, I have just got to start getting into a recording studio to write and record a few nostalgic melodies that will cause the listeners to fall back into love with the band that not only shaped our world, but helped to build it.
I feel good at being the Fifth Beatle. No one has made a death threat or threatened to sue me for an oral slip of saying that "I" am more popular than Jesus. Our society at large is more sensitive, warm, and also prone to wearing sweaters in public and private. A sign that (this stage of mankind) is evolving to a more-open, involved man and woman. And most of those old battles we Americans addressed and fought against (and for) such as: Women's Suffrage; The E.R.A.; Draft Dodging; The Anti War Demonstrations including Burning Draft Cards; Diseases by the Dozen; Smog and Destroying The Ozone Layer have long since become gentle reminders of who we have become.
I am NOT as popular as our Savior, so that riff didn't ruffle one feather. Too many folks are busy working to make one more quarter. So the only thing that is left for me, The Fifth Beatle, is facing friction from an outside influence: An Old Flame, namely a shapely female friend of mine from years ago, but when she drives up in my driveway, I instantly know that she is not just here because of my sudden fame and notoriety, but to rekindle our friendship. I feel like arguing with myself when she is not in earshot. I want to continue to write and record what I've always created, but myself is torn between me and my Old Flame who is now worming her way into private, personal meetings with myself and I. Something has to give. This relationship, one of them, just has to go.
For a short time, we three get along fine. We all sit, talk, and reflect on our time as living in secret as the Fifth Beatle. Oh, I wanted to tell people, who in my hometown would believe me? People in my hometown are always born cynical. Why? I do not know. I even asked my parents when I was old enough to know why the citizens of Hamilton, Ala., always say, "why?" even when I make a simple statement. You'd have to live here to understand. It hasn't been easy for The Fifth Beatle. Not at all. Even in my school years. Oh, I remember when all of those upper crust kids would strut around bragging about how they were rich and could eat real food, I almost blew my stack and announced my secret that would have lost them in my dust--but I didn't. John, Paul, Ringo and George and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi would frown of me causing others such unwanted tension.
But the inner-tension surfaced then became more intense--so much that I could hardly bear recording with myself and my Old Flame in the same recording booth. I did finish my last LP, "The White Out Album," and I hope that when I get enough funds from another set of caring people that I can get this LP manufactured and sent out to all the nation's record stores. I have a good feeling about this one.
Now myself is at odds with my Old Flame demanding that I start another laborious World Tour, but we both that this is not going to work, so I renamed it to the name: "The Fifth Beatle Finale Tour," and will include my hometown and the towns of my county and maybe (if the gasoline holds out) a couple of towns near my own hometown. I feel confident. I am not as angry with myself as I once was with myself trying to break me and my Old Flame-now-turned Serious Relationship up and as myself said, the sooner the better.
Now I am about to make a major announcement and I do this because of the unwanted angry from myself trying to hurt my Old Flame, Now Serious Relationship. It hurts me to see these two always bickering and acting so childish--that their constant tirades are causing me to not be interested in doing anymore serious songs for I have had it with being The Fifth Beatle.
So as of today, Tuesday, Sept. 26, I am leaving myself and going to join My Old Flame and see what life will hold for us. I and myself were told of my decision earlier today.
Anybody know where I can reach Don McClean?
© 2017 Kenneth Avery