|The classic "semaphore" pose of the Fab 4, on "Help!"|
The success of "A Hard Day's Night" (with that fascinating Harrison chord on the guitar) meant there would be more cinema. We got the "Help!" movie that was a comedy/adventure. It reflected an odd mix of inspirations. One of them, reportedly, was the Marx Brothers movie "Duck Soup." That never would have occurred to me.
Mid-'60s magic for Fab 4
On came the year 1965. Sometimes I use baseball as a frame of reference for a particular album or tune. Our Minnesota Twins went to spring training on the threshold of their first pennant season. Lennon wrote the song "Help!" in that spring. It became the title track to the Beatles" fifth album and second feature film.
Do songs really spring from feelings?
The Beatles paid dues for a long time honing the skill. They ended up speaking for a generation, even though they themselves weren't baby boomers. They learned how to reach their audience - the most elementary of artistic skills.
If the Beatles ended up imprisoned by their success, one wonders what kind of alternative they really would have preferred.
"Yesterday": not even in the movie
All hail the Beatles from their too-short history. "Help!" was a very special chapter. The Cold War was ripe. James Bond sprang from the Cold War. "Help!" has those recognizable spots. I was ten years old. We developed amidst that cynical backdrop, i.e. not knowing who you can trust. Today we simply celebrate the Beatles' wondrous music - historical context not always necessary. No "help" needed.
Addendum: One of the promotional stills for "Help!" includes Lennon holding up a trumpet. I say "holding up" rather than "playing" because a trumpet player can instantly tell from a photo whether someone is really a trumpet player (or interloper). Alas, Lennon is not. It's a faux trumpet pose, cute nonetheless. McCartney too holds a brass instrument. He looks a wee more genuine. I have always smiled when trying to imagine a biopic about the great trumpet player Maynard Ferguson. Who on earth could come close to looking like him? His handling of the trumpet was demanding and intense. Merely "pretending" those qualities wouldn't work, no matter the actor. The most skilled actor with hours of practice would be nothing short of laughable - sorry - trying to portray the great MF. Maynard never achieved quite enough fame to be subject for a biopic. At the end of the year he died, Del Sarlette and I were a little disappointed he didn't show up in that annual, depressing gallery of photos of people who died that year. I'm sure Maynard was at least a candidate. Would I rather be reincarnated as someone like Lennon or the great MF? I'd choose the latter.