McCartney Times

The Beatles for the 90’s generation

The Beatles for the 90’s generation

The Beatles for the 90’s generation
March 22
10:40 2018

For a 90s kid, being a fan of ‘The Beatles’ after hearing their music well beyond their chartbusters makes you often uncomfortable in conversations where the F-word pops up – Feminism.

You’d have a hard time defending the champion of the free, liberal, equal and almost Utopian world AKA John Lennon, when he had penned songs that blatantly threaten physical violence against the fairer sex.

<a href="https://www.discogs.com/artist/82730-The-Beatles">The Beatles</a> ‎– Run For Your Life/Michelle Vinyl disc released on 14 Feb, 1966.
The Beatles ‎– Run For Your Life/Michelle Vinyl disc released on 14 Feb, 1966.
(Photo Courtesy: Discogs.com)

Believe me, I stand tall as a proud Beatlemaniac, and defend them in every debate that tries to undermine their talent.

But they were also people with their perspectives, outlook, and experience of the world at a time far behind us – the 60s and the 70s. That was a time when women’s equality in the workplace and society was a far-fetched dream, and notions of consent and rights were laced with ambiguity.

And precisely thus, I cannot but wonder if the said songs would have turned differently had The Beatles been millennials like you and I.

So ‘Imagine’.

Imagine… if Paul, George, John and Ringo were born in this day and age, grew up reading what we have, and had written these songs differently.

I’ll Get You

This song from Side B of the Fab Four’s 1963 album ‘She Loves You’, actually takes off with an almost innocent yet cryptic confession of love, asking the audience to ‘imagine’ that the narrator of this ballad is in love with you. And who in their right mind wouldn’t fancy John Lennon (the man behind the verses for this track) to be head over heels with them?

Right?

Wrong.

’Cause it is this very conviction that takes a rather twisted turn in the following verses, especially the last couple.

Original lyrics:

It’s not like me to pretend

But I’ll get you in the end

Yes I will, I’ll get you in the end, oh yeah, oh yeah

Well, there’s going to be a time

When I’m going to change your mind (When i’m gonna make you mine)

So you might as well resign yourself to me, oh yeah

It is almost as if you have no say in the matter. Lennon has predicted your future. There is no escape. The inevitable is bound to happen, so why struggle? Just give in to it. Even if we go past the obvious narcissistic overtones, it paints a sorry picture of what the boys thought of women and their agency.

Here’s how I ‘imagine’ John would have worded it, had he been living the millennial life.

How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘I’ll Get You’ if they were millennials.
How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘I’ll Get You’ if they were millennials.
(Photo: TheQuint/Ankita Das)

You Can’t Do That

Written and composed by mostly Lennon, this one from their album A Hard Day’s Night (1964) has got to be the anthem for all the insecure boyfriends out there who get squirmy in the guts if the girl even so has a casual conversation with someone of the opposite sex.

You’d think the man in the song is just love sick and can’t contain his jealous feelings until you deep dive into chorus and realise his motivations are different, and quite frankly, superficial.

Original lyrics:

I got something to say that might cause you pain,

If I catch you talking to that boy again,

I’m gonna let you down,

And leave you flat,

Because I told you before, oh,

You can’t do that.

Well, it’s the second time, I’ve caught you talking to him,

Do I have to tell you one more time, I think it’s a sin,

I think I’ll let you down.

Let you down and leave you flat,

Gonna let you down and leave you flat,

Because I’ve told you before, oh,

You can’t do that.

Everybody’s green,

‘Cause I’m the one, who won your love,

But if they’d seen,

You’re talking that way they’d laugh in my face.

But if they’d seen,

You’re talking that way they’d laugh in my face.”

Yep, to save his face before his friends, he is ready to let his partner down and ‘leave her flat.’ I would like to believe that a modern day Lennon, and his band of boy fans would muster up confidence, give zero effs to what their peers think, and place more trust in their partners.

How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘You Can’t Do That’ if they were millennials.
How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘You Can’t Do That’ if they were millennials.
(Photo: TheQuint/Ankita Das)

No Reply

It’s not until you are already anticipating the brilliant first chorus (‘I saw the light, I saw the light’ ) that you realise this song isn’t so much about a forgiving man patiently waiting for his beloved, than someone obsessively pursuing and even secretly spying on a girl, who has clearly given him ‘no reply.’

Original lyrics:

I nearly died, I nearly died’

Cause you walked hand in hand

With another man in my place.

If I were you I’d realize that I

Love you more than any other guy

And I’ll forgive the lies that I

Heard before when you gave me no reply

But when stalking is romanticised even in the 21st Century pop-music (Just browse through 2017’s top Bollywood chartbusters and you’d know what I mean), should we cut our 60s rock-stars some slack for seeing merits in unflinching devotion towards chasing after a girl who has rejected them?

No. I think The Beatles can do better than that. They would work on their stalkerish tendencies – not to mention the suicidal inclinations – and get over the rejection.

This is how the song would go had they written it in 2018.

How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘No Reply’ if they were millennials.
How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘No Reply’ if they were millennials.
(Photo: TheQuint/Ankita Das)

Run For Your Life

However way you read it, be it the title or the first line, this song is a threat. A homicidal threat. How did it even make it to the album?

You may miss it when you are humming its cleverly put together catchy tune – McCartney’s genius composition would make sure of it. In this track from 1965’s The Beatles album Rubber Soul, John is writing as a self-proclaimed ‘wicked guy’ with a ‘jealous mind’ who openly threatens to murder his fictitious girlfriend if he ‘catches her with another man.’

Original Lyrics:

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl

Than to be with another man

You better keep your head, little girl

Or I won’t know where I am

You better run for your life if you can, little girl

Hide your head in the sand little girl

Catch you with another man

That’s the end, little girl

Well you know that I’m a wicked guy

And I was born with a jealous mind

And I can’t spend my whole life

Trying just to make you toe the line

You better run for your life if you can, little girl

Hide your head in the sand little girl

Catch you with another man

That’s the end, little girl

In his defence, Lennon was heard speaking of the song dismissively in retrospect: “Sort of a throwaway,” “I didn’t think it was that important,” “I never liked it,” “I always hated that one” and “it was phoney” were remarks he often made, as Dave Rybaczewski writes in this subjective discography.

So as a fan I’d like to believe that Lennon would have worded it differently, had he attempted the track years later.

How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘Run For Your Life’ if they were millennials.
How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘Run For Your Life’ if they were millennials.
(Photo: TheQuint/Ankita Das)

A Hard Day’s Night

Before you go ‘What has this gem of a song got to eb labelled as sexist’ – let’s clarify one thing – this single from their 1964 album with the same name, doesn’t necessarily promote hatred or animosity towards women in general. It’s ‘tame’ compared to the above four tracks we discussed. It could easily be interpreted as a reflection of the time they belonged to.

But the gender role appropriation that the song so smoothly celebrates can’t be entirely pushed under the carpet. Especially when you have 20-something-college-going millennials ODing on these classics.

Original Lyrics:

It’s been a hard day’s night, and I been working like a dog

It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log

But when I get home to you I’ll find the things that you do

Will make me feel alright

You know I work all day to get you money to buy you things

And it’s worth it just to hear you say you’re going to give me everything

So why on earth should I moan, ’cause when I get you alone

You know I feel ok

When I’m home everything seems to be right

When I’m home feeling you holding me tight, tight

So here’s a version of the song I’d love Paul McCartney to revise and cover for our generation – wishful thinking, but hey, a fan can ‘imagine.’

How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ if they were millennials.
How The Beatles would have rewritten ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ if they were millennials.
(Photo: TheQuint/Ankita Das)

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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