Tim Walker: Abbey Road is not my memory lane

Share
Related Topics

If you read a newspaper yesterday – almost any newspaper – you'll be aware that it's precisely 50 years since the Beatles played their first show at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Given they didn't break up until 1970, this means we can all look forward to almost a decade of semi-centennial Beatles stories. Put it in your forward planners: October 2012 is the 50th birthday of "Love Me Do", the band's debut single. In 2013, it'll be half a century since their first LP.

The following year, anyone old enough can fondly recall how they broke America with that appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show – and, a year after that, eulogise the famed Shea Stadium gig that even the band couldn't hear above the screams. Just think: in 2020 we could top it all off with a major John and Yoko retrospective at Tate Britain (none of their nonsense will be "modern" by then). Crackly recordings of the pair wailing each other's names will echo through the Duveen Galleries, as OAPs sit in rapt contemplation of "Self Portrait", a 42-minute film of Lennon's semi-erect penis.

Sixties rock nostalgia is an undignified obsession perpetuated by middle-aged (and, statistically speaking, male) media executives, who believe column inches are best populated by the idols of their youth. There hasn't been a genuine Beatles news story since George Harrison's untimely death in 2001, yet their monthly subscriptions to Mojo, The Word and Saga keep them convinced that there's a market for continued dissection of the band's break-up, and debate as to who deserves that not-rare-enough accolade, "the fifth Beatle". (It's George Martin, obviously.)

Meanwhile, each passing month brings reports of increasingly ridiculous Beatles-based purchases. Last year, somebody with more money than sense paid £9,500 at auction for Lennon's porcelain loo. (One imagines he/she isn't planning to use it for its original function. So where, exactly, will it have pride of place? The only room in the house worthy of such a crass acquisition is the bathroom – but putting it there would just confuse people.) The year before that, it was £750 for a wrought-iron balustrade from his auntie's house. Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger are all approaching their 70th birthdays. I was born a fortnight after Lennon was shot, which makes me 30; even if I was 50, I'd barely remember the Sixties. Beatlemania is just about pensionable, and it's time to retire it.

And yes, of course ("Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" aside), the band's musical legacy is limitless and beyond reproach. My contemporaries and I discovered as much in our teens or earlier, by buying Sgt Pepper and from there venturing in either discographical direction – to Revolver and Rubber Soul, to the "White Album" album and Abbey Road. But last year's much-trumpeted and long-overdue iTunes release of the Beatles' back catalogue didn't produce a Christmas No 1 as planned. In fact, it barely troubled the Top 40. Young people weren't interested in the billboards; if they were interested in the music, they probably downloaded it illegally years ago. The hype, memories and memorabilia are merely an unnecessary distraction.

A mooted Rolling Stones tour has reportedly been scuppered by the indomitable Keith Richards' mention, in his memoir, of his colleague Jagger's allegedly diminutive "todger". Apparently, the pair are no longer speaking – and a good thing, too.

This is a band, you'll recall, that hasn't produced new music of note in a quarter-century. And the World's Greatest Live Act™ is surely long gone, replaced by an ageing tribute act apeing its own back catalogue to anyone who'll pay through the teeth for a chance to remember the glory days.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps recently called on Liverpool City Council to delay plans for a massive and much-needed regeneration scheme, because he wants to prevent the demolition of a single, derelict terrace at 9 Madryn Street – where, in July 1940, Richard Starkey (aka Ringo Starr) was born. If it were Paul's house, he might just have a point. But it's Ringo's. It's time we knocked the thing down and moved on.

t.walker@independent.co.uk; twitter.com/timwalker

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Forget charging by the page - with books, heart matters more than heft

Katy Guest
George Osborne likes to think of himself as the greatest political mind of his generation  

Budget 2015: It takes a lot of hard work to be as lucky as George Osborne

John Rentoul
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test