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

Helpdesk Team Leader / Manager

£45000 per annum + pension,medical: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable gl...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Project Manager

£35000 per annum + £5k bonus, car: Ashdown Group: A successful business that h...

IT Infrastructure Project Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A large and well established business is look...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes