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John, Paul, George and Ringo and Yesterday!


Today’s WhatsApp generation does not know the joy of these timeless songs, and the movie that releases Friday, July 12, celebrates this very notion: what if the Beatles did not exist?

John, Paul, George and Ringo and Yesterday!
‘Here comes the Sun’ you hope when a sliver of light penetrates the dark clouds hanging over the city…
‘Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away,’ you sing after a particularly bad day at work on top of a heartbreak…
‘Sir or madam will you read my book, took me years to write, won’t you take a look,’ is my song when I’m sharing my work with strangers who could turn it into a movie…
Today’s WhatsApp generation does not know the joy of these timeless songs, and the movie that releases Friday, July 12, celebrates this very notion: what if the Beatles did not exist?
But a clarification first. I loved Trainspotting (both the original and the sequel) by Danny Boyle, but absolutely loathed his Slumdog Millionaire. It just makes Indians look plain bad. But he redeems himself with this film ‘Yesterday’ an ode to the Fab Four, who showed us the joys of living in a ‘Yellow Submarine’ while singing out loud, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’!
Yesterday is a film that wonders ‘what if’ and makes you watch and sing with joy. Please note, I said joy, not ecstasy (not even the kind you feel when you sing Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds). But the sheer joy of living which you find in songs by the Beatles like, ‘I wanna hold your hand!’
Why? Because Danny Boyle seems to be set on casting Indians in really ugly roles. Lads that appear to sink in shit (literally) and here: he’s not exactly good looking, and then we get to see him with two teeth missing. He could have been an ordinary English bloke, nondescript and boring even. And the story would have worked. But Danny Boyle had to get him to be the weird Indian, with Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhasker doing what feels like an ancient 80s thing (the Kumars at no.42 was in the early 2000 but still). The ‘odd Indian parents’ is a really, really a tiresome act now. You groan and go, ‘Whyyyy!’
So the hero is Jack Malik, a really pathetic character who sings The Summer Day Song, and Lily James - yes that liquid sunshine called Lily James - is in love with him and drives him to the venues, is his manager and friend. Did you read that right? Lily James is in love with the proverbial ugly Indian, a lad who is so clueless, he says, ‘We are like brother and sister!’ Dammit, Danny Boyle! You can’t do this to us Indians. Make me want to sing like Jack Malik, make me want to be like Jack Malik. But no, it takes us all a while to erase the thought of wanting to be Jack except for the fact that Lily James wants him…
If you get past the casting, the film will drown you in the songs. If you are a Beatles fan, you will realise that Ringo Starr just celebrated his birthday on July 7 (he just turned 79, is active on Twitter, and we wish him peace and love!).
For a fan of the Beatles (Yes, I use the lower case for ‘the’ instead of how some people call the band ‘The Beatles’), you will realise that Liverpool should be on your next musical holiday destination (and also if you are a footy fan). Not only did the band start their lives here, but their first ever gig was at the Casbah Coffee House (located at 8, Hayman’s Green) where they got paid a princely sum of £3.00 for their Saturday night gig. Mona Best, who asked the lovely helpful lads John, Paul and George to help paint the Coffee House also asked them to join up with Pete Best her son, and form a band. John Lennon and Pete Best were friends, even though John was older and at art college. If you trawl the net, you will discover that the album cover features a coke dispenser (Coca-Cola was really popular with the youngsters then), and you make that connection in the film Yesterday because, with the glitch that wipes out the Beatles from everyone’s memory, Coke vanishes too. Great touch that, Mr Boyle!
Yes, you can still visit the Casbah Coffee House (which closed down in 1968) but now run by Pete Best’s family as a museum of sorts, a brilliant walk down the memory lane. You realise that the most successful band of all time first played there! There is also a very modern Magical Mystery House, an interactive museum which houses things like the cello from I Am The Walrus and so on…
As I type this, my favourite go-to for everything about the band, a website aptly called the Beatles Bible reminds me that this day in 1968, the Beatles were releasing their album A Hard Day’s Night. Take a moment to savour that fact.
The song is timeless, isn’t it? And it was written by two men who met and started a band even before my parents had, and I consider myself ancient when I hear the rather pathetic ‘complaint’ rock that young people are listening to these days. ‘How could I dance with another, when I saw her standing there?’ they sang, and the very simple intent for love: I wanna hold your hand…
Rock ‘n Roll was so simple, wasn’t it? But when you think about it, between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, they have written all the songs from the albums that stayed on top of the Billboard charts for 1, 278 weeks! And that list includes things that were going on in their life, not just pretty stories they were telling. She’s got a Ticket To Ride is a telling tale of marijuana and other drugs but contrary to popular belief Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is not about LSD but from a drawing little Julian Lennon made of his classmate Lucy O’Donnell who was unwell. Paul McCartney wrote Hey Jude when he visited Lennon’s first wife Cynthia and little Julian. The drug taking and the womanising did rip apart many relationships for the fab four, but then they were so young…
Perhaps John and Cynthia outgrew each other, perhaps his violent nature was responsible for the cracks in a drug-fueled relationship but I am like another thoughtless fan, just grateful for their volatile lives because we got songs like Jealous Guy (written for Cynthia) and Imagine (which he wrote when he was with Yoko Ono).
The four recorded their last album together, and there’s a controversy about which one was the last, and the Net will fuel your Beatlemania from buying the Yellow Submarine to helping you discover bootleg recordings to songs you love. I could on and on about how The Beatles became a catalyst for bohemianism and activism that fueled such movements as women’s liberation, gay liberation, and environmentalism, but I am happy to sing their silly O Bladi! O Blada! Raise my glass of Pinot to Long And Winding Road playing into the night. Or to get elders in the family scream, ‘Sacrilege!’ I play My Sweet Lord
But thanks to Danny Boyle and the film Yesterday, my love for the four has been rekindled. By the way, Paul wrote the music for the song Yesterday before he wrote the words, he wandered about the house, singing ‘Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs’ so he would not forget the tune...That song would have been from a different world, no? I have also dug out the round-framed sunglasses of Lennon/Gandhi fame and am pretending to have the coolth of Ringo Starr in this song as I get ready to sell my book idea…As someone says in the comments section, Ringo is so cool, he’s playing the drums with his mind!

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