When I first discovered The Beatles, in the heyday of high school in the late 1990s, I was most definitely a John Lennon Man. Paul McCartney always seemed like he was just in it for the chicks, and Ringo Starr was merely along for the ride. George Harrison was the likable, talented workhorse but not worth the attention of my arty pretentiousness — I also thought I was the only teenager who liked Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Vonnegut. (I was, how you say, the worst.) In college, I remember being asked several times: Paul McCartney or John Lennon? (After, of course, being asked: The Beatles or Elvis Presley, because I went to film school and Quentin Tarantino is God there.) The answer was always (The Beatles, immediately followed by) John Lennon, and it didn’t hurt that, at my absolute best, I kind of resembled Julian’s and Sean’s dad.
Even today it is still remarkably easy to identify with Lennon’s geeky music romanticism, but as I’ve gotten a little older, it has become increasingly clear that the choice between The Beatles’ dual frontmen is patently false. The real answer is, and always was and will be, George Harrison and his unadorned realism. As much as I love Imagine and McCartney (or, at least, “Imagine” and “Maybe I’m Amazed”), Harrison’s album All Things Must Pass is the best non-Beatles Beatle recording of all time. I come to that conclusion because it contains real world ideas and concerns, and not merely pop pabulum or drug-induced mindscapes. If not for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (and, sure, a dozen other brilliant songs in The Beatles catalog) All Things would just be the best Beatles thing ever.
HBO and Martin Scorsese, who both have pretty prestigious documentary stripes, seem to agree, at least according to the trailer for their two-part film on the man who helped bankroll the Monty Python films, George Harrison: Living in the Material World.
It will be interesting to see how deep Scorsese goes, or if the movie ends up just kissing a dead man’s ass for several hours. Honestly, I would probably be okay with either option, because the quality of the production itself looks damn good. But what do you think? Is George your guy, and if so, do you want a warts n’ all approach, or are you still wrapped up in the mystique of Lennon v. McCartney? Or, are you insane and prefer Ringo Starr, of all The Beatles?
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic book The Unstoppable Force, co-hosts the internet radio show We’re Not Fanboys, and can be tweeted @RobOfWar on the Twitter. He doesn’t mean any offense to Ringo, after all, he did inspire this.