Dec 022010

A longtime lurking Townswoman posted the following question on her Facebook page, which she said we could hash out in all our nerdy glory here:

Why does Yoko get such a bad rap, and no one gives Linda shit for letting Paul write the screenplay and star in Give My Regards to Broad Street? She could have put a stop to this nonsense!

In our offlist chat, she added, “Just because you used to be a Beatle doesn’t make you infallible!”

This raises a plethora of RTH-worthy questions, among them, Does Linda deserve shit for not blowing the whistle on Paul’s worst musical tendencies? and Do Beatles fans deserve shit for not calling bullshit on Linda re: Paul as they did on Yoko re: John?

I think Linda was not held in as negative a regard as Yoko because Paul didn’t need Linda to “bring him down” in any way. He was perfectly capable of sucking without her “help.” This is not to suggest that Yoko really made Lennon turn out a good deal of solo crap on his own, but John gave off a strong sense of dependency on Yoko, while Paul seemed to simply enjoy Linda’s company. Also playing a role, I would think, is the fact that Yoko was an artist in her own right, while Linda, photography career ignored, was considered little more than the “cook of the house.” Yoko and John presented themselves as equals and collaborators, whereas Paul and Linda presented themselves as more of a traditional “married team,” in the 1950s sense.

I also found it interesting that another longtime lurking Townswoman responding to this Facebook post brought up unfair criticisms Linda received for her perceived lack of Paul-worthy beauty. I always thought she was pretty good looking and never felt like Paul should have chosen me or a woman I would have picked out for him, but since it was mentioned I do now recall Beatles fans having that hang-up.


  47 Responses to “Bullshit On: Beatles Fans Who Didn’t Call Bullshit On Linda Regarding Her Failure to Call Bullshit On Paul’s Worst Musical Tendencies?”

  1. BigSteve

    Male rock fans certainly gave Linda hell for supposedly not being able to sing or play well enough to be in Wings.

    Paul’s fellow Beatles couldn’t talk him out of Your Mother Should Know and other Beatle era sins, so I can hardly blame Linda for the later ones.

  2. mockcarr

    I think Linda caught plenty of criticism for her “performances” in Wings, as for give my regards to ugly broad street, there’s even the dog joke that is attached to her. Yoko also broke up a marriage with a kid, not that it was happy or anything, so there’s that. There’s a hippie aesthetic involved with Linda I think, that everything is permissible if no one gets hurt, so I don’t think it’s fair to ask her to be his editor. Even so, how do we know there isn’t worse crap that she put the kibosh on gently!? The worst we can say is someone spent 15 bucks on that album, or maybe saw the film or something – imagine how it would be living with Paul, hearing snippets of those songs, and then trying to prevent him venting them onto one disc so you could more easily avoid it. Is she expert enough to know what can come out better in a studio setting? My Love sold a lot of feckin records.

    We could just as easily fault Yoko for letting John do songs without much melody or reminding him that people sing something catchy more easily than they chant slogans. But nobody expects that either.

  3. I always thought Linda helped invent the two-fingered style of playing Minimoog that has since popped up in all kinds of settings, from The Cars to Dr. Dre to assorted indie rockers.

  4. alexmagic

    “Just because you used to be a Beatle doesn’t make you infallible!”

    Technically true. Mazarek might disagree if we subbed in “used to be a Door.”

    On to the matter at hand: Both Yoko and Linda were visual artists who also became involved in music. The difference is, we were expected and continue to be expected to take Yoko Ono seriously as a musical artist. She has put out pieces that have been critically reviewed and is held as a successful avant garde musician in some circles. Linda started off being on Paul’s records because they were crazy hippies with McCartney making DIY records in a shed on his farm and became a member of the band because the whole family went on tour.

    I think the difference between their relationships to Lennon and McCartney as performers was laid out pretty clearly by each side in 1970. John declares he and Yoko as peers at least twice on Plastic Ono Band (“Just a boy and a little girl, trying to change the whole wide world” on Isolation and, more famously, “I just believe in me, Yoko and me” on God), while Paul established the goofin’ around relationship between he and Linda on “Two of Us”.

    Consider that both John and Yoko release their own albums called Plastic Ono Band at the same time, which means they are musical peers in Plastic Ono Band at least on par with Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley, if not full partners of the Gene/Paul Stanley mode. There’s no Klaus Voorman/Plastic Ono Band, after all.

    Consider also Yoko’s performance with The Dirty Mac, where a group consisting of John Lennon, Eric Claption, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell – all at what could be considered the height of their fame – serve as Yoko’s backing band in a Rolling Stones concert film, which means Mick Jagger presumably also signed off on this. Meanwhile, “Cook of the House” is relegated to the B-Side of “My Love”, Paul’s worst big single, and anybody who bought that shit deserved what they got.

    None of this excuses the terrible mid-80s phase that McCartney went through, but while Yoko was a full artistic partner with Lennon throughout his post-Beatles recording career, the list of people you’d have to go through who had greater artistic responsibility than Linda to tell Paul that making Give My Regards To Bread Street was a bad idea would include Ringo Starr, George Martin, John Paul Jones, David Gilmour, Michael Jackson, Tracy Ullman, Sir Ralph Ricardson, Bryan “Cocktail” Brown, Dave Edmunds, Geoff Emerick, Chris Spedding, Jeff Porcaro, Dan Aykroyd and The Estate of George M. Cohan.

    So anyway, nah: Paul ran the friggin’ Beatles for the last few years, told George Harrison which notes to play and, when he actually did let up on things like Allen Klein and Phil Spector, things went south. Nobody was going to tell him his terrible movie was going to be terrible. The one time we know of that he did cede to Linda’s advice, they both grew Space Mullets.

    Two things that this question brought up that I had not previously considered:

    1. Did you know there was a Give My Regards To Broad Street video game? Has anyone ever seen this? Per Wikipedia, it came out for the Commodore 64 in 1985. This may be the one thing more terrifying in a potential rock memorabilia collection than the Mark David Chapman copy of Double Fantasy.

    2. When even a McCartney fanboy like myself is willing to admit that the guy bottomed out from 1983-1987, maybe the question we should be asking is: Why doesn’t Hamish Stuart get more credit for leading Paul out of the the musical desert?

  5. misterioso

    Alexmagic, sorry about the pince-nez, but “Cook of the House” wasn’t the b-side of My Love–the superb “The Mess” was. It was the b-side of “Silly Love Songs,” thus making it easily the worst Wings single, a real double-shot of crap.

  6. alexmagic

    Deserved and agreed, especially on the quality of The Mess. I still say My Love is way worse than Silly Love Songs, though, which at least has the bassline going for it.

  7. cherguevara

    The minimoog only plays one note at a time, which made it perfect for Linda and all the unskilled musicians who may or may not have become skilled later.

    This reminds me that ever since the poll about the Moog, I’ve been thinking there might be a discussion in ranking the most iconic synth or archetypal synth sounds. Or not…

  8. On the one hand, Silly Love Songs is a really well crafted song with an arrangement perfectly suited for it.

    On the other hand, the production is horrible and the song is being so sugary and cloyingly clever that you want to punch Paul in the face by the end of it.

  9. I’ve been listening to the Sirius/XM “Band On The Run” Station all week trying to win tickets to the Dec 13th show at the Apollo (no such luck yet) They are playing EVERYTHING which means the best of the best and the worst of the worst. There is a mini-interview they keep playing where Paul says that Linda’s creative roll was never lyrics or chords/melody. it was that she had “good taste” and would comment on songs that he was working on. This suggests that Linda COULD have killed a few of these duds before they got out in the world.

    If Paul had cut his 70’s output by 30% and his 80’s output by 60% he would be considered a solo era god (ok, Driving Rain cut by 100%). Of course we can say the same for Dylan, Clapton, Stones and other artists who did not have a good filter system in place.

  10. It’s not blatant promotion if it’s out of print, right? My McCartney Tribute CD “Love In Song: An Atlanta Tribute To Sir Paul McCartney” turned 10 years old this month. Amazon is sold out so I think it may be officially out of print. You can listen to the samples from the Amazon site still though…

  11. I like “Silly Love Songs,” and I actually think the theme of it comes off as among Paul’s most sincere and heartfelt lyrics/performances. It can be a difficult “truth” to take on a regular basis, but every once in a while I’m moved by the song. Maybe it works for me on the same level that “Kokomo” works for me among post-Brian Beach Boys songs.

  12. Good stuff, from beginning to end!

  13. Some occasional blatant promotion for participating Townspeople is welcome, jungleland2. You put the work into the fun we have here, you put the work into a musical project you care about, you get some bragging rights! That’s cool to know.

  14. I still have my movie ticket that says “Regards to Broads” !!! from the night it opened. Cant’ say I loved it, but It was new Paul and Ringo (and I was 14 anf glad to be out of the house). I liked his movie band (Dave Edmonds, John Paul Jones, David Gilmour) and wish THEY had done the next LP (and spare us from PRESS)

  15. misterioso

    I think cdm hits the nail solidly on the head in his assessment.

    Mod, when you say that “Maybe it works for me on the same level that “Kokomo” works for me among post-Brian Beach Boys songs” does that mean “it is an absolutely indefensible song that against any critical judgment I like”?

  16. misterioso

    An interesting study would be to look at the top tier of surviving 60s/70s heavyweights and what they were doing in the approx. 1983-87 period that alexmagic points to as Sir Paul’s low-water mark. My gut tells me that there was a real crisis of confidence, or exhausting of talent, or just plain bewilderment at the “new scene” and that almost none of them produced much of worth in this period. (Of course, it might be argued, some had not produced much of worth well before this period, either, and would not produce good work ever again.)

  17. I could see how it would seem that way, but it actually points to my incredible capabilities for empathy. It’s as if I can get inside the souls of these artists and their works and help bring forth the beauty that was intended in their creations.

  18. misterioso

    Well, that, of course, was the other possibility.

  19. Not that they were heavyweights, necessarily, but when I questioned John Wetton about this assumption he kind of took umbrage, spat upon punk rock, and pointed to the chart-topping works of Asia.

  20. alexmagic

    Taste and quality issues aside, I think there is a key difference between “Silly Love Songs” and “Kokomo”.

    Silly Love Songs was written by a guy who was still in the middle of being an active, successful artist. It’s positioned as a statement of “you can bag on my songs all you want, but look at how rich they keep making me!” Some hubris, there.

    Kokomo was written by a band long past its prime making a last-ditch effort to get any kind of traction. That it somehow worked is a testament to the commanding presence imparted by the authority of a captain’s hat.

    This latter case is, of course, the origin of Future RTH Glossary entry Kokomotion: the inevitable late phase of an artist’s career trajectory where they nakedly attempt to recapture the sound that made them initially famous.

    McCartney’s Kokomotive moment, then probably would have been the Broad Street album, where he was redoing actual Beatles songs. I guess a case could be made for the “Tripping The Live Fantastic” tour, where he started to re-embrace his arena rock status, only with his Beatles numbers more heavily in play.

    I prefer to think of Broad Street being his Kokomo, though, because that would mean that Bryan “FX” Brown would have the distinction of being in both Broad Street and Cocktail, where Kokomo itself found its place.

    Bryan Brown: Rock’s True Zelig?

  21. Is there a way at the next RTH gathering we can play both the Broad Street game and the Penn & Teller game featuring Lou Reed?

  22. hrrundivbakshi

    Oats, sadly, both of the games you mention will be hard/impossible to find. Not so with “Journey,” a full-scale video game featuring various rock-tackular quests starring the band of the same name. Start watching this from 0:55, and see what you think:

  23. Looks awesome! Let’s do it!

  24. misterioso

    I’m begging you to tell me that that was not real.

  25. misterioso

    Thus bolstering my argument.

    Btw, Mod, please watch the Give My Regards clip of Silly Love Songs and tell me what was going on in the souls of the performers. ‘Cause the only message coming through to me is “I can’t believe we thought this was a good idea.”

  26. To date, misterioso, those clips – like the works of Natalie Portman – mark the limits of my healing, empathetic powers!

  27. cherguevara

    A friend of mine has that! It ran on some oddball stand-alone gaming system. What was it called? It wasn’t the 2600, it had a built-in screen.

  28. It’s not only real, but I spent several quarters on it back in the day. You’d see them scattered about at arcades here and there, but the one I remember most was next to the bathrooms at One Step Beyond in Santa Clara, CA. It was there when I started going there in the late 80s, and it was still there when it closed in the earlymid 90s.

    I bet the Broad Street game can be found for a C64 emulator. You can play Journey on MAME, on your own computer, tonight!

  29. I may have to get my gamer teenage son on this case. I’m sure he can find us what we need for the RTH holiday get-together.

  30. misterioso

    I want you all to know that while I’m praying for Aretha, I’m also praying there’s a Styx video game, too. “Oh, man, why do I always have to be Dennis DeYoung?”

  31. cherguevara

    You all have to listen to the Jim Keltner podcast from the Lennon NYC thing. He talked about John’s relationship with Yoko in terms of how much creative input he took from her. He stated that John, “wore the pants.” Interesting stuff.

  32. trigmogigmo

    A very insightful essay from alexmagic!

    That video is probably the first I’ve actually seen of Give My Regards To Broad Street, and the last I want to see if it is typical. (Well, it is so weird I am a little curious about the rest of it, but only in the expectation of continuing to recoil in horror.) I am very lacking in knowledge on it. There was a time when I really, really liked the Wings Across America live record, and I had the impression that Give My Regards was a lame “musical” in the Michael Jackson + Paul mode than a good live Paul / Wings rock concert, and never looked into it.

  33. jeangray


  34. jeangray

    Yoko doesn’t deserve her bad rep. Plain & simple.

  35. Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles, really? Seemed like they were doing a pretty good job of breaking up all on their own. Ono’s music is clearly avant-garde, paves the way for artists like Laurie Anderson (whose album, Big Science, is an absolute masterpiece). You can also play Ono’s music next to a Can record, and hear the similarities.

    I suspect Band on the Run wouldn’t be nearly as cool if Linda did not participate. “My Love” has some killer chord changes, so it’s okay in my book. “Silly Love Songs” for me is a bit of a send-up, like “Short People.” Whereby “Short People” makes fun of people who are inherently prejudiced, “Silly Love Songs” makes fun of people who think music has to be serious to have a message.

    But Kokomo, I really dislike.

  36. Good stuff, dr john. I especially like the way you frame the frequently squirm-inducing “Silly Love Songs.” That’s something that needs to be brought to the fore next time somone disses that song. However, as we look ahead to December’s Comment of the Month award, is the line about Band on the Run not being nearly as cool has Linda not participated sincere or tongue in cheek? Either way it’s a meaty statement.

  37. Re: Linda and Band on the Run. I’m being serious. Linda is what keeps the record head and shoulders above the raging dude-ness of 1973 (see Almost Famous).

  38. mockcarr

    Interesting research as usual AM.

    The reach of the Kokomofo song is longer since it not only appeals to the usual Beach Boys endless summer vacationers, it inveigles itself into the ears of yacht racers, balding convertible owners, etc., and makes shout outs to the winter in Caribbeaners.
    Broad St. indeed is Paulie trying a more “professional” approach to films after 20 years off with predictably similar results.

  39. mockcarr

    It also could be that Paul wanted a yes-woman and got it, that was his M.O. in girlfriends (besides perhaps, Jane, who mostly continued her career) from that recent biography I read.

    Mr. Mod, we all know you would cut at least 30 percent from EVERY album!

  40. alexmagic

    I did a few minutes of research on the Give My Regards To Broad Street game last night (no working copies found…yet) and read one description of the game that called it something comparable to an early verison of Grand Theft Auto.

    The Grand Theft Auto series – which was created in the UK – would eventually become one of the more influential and popular franchises of all time after its debut in 1997 (12 years after the Broad Street game) and its 2001 reinvention. So it seems that we need to add “video game visionary” to the list of Paul’s accomplishments that prove he truly was the avant garde revolutionary of The Beatles.

  41. in that case….we found 50 Cds in our “warehouse” and this Cd will be back at Amazon and CdBaby in the next few weeks. My personal highlights were getting to play the guitar solo on Helen Wheels and the bass intro to Name and Address

  42. it was a time where the new music (thanks to MTV) threatened the 60’s/70’s artists in a way they never expected. They looked old and out of touch on MTV. Also kids did not care about them. There were two choices (1) become an oldies act or (2) get some Duran Duran into your music, your look, your marketing and (especially) your videos. Of course it was met with mixed results (Yes, Asia, Stones, McCartney, Clapton, Genesis, Steve Winwood, Bowie, Elton, Rod, Queen,Robert Plant – would you consider this era a hgihlight for any of these artist?)

    Paul Simon is the only one I can think of that did not choose either of the above (outside of the new head of hair)

  43. There is an arcade game and an Atari game from Journey

  44. misterioso

    But, dr john, the thing is that Short People sucks, too. Would it suck more if it were not tongue in cheek? Perhaps. But we’re now talking about degrees of suckiness.

    And, yes, YOU can play Ono’s music next to a Can record, but I will be running from the room as fast as possible.

  45. misterioso

    Can you be a bit more specific?

  46. Ultimately, the musical journey is up to the musician. If it wasn’t Linda and Yoko it would have been someone else. It doesn’t even stop at gender. Who knows the pillow talk that happens between Dave Furnish and Elton John? The individual has the final say on their own universe.

    Having said that, both of these women get a bad rap especially Yoko. Most of that is because of the high profile of the Beatles and their break up at the time. It’s a lot like when Tiger Woods (before the scandal) started to loose after he got married. His wife was vilified. Yoko was a target because she’s weird but that’s who John went for.

    In my band, we had some big Percy Sledge shows that required us to add some back-up singers. One of them was our guitar players wife who wasn’t a great lead vocalist but was an accomplished technician with a good ear. She was a little star struck and sucked up to Percy. She developed a little bit of a rapport with him. Next thing you know (after a few gigs) she started complaining about little things and got pretty comfortable at being picky about stuff. All I had to do to snap her out of it was to call her Yoko a couple of times. Problem solved. That’s probably unfair to Yoko. Sue me.

    Ironically our guitarist of 20 years was named John.

  47. Songs like Band on the Run and Jet sound like musical/lyrical conversations, as if there were distinct parts, themes. I think that Linda aids this conceptual process.

    In particular, a song like Jet, without Linda, would have come off as something more voyeuristic–thus sounding more dude-like.

Lost Password?

twitter facebook youtube