Fab Four Friday: Episode Two
If you just joined us for Fab Four Friday, here’s what you missed in Episode One. Greg Booker, the Chiefs pitching coach, is a self-taught Beatles historian. Each week, we’re going to check with him on a Beatles song or topic and get his thoughts on the subject.
This week, Booker chose “Baby’s in Black” around which we’d center our discussion.
“It’s a ballad-type thing kinda like Til There Was You. I love a lot of their songs that basically just have guitar and harmony with them. Baby’s in Black is written about Astrid Kirchherr, a German lady they met over in Hamburg and Stuart Sutcliffe who was their first bass player. They met over in Hamburg when The Beatles went real real early over there. She was a photographer and took most of their pictures during that time period. Astrid and Stuart struck up a relationship.”
“When they came back from Hamburg, Stuart Sutcliffe decided he wanted to stay, so he was no longer in the group. Then when they got back, that’s obviously when they decided Paul would play bass. Baby’s in Black is about her being in mourning because Stu Sutcliffe died of a brain hemorrhage not long afterward in Hamburg. The lyrics lead you to believe that John had a thing himself for Astrid the photographer. It was kind of a no-no because John and Stuart were really close friends. John had this crush on her, hence the line “I think of her, but she thinks only of him.”
If you didn’t realize there was a Beatle before John, Paul, George and Ringo came together, you’re likely not the only one. It’s one of the countless intriguing things about the band to Booker:
Stu Sutcliffe died in 1962 at age 21. In 1964, The Beatles released Baby’s in Black, John Lennon’s dual eulogy and plea.
Booker and I listened to the song together. Here is the conversation we had over the song:
Booker: “What can I do”–he’s thinking, ‘Now she’s mourning, but I want to talk to her’
Me: There are two ways you can take that, right? I can’t do anything. Or, how far can I go?
Booker: Or should I do anything, yep. What can I do, I’m stuck. He’s feeling blue. He’s sad too because she’s mourning and can’t give him time. He’s torn. “It’s only a whim.” That means…..I have nothing to lose here. “How long will it take til she sees the mistake she has made.” Like, she needs to get over this mourning and come with me. As usual, here’s George with the guitar solo. They always have a guitar solo.
Me: Do they know? The other guys?
Booker: Probably, I’d say so. “He’ll never come back, she’s dressed in black.” He’s telling her, he’ll never come back, I loved him too but he’s never coming back, let’s have a shot.
Me: That a pretty creepy eulogy.
Booker: You’ve gotta realize John’s a fairly demented character. That puts it all in perspective. It’s pretty tough for us to think like John Lennon.
Any interesting anecdotes about the Fab Four? Songs you’d like discussed? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.