Fab Four Friday: Episode Three
Hello folks, time for another trip down Beatles memory lane with JPGR historian and Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker. This week, Book has taken us back to 1966 and the band’s attack on the high rate they had to pay the British government under its 95% supertax. Here’s Booker’s primer on Taxman:
Jason Benetti: Do you think they knew how across the line they were being?
Booker: Definitely they have the devil may care attitude. There was not a whole lot of shame in anything they did. They made us believe they felt like they were above all. They felt like they were above the law and above politics and above anything else. When John comes out and says, “We’re more popular than Jesus”, that tells you a little bit right there. They felt like they had a right to do anything they wanted to do. In 1991, George went on a solo tour of Japan and when he did the song, he substituted–instead of saying Mr. Wilson and Mr. Heath–he substituted Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush in there. That was the time when they were running for the ’92 campaign. Bush being the incumbent and Clinton being against him.
Benetti: Yet they end up being so mainstream.
Booker: Not that I would side with any of the stupidity they did back in the day, but they still came across as lovable characters. Even with the venom spewing from their mouth and outspoken as they were about things, they were the Fab Four. This song is one of my favorite ones.
Taxman is one of Booker’s favorite bass guitar songs for the group. That’s the instrument that George Harrison was known for within the group. But there was a twist in Taxman:
Here are Book’s notes on the song:
Benetti: Early on you’ve got the driving push.
Booker: Any song that you can tell what it is from the very first note or two is exciting to me.
Benetti: Sort of a sinister minor in there.
Booker: They’re so subtly sarcastic, it’s unbelievable.
Benetti: They were really mad, weren’t they? George especially.
Booker: You know, they went for so long. This is 1966. They started five or six years earlier. They didn’t have cash, they signed for stuff. Get a new car and sent the agents the bill. I guess when [George] got word of how much it was, he didn’t like it. That’s why they actually left the country and started appearing more over here. George didn’t go back to England until the structure of taxes was reformed. They were dead serious about this.
Benetti: They had to have been to name two of the head politicos in England at the time.
Booker: It was unheard of for anyone in upper Parliament to be named in a bad light.
See, this is Paul playing the solo. You can’t make me believe George couldn’t get that as brilliant as he was with the guitar. But I guess they wanted a certain sound.
Benetti: You would think after a song like that, they spent time showing how mad they were and how aware they were of the tax rate and what it did to their finances. Still, when they broke up, one of the major concerns was how much money was left. Apple Records sorta dissipated. There was a lot of anger over money. You would think that with the awareness of that song that might not have happened down the line, but it still did.
Booker: They wouldn’t have woke up to the fact. John and Paul would have never looked into it and Ringo was just happy to be there. George was the youngest of the group, the baby of the group. In a lot of the early interviews, he’s the one that’ll say, “We never know when this’ll be over.”
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