USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘beatles’
Legends
Narrative

The Beatles Lighting Up with Bob Dylan

Folklore Piece:

“Uh, so the Beatles… This was around 1964 I believe. John Lennon and Paul had discovered a Bob Dylan record in 63 when they were in Paris, they thought it was amazing, and they really wanted to, well John in particular, really wanted to meet Bob. And they came to the US, John decided he wasn’t ready to meet Bob Dylan because he thought he had to be as ego equal. John Lennon didn’t think he was like up to bar to meet Bob Dylan. Finally, the Beatles had a little bit of success in 1964, if you know anything about the Beatles history, probably the biggest band in the world. Finally, they decide to meet Bob Dylan at this hotel, I forget the name, in New York City. And The Beatles are in there waiting with their posse. There were several rooms that Bob had to get through, like media and things, but he finally gets through and The Beatles had some wine, like some really nice wine, and they offer it to Bob and he says ‘Uh… No. Do you have any cheap wine? I’m not into super nice wine’ and they were like ‘No, so what should we do then?’  They were trying to figure it out, and Bob says ‘Well I know you guys like to smoke, so like, do you wanna, do you wanna get high?’ and they were like ‘Oh shoot, we’re not… we’re not gonna do that. That’s like, we’ve never done that, we’re not really sure about that.’ Bob actually thought they sang about smoking in one of their songs, saying ‘We get high,’ or something, when really it was something else. Um, so anyways, Bob lights up and hands it to John and Paul who are both way too scared to try it, so Ringo tries it and they all just start laughing. Hot-boxing in this room with Bob Dylan. And that’s what inspired them later when, anytime the Beatles wanted to smoke, they’d say ‘Let’s have a laugh’. Um, but yeah they all got super high with Bob Dylan and that led into the really self-concious period of The Beatles for Revolver and Rubber Soul, which I would argue are some of their best music.”

 

Background information:

This was told to the participant in his two unit class on The Beatles. The professor told him this story, but he claimed to not know if it was true or not. Considering that The Beatles and Bob Dylan are both rock and roll legends, he said he would not be surprised if the story was embellished over the years. He likes the story because of what impact it could have potentially had on The Beatles career and is a fun way to explain the difference in sounds between The Beatles’ records.

 

Context:

The informant says that the story would most likely be told in a format that people were talking about music and/or The Beatles. He doesn’t think it would be a story that he would tell his family, unless they had brought up an interest in the band or a conversation about it.

 

Analysis:

Legendary Figures can span from athletes, like Babe Ruth, to politicians, like Abe Lincoln, to musicians, like Marilyn Monroe, and everyone in between. What is unique about the legendary figure is that we know, for a fact, that these people existed. It is both their actions and the way in which they are talked about that becomes folklorized.

What helps transform these somewhat ordinary celebrities into the status of legend is often what they do beyond just their physical work. If all we had in a vacuum of knowledge was The Beatles’ CDs, we might think they’re pretty good, but would not understand the iconic image they represented for decades. To familiarize and identify ourselves with these legends, we’ll often tell folk stories that we feel are representative of their character. In this story, The Beatles make the transition from proper European rockers to far out psychedelic rockers. While the genre shift is evident in their music, this story helps explain why it may have happened, which, when combined with the personality of Bob Dylan, is what makes it so entertaining.

Folk Beliefs
Humor
Musical

Cure to Song Stuck in Head

Information about the Informant

My informant is a college student at a community college in San Jose. He’s an avid amateur photographer, and we know each other through going to the same online high school. His family’s very closely-knit, with his parents very involved in the lives of their children. I collected this piece of folklore that him while he was visiting me on campus at USC. I mentioned having a song stuck in my head, and that reminded him of this piece of folklore that he had heard from his father.

Transcript

“My dad has said that, uh, the cure to having a song stuck in your head is the Beatles. It might have been because…that’s an easy one to get stuck in your head and replace whatever else was there before. And it…it’s good, but I’m not actually sure.”

Collector: “Did he just make that up?”

“I don’t know. I think so, but he might have gotten it from one of his more-musical friends.”

Analysis

My informant and his father share a common interest in music, largely fostered through his father sharing his collection of CDs and records with him since my informant was a child. His father constantly shares interesting music and trivia about music with my informant, and this piece of folklore is one of them. The Beatles, in addition to being an English band that’s well-known in America, is also a band that both my informant and his father enjoy, which is probably why my informant’s father decided to share this with him. There are various supposed “cures” for a song that’s stuck in one’s head, usually involving engaging oneself in a mentally strenuous activity, such as a sudoku puzzle or a crossword. This “cure” however isn’t really a cure at all, as it merely replaces one song with another, making it more of a joke with regards to how easily Beatles songs will stick in one’s mind rather than an actual cure.

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