Friday, December 10, 2010

Taking Stock

Early December 1960

No doubt, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best are using this time to "take stock", trying to put the extraordinary experiences they have just shared into the context of their lives.

They left for Germany less than 5 months ago, a small time band, amusing themselves by playing community events and in friends basements.  At that time they were still heavily influenced by American country music, heard through the earpiece of the British do-it-yourself music called skiffle.

The center of their band has to be understood as the friendship between John and his best friend, artist Stu Sutcliffe.  The trip to Germany was for them a chance to break out of the limiting provincial environs of Liverpool, which has so dominated their lives to that point.  They know they are looking for something but, like all true searchers for the future, they are not quite sure what it is.  The others follow along under the influence of John's irresistible personality.

In Germany they were all to find the novelty and stimulation they sought, in no small measure in the company of the post-war kids of that country, also on a determined quest for the future. Klaus Voormann, Astrid Kircherr, Jurgen Volmer and their friends were sophisticated companions for working class lads from the north of England.

Of course, in the process they've come into greater contact with many complex ideas.  Sex and love, drinking and drugs, competition and cooperation, entrepreneurship and showmanship (spiced with a generous measure of exhibitionism).  They have had not altogether positive experiences with local law enforcement. At the same time their musical development has taken a giant leap forward.  Because of the long hours spent in front of an audience, their repertory has expanded exponentially.  They have met and befriended lots of like minded prototypical rock and rollers who became their influences and who they must have influenced in return.  For a musician, this is the essence of the development of new music.  No one has consciously moved toward any definite goal, nonetheless the momentum has been gathering in earnest.

The Beatles have not yet fully adopted the fashions of their new German friends.  They are just not yet ready to make that big a change in themselves.  But, they have seen those fashions.  And they do understand that they are an alternative. 

Stuart has fallen very much in love and is staying behind in Germany, for the moment, with Astrid.  John, also in love, has returned to live once more with his Aunt Mimi and to spend time with his girlfriend, Cynthia.  The others return to their comfortable normal lives and loving families.

It is as if a violent earthquake has suddenly subsided.  Silence prevails.  The dust settles slowly.  What will happen next?

Work of Stuart Sutcliffe

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