Sunday, June 5, 2011

DieGrosse Freiheit (The Great Freedom)

June, 1961

The Beatles are fully enjoying their trip to Hamburg.  The most important contribution that Hamburg makes to the their development is the sense of unfettered liberty they experience there.  For some people, unbridled freedom can be destructive, resulting in nothing more than self indulgence and personal ruin.  (And it must be admitted that John Lennon is coming close to that cliff edge.)  For others, it can open up a world of possibilities and creativity.

The stories of John's scandalous behavior on this trip are myriad.  Mostly, they seem exaggerated by time and retelling.  Still there must often be a kernel of truth in the stories.  Taking a drunken leak in a dark corner in the early morning darkness as a group of nuns passes by becomes urination off a balcony onto the sisters passing by on the street below.  Did he really wear a toilet seat around his neck on stage, or is that the 500th retelling of an incident with John "praying to the porcelain god" after a long night of alcoholic indulgence?  Human memory being what it is, no one can say for sure at this remove.

Still, there is some physical evidence of his rebellious nature, as demonstrated by this photograph.  John, on a dare, has taken a stroll to obtain the Hamburg morning paper and left his pants in his room.  Anything for a laugh, eh John.  In later times, Brian Epstein (whom the Beatles have not yet met) would be horrified to hear of the existence of this picture and would demand that Lennon try to get it back.

John Lennon goes for an early morning stroll
Somehow,  this picture presages the coming of Monte Python's Flying Circus, doesn't it?  (See 1:52 of this clip.  Thank you, Mother England!)

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