A is for Apple

 
 

The Beatles‘ accountants had informed the group that they had two million pounds which they could either invest in a business venture or else lose to the Inland Revenue, because corporate/business taxes were lower than their individual tax bills. According to Peter Brown, personal assistant to Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, activities to find tax shelters for the income that the Beatles generated began as early as 1963–64, when Dr Walter Strach was put in charge of such operations. First steps into that direction were the foundation of Beatles Ltd and, in early 1967, Beatles and Co.

The Beatles’ publicist, Derek Taylor, remembered that Paul McCartney had the name for the new company when he visited Taylor’s company flat in London: “We’re starting a brand new form of business. So, what is the first thing that a child is taught when he begins to grow up? A is for Apple”. McCartney then suggested the addition of Apple Core, but they could not register the name, so they used “Corps” (having the same pronunciation).

The Belgian Beatles Society page says that in an interview with Johan Ral in 1993, Paul McCartney recalled:

“….I had this friend called Robert Fraser, who was a gallery owner in London. We used to hang out a lot. And I told him I really loved Magritte. We were discovering Magritte in the sixties, just through magazines and things. And we just loved his sense of humour. And when we heard that he was a very ordinary bloke who used to paint from nine to one o’clock, and with his bowler hat, it became even more intriguing. Robert used to look around for pictures for me, because he knew I liked him. It was so cheap then, it’s terrible to think how cheap they were. But anyway, we just loved him … One day he brought this painting to my house. We were out in the garden, it was a summer’s day. And he didn’t want to disturb us, I think we were filming or something. So he left this picture of Magritte. It was an apple – and he just left it on the dining room table and he went. It just had written across it “Au revoir”, on this beautiful green apple. And I thought that was like a great thing to do. He knew I’d love it and he knew I’d want it and I’d pay him later. […] So it was like wow! What a great conceptual thing to do, you know. And this big green apple, which I still have now, became the inspiration for the logo. And then we decided to cut it in half for the B-side!”

 
 

Le Jeu de la Mourre, René Magritte, 1966

 
 

Taking Magritte for inspiration, the Apple record labels were designed by a fellow named Gene Mahon, an advertising agency designer. The Beatles Collection website has a great summary of how this all came about:

“[It was Gene Mahon who] proposed having different labels on each side of the record. One side would feature a full apple that would serve as a pure symbol on its own without any text. All label copy would be printed on the other side’s label, which would be the image of a sliced apple. The white-colored inside surface of the sliced apple provided a good background for printing information.
The idea of having no print on the full apple side was abandoned when EMI advised Apple that the contents of the record should appear on both sides of the disc for copyright and publishing reasons. Although Mahon’s concept was rejected for legal (and perhaps marketing) reasons, his idea of using different images for each side of the record remained. Mahon hired Paul Castell to shoot pictures of green, red and yellow apples, both full and sliced. The proofs were reviewed by the Beatles and Neil Aspinall, with the group selecting a big green Granny Smith apple to serve as the company’s logo. A sliced green apple was picked for B side. Alan Aldridge provided the green script perimeter print for labels [on UK, EU and Australian releases – this does not appear on US labels] and, in all likelihood, the script designation on the custom record sleeve.”

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Art of Dying

Psychedelic portrait of George Harrison. Richard Avedon, 1967

 

“There’ll come a time when all of us must leave here
Then nothing sister Mary can do
Will keep me here with you
As nothing in this life that I’ve been trying
Could equal or surpass the art of dying
Do you believe me?

There’ll come a time when all your hopes are fading
When things that seemed so very plain
Become an awful pain
Searching for the truth among the lying
And answered when you’ve learned the art of dying

But you’re still with me
But if you want it
Then you must find it
But when you have it
There’ll be no need for it

There’ll come a time when most of us return here
Brought back by our desire to be
A perfect entity
Living through a million years of crying
Until you’ve realized the Art of Dying
Do you believe me?”

 

Art of Dying is a song by English musician George Harrison, released on his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. It was written in 1966–67 when Harrison first became immersed in Hindu spirituality, and its subject matter is reincarnation – the “art” in question being the need to avoid rebirth, by limiting actions and thoughts whose consequences lead to one’s soul returning in another, earthbound life form. The song was co-produced by Phil Spector and features a hard-charging rock arrangement that has been described as “proto-disco”. The backing musicians include Eric Clapton and the rest of the latter’s short-lived band Derek and the Dominos, as well as Gary Wright, Billy Preston and a teenage Phil Collins playing the congas.

For the last 30 or more years of his life, George Harrison repeatedly identified his first experience of taking the hallucinogenic drug LSD, with John Lennon and their wives, as being responsible for his interest in spirituality and Hinduism. The “trip” occurred by accident in February 1965, and he later recalled a thought coming to his mind during the experience: “‘Yogis of the Himalayas.’ I don’t know why … It was like somebody was whispering to me: ‘Yogis of the Himalayas.'” But it was a visit in August 1967 to the epicentre of hippie conterculturalism, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, that then persuaded him to abandon LSD and pursue a spiritual path through meditation.

The mention of “Sister Mary” refers to the Catholic faith in which Harrison had been brought up as a child. Speaking to author Peter Doggett, Harrison’s sister Louise qualified his embracing of Hinduism with regard to his upbringing: “Our family were Catholics, but we always had a global outlook. We were spiritual, not religious as such. George didn’t change as a person after he went to India [in 1966] …”

Rather than Sister Mary, Harrison’s original lyric named “Mr Epstein” – the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein. Given this reference to Epstein, author Bruce Spizer has speculated that Harrison was “contemplating life after the Beatles” as early as mid 1966, since “most of the song’s original verses recognize that even Mr. Epstein won’t be able to keep the group together or help out when it’s over …”

As Harrison explains in his autobiography, I, Me, Mine, in most cases one’s soul does not in fact “leave here” after death, due to the karmic debt, or “load”, accrued through actions and thoughts carried out in one’s lifetime

The mention of “a million years of crying” is a reference to the endless cycle of rebirth associated with reincarnation, where the soul repeatedly fails to leave the material world and attain nirvana, otherwise known as moksha.

Since Harrison’s death in November 2001, the lyrics of Art of Dying have been much quoted as a comment on the nature of human existence.

A Dedication by Ginsberg

Presentation copy of Howl to poet and scholar Richard Eberhart – inscribed “For Richard Eberhart in gratitude for his original vision of Nature both in his poetry and in his early sympathy for mine, Allen Ginsberg Dartmouth, October 17, 1960

 
 

Allen Ginsberg wrote drafts of the poem Howl in mid-1954 to 1955, purportedly at a coffeehouse known today as the Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California. Many factors went into the creation of the poem. A short time before the composition of Howl, Ginsberg’s therapist, Dr. Philip Hicks, encouraged him to quit his job and pursue poetry full-time. He experimented with a syntactic subversion of meaning called parataxis in the poem Dream Record: June 8, 1955 about the death of Joan Vollmer, a technique that would become central in Howl.

Ginsberg would experiment with this breath-length form in many later poems. The first draft contained what would later become Part I and Part III. It is noted for relating stories and experiences of Ginsberg’s friends and contemporaries, its tumbling, hallucinatory style, and the frank address of sexuality, specifically homosexuality, which subsequently provoked an obscenity trial. Although Ginsberg referred to many of his friends and acquaintances (including Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Peter Orlovsky, Lucien Carr, and Herbert Huncke), the primary emotional drive was his sympathy for Carl Solomon, to whom it was dedicated; he met Solomon in a mental institution and became friends with him.

Ginsberg admitted later this sympathy for Solomon was connected to bottled-up guilt and sympathy for his mother’s schizophrenia (she had been lobotomized), an issue he was not yet ready to address directly. In 2008, Peter Orlovsky told the co-directors of the film Howl (Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, 2010) that a short moonlit walk—during which Orlovsky sang a rendition of the Hank Williams song Howlin’ At the Moon–may have been the encouragement for the title of Ginsberg’s poem. “I never asked him, and he never offered,” Orlovsky told them, “but there were things he would pick up on and use in his verse form some way or another. Poets do it all the time.” The Dedication by Ginsberg states he took the title from Kerouac.

Mine, In a Way

“The sunflower is mine, in a way.”

Vincent Van Gogh

 

Offering to Flora, Juan van der Hamne, 1627

 

The Sunflower. Engraving from Erasmus Francisci’s Ost- und West-Indischer wie auch Sinesischer Lust- und Stats-Garten in drey Haupt-Theile unterschieden.., 1668

 

Peacocks, Melchior d’ Hondecoeter, 1683

 

Small butterfly and sunflower, Ohara Koson, no date

 

Studio of Sir Kenelm Digby, Anthony van Dyck, c. 1630

 

Selbstporträt mit Sonnenblume (Self Portrait With a Sunflower), Anthony van Dyck, after 1633

 

Marquise Athenais de Montespan or Montespan en déshabillée, school of Pierre Mignard, c. 1670

 

Portrait of Elizabeth Claypole, Jacob Huysmans, 1680

 

Misses Wilson, James Sant, 1875

 

Bouquet of Sunflowers, Claude Monet, 1881

 

Tournesols, Claude Monet, 1881

 

Clytie, Evelyn De Morgan, 1887

 

Vase of Sunflowers, Henri Matisse, 1898

 

The Four Seasons (Summer), Alphons Mucha, 1898

 

Brita,a Cat and a Sandwich, Carl Larsson, 1898

 

Hide and Seek, Carl Larsson, c. 1900

 

Eighteen Years Old!, Carl Larsson, 1902

 

Farm Garden with Sunflowers, Gustave Klimt, 1905

 

Sonnenblume (Girasol), Gustav Klimt, 1907

 

Sunflowers, Piet Mondrian, 1907

 

Dying Sunflower, Piet Mondrian, c. 1908

 

Sonnenblume, Egon Schiele, 1909

 

Welke Sonnenblume, Egon Schiele, 1912

 

Welke Sonnenblumen, Egon Schiele, 1914

 

Sonnenblumen, Egon Schiele, 1916

 

Versunkene Landschaft, Paul Klee, 1918

 

Mature Sunflowers, Emil Nolde, 1932

 

Sunflowers, Sir Jacob Epstein, c. 1936

 

A Sunflower from Maggie, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1937

 

Girasoles (Sunflowers) Diego Rivera, 1943

 

Sunflowers at Choisel, Georges Braque, 1946

 

Composition with Sunflowers, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1949

 

Die Sonnenblumen und die (The Sunflowers and The City), Friedensreich Hundertwasser, 1949

 

Le Tournesol, Fernand Léger, 1953

 

Cover for International Textiles, René Gruau, 1955

 

Sunflowers for Jonathan, David Hockney, 1995

 

The Orders of the Night (Die Orden der Nacht), Anselm Kiefer, 1996

 

Untitled (Sunflowers), Glenn Goldberg, 1999

 

Hommage a van Gogh, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, c. 1998

 

Sunflower in Grey and Green no.1, Jimmy Wright, 2008

Get Back to The Staircase

Paul McCartney’s illustration. Even though it was John Lennon that had attended Art school, it was usually Paul McCartney who took an interest in the design for the Beatles record covers.

 
 

When the matter came up of the album cover for the first album of the Beatles, their producer George Martin proposed to call the album Off The Beatle Track. Martin was an honorary fellow of the Zoological Society of London, which owns the London Zoo. Martin thought that it might be good publicity for the zoo to have the Beatles pose outside the insect house for the cover photography of the album. Paul McCartney doodled a few sketches for a design with that title. George Martin advised the use of the theatrical photographer Angus McBean, a man he worked with in the past.

However the direction of the zoo turned down Martin’s offer, and instead, Angus McBean was asked to take the distinctive colour photograph of the group looking down over the stairwell inside EMI’s London headquarters in Manchester Square. George Martin clearly liked the title Off The Beatle Track., and when it wasn’t used for the album, he used it for his own LP with Beatles’ covers in 1964.

Martin was to write later: “We rang up the legendary theatre photographer Angus McBean, and bingo, he came round and did it there and then. It was done in an almighty rush, like the music. Thereafter, though, the Beatles’ own creativity came bursting to the fore.”

 
 

 
 

Around the third week of January 1963 a first session took place, at the studio of Angus McBean, in his London house. The Beatles wore their new, mole-colored velveteen performing suits. One of these pictures was used in September 1963 for the cover of the EP The Beatles’ Hits and later, in America, for the Vee Jay album Introducing The Beatles. For this album, however, Vee Jay mirrored the image.

This first photo session was not satisfactory and a second was arranged. McBean agreed to meet them at the EMI house in Manchester Square, London around mid-February 1963. The photographer recalled later: “As I went into the door I was in the staircase well. Someone looked over the banister – I asked if the boys were in the building, and the answer was yes. “Well”, I said, “get them to look over, and I will take them from here.”

I only had my ordinary portrait lens, so to get the picture, I had to lie flat on my back in the entrance. I took some shots and I said, “That’ll do.”

 
 

A number of pictures were taken with the four boys looking down over the railing of the first floor to the entrance of the building

 
 

 
 

But not everybody was convinced about Angus Mc Bean photo session. On March 5th, EMI staff photographer John Dove took publicity pictures of the Beatles in and round the EMI-house. On some of these also Dick James, George Martin and Brian Epstein can be spotted. Afterward he tried to make a suitable picture for the album-cover, with the Beatles fooling around with a parking meter at the nearby Montague Place and jumping of the steps of the EMI studio (later renamed Abbey Road Studios).

At last it was decided that the Angus McBean picture in the staircase was the best option. The cover made the staircase so famous that when, at the end of the ‘90s EMI vacated the premises at Manchester Square and moved to alternative office accommodation, the staircase was dissembled and painstakingly rebuild on the new premises.

 
 

 
 

In 1969, the Beatles asked McBean to recreate this shot. Although the 1969 photograph was originally intended for the then-planned Get Back album, it was not used when that project saw eventual release in 1970 as Let It Be. Instead, the 1969 photograph, along with an unused photograph from the 1963 photo shoot, was used in 1973 for the Beatles’ retrospective albums 1962–1966 and 1967–1970. Another unused photograph from the 1963 photo shoot was used for The Beatles (No. 1) (also released in 1963) and the bootleg Come Together (The Beatles In The ‘90s).

Suppressed Human Emotions

Stills from Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog)

 
 

Federico García Lorca crowded his thoughts onto a sheet of stationery from a Barcelona cafe. “I want to weep,” he wrote to Salvador Dalí. “I’ve behaved like an indecent donkey’s ass with you, you who are the best thing in the world for me. As the minutes go by I see it clearly and I am truly sorry. But this only increases my affection for you and my attachment to your way of thinking and your human quality.” Lorca avoided saying more about what had taken place between the two men.

The friendship with Lorca had a strong element of mutual passion, but Dalí rejected the erotic advances of the poet. With the success of Gypsy Ballads, came an estrangement from Dalí and the breakdown of a love affair with sculptor Emilio Soriano Aladrén. These brought on an increasing depression to Lorca, a situation exacerbated by his anguish over his homosexuality. He felt he was trapped between the persona of the successful author, which he was forced to maintain in public, and the tortured, authentic self, which he could only acknowledge in private. He also had the sense that he was being pigeon-holed as a “gypsy poet”. He wrote: “The gypsies are a theme. And nothing more. I could just as well be a poet of sewing needles or hydraulic landscapes. Besides, this gypsyism gives me the appearance of an uncultured, ignorant and primitive poet that you know very well I’m not. I don’t want to be typecast”. Growing estrangement between García Lorca and his closest friends reached its climax when surrealists Dalí and Luis Buñuel collaborated on their film Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog). García Lorca interpreted it, perhaps erroneously, as a vicious attack upon himself. At this time Dalí also met his future wife Gala. Aware of these problems (though not perhaps of their causes), García Lorca’s family arranged for him to take a lengthy visit to the United States in 1929–30.

 
 

 
 

Un Chien Andalou is a 1929 silent surrealist short film by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. It was Buñuel’s first film and was initially released in 1929 with a limited showing at Studio des Ursulines in Paris, but became popular and ran for eight months. The film has no plot in the conventional sense of the word. The chronology of the film is disjointed, jumping from the initial “once upon a time” to “eight years later” without the events or characters changing very much. It uses dream logic in narrative flow that can be described in terms of then-popular Freudian free association, presenting a series of tenuously related scenes. The film was financed by Buñuel’s mother, and shot in Le Havre and Paris at the Billancourt studios over a period of 10 days in March 1928.

The film has no plot in the conventional sense of the word. The chronology of the film is disjointed, jumping from the initial “once upon a time” to “eight years later” without the events or characters changing very much. It uses dream logic in narrative flow that can be described in terms of then-popular Freudian free association, presenting a series of tenuously related scenes.

The film opens with a title card reading “Once upon a time”. A middle-aged man (Luis Buñuel) sharpens his razor at his balcony door and tests the razor on his thumb. He then opens the door, and idly fingers the razor while gazing at the moon, about to be engulfed by a thin cloud, from his balcony.

 
 

There is a cut to a close-up of a young woman (Simone Mareuil) being held by the man as she calmly stares straight ahead. Another cut occurs to the moon being overcome by the cloud as the man slits the woman’s eye with the razor, and the vitreous humour spills out from it.

 
 

The shot of the eyeball (actually that of a dead calf) being slit by Buñuel

 
 

The subsequent title card reads “eight years later”. A slim young man (Pierre Batcheff) bicycles down a calm urban street wearing what appears to be a nun’s habit and a striped box with a strap around his neck. A cut occurs to the young woman from the first scene, who has been reading in a sparingly furnished upstairs apartment. She hears the young man approaching on his bicycle and casts aside the book she was reading (revealing a reproduction of Vermeer’s The Lacemaker). She goes to the window and sees the young man lying on the curb, his bicycle on the ground. She emerges from the building and attempts to revive the young man.

 
 

An image from Dalí’s dream, part of the inspiration for the film

 
 

The idea for the film began when Buñuel was working as an assistant director for Jean Epstein in France. Buñuel told Dalí at a restaurant one day about a dream in which a cloud sliced the moon in half “like a razor blade slicing through an eye”. Dalí responded that he’d dreamed about a hand crawling with ants. Excitedly, Buñuel declared: “There’s the film, let’s go and make it.'” They were fascinated by what the psyche could create, and decided to write a script based on the concept of suppressed human emotions.

 
 

Jaime Miravilles and Salvador Dalí as the confused priests

 
 

In deliberate contrast to the approach taken by Jean Epstein and his peers, which was to never leave anything in their work to chance, with every aesthetic decision having a rational explanation and fitting clearly into the whole,  Buñuel made clear throughout his writings that, between Dalí and himself, the only rule for the writing of the script was: “No idea or image that might lend itself to a rational explanation of any kind would be accepted.” He also stated: “Nothing, in the film, symbolizes anything. The only method of investigation of the symbols would be, perhaps, psychoanalysis.”

 
 

 
 

Over the course of his long career Dalí associated his work with a wide range of predecessors (including Paul Cézanne, Le Corbusier, Giorgio de Chirico, Arnold Böcklin, and later Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci), but none of them came close to rivaling Johannes Vermeer. Throughout his life Dalí remained entirely unwavering in his belief that Vermeer was the greatest painter who ever lived and the artist whom he most dearly wished to emulate.

The first screening of Un Chien Andalou took place at Studio des Ursulines, with an audience of le tout-Paris. Notable attendees of the première included Pablo Picasso, Le Corbusier, Jean Cocteau, Christian Bérard and George Auric, in addition to the entirety of André Breton‘s Surrealist group. The audience’s positive reception of the film amazed Buñuel, who was relieved that no violence ensued. Dalí, on the contrary, was reportedly disappointed, feeling the audience’s reaction made the evening “less exciting.” Buñuel since claimed that prior to the show, he had put stones in his pockets “to throw at the audience in case of disaster”, although others had no recollection of this.

 
 

A death’s-head moth

 
 

Against his hopes and expectations, the film was a huge success amongst the French bourgeoisie, leading Buñuel to exclaim in exasperation, “What can I do about the people who adore all that is new, even when it goes against their deepest convictions, or about the insincere, corrupt press, and the inane herd that saw beauty or poetry in something which was basically no more than a desperate impassioned call for murder?”

Modern prints of the film feature a soundtrack consisting of excerpts from Richard Wagner‘s “Liebestod” from his opera Tristan und Isolde and a recording of two Argentinian tangos sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Olé guapa.” This is the same soundtrack that Buñuel chose and played live on a phonograph during the original 1929 screening in Paris. They were first added to a print of the film in 1960 under Buñuel’s supervision.

Film scholar Ken Dancyger has argued that Un Chien Andalou might be the genesis of the filmmaking style present in the modern music video. Roger Ebert had called it the inspiration for low budget independent films.

They Raised The Beatles

Malka (known by her family as Queenie, since Malka translating as “queen” in Hebrew) and her two little boys, Clive (left) and Brian Epstein, the famous manager of The Beatles

 
 

Mary Elizabeth “Mimi” Stanley. She and her husband George Smith raised John Lennon

 
 

Mary Patricia Mohin and her children Michael and Paul McCartney, the youngest

 
 

Elsie Gleave and a young Richard Starkey, best know as Ringo Starr

 
 

Louise French being tender with her son George Harrison

 
 

Brian Epstein with the boys. All together.