Living in The Material World

“I’m living in the material world
Living in the material world

can’t say what I’m doing here
But I hope to see much clearer,
After living in the material world

I got born into the material world
Getting worn out in the material world
Use my body like a car,
Taking me both near and far
Met my friends all in the material world

Met them all there in the material world
John and Paul here in the material world
Though we started out quite poor
We got ‘Richie’ on a tour
Got caught up in the material world

From the Spiritual Sky,
Such sweet memories have I
To the Spiritual Sky
How I pray
Yes I pray
That I won’t get lost
Or go astray

As I’m fated for the material world
Get frustrated in the material world
Senses never gratified
Only swelling like a tide
That could drown me in the
Material world

From the Spiritual Sky,
Such sweet memories have I
To the Spiritual Sky
How I pray
Yes I pray
That I won’t get lost
Or go astray

While I’m living in the material world
Not much ‘giving’ in the material world
Got a lot of work to do
Try to get a message through
And get back out of this material world

I’m living in the material world
Living in the material world
I hope to get out of this place
By the LORD SRI KRSNA’S GRACE
My salvation from the material world
Big Ending”

George Harrison

1973

 
 

Photograph of George Harrison chosen for the publicity posters (and for the front cover of the accompanying book) of Living In The Material World. it was taken during the filming for the Beatles movie Help! (Richard Lester, 1965).

In 2007 Martin Scorsese wrote a short cinematographic appreciation of Help! for the book that comes with both the standard and the deluxe DVD box set re-issue of the mentioned film .

 
 

George Harrison: Living in the Material World (Martin Scorsese, 2011) is a documentary film based on the life of Beatles member George Harrison. It earned six nominations at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, winning two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Nonfiction Special and Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming.

 
 

The film follows music legend George Harrison’s story from his early life in Liverpool, the Beatlemania phenomenon, his travels to India, the influence of Indian culture in his music, and his relevance and importance as a member of The Beatles. It consists of previously unseen footage and interviews with Olivia and Dhani Harrison, friends, and many others.

After Harrison’s death in 2001, various production companies approached his widow Olivia about producing a film about her late husband’s life. She declined because he had wanted to tell his own life story through his video archive. Upon meeting Scorsese, she gave her blessings and signed on to the film project as a producer.

According to Scorsese, he was attracted to the project because “That subject matter has never left me…The more you’re in the material world, the more there is a tendency for a search for serenity and a need to not be distracted by physical elements that are around you. His music is very important to me, so I was interested in the journey that he took as an artist. The film is an exploration. We don’t know. We’re just feeling our way through.”

Throughout 2008 and 2009, Scorsese alternated working between Shutter Island and the documentary.

To watch the trailer, please, take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

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Pools of Sorrow, Waves of Joy

“..Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai Guru Deva, om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world…”

Across the Universe
John Lennon & Paul McCartney

 
 

The Beatles on the set of Help! (Richard Lester, 1965) at the Nassau Beach Hotel, Bahamas

 
 

Page of the Help! script. In the film there’s a very brief scene where the Beatles, after being chased by the bad guys, end up in the swimming pool of a resort hotel with all the guests looking on as they emerge wet, bedraggled and fully-clothed from the pool.

Isn’t It a Pity

 
 

Isn’t It a Pity is a song by English musician George Harrison from his 1970 solo album All Things Must Pass. It appears in two variations there: one the well-known, seven-minute version; the other a reprise, titled Isn’t It a Pity (Version Two). Harrison wrote the song in 1966, but it was rejected for inclusion on releases by The Beatles. In many countries around the world, the song was also issued on a double A-side single with My Sweet Lord.

An anthemic ballad and one of Harrison’s most celebrated compositions, Isn’t It a Pity has been described as the emotional and musical centrepiece of All Things Must Pass and “a poignant reflection on The Beatles’ coarse ending”. Co-produced by Phil Spector, the recording employs multiple keyboard players, rhythm guitarists and percussionists, as well as orchestration by arranger John Barham. In its extended fadeout, the song references the closing refrain of the Beatles’ 1968 hit Hey Jude. Other musicians on the recording include Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Gary Wright and the band Badfinger, while the reprise version features Eric Clapton on lead guitar.

While no longer the “really tight” social unit they had been throughout the chaos of Beatlemania – or the “four-headed monster”, as Mick Jagger famously called them – the individual Beatles were still bonded by genuine friendship during their final, troubled years as a band, even if it was now more of a case of being locked together at a deep psychological level after such a sustained period of heightened experience. Eric Clapton has described this bond as being just like that of a typical family, “with all the difficulties that entails”. When the band finally split, in April 1970 – a “terrible surprise” for the outside world, in the words of author Mark Hertsgaard, “like the sudden death of a beloved young uncle” – even the traditionally most disillusioned Beatle, George Harrison, suffered a mild bereavement.

All Things Pass

 
 

ALL THINGS PASS

(Homage to Lao Tzu)

“All things pass

A sunrise does not last all morning

All things pass

A cloudburst does not last all day
All things pass
Nor a sunset all night

But Earth… sky… thunder…
wind… fire… lake…
mountain… water…
These always change

And if these do not last
Do man’s visions last?
Do man’s illusions ?

Take things as they come
All things pass”

Timothy Leary

 
 

All Things Must Pass is a song by English musician George Harrison, issued in November 1970 as the title track to his triple album of the same name. Billy Preston released the song originally – as All Things (Must) Pass – on his Apple Records album Encouraging Words (1970), after the Beatles had rejected it for inclusion on their Let It Be album in January 1969. The composition reflects the influence of the Band’s sound and communal music-making on Harrison, after he had spent time with the group in Woodstock, New York, in late 1968, while Timothy Leary‘s poem All Things Pass, a psychedelic adaptation of the Tao Te Ching, provided inspiration for his song lyrics.

While discussing All Things Must Pass with music journalist Timothy White in 1987, Harrison recalled that his “starting point” for the composition was Robertson’s The Weight – a song that had “a religious and a country feeling to it”.

In his 1980 autobiography, I Me Mine, Harrison refers to the idea for the song originating from “all kinds of mystics and ex-mystics”, including Leary. Like later Harrison compositions such as Here Comes the Sun, So Sad and Blow Away, the lyrical and emotional content is based around metaphors involving the weather and the cycle of nature.

Although All Things Must Pass avoids religiosity, Allison writes that its statement on the “all-inclusive” transience of things in the material world explains why so much of its 1970 parent album, All Things Must Pass, “finds hope and meaning only in God, who does not pass away”.

The subject matter deals with the transient nature of human existence, and in Harrison’s All Things Must Pass reading, words and music combine to reflect impressions of optimism against fatalism. On release, together with Barry Feinstein‘s album cover image, commentators viewed the song as a statement on the Beatles’ break-up. Widely regarded as one of Harrison’s finest compositions, its rejection by his former band has provoked comment from biographers and reviewers. Music critic Ian MacDonald described “All Things Must Pass” as “the wisest song never recorded by The Beatles”, while author Simon Leng considers it “perhaps the greatest solo Beatle composition”. The recording was co-produced by Phil Spector in London; it features an orchestral arrangement by John Barham and contributions from musicians such as Ringo Starr, Pete Drake, Bobby Whitlock, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann.

 
 

To watch the official music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

Dark Horse

Dark Horse (1974), front cover

While the term “dark horse” had long been applied to George Harrison due to his success as a solo artist following The Beatles‘ break-up in 1970, commentators recognise the song as Harrison’s rebuttal to a number of possible detractors: those reviewers who criticized the spiritual content of his 1973 album Living in the Material World; his first wife, Pattie Boyd; and his former band-mates John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Harrison also used the title for that of his record label, and his 1974 North American tour with Ravi Shankar would come to be known as the Dark Horse Tour.

 
 

The Tom Wilkes-designed front cover of Dark Horse features a 1956 Liverpool Institute high-school photograph presented inside a lotus flower, behind which a dream-like Himalayan landscape extends to the horizon, where the “deathless Yogi of the Ancient of Days”, Shiv-Goraksha Babaji, sits. While some observers have seen pointed similarities with the Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover image, Harrison’s choice of artwork reflected his enduring admiration for Terry Gilliam‘s animation on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In the photo, a thirteen-year-old Harrison is pictured in the centre of the top row, his face tinted blue; school teachers appear dressed in long-sleeve tops bearing a superimposed record-company logo or Om symbol. Wilkes and Harrison disagreed over the size of the Babaji image, which the designer apparently disliked and wanted to reduce in size.

Inside the gatefold cover, around the edges of a tinted photo of Harrison and comedian Peter Sellers walking beside a Friar Park lake, text asks the “Wanderer through this Garden’s ways” to “Be kindly” and refrain from casting “Revengeful stones” if “perchance an Imperfection thou hast found”, the reason being: “The Gardener toiled to make his Garden fair, Most for thy Pleasure.” A speech balloon over the photograph contains the words “Well, Leo! What say we promenade through the park?” This line was taken from the Mel Brooks movie The Producers, a favourite of Sellers and Harrison.

 
 

Back cover

 
 

On the back cover, Harrison is pictured sitting on a garden bench, the back timbers of which are apparently carved with his name and that of the album. Similar to Harrison’s attire in the outdoor scenes of the Ding Dong, Ding Dong video clip, Leng refers to his appearance here as resembling the Jethro Tull character Aqualung. Terry Doran‘s photo, given the same orange hue as the one inside the gatefold, was also used on some European picture sleeves for the Ding Dong and Dark Horse singles around this time.

Dark Horse ’​s inner sleeve notes were all the work of Harrison himself, written on a plane early in the tour. Along with the first Harrison-album credit for FPSHOT, and the now-familiar “All glories to Sri Krsna” dedication, his purple pen records various in-jokes while listing the many contributing musicians. As well as the confusing inclusion of Boyd and Eric Clapton‘s names (leading to the assumption that they had actually contributed to the track), the song title Bye Bye, Love is juxtaposed with the words Hello Los Angeles, while “OHLIVERE” would appear to be a reference to Harrison’s new lover and future wife, Dark Horse Records secretary Olivia Arias. The latter is also included among the title track’s musician credits – her contribution being “Trinidad Blissed Out”. Under Ding Dong, aside from the appearance of “Ron Would If You Let Him” on guitar, Friar Park’s original owner, Sir Frank Crisp, is credited for providing “Spirit”. Arias’s face, in a photo taken by tour photographer Henry Grossman, appeared on the record’s side-two face label, while a corresponding picture of Harrison appeared on side one.

Through a Glass Onion

Glass onions were large hand blown glass bottles used aboard sailing ships to hold wine or brandy. For increased stability on rough seas, the bottles were fashioned with a wide-bottom shape to prevent toppling, thus making the bottles look somewhat onion-shaped.

 
 

I told you ’bout strawberry fields
You know the place where nothing is real
Well, here’s another place you can go
Where everything flows

Looking through the bent backed tulips
To see how the other half live
Looking through a glass onion

I told you ’bout the walrus and me, man
You know that we’re as close as can be, man
Well, here’s another clue for you all
The walrus was Paul

Standing on the cast iron shore, yeah
Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet, yeah
Looking through a glass onion

Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah
Looking through a glass onion

I told you ’bout the fool on the hill
I tell you man he living there still
Well, here’s another place you can be
Listen to me

Fixing a hole in the ocean
Trying to make a dovetail joint, yeah
Looking through a glass onion

 
 

Glass Onion is a song by The Beatles from their 1968 double-album The Beatles primarily written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. This is the first track on the album to feature Ringo Starr on drums. Starr briefly left the group during recording sessions for the album and was replaced on drums by Paul McCartney on both Back in the U.S.S.R. and Dear Prudence.

The song refers to several earlier Beatles songs. It also refers to the “Cast Iron Shore,” a coastal area of south Liverpool known to local people as “The Cazzy”.

The song’s “the Walrus was Paul” lyric is both a reference to I Am the Walrus and Lennon saying “something nice to Paul” in response to changes in their relationship at that time.

Lennon himself dismissed any deep meaning to the mysterious lyrics:

“ I threw the line in—’the Walrus was Paul’—just to confuse everybody a bit more. It could have been ‘The fox terrier is Paul.’ I mean, it’s just a bit of poetry. I was having a laugh because there’d been so much gobbledygook about Pepper—play it backwards and you stand on your head and all that.

 
 

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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).

Bowie’s Last Supper

Following the “Retirement Gig” on 3 July 1973, Bowie and a handful of friends held a small post-concert party at the Inn On the Park.

The next evening (4th July 1973) Bowie’s retirement party (now known as “The Last Supper”) was held at one of London’s most expensive restaurants – the Café Royal in Regent Street, following frantic last minute calls from MainMan inviting guests to the impromptu party. Word soon spread and large crowds gathered in the streets to watch the celebrities (usually arriving in Rolls Royce’s and Bentley’s) enter the restaurant.

The guest list of those who attended was a virtual Who’s Who of top music and film celebrities in London at the time and included: Paul McCartney and his wife Linda, Keith Moon, Lulu, Tony Curtis, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, The Goodies, Cat Stevens, Ringo and Maureen Starr, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Jeff Beck, Lou Reed, Barbra Streisand (she was in London to film a TV special), Ryan O’Neil, Sonny Bono, Elliot Gould, Britt Ekland, Spike Milligan, Hywel Bennet, D.A. Pennebaker and Dr John who supplied the live music for the evening.

The gathering was also a great opportunity for Bowie to celebrate his fame and new friendships with fellow musical heavyweights such as Mick Jagger. But according to biographer Jerry Hopkins (1985) Bowie had reason to be anxious about Mick Jagger’s attendance. Reportedly Jagger had threatened Bowie because he believed that Bowie had put the “make” on his wife Bianca earlier that week. Hopkins even reports that Bowie had wanted to cancel the show because of Jagger’s threats. However, all was made up at the party and Bowie danced with Jagger and briefly kissed both Jagger and Lou Reed when asked to by Mick Rock who was photographing the event.

 
 

Photos by Mick Rock

 
 

“This was at the Cafe Royal in London after the final Ziggy gig at Hammersmith. Lou Reed and Mick Jagger, who’s behind us, came down. I’m not actually kissing him. If you study it, I’m talking into his ear and he’s talking into mine. I’m quite a way over. But it was near enough to a kiss for the press and they all printed it. We were supposed to have been kissing at that time anyway so there was the evidence. No, I think Lou Reed is the last person in the world I’d want to kiss.” – David Bowie (1993)

Not to be outdone Angie Bowie and Bianca Jagger were also seen dancing and embracing that night.

“The Cafe Royal party the next night was a great success, with David at the very top of his form; he was pure charm and gentle friendliness, open and happy and gay. And I must say, I had a wonderful time too. The mood was light, the glitter dazzling, the night bright and beautiful with stars and success and serendipity”. – Angie Bowie (1993)

 
 

Bowie’s Last Supper as illustrated by Mike Allred (Red Rocket 7 issue 4, November 1997)

A Failed Attempt to Get Back

Please Please Me (1963), the debut album by The Beatles

 
 

George 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. However, the society turned down Martin’s offer, and instead, Angus McBean was asked to take the distinctive color photograph of the group looking down over the stairwell inside EMI’s London headquarters in Manchester Square. Martin was to write later: “We rang up the legendary theater 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.”

 
 

 
 

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. Mirroring the cover of the band’s first album, Please Please Me, was John Lennon’s idea.

 
 

Photography: Ethan Russel

 
 

In January 1969, The Beatles had decided to go back into the studio to rehearse and record new songs and have the project filmed for a documentary. The project’s original working title was Get Back, and an album and film were to be the end products of these sessions. Being older and more independent, the individual Beatles’ tolerances for each other’s quirks had decreased: for instance, on 10 January, George Harrison walked out of the sessions after the latest in a series of arguments with John Lennon over his music and after being harassed by Paul McCartney about his playing style on a take of Two of Us. By the time the Beatles had decided the project was completed, all parties involved were so aggrieved that all of the resultant recordings and film were left on the shelf for close to a year, with no one wanting to face the grueling editing process.

Let Them Be Naked

The Beatles (1968). Artwork by Richard Bernstein

 
 

Photography: Ethan Russel

 
 

Let It Be… Naked (2003) is a remixed and remastered version of their 1970 album Let It Be. The project was overseen by Paul McCartney, who felt that Phil Spector‘s production did not accurately represent the group’s “stripped-down” intentions for the original album. Let It Be… Naked presents the songs “naked”—without Spector’s overdubs and without the incidental studio chatter featured between most cuts of the original album. McCartney in particular was always dissatisfied with the “Wall of Sound” production style of the Phil Spector remixes, especially for his song The Long and Winding Road, which he believed was ruined by the process. George Harrison gave his approval for the Naked project before he died.

Steven Meisel: Rock The House

Carolyn Murphy: Courtney Love. Jake Schroeder: Kurt Cobain. Dylan Schroeder Murphy: Frances Bean Cobain

 
 

Fanni Bostrom: John Lennon. Audrey Marnay: Ringo Starr. Tasha Tilberg: Paul McCartney and Trish Goff: George Harrison

 
 

Ben Northover: John Lennon. Devon Aoki: Yoko Ono

 
 

Omahyra: Prince

 
 

Karolina Kurkova: Marilyn Manson

 
 

Cyrille Victor: Jimi Hendrix. Matt Duffie: Jim Morrison. Karen Elson: Janis Joplin

 
 

Crew of models: The Rolling Stones

 
 

Hannelore Knuts: David Bowie. Diana Meszaros: Angela Bowie

 
 

Sophie Dahl: Debbie Harry

Like Father… (Musicians)

Frank and Nancy Sinatra

 
 

Sting, Coco Summers and Trudie Styler

 
 

Eric Clapton and his late son Conor

 
 

John Lennon and Julian

 
 

John and his Beautiful Boy, Sean Lennon

 
 

Paul Mc Cartney, Linda Eastman and their daughters

 
 

Paul, Linda and James

 
 

Ringo Starr, former Beatles drummer is pictured with his first wife, Maureen Starkey (died 12/1994) and their new born baby Zak at Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Hospital, 1965

 
 

Lee Starkey, Barbara Bach, Ringo Starr and Francesca Gregorini walk together hand in hand on Starr and Bach’s wedding day, London, England in 1981

 
 

George and Dhani Harrison by Terry O’Neill, 1987

 
 

Pete Townshend holding his newborn daughter Emma

 
 

Roger Daltrey, lead singer of British rock group The Who, at home with his wife Heather and two children, Rosie-Lee and Willow.Image by Leonard de Raemy. September 1975, UK

 
 

Keith Richards, Anita Pallenberg and children

 
 

Mick Jagger, Bianca and Jade

 
 

Mick, Jerry Hall and sons in Jamaica

 
 

Liv and Steven Tyler

 
 

Priscilla, Lisa Marie and Elvis Presley

 
 

David Bowie and Zowie

 
 

Bowie and Alex

 
 

Chris Martin, Gwyneth Paltrow and Apple

 
 

Kurt Cobain, Frances Bean and Courtney Love. Photo Credit: Luis Guzmán, 1992

 
 

Kurt Cobain and Frances Bean

 
 

Elton John and his adopted child Zachary

 
 

Bob  and Jakob Dylan photographed by Eliott Landy, 1968

If

John Lockwood Kipling and Rudyard Kipling

 
 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

 
 

This poem was written in tribute to the British imperialist politician Leander Starr Jameson, and as paternal advice to John “Jack” Kipling, the only son of the British author Rudyard Kipling and Caroline Starr.

The initial publication of the poem If . . . was in the Brother Square Toes chapter of the book Rewards and Fairies (1910), a collection of Kipling’s poetry and short-story fiction. In the posthumously published autobiography Something of Myself (1937), Kipling said that his poetic inspiration for If . . . were the military actions of Leander Starr Jameson, leader of the failed Jameson Raid (29 December 1895 – 2 January 1896) against the South African to overthrow the Boer Government of Paul Kruger; the failure of that mercenary “coup d’état” aggravated the political tensions between Great Britain and the Boers, which led to the Second Boer War (1899–1902).

We Can Work It Out

Photo credit: Norman Parkinson

 
 

It was released as a “double A-sided” single with Day Tripper, the first time both sides of a single were so designated in an initial release. Both songs were recorded during the Rubber Soul sessions. Paul McCartney wrote the words and music to the verses and the chorus, with lyrics that “might have been personal”, probably a reference to his relationship with Jane Asher. McCartney then took the song to John Lennon:

“I took it to John to finish it off, and we wrote the middle together. Which is nice: ‘Life is very short. There’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.’ Then it was George Harrison‘s idea to put the middle into waltz time, like a German waltz. That came on the session, it was one of the cases of the arrangement being done on the session.”

With its intimations of mortality, Lennon’s contribution to the twelve-bar bridge contrasts typically with what Lennon saw as McCartney’s cajoling optimism, a contrast also seen in other collaborations by the pair, such as Getting Better and I’ve Got a Feeling. As Lennon told Playboy in 1980:

“In We Can Work It Out, Paul did the first half, I did the middle eight. But you’ve got Paul writing, ‘We can work it out / We can work it out’—real optimistic, y’know, and me, impatient: ‘Life is very short, and there’s no time / For fussing and fighting, my friend.'”