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reading tiger

What am I reading? And what did I say about the Beatles?

Some of my tongue-tied-ness yesterday may also be because a) I am on a massive deadline and b) I spent most of my morning before the San Bernardino news broke dealing with angry Beatles fans.

Tuesday's Earworm Weekly was about "Norwegian Wood" and how the lyrics can be easily taken to mean that the singer burned some girl's house down after she turned him down for sex.

Also, I called both John and Paul assholes and admitted that I don't worship at the shrine of Beatledom. All this was enough to precipitate a small Internet storm. Some of which I could avoid by, you know, not reading the comments, but some of which came looking for me as these things do nowadays.

If you would rather believe that the protagonist of "Norwegian Wood" lit up a joint in the morning, more power to you. If you'd rather believe Lennon and McCartney weren't assholes, I can't help you. But just a helpful reminder: I didn't say you couldn't like the song or shouldn't listen to it any more. It gives me the creeps, and and calling me names* isn't going to change that.

P.S. I didn't actually know that Rubber Soul's 50th anniversary was this week. Heh.

So, that's my week in music criticism. As for my week in reading, I just finished the Vermont chapter in Cheddar. I am also reading Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head to the kids; it's a new middle-grade book series set in Dumfrey's Dime Museum, a rundown little place in New York City that houses both inanimate objects and live-and-in-person residents including four scrappy kids with special abilities. "They're not freaks. They're marvels." It's a charming little book and we're all enjoying it. If you want the full publicity workup, you can click here: The Curiosity House.

* Most wackily, sneering at me because I am supposedly a "millennial," which has already happened often enough to become a theme. This is supremely amusing when I am in fact more in danger of aging out of pop music criticism entirely. I presume that it's a sideways attempt at saying "you don't know anything about the Beatles, you baby" or else the usual infantilizing of women writers, or both. So look. I was born the year the Beatles broke up. I have lived through at least two major revivals of their music. I remember playing "Beatles" on the playground when I was a kid. (I was always George. Now you know.) So please, if you're going to deride me based on my age, refer to me as one of those Gen X pissants who merely reflexively hate everything to do with the Boomers. It's still ridiculously inaccurate but at least it's chronologically correct.


I always assumed he burned her house down.
For me it's one of those clever but uncomfortable songs because of that.
The commenter who seems to be claiming not just "the song doesn't have to mean what the songwriter said years later that they meant" but "the song can't mean what the songwriter said, and besides it doesn't matter" is impressive. As I understand it, "death of the author" doesn't mean that every interpretation is valid except for the one given by the writer.

FWIW, yes writers are human and may lie about their intentions; but writers are human and, like other people, tend to tell stories that make them sound good, not bad.
Now you've arrived as a music critic, because you've pissed off an identifiable demographic!

I always thought he had lit a fire in the fireplace, but now I can't think that anymore. Sadly, this is the fate of an awful lot of cultural items I've looked at recently, to be revealed as really fucking creepy.
"Now you've arrived as a music critic, because you've pissed off an identifiable demographic!"

And it only took until I was 45!

Although, actually, I permanently pissed off k.d. lang fans about 15 years ago, so. (I even make reference to it in the column; that's the "letter to the editor" moment.)
Norwegian Wood is definitely my favorite Beatles song so now I'm making sure I'm in a happy calm space before going over to read the column.
In no particular order:

1) Exceptional column, a joy to read. Thank you.

2) I'm actually old enough to complain that you are too young to really "get" the Beatle Experience so hey whatever credibility that gives me.

3) I was a pretty hard-core Beatle fan, though not a fan-girl, a Serious Musical Fan with my own guitar. (not a proud moment in time, lol).

4) Norweigan Wood is super-easy to play on the guitar with a D tuning.

5) It never occurred to me that he burned the house down, but of course that's what it means. Read Lennon's poetry if you need further examples of this sort of humor. Dude had a cruel streak and a pretty indefensible personal life. These things are well documented.

6) They were all assholes. If they didn't start out that way, the fame machine made them that way. This should surprise no one. Plus they were all in their 20's. (Insert essentialist geezer rant about 20-somethings as a developmental stage here).

7) Their music is full of misogyny and violence against women. Norwegian Wood is actually one of their subtler numbers. Check out the lyrics to "Run For Your Life". But hey, Sting's lyrics are every bit as creepy (I'll be Watching You, anyone?).

8) I tend not to be impressed by sacred cows (your sacred cow = someone's tasty burger) but those comments amaze me in the same fashion serious football fans amaze me. The amount of sheer emotion is kind of stunning.
Yep, I'd always assumed he burned the house down as well (I could have gone with the 'lighting a joint' theory if it had been 'Netherlands Wood' or 'Amsterdam Wood'!)

I quite like a lot of Beatles music, but I don't worship at their temple (in the eternal 'who's better: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones', I'd always opt for The Kinks anyway...)

Edited at 2015-12-04 09:31 am (UTC)
Heh. I was listening to the radio today and they played a Beatles tryptych (including "Norwegian Wood", actually) and I was actually pondering that John Lennon was my first Problematic Fave.