Below are letters from some readers and the editors’ responses where necessary (in italics). Feel free to add your own comments below. And, if there’s something we’ve published, a topic in the Beatles world you’d like to sound off on, or you’d just like to ask a question, email BEATLEFAN LETTERS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TO THE EDITORS:
I want to thank Bill King and Beatlefan for continuing to find ways to represent the millennial generation of Beatles fans (third-generation fans?) in the magazine. (I wonder how many of these fans might have been the youngsters contributing to the [Helter Skelter] department for children that the magazine ran back in the mid-1990s!) The Viewpoint in Issue #213 about Paul McCartney working with Kanye West and Rihanna written by Nikki Denett provides a nuanced assessment of a situation that, unfortunately, has tended to draw kneejerk, uninformed reactions from many older fans. And this isn’t the first time you’ve provided an outlet for the generation that is the children of the original Beatles fans. I remember your own son has written eloquently in your pages before, and you’ve had articles by the college student who is your office assistant [Brigid Choi]. Plus, as you’ve noted in your Publisher’s Notes, some of your regular contributors are second-generation fans who came of age during the Wings era or even afterward. Thank you for never viewing Beatles fandom as one bunch of likeminded folks who all grew up in the 1960s!
SANDRA CHARLESTON, email
(Thanks, Sandra. We love to have fans of all ages in our pages, and we urge anyone who’d like to write for us to contact us at email@example.com.)
I really enjoyed Ken Sharp’s conversation with Ringo in Beatlefan #213, especially the part that dealt with Ringo coming into his own as a songwriter. He said that while he’s written some songs on his own, “mainly it’s always a collaboration.” But he also says that he wrote “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Photograph,” and we know that although he was not credited, George Harrison played a large part in the writing of those songs. Don’t you think that after all these years it would be a great gesture on Ringo’s part to give co-writing credit to George?
TAD BROWN, Chicago
(Although it’s true George gave a very large assist to Ringo in the writing of those songs, we think if he had wanted credit, he would have taken it at the time. So, no, we don’t see a real need for Ringo to revisit the question of the songwriting credits.)
Hey guys and gals at Beatlefan, I’d like to thank you for really making an effort to mix it up over the past year in terms of who you feature on your front cover. As I write this, the past six issues have had a Beatles group shot (from “A Hard Day’s Night”), that lovely, wonderful “Venus and Mars” era picture of Paul, a vintage shot of George, Paul in concert, Ringo in concert, and this latest issue’s outstanding joint photo of Paul and Ringo together. Two or three of those probably rank among my all-time favorite Beatlefan covers, and I’ve been reading your mag since the mid-1980s! Keep up the great work!
DIANA RAMIREZ, email
(Thanks, Diana. It helps when new releases and reissues loosen up the supply of available shots. And we’d like to once again thank Ringo’s personal photographer, Rob Shanahan, and his publicist, Elizabeth Freund, for providing the shot used on the cover of #213 when we asked whether they had something showing Paul and Ringo together. We were very pleased and honored to run it on our front cover.)
I have held my tongue for several years concerning Howie Edelson’s obvious hate of George Harrison and devotion to Paul McCartney. As a journalist myself, I have cringed at the way Edelson puts nasty and ill-spirited digs at George into his news features or Q&As — comments that only belong in editorials or op/ed pieces. Now comes Issue 213 where he throws in that “Press to Play” is “a far better album” than “Cloud Nine.” THAT is a ridiculous comment that insults Harrison’s memory and all of George’s fans. (Yes, Howie, we exist!) This is a disturbing trend in Edelson’s articles and I seriously question a Beatle publication so blatant in publishing such material. Look at the facts (1987-88 charts, articles of the time) and explain how Edelson comes up with his latest gem? I am a longtime subscriber to Beatlefan. But I am ready to cancel because of Howie Edelson’s irresponsible and unprofessional anti-Harrison rants.
TIM SMITH, Livonia, MI
First, a response from Publisher Bill King: Beatlefan is not a newspaper. It’s a journal of news and opinion, and we’ve always run opinions in our articles and even (gasp) in our news roundup, going back to the very beginning more than 36 years ago. I can’t speak to Howie’s preference for “Press to Play” over “Cloud Nine” (personally, I prefer “Cloud Nine”) but he has his own response below. In the meantime, I will say I think you’re cherrypicking his comments in claiming he is devoted to McCartney. You could fairly say Howie is devoted to Wings, but he’s been pretty brutal in some of his views on latterday McCartney. And, frankly, we think you’re overreacting here. Saying he prefers the McCartney album to the Harrison album is hardly an “irresponsible” and “unprofessional” rant that insults George’s memory or fans. It’s a simple statement of a fan preferring one album over another. If he’d compared “Press to Play” to a Lennon album, would you be as upset? Would you consider that an insult to Lennon’s memory and fans? We’d be sorry to lose you as a reader, but as you should know from reading our magazine we’ve always allowed our writers to express themselves freely on Beatle subjects, and we’re not about to stop now. Thanks for reading.
Howie Edelson responds:
Please see my loving tribute to 1982’s “Gone Troppo” (Issue. #192, Page 21). You are incorrect regarding what you perceive as my bias. My writing in said article proves as much. As a Harrison lover yourself, you might enjoy it.
All Glories Go To Sri Krishna.
Love Comes To Everyone.
I really liked Howie Edelson’s interview with Mark Lewisohn! Howie said/asked so many of the things I would have. I finished the abridged version of Vol. 1 of Mark’s book and hands down it is the best, most complete, typo- and error-free, interesting book I’ve ever read about The Beatles! (and I have about 150 Beatles-related books!).
NANCY RILEY, email
Must say I agree with Tim Smith to a large degree regarding Howie’s article on Paul in issue 213. It’s all personal opinion of course and as much as I enjoy Press To Play and think it’s had a pretty unfair press (pun intended) it takes a huge leap of faith to suggest it is better than Cloud Nine. Better sung is one of the arguments, ok well McCartney has a superior voice to Harrison so that’s not an earth shattering statement but as for stronger material and better production etc, sorry Howie, just don’t see it. Dislike for Jeff Lynne, which I sense, dies not make him a bad producer.
There are some very interesting conclusions made and suggestions put forward about the dynamics of the McCartney brain, things that I hadn’t considered before, certainly the competing with Lennon and the spur of John writing again pushing McCartney on to better things than Speed of Sound and London Town.
I look forward to the next part of the article but in putting the story across the side swipes and the, dare I say it, looking to be controversial in ones views, are not really necessary.
Curiously enough the mid 1980s would be the point when, in my honest opinion, George Harrison’s deeper, richer and much improved voice overtook Paul’s rapidly declining singing ability. And more than just opinion I read an interview with Eric Steward (10cc guitarist and collaborator on Press to Play) who mentioned problems with some of Paul’s vocals at that time. I also think that Cloud 9 is vastly superior than Press to Play. The latter I have listened to time and time again and I just do not like much about it at all.
I am a longtime reader of this fanzine. Among its writers, the one I am moved, informed and entertained by the most is Howie Edelson. His writing style, eye for detail, and expert knowledge on All Things Beatles are formidable. His passion is inspiring and contagious, his tone edgy and funny but never irreverent, his love of the topic clear and unquestionable. Anyone who can write a comprehensively engaging dissertation on Red Rose Speedway, Back To The Egg or Liverpool 8 has my vote. In fact, my favorite all-time pieces in Beatlefan are Howie’s fantastic takes on McCartney, Venus And Mars and Back To The Egg. His new essay on Flowers In The Dirt continues to uphold and even elevate this standard.
Most importantly and impressively, he tells it like he feels it. How refreshing to read essay after brilliant essay that not only has a distinct viewpoint, but is actually unbiased about the work. Here is a writer whose love of all four Beatles is obvious and inarguable, but who is not afraid to criticize the more recent work of say, Paul McCartney, someone he clearly adores. I don’t need or want someone to tell me how “terrific” Off The Ground or New is, just because it’s the work of a Beatle, or how truly fab Macca’s latest band is in concert… I like a writer who isn’t afraid to share his opinion, even if it isn’t considered a “popular” one.
In reading this latest criticism/complaint about Howie’s preferring Press To Play to Cloud Nine, I had to chuckle. The complaint was that Howie was “biased” and has always been “anti” George Harrison in a rude and obnoxious way. I don’t agree. If anything, from what I’ve read, Howie has been nothing if not loving, fair and respectful to George (and Ringo). In fact, he knows and appreciates both solo catalogs as well as anyone in the world. All you have to do is read his piece on Gone Troppo to know this. It’s all there and then some. It’s quite a gift to be able to take a lesser known and discussed record like that and give it its critical just due without coming off like just another obsessive fan on a message board.
Thank you Beatlefan for allowing a writer of this stature and talent to be represented and read on a regular basis.