Before Jojo and sweet Loretta Martin...
April 14, 2013 6:47 AM   Subscribe

The song that became "Get Back" began as an anti-immigrant satire so easily misunderstood it remains in the vaults. Writing for Salon, Alex Sayf Cummings delves into the story behind No Pakistanis.
posted by flapjax at midnite (17 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Obviously not the Beatles singing, since Paul was dead by that time.
posted by goethean at 7:08 AM on April 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


aaah this is so interesting. Thank you for posting.
posted by sweetkid at 7:11 AM on April 14, 2013


Just when I keep reading rumors that the film "Let It Be" may be released in 2013 as a remastered two DVD set with tons of bonus footage, "news" like this comes along. I don't think that film will EVER be released on DVD. Maybe if I spend several hundred dollars on an old Laserdisc copy, it will eventually make it out on DVD.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:33 AM on April 14, 2013


I don't think that film will EVER be released on DVD. Maybe if I spend several hundred dollars on an old Laserdisc copy, it will eventually make it out on DVD.

It probably won't be released until Paul and Ringo are both dead. Every time there's been rumblings about finally re-releasing it, it never materializes because it "brings up old issues". It's a filmed document of a really crappy time in all their lives, after all.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:03 AM on April 14, 2013


An interesting article though rather ranging. It feels like the writer wants to talk about the history and context of Beatles' Get Back but knows that his audience won't understand or care. There is an awful lot more about the social and political context in the UK at the time which could be said but is limited by the need to explain basic things such as Enoch Powell.
posted by Jehan at 8:10 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've heard at least one version of No Pakistanis but it must be a first or an early version, it doesn't contain lyrics mentioned in this Beatles Bible entry, cited as a reference in Cummings' article. It's clear and evident that its tongue in cheek, Sir Paul being satirical yet obviously it wasn't working. His typical "scat a few mumbly words until the lyrics click" style simply doesn't work when it comes to deep political issues. I think they were right to never release it, even on the Anthology series, but I am glad it is out there if you know where to look or happen to stumble upon it.

Cummings' article goes a long way in starting to give a proper historic context to the song, and its only in that light should the general public hear it and begin to understand why the controversial lyrics were dropped in favor of more ambiguously controversial lyrics ("California grass" heh heh).

That being said though, personally, I want to hear more of John's version based upon his "Sweet Loretta Fart she thought she was a cleaner, but she was a frying pan" lyric!!
posted by kuppajava at 8:25 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Paul being satirical yet obviously it wasn't working.

Or you could see it as yet another example of Paul having the balls to try something (and fail) well ahead of John, in this case an overtly political song?
posted by colie at 8:44 AM on April 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


" . . the song originally dealt with South Asian immigration to the United Kingdom."

According to John, more about East Asia, or one East Asian in particular.

JoJo? No wait, that's not quite it . .
posted by petebest at 9:19 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or you could see it as yet another example of Paul having the balls to try something (and fail) well ahead of John, in this case an overtly political song?

Very true, though he will take every opportunity (YES PAUL we know you were really into Stockhausen) to tell you about it.

Here's "Commonwealth" (or "Commonwealth Song" as it's referred to on some Get Back boots). The Get Back Journals reveal all (though it can be a dreary ride, however fascinating...BEEEEEP).
posted by mintcake! at 9:54 AM on April 14, 2013


posted by petebest at 11:19 AM on April 14

!
posted by goethean at 9:54 AM on April 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Only someone who's never written a song could think that the mumbled temp lyrics that Paul used for hashing out melodies represent unvarnished truth. Does Cummings think that Paul's thoughts about regret and memory are just varnish, and what he really cares about are scrambled eggs?

Songwriters often sing nonsense words, political and advertising slogans, or just lines from the newspaper, when they're trying to find out what vocal tones work with a piece of music. This often results in temp lyrics that are obscene in one way or another, because it's basically automatic writing, and therefore more inclined towards stuff that's incendinary or otherwise highly emotional. Does that make it more true? Of course not---it's naive to say that the things a person says when they're not thinking are a more accurate reflection of them than what they say when they're choosing their words deliberately.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:58 AM on April 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Just when I keep reading rumors that the film "Let It Be" may be released in 2013 as a remastered two DVD set with tons of bonus footage, "news" like this comes along. I don't think that film will EVER be released on DVD.

"Let It Be" is the Beatles' "Song of the South".
posted by Afroblanco at 11:08 AM on April 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw Let It Be in the theater in the mid- to late-80s. I remember it being mostly boring rather than controversial. I was mainly in it for the rooftop concert, which was cool, but not as cool as I had hoped.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:46 PM on April 14, 2013


I remember it being mostly boring rather than controversial.

Has it been suggested that the film is *controversial*? It is indeed boring, though. Not only that, it's really kinda painful. It's a cold, all-too-real document of a band that's about to implode. The resentment for example, that George feels for Paul is palpable. John is, well, pretty much stoned out of his mind and deep, deep in the World of Yoko, so much so that one wonders why he was still there at all. Ringo dutifully sits at the drums, mostly waiting for the others to get it together to stop mucking around and actually play something. Paul is actually the only one who comes off as giving half a rat's ass about what's going on. He's trying hard to keep a brave face and a united front, but the others just aren't really buying it. It's a very sad film.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:52 PM on April 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


I work with a band and when we jam and make up lyrics, who knows what is going to come out of our mouths at any given time. What is important is the final product not the steps that lead up to the final product. What's important here is that The Beatles recognized that their satirical lyrics weren't working and turned the song into something else. The "No Pakistanis" lyric is only important in that they ultimately rejected it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:02 PM on April 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, see, sometimes writers will pretend to be someone else, and say things that this other person maybe would say, to make a point about how the people who say these other things are dicks. Or, they'll say things that these other person would say because they're in character. Nobody thinks Roger Daltrey really is a psychosomatically deaf, mute, and blind pinball player when he's singing things from Tommy, is he?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, see, sometimes writers will pretend to be someone else, and say things that this other person maybe would say, to make a point about how the people who say these other things are dicks.

Randy Newman fashioned a songwriting career out of it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:19 AM on April 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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