To put right what once went wrong
November 11, 2009 6:25 PM   Subscribe

Christopher Bird at Mighty God King has written some corkers in the past - from his ejection from Livejournal owing to his review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to his frequent conversations with Flapjacks and Photoshopping of Final Fantasy Covers (previously). He's really outdone himself this time, with Scenes From An Alternate Universe Where The Beatles Accepted Lorne Michaels’ Generous Offer. Read it, and, quite possibly, weep. Bonus points to the first person who constructs a Primer-level explanation of what happened.
posted by danhon (43 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think those are "Fighting Fantasy" books not "Final Fantasy"
posted by delmoi at 6:28 PM on November 11, 2009


*sigh* Yes, that would be Fighting Fantasy, not Final Fantasy. Serves me right for posting at 2:30am.
posted by danhon at 6:29 PM on November 11, 2009


FULL DISCLOSURE: BIRD (WHO IS AWESOME) IS WRITING SOMETHING FOR MY ANTHOLOGY IF IT ACTUALLY GETS OFF THE GROUND.

that being said.

This is good.
posted by The Whelk at 6:29 PM on November 11, 2009


Is the Beatles' link not working for anyone else?
posted by meadowlark lime at 6:30 PM on November 11, 2009


Is the Beatles' link not working for anyone else?

My install of Wordpress is... unsatisfactory, to say the least, and it crashes Apache more often than I would like. Wait a few minutes and refresh; the script my friend wrote to auto-reboot it should have kicked in by then.
posted by mightygodking at 6:33 PM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


You forgot to say Metafilter's Own mightgodking

INTO THE TOMBS WITH YOU! THE TOMBS!
posted by The Whelk at 6:37 PM on November 11, 2009


Is the Beatles' link not working for anyone else?

None of them are working for me.
posted by marxchivist at 6:38 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


mighty*

I,-oh not the milkjugs!
posted by The Whelk at 6:38 PM on November 11, 2009


Yeah, I forgot Metafilter's Own mightygodking and I also could've snuck in a reference to this alternate history not hitting its own peak rock, either. Preview clearly not useful when sleep deprived.
posted by danhon at 6:40 PM on November 11, 2009


Not a single link in this post is working for me.
posted by d1rge at 6:50 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Lennon leaves New York for the first time in six months to do the gig, eventually spending the entire month of December in England.)

YOU MADE ME CRY YOU SHIT.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:54 PM on November 11, 2009


I like it! Ringo Starr: master of space and time.
posted by Iridic at 6:55 PM on November 11, 2009


Worked fine for me, and was well done. Reminds me of a science fiction story I read (no idea of the title or author) where, in the end, the hero is given only one question (or three?) to get the solution to the crisis at hand, and instead asks what music would sound like if Mozart had lived another twenty or thirty years. The response is a sample of music radically different than anything the hero had ever heard.

I imagine another twenty years of the Beatles might have done something similar to pop and rock music.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:55 PM on November 11, 2009


I've admired MGK for a long while now ... but that's just lovely. I mean, really. I lost count of the number of times I grinned and choked up.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:58 PM on November 11, 2009


Nice alternative history of the Beatles (the only link I read). They evolved so much in their seven years of fame. What might have happened is plausibly fictionalized. "It's all too much, for me to take, the love that's all around me," as Harrison sang...
posted by kozad at 7:00 PM on November 11, 2009


mirror
posted by mightygodking at 7:16 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


is this something that you have to like 1960s boy bands to understand?
posted by scruss at 7:20 PM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the mirror mightygodking.

I liked the Beatles piece. It's strange feeling nostalgic for something that never happened.
posted by marsha56 at 7:35 PM on November 11, 2009


YOU MADE ME CRY YOU SHIT.

This.

Also, I find it interesting that, in this alternate world, it seems like we are at war with Iraq despite September 11th never having taken place. (I assume you would have mentioned it.)

Does The Muppet Show thing mean that Henson also managed to vastly postpone his appointment with death?

Strangely, I find the most implausible part being that the Lennon sons made peace and worked together.

Well done, sir, well done.
posted by anastasiav at 7:43 PM on November 11, 2009


God damn, that was worth clicking and clicking again and clicking again-again, trying to get into the fucking thing. Beautiful.
posted by padraigin at 7:55 PM on November 11, 2009


Oh god, worth it times infinity for The Loneliest Manticore alone.
posted by greenland at 8:24 PM on November 11, 2009


I was all ready to be all cranky about the Beatles fantasy but it was exceptionally done. You tugged my heartstrings you did, mightygodking.
posted by Kattullus at 8:50 PM on November 11, 2009


I do have a question though (after, like, the fourth read) - is the August 3, 2007 entry a reference to the film The Butterfly Effect?
posted by anastasiav at 9:25 PM on November 11, 2009


is the August 3, 2007 entry a reference to the film The Butterfly Effect?

I am personally insulted to be associated with Ashton Kutcher in this manner.

Pistols at dawn, sirrah. Pistols. At. Dawn.
posted by mightygodking at 9:28 PM on November 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


I am personally insulted to be associated with Ashton Kutcher in this manner.

Sorry, sorry, sorry ... I've never actually seen the movie, I just know there is a notebook in it.

Is the notebook a pop-culture reference to anything? Is Jim Henson still alive? Are the twin towers still standing. By god, man, you've discovered an alternate universe that is so much better than this one ... don't keep all its secrets to yourself! So many unanswered questions......
posted by anastasiav at 9:51 PM on November 11, 2009


That was excellent! There should be a show about Ringo's repeated attempts to reunite the Beatles. It could be called Starr Trek.
posted by painquale at 10:17 PM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've not got round to watching Primer, but I take it the reference means that Ringo's doing some time travelling or something to try and change history but everything kind of works out the same? Zatright?
posted by jiroczech at 1:31 AM on November 12, 2009


Yeah right.

Had the Beatles accepted Michael's offer and spontaneously showed up to perform, there is no way they would have played Let It Be, Lady Madonna and Little Help From My Friends. Harrison and Lennon probably rarely played those songs again after the original recording sessions were over. It would have most likely been pre-Sgt. Pepper and rock and roll oldies.

BEATLES NERDS FIGHT!
posted by chillmost at 3:25 AM on November 12, 2009


Interesting how Lennon is shot both times.

Somethings are just written in the stars, I suppose.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:19 AM on November 12, 2009


I want to like this, but the idea that the Beatles could do a three-hour gig spontaneously, after not having played together for several years (the infamous rooftop concert only featured a handful of songs from their latest album), and not having actually toured for at least a decade... sorry, there's only so much disbelief that I can suspend when it doesn't involve an explicitly SF/fantasy setting. At the very least, you'd have to have them practice for a few weeks.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:03 AM on November 12, 2009


At the very least, you'd have to have them practice for a few weeks.

And the instruments would have to be properly tuned. And Paul was recovering from a cold that week besides, so he'd need to break for tea and maybe a lozenge. And smoke breaks, let's not forget about the smoke breaks. Oh, and we cannot forget about the licensing concerns between Parlophone, Capitol and Apple Corp ...

But wait ... we can ignore all that, because these are The Beatles of Earth-MGK.*
posted by grabbingsand at 6:57 AM on November 12, 2009


Reminds me of a science fiction story I read (no idea of the title or author) where, in the end, the hero is given only one question (or three?) to get the solution to the crisis at hand, and instead asks what music would sound like if Mozart had lived another twenty or thirty years. The response is a sample of music radically different than anything the hero had ever heard.

*snerk* You've now reminded ME of another sci-fi story I read, where a guy has himself cryogenically frozen for a hundred years -- so that when they wake him up he can claim to be John Lennon. Most of the story is concerns the various is-he-or-isn't-he examinations -- they bring Paul McCartney (who was also frozen and thawed) to talk to him at one point, to get his take -- before someone finally comes to him with proof that they've found him out. He cops to the con, and agrees to fade into obscurity like a good boy.

But right at the end, he asks them, "So...wait, you were able to find out who I really was, but what was your tipoff that John Lennon is who I wasn't? Because you'd have to have found that out first."

And the investigators tell him, "Ah -- we found the REAL John Lennon, actually. ....He was in Germany claiming to be Mozart."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:09 AM on November 12, 2009


Then they're not really the Beatles. See, the thing that always attracted me about the Beatles was that they did such an incredible amount of fantastic work in such a short period of time... and yet were very obviously flawed human beings. I was thinking about this on the drive to work, and although it's not without its virtues--I totally didn't see the time travel angle coming--it only works as a fantasy of Ringo's, and then only if he chooses not to remember what the Let It Be sessions were like.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:22 AM on November 12, 2009


At the very least, you'd have to have them practice for a few weeks.

Really? Not that it'd necessarily be a top-notch performance, but assuming they've otherwise been keeping their skills sharp, how hard is it to just grab instruments and drop right back in it? They remember the songs well enough, muscle memory will help, and if they have to improvise or drop a note here or there, who cares?

I mean, people sing medleys pretty spontaneously, drum circles can kick ass, so why shouldn't musicians no less talented than The Beatles be able to kick it a bit spontaneously?
posted by explosion at 7:30 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because they would have been playing other songs in the interim; at least in Lennon and McCartney's case, I believe that the Beatles songs that they'd cover were the ones that they wrote themselves, despite the dual credit (So, for example, Lennon performing "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" with Elton John during the latter's concert in the mid-seventies; they also did "I Saw Her Standing There", but see below). They hadn't toured together at all since 1966, thereby avoiding the sort of repeated practice of particular songs that would allow groups like, say, the Who or the Stones to do so; I can't think of any post-touring-days songs that were performed after they'd recorded them, with the occasional exception (as noted above) or with Wings or the Plastic Ono Band.

Could Lennon and McCartney have done a couple of numbers together, as originally planned? Sure; they'd started to hang out together again shortly before Lennon died, and probably jammed a little. Could the full band have done a few of their earlier numbers without practice? Maybe. But a three-hour set? Not even if they repeated "Hey Jude" five times.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:57 AM on November 12, 2009


That Beatles piece (the only one I've had a chance to read so far) was outstanding! As was said upthread, it tugged at my heartstrings without exploding my bullshit meter. Well done, sir!
posted by mosk at 9:24 AM on November 12, 2009


but the idea that the Beatles could do a three-hour gig spontaneously

The time they spent in Germany trained them to do exactly this ... to at least be able to "fake" their way through lots of different stuff. Remember also that neither Lennon nor McCartney were able to read or write music. There is a famous quote around somewhere (I'm too lazy to look) from one of them re: songwriting that basically says "If we can't remember it the next day how could we expect the audience to remember it". That was their criteria for good vs. not good.

The Apple rooftop concert ended because the cops came and told them to stop, not because they ran out of material.

They hadn't toured together at all since 1966, thereby avoiding the sort of repeated practice of particular songs that would allow groups like, say, the Who or the Stones to do so

If you've watched Let it Be you know that they could jam together at length. Of course, the Let it Be sessions are very choppy, because they're only playing for themselves, but given their Hamburg experience I have no doubt that they could put on a heck of a show at more-or-less the drop of a hat.
posted by anastasiav at 10:32 AM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


But you're pretending that the Beatles of Hamburg--young, loud, and hopped up on as much Preludin as they could get their hands on--were the same group of ten years later when they could barely stop arguing long enough to lay down some tracks. Do you know why there's been no official DVD of Let It Be, the film? Because McCartney and Starr don't want to relive painful memories, forty years later. That's the note that they stopped on.

I feel like I'm talking in circles with people who don't want to give up this fantasy that the Beatles were these musical gods who broke up over the sort of simple misunderstanding that Ringo could have spackled over with the right words and some take-out coffee. They may have been simplistically portrayed by their marketing people as the same sort of one-note complementary personalities as most superheroes, but they weren't. They were complex people that chafed at the notion that they couldn't do anything musically without the other three guys in tow, and instead of wanting to think that they would have stayed together until death did them part, so to speak, we should be happy that they were together as long as they were.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:36 PM on November 12, 2009


Googlers of a future age, reading this indignant page: the story that EmpressCallipygos described is "Doing Lennon," by Gregory Benford.

(Thanks to EmpressCallipygos for bringing it up, and finally getting me to seriously search for that story after having it knock around my brain for the last 20 or so years...)
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:39 PM on November 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a nice story! Thank you, mightygodking. And thank you, danhon, for this post.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:01 PM on November 12, 2009


Man, I loved Ringo in this. When he says in Early 2003 that Dhani “can’t be the fourth Beatle, because that’s my job", I got really choked up. This was masterful. Thanks mightygodking.
posted by scunning at 10:16 AM on November 13, 2009


Too busy at work to search through stuff, but if anyone's got a link to where I can get MightyGodKing's do-over of Marvel's "Civil War," I'll sing your praises forever. It made one of the worst things Marvel ever turned out into something genuinely entertaining, and the re-write of Cap's surrender at the end actually made a little SENSE.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:29 AM on November 13, 2009


MGK posts a bit of background on how he wrote this.

scaryblackdeath: Check the "Photoshopping Fantasy Covers" link in the post (whoo, I posted that!) for his Civil War remix. (And other fun stuff.)
posted by Pronoiac at 9:56 PM on November 14, 2009


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