Here’s another clue for you all

March 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s a movie out on NetFlix called Paul McCartney is Really Dead. It purports to be a documentary about the “Last Testament of George Harrison,” a couple of micro-cassette tapes that Harrison supposedly recorded while in the hospital after being stabbed in 1999. On the tapes, “George” tells the story of Paul McCartney’s untimely death in 1966 and the subsequent cover-up by the band and MI5. He goes into great detail about all of the “clues” the band put into song lyrics and album cover art over the next four years, reveals John Lennon’s growing obsession with creating the clues, and suggests that Lennon’s murder in 1980 and his own stabbing in 1999 were perpetrated by MI5 in retaliation for the two former Beatles deciding to finally come forward with the truth…

The “Paul Is Dead” myth is a strange part of Beatle history, and it certainly captured my attention when I was getting into the band as a kid. I remember being amazed at the number, depth and specificity of the “clues” that fans/conspiracy theorists came up with. Mind you, I’ve never bought into the myth, but I’m still fascinated by it. So I approached this movie with a “let’s see where they go with this” attitude.

The movie disappoints on a couple of very basic levels. The narration, supposedly from the aforementioned microcassette tapes, is performed by what sounds like an American actor doing a pretty bad George Harrison impression. And the quality of the recording is far too good to be a microcassette (sorry, I’m a sound guy). And several of the early “clues” are in songs that were actually recorded and released prior to the date that “George” claims Paul died–these are factual errors that are easily debunked by even casual Beatle fans, let alone the sort of rabid enthusiasts that would be this movie’s target audience. That’s just the tip of the iceberg; if anything, the movie points up what a shaky mess the “Paul is Dead” theory really is once you construct enough clues and “facts” to fill a 97-minute movie (one of my favorites is the revelation that Heather Mills is revealed to have been a major player in the original cover-up…two years before she was born!).

But the film did get me thinking–see, here’s the fun bit: In real life, the band was aware of the “Paul is Dead” theory, and responded to it. Paul phoned journalists to explain that yes, he really was alive. The lyric “Here’s another clue for you all/The Walrus was Paul” is generally understood to be John having a bit of fun with the conspiracy theorists. But was that the only time he decided to yank their chains on record? To me, shoehorning a bunch of Beatle lyrics and album cover images into false clues is much less interesting than the idea that there is, somewhere, a list of deliberate “clues” the Beatles put in, just to mess with the heads of the conspiracy-theory folks.

Turn me on, dead man!



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