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The Weekly Blague

Turn Me on Dead Man

Bob Wilson and Don Jeffries are prolific podcasters (both individually and together), and I've been a guest on a few of their shows, including Don't Pass Me By and The Donald Jeffries Show. They liked what I had to say about the Beatles and asked me to answer a few questions for their new book, From Strawberry Fields to Abbey Road (BearManor Media).


The subject of the book is a question that's been kicking around since 1966 and found new life among the multitude of conspiracy theories thriving on the Internet: Is Paul McCartney dead and was he replaced by a lookalike?


Most sane people will agree that Paul is very much alive and living the good life of a talented, aging billionaire (as I said in response to one of the questions). But if you were around when the Beatles were together, you were probably aware of the so-called "clues" on their album covers and on the recordings themselves that indicated Paul was dead.


There are a wealth of such clues on Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, and the White Album (The Beatles), and it was fun to seek them out and analyze them, as my friends and I did at the time. Even then we didn't believe Paul was dead; we thought the Beatles were playing a game. The title of this post, "Turn Me on Dead Man," is a clue from the White Album. If you spin John Lennon's avant-garde sound pastiche "Revolution 9" backwards, every time you spin through "number 9," it sounds like "Turn me on dead man."


The clues have been analyzed to death over the years. Perhaps the most bizarre analysis can be found in a book titled The Lennon Prophesy. The author, Joseph Niezgoda, who believes Lennon sold his soul to the devil, reinterprets all the "Paul is dead" clues as predictions of Lennon's death.


Wilson and Jeffries go in a completely different and far more entertaining direction: They interviewed an eclectic group of celebrities, writers, and musicians, all of whom had a Beatles connection, and asked them for their thoughts on the clues. They include Richard Belzer, the late actor and comedian; Richie Furay, co-founder of Buffalo Springfield; actress Sally Kirkland; Victoria Jackson, from SNL; Susan Olsen, from The Brady Bunch; Steve Boone, bassist for the Lovin' Spoonful; Jon Provost, who played Timmy on Lassie; Bruce Spizer, who's written many Beatle books; Fred LaBour, a writer and musician who's credited with popularizing the Paul-is-dead rumor... and me. (Note to Jon Provost: Are you sure "Martha My Dear" isn't Lassie's favorite Beatle song? It's about Paul's sheepdog.)


So, if you'd like to lose yourself for a few amusing hours in a rumor that has as much staying power as the Beatles themselves, allow me to clue you in to From Strawberry Fields to Abbey Road.


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