Back in the R.O.I – Fifty years on, the Fab Four are still causing a stir in Dublin
Celebrating 50 years since The Beatles played their only Irish gigs, the Dublin Beatles Festival takes place this weekend with tribute bands, exhibitions, plays, interviews and more
There’s no greater debate in rock music: Lennon or McCartney? We sat down with two local musicians to verbally slug it out. In the red corner, representing Macca, is Conor Deasy of The Gandhis. In the blue corner, representing Lennon, is Wayne Farrell of The Ikonics. Fair fight, gentlemen. Ding, ding!
OK, let’s start with the basics. Why have you chosen your respective musicians?
WF: For me, John was the first sort of “rock star”. Elvis was the first pop star who played rock ’n’ roll, but I think John was the original rock star in the way that we have rock stars nowadays, the original role model for all that followed. When you’re a kid, that makes an impression. Paul was always more of a tunesmith, to me. He was amazing, but he had more of a pop persona. John seemed like the cool one.
Paul does get a bit of a bad rap as being the “dad” of the band. What makes him your choice, Conor?
CD: I probably would have preferred John when I was younger, but the older I get, the more I like the fact that Paul isn’t the “rock star”. I think Paul really shaped The Beatles’ sound more than anyone else in the band, and it’s had way more of an influence over time.
WF: I agree completely that Paul had the pop smarts, and he did keep the whole thing grounded. But I wonder would Paul have experimented at all without John there? Would they have gone the psychedelic route without John, going from classic pop music to crazy, experimental stuff like on Tomorrow Never Knows? Arguably, that’s what made The Beatles a great band. I know George Martin influenced a lot of that stuff too, but John had a lot to do with them breaking away from pop.
What don’t you like about each others’ musician of choice?
WF: Hmmm . . . well, I would have preferred if Paul had gone outside of his comfort zone a bit. It would have been interesting to see what he could have done with his own songs if he’d pushed the boat out a bit more. I think John always took Paul’s influence into his songwriting, but I don’t know if it was reciprocal.
CD: The thing I don’t like about John is that he’s always held up as this paragon of peace and love, and war is over – but he’s full of shit! Take Imagine, for example – “Imagine no religion, imagine no possessions, blah blah blah” – but on the very same album, he’s got a track about Paul called How Do You Sleep? which is a really vicious song that tears strips off his best mate that he was in a band with for years.
Let’s talk about the post-Beatles stuff.
WF: Lennon’s first two solo albums are amazing. His last two, I don’t think they compare favourablywith any of his previous work, and I’ll admit that people brush over that fact. Having said that, what about Paul’s Christmas song?
Wonderful Christmastime? A classic!
WF: Noooo! I hate it so much. It’s one of my most hated Christmas songs of all time. Compared to Lennon’s Christmas song? C’mon . . .
CD: No way. War is Over? What the hell has that got to do with Christmas?
WF: Because that would be the best Christmas present ever! (laughs)
CD: Christmas is about opening your Scalextric under your Christmas tree in your pyjamas, not about bloody watching footage of Vietnam!
Let’s talk about Yoko Ono. . .
WF: Oh, no . . . I was hoping you wouldn’t bring that up (laughs). It’s hard to defend John with some of that stuff, really. Myself and Conor are both in bands and I’m sure he’d say the same; if I was playing with my band and one of them said “Yeah, I just brought down my girlfriend – she’s just gonna sit here all the time”, I can’t imagine it going down too well. At the same time, I don’t think John could have continued doing The Beatles at that stage, if he hadn’t had her around. I think he would have just left. Anyway, I don’t know if Yoko was as bad as Linda got with Wings – dancing around the stage with a tambourine in a baggy jumper and preaching to everyone? At least Yoko was pretty quiet. Apart from her singing.