Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Ginger, Jack, Eric, "Econjohn" & Doug Kass
When Paul McCartney came up with the riff for "Get Back"--the Beatles' upbeat, second-to-last Number One single--the lyrics he kicked around during rehearsals were actually a harsh commentary on the growing wave of anti-immigration sentiment prevalent in the UK at that time.
"Get back to Pakistan, back where you belong," were the original lyrics, as heard on bootleg recordings of the "Let It Be" rehearsals, from which the song originated.
Polished up for release, however, the lyrics were sanitized to a vague, harmless image of "Jojo," a man who "thought he was a loner, but he knew it wouldn't last," and therefore "left his home in Tuscon, Arizona, for some California grass."
In other words, the kind of lyrics McCartney wrote while Lennon was off with Yoko doing primal scream therapy. ("Okay, Paul, whatever," as my daughter might say.)
If the Beatles were still together, I think Sir Paul might well be writing a new version of "Get Back," with an altogether different inspiration. This time, it is Eastern European immigrants that have sparked a fierce debate, as well as a surprisingly widespread dislike of Tony Blair and his government.
Racism is something nobody likes to acknowledge, and normally people talk about such things only in certain codes, especially to a stranger from America who happens to share a train seat or a cab ride. And I've been amazed at the deep-seated anger about the Blair government's policy towards immigrants who, to hear it from people at both ends of the economic and social scale, are coming in droves from Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Russia and elsewhere--taking benefits, jobs and opportunity away from regular upstanding Brits.
I make this observation not because I care who wins the election here on Thursday--I do not. Nor do I profess any sense of superiority being from America, where we have our own immigration debate.
But learning "something completely different," to cop an old Monty Python line, is always interesting.
And if Tony Blair's party loses its majority on Thursday--which absolutely nobody expects to happen--you can say, perhaps, "I read it here, first."
I Am Not Making This Up
P.S. The Cream concert was sensational. Ginger, Jack and Eric were in very good form--surprisingly good form, given the 30+ years since their last gig at Royal Albert Hall and the fact that they are in their 60's. The best part was they all liked playing together, and it came through in the music.
Both "Econjohn," who posted the correct response, and Doug Kass, my old friend and ace columnist/hedge fund manager/market maven, who emailed the answer, deserved to be included in the title of this post for correctly guessing the reason for my presence in London.
But, no, I am no "BSD," as "The Unknown Broker" would have it. I spent today touring the facilities of one of my largest investments, asking questions, taking notes...and answering a lot of questions about the concert last night.
Posted by Jeff Matthews at 1:13 PM