There are persistent rumors that the Beatles didn’t play their own instruments. I recall first hearing such in the 1980’s. Probably no way to every fully prove or disprove the rumors. One thing has always struck me about the Beatles – they stopped touring in 1965. The official reason was that it was a hassle and the stage equipment couldn’t reproduce the studio sound. I can understand the hassle part of it, but in 1967 Monterey Pop happened with Hendrix giving one of his best live performances. If Hendrix could do it, so could the Beatles. But they didn’t. Gigantic amounts of money were left on the table as any Beatles tour especially in the wake of Sgt Pepper’s would have been a monster of attendance.
And that gets me to thinking that maybe they weren’t all that good…and so the rumors of session musicians re-recording Beatles tracks after the boys went home for the day sound credible.
Don’t get me wrong: they had some very good things going on there. Some of the lyrics that they wrote are sublime. McCartney by accounts of other musicians is a top flight bass player. But everyone agrees that Ringo is a merely competent drummer while neither John nor George were very good guitar players. It could be that the difficulty of what was being produced from 1966 on simply stymied the Beatles‘ in any desire to tour and so expose their limited range of musical talent. Back then, a live performance required band members who could hit the notes precisely – they didn’t have the electronic tricks that allow modern live performances to go ahead even on the thinnest talent. And even very talented musicians like those in Rush used such tricks because, hey, there’s only three of them and if you wrote a song using six instruments at once, kinda hard to pull that off with just the three of you on stage.
I bring this up because it doesn’t matter and it also illustrates how a public face is manufactured in the modern world. We of a certain age all have a mental image of the Beatles…and some of it is probably true. But a lot of it is marketing. Lots and lots of marketing. Lots and lots, that is, of people spinning things for a certain effect.
And that brings me to my real point: they don’t just go it for rock stars. They do it for anyone they please. I was trolling through Netflix the other day looking for something that wouldn’t be actually bad to watch and up pops an ad for Mayor Pete. A bio-pic on Buttigieg. It looked nauseating because even from the few clips in the ad you could tell it was hagiography: what a wonderful guy! I bet in there are bits about his “struggle” growing up gay in Indiana (as if anyone cared) and his vision for America…which is cloudy as he was recently talking up racist roads while supplies piled up in ports. What are they doing? They are prepping him for 2028. Not 2024: that is Kamala’s. There’s a chance she gets so horribly unpopular that the Democrats opt for someone else, but absent a complete Team Pudding Brain meltdown, she’ll be the standard bearer in 2024. And they know she’s gonna lose. So, here’s Pete – the future! But, what a complete zero! From a well off family, he from infancy has been on The Track – the set of schools and accomplishments which are designed to provide credentials. He’s got his Kennedy prize, his degree and his Rhodes Scholarship. He’s been a product all along – and now they are trying to sell him to all of us.
But this is what we get, right? It is what we’ve gotten for a long time. It is how we got Bill Clinton and Barack Obama…and the Bushes. If you are favored by birth or the luck of who likes you, you get the process – you get to check off all the boxes and you get to rise ever higher. As long as you don’t upset the people guiding you along the path, your life is set. Only a very few of such will get to be President simply for space and time limitations…but all of them, rely on it, have that ambition. It is fed to them. They are called brilliant (they get awards that prove it!) and kind…and the MSM only speaks well of them. And they get to have absurd bio-pics made about their lives and they’ll get those cutesy interviews on daytime TV (Side note: in The Man in the High Castle – one of the few things worth watching on TV the past ten years, though it ended a little lame – the writers beautifully captured this in a scene where the wife of the Bad Guy gets such a TV spot and it is horrid cringe, on purpose…).
And it doesn’t matter how badly you screw up! Just like the packaged rock star will have things smoothed over, so, too, will you! David Bowie could go on a year long drug fueled bender where hundreds of people see him acting like a complete lunatic…and, hey, not a peep in the press about it while it was ongoing and only years later in some sort of retrospective is it brought up. Bowie was the product and the people who packaged him weren’t going to let something like massive drug use wreck the program. You’ll notice that the rock stars don’t often die of OD’s any longer…because they’ve got minders who make sure they don’t. Nobody is going to invest massive resources in another Hendrix, Joplin or Morrison again only to have it end with the product drowning in their own vomit. Someone like Buttigieg can louse things up six ways to Sunday (as, you know, he currently is with transportation) and that won’t matter. It’ll be smoothed over. He won’t be asked the difficult question which would expose the fact that Rhodes Scholarships are passed out on connections not smarts. The marketing program will continue…and if Buttigieg winds up as President and we then get to experience his complete incapacity on a nationwide scale, he’ll still be protected. After all, after he’s done destroying the nation in the White House he’s still useful for grifting book deals and providing a bit of star power.
Sure, every now and again someone on The Track has to be sacrificed for the greater good (ie, so the reality can continue be covered up as the proles are given a pre-selected victim to hate). Weinstein is the most recent example of this and he got it really bad in the form of a criminal prosecution. Former Governor Cuomo seems to be set to get that axe, as well: but you and I know how rare that is. Toobin is the more usual course: gets caught spanking the monkey on a Zoom call and in a couple months he’s back at it on CNN saying Trump is stupid (perhaps he is – but he wasn’t yanking the crank in a meeting, sport). Right now, former Senator Franken is rehabilitating his career. Doubt he’ll go for elective office again…but you can already see the future in that he’ll be back intoning solemnly how lousy we all are pretty quick.
Different careers have some slight differences in them for those on The Track, but its really all the same. For an Army officer hoping to be a general one day, getting the ticket punched as a combat vet is a crucial as the guy on the Tenure track to get published…that the combat might well have been a lost battle and the published article sub-literate drivel doesn’t matter. The Credential is “combat vet” or “published author”. The box has been checked…they are now absolutely better than everyone who hasn’t been in combat or published and they are just as good as the successful commander and the brilliant author. But, even better than that – if you’re on The Track, your credential is worth more than someone not on it. Your fellow Lt Colonel with his pesky ideas about combat readiness will be removed from the promotions list by those helping you along…and so his victory over the enemy will mean absolutely nothing while your bronze star for not getting more than 20 of your own soldiers killed will shine brightly.
Here’s the really bad news: we’re on the third or fourth generation of people selected for advancement based on wealth and/or connections. It has been happening since the 1950’s. Dolt A begat Dolt B who begat Dolt C…who really likes the cut of the jib of that intern who got the gig because his Mom is friends with the person passing them out. It is a huge negative feedback loop and each generation is worse than the previous because the one thing the incompetent can’t stand to have around them is someone competent. These people don’t look for someone better than themselves…they’re forever on the look out for the most mindlessly pliable person available. This is why things progressively suck…why even very basic things are being done badly. Why, you know, cargo is piling up in ports when we’ve were moving cargo easily just a few months ago and the guys in charge haven’t the foggiest notion of what to do.
We make our jokes about burning it all down – but in a real sense we must do it. Any random 100 people pulled in off the streets and placed in charge of, say, the FBI will better ensure criminals are caught and justice is done than the people currently in there. They can’t possibly do worse…and as they would go in with the mindset of catching bad guys and protecting the innocent, you’d actually get at least some of that…unlike now, when we get none of it. If we win in 2024, we have to top to bottom start getting rid of the credentialed incompetents. We have to: if we don’t, these idiots will destroy the country and then insist that China give them a medal for it.