Monday, July 03, 2017

Here's a thing the Beatles didn't do very often

I was at the Chalke Valley History Festival this weekend, talking about Sgt Pepper with Giles Martin and Kevin Howlett.

These are two men who've heard more unreleased Beatles session tapes than anyone.

Over dinner beforehand I asked them to confirm what I had always suspected: that The Beatles didn't swear much.

Giles and Kevin thought about it and then said that the Beatles swore but only occasionally. When they did it was in extremis. It wasn't part of their standard flow.

That's one of those things which underlines just what a different the world of fifty years ago was.

Back then most of the swearing was done by men doing heavy work out of doors. It wouldn't have been heard in public or in a white collar environment. The EMI studios was a white collar environment.

If you were to eavesdrop on any bunch of people at work in 2017 on the other hand, from a band in the recording studio to people trying to fix an I.T. system,  I think you'd hear quite a lot of casual, even playful profanity.

I wonder when that started to change.


  1. I was too youngood for the mods and rockers wars. But I saw the highly sweary Quadrophenia film when it came out.
    'Did people really eff and jeff like that in '65?' I asked an ex-mod colleague.
    She replied, 'Did they fairycakes?'
    Or, no.

  2. When Lennon put out Working Class Hero in '71 it was one of the first times (maybe even the first time?) the F bomb had been dropped into pop culture. Twice.
    I can't imagine them just a handful of years earlier effing and jeffing with Uncle George Martin around. And Bernard Cribbins; EMI wouldn't have allowed it.

  3. Maybe Dandy Nichols and Gretchen Franklin summed it up with, "Just so natural, and still the same as they was before they was..." Loveable 'mop tops'?

  4. And no records had swear words on them. I can remember the naughty thrill of Money by Pink Floyd and bullshit but I can't remember any other swear words in song until Wayne County's If you don't want to F*** me, bay F*** off.

  5. I've just come across a fascinating conversation between Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, recorded by Ginsberg in San Francisco in December 1965. The most jarring thing about it is just how many times Dylan says "fuck".

  6. I remember seeing Suzi Quattro live in 1973 and being upset at the amount of swearing from a young lady!