Rating: PG-13, bordering on R for language and themes.
Summary: The conclusion of the elusive fifth Beatle's interview.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Beatles and this is about as AU as you can get. I have taken, many, many liberties, namely which that this involves a fictional "fifth" Beatle (who happens to be a female), so history (and certain dates) will very obviously be fudged with. This was a dream that I had for a week -- this wrote itself.
Note: This was too large to post in one entry, so it's been separated into two. The link to the second section of Part 5 is placed at the bottom.
As always, thank you so much to those of you who read and commented during my writing of this. Thank you for giving this a chance. I appreciate that so much.
“What happened, Liz? I know that you’ve said the beginning of the end started when Brian Epstein died, and have discussed the divisions that began to appear in the group – for example with the difficulty that George had getting either John or Paul to record his songs, but why did it become as acrimonious as it became? It wasn’t a very pretty ending was it?”
“Is the end of anythin’ ever pretty?” The sarcasm in my voice was obvious even to mine ears. “There was a lot of resentment at the end of it. I don’t have to go into the history of it; the others ‘ave talked about it to death, but to rehash things a bit, Paul wanted Linda’s brother to take over as our manager and the four of us didn’t – we wanted Allen Klein. As the sayin’ goes, that was the needle that broke the camel’s back.”
I was reminded of all those business meetings where we’d come face to face with the fact that what we’d imagined would be a brilliant project – Apple the mecca for artists – was goin’ to go down the shitter with us millions in debt if we didn’t get our acts together.
It was also ‘round this time that George Martin had mentioned me possibly doing a bit of soloist work with the London Philharmonic in the string quartet, and it was somethin’ I’d begin seriously considering. During the makin’ of Abbey Road I’d either stuck to the control room or me chair by the piano when we were back in Studio Two. I’d been on good terms with everyone for the most part whilst makin’ the LP, but the easiness of bein’ in the studio was long since gone. It wasn’t the chasm that had been so obvious in the documentary that would become Let It Be, but it was nothin’ like our early days.
There had been a few bright spots during those days, however. I remembered the time I’d been in the studio during a break very early on that last Summer we’d started recording, havin’ a smoke with both Paulie and Ringo, and George had come over guitar in hand and had sat on the piano bench across from me. John and Yoko had been sittin’ off on their own as they’d usually done. Paulie’d been chatting to both Ringo and me ‘bout a few things he was workin’ on, askin’ me if I could meet with George Martin to make a few orchestral arrangements – the usual, really.
“I’d really fancy a Rolls Royce Princess, Paulie. Can you write us one, please?” I’d asked a grin, referrin’ to John and Paul’s old way of ‘writing’ what they wanted – whether it be writing a song for a new car or swimming pool.
“Well since you’re askin’ so nicely, I might be disposed to throwing you a line or two. I’d be more disposed if you make a pot of tea and fried up eggs on toast.” He’d chuckled before he’d started talkin’ to George. Within minutes I’d head them talkin’ ‘bout the chord progression of a few songs in the works. “Play a bit of those measures you were tellin’ me about?” I’d overheard Paulie ask George; I’d been talkin’ to Ringo ‘bout what he wanted me to do for Octupus’s Garden, arms wrapped around my knees.
It obviously wasn’t uncommon for one of us to play bits and pieces of stuff we’d written for each other, and I’d long since tuned out the sound of a milieu of guitars while chattin’ with someone. But for whatever reason my ear’d been tuned into what George had started playin’ ‘bout ten seconds in. At first I hadn’t really paid the lyrics any mind, completely enveloped in the bluesy guitar chords, and focused on his fingers which moved over the guitar’s neck…and then I’d heard the warm, quiet way of “Somewhere in her smile/ She knows/ That I don’t need no other Lover / Something in her style that shows me / I don’t want to leave her now/ You know I believe in how” and it had made my heart clench as I remembered the rough time I’d given him after I’d lost our baby.
It wasn’t our way to be overly affectionate with one another ‘round other people, but I’d been unable to keep the smile on me face from covering the entire lower half of it as he kept playing. “That’s quite nice, George. Who’s it about?” I’d asked when he finished.
His smile was obvious, even through his thick beard. “Didn’t I tell you ‘bout the bird I keep in that flat ‘round the corner from here? Makes a mean jacket potato, she does!”
I’d laughed. “You best tell her to keep makin’ them spuds for you, if that’s the way to get decent music out of youse!”
George had laughed and ignoring Ringo and Paul, he’d come over to give us a kiss and a squeeze on the knee before headin’ back to his usual spot across the way. Watching our scenes in the video where we were walkin’ in our garden with our long dark hair, his arm tight ‘round my shoulder, still filled me with a warm sweetness.
“Who was the first to leave?” She asked me quickly.
I coughed. “John was the one to leave officially and not come back, I mean. George and Rings had left once or twice in the past; Ringo in ’68 and George at the beginning of ’69…but they’d come back. John didn’t. He didn’t make an announcement ‘bout it though.”
“That was Paul.” Nancy-the-reporter said matter-of-factly and I nodded.
“Yeah.” I coughed and helped meself to a bit of tea.
“Did Paul talk to you before he made the announcement to the media?”
I shrugged. “Somethin’ like that.”
“Is no point puttin’ it off, Liz.” He’d rung to tell me from the pub down the road from his farm in Scotland a week or so after my twenty-seventh. He’d sounded very tired but at the time I hadn’t had too much sympathy for what he was feelin’ – truthfully, what had kept me from setting the phone down on him then was that I knew it’d hurt our Dad if he got word of it.
“Do whatever you think you need to do.” I’d answered, knowin’ full well that he wasn’t askin’ me for my permission to do anything.
“I already know how things are goin’ to be with the others, Liz. You’re my family, kid.” Even to this day I could imagine him mussin’ his hair in worry.
“Yeah, I don’t need much remindin’ of that nowadays, Paul. Give me love to Linda and the girls. I’m off.” I’d set the phone down on him before he could answer, knowin’ full well that if I didn’t that I’d be likely to say something quite nasty that I knew would hurt him terribly, so I’d let it be. I’d only shrugged when George asked me about the phone call later on and he hadn’t pushed it since I figured he knew I’d tell him when I ready.
Paulie released his announcement on 10 April, and the next day I made the trip up to Kintyre. Neither he nor Linda’d been expectin’ me, so I hadn’t known what to expect when I arrived. I hadn’t spoken to Paul since hangin’ up on him. It’d been Linda who’d answered the door, holding my new baby niece Mary on her hip.
“It’s good to see you, Liz. Come in, come inside.” Linda’d said to before steppin’ forward to give me a tight hug, bein’ nothing but warm and inviting. She’d taken me to their kitchen.
“Where’s Paul?” I’d asked her eventually, surprised that she hadn’t asked me what the hell I was doin’ there the moment I arrived on their door. But as time would tell, that just wasn’t her way. She’d sat down, baby Mary in her lap, and let me make the tea.
“He’s in the back garden. He’ll be happy to see you, Liz.” Linda had told me and laughed when I made what I assumed to have been a disbelievin’ face. A few minutes later, cup in each hand, I headed out the back door towards where I could make out Paul sittin’ on a bench, bent over his guitar. He didn’t turn as I came nearer, probably assumin’ I was Linda or sommat.
“Fancy a cuppa, Paulie?” I’d asked and handed it to him within seconds of him lookin’ up at me. Me brother has forever been known as the P.R. man, and if I hadn’t known him like the back of my hand, I’d ‘ave thought things were right as rain with us, but I did know him, and I knew he was put out with me. Probably expectin’ me to ‘ave come all that way to spew forth whatever vitriol I’d may’ve felt with his announcement from the day before. George and I’d had to set the phones off their hooks by mid-day the previous day because of the amount of calls we’d received – it’d been unbearable for people like he and I.
He shrugged before setting it aside and immediately fitting his fingers ‘round the guitar’s neck, diggin’ into the frets. “It’s a long way from Oxfordshire.”
“Yeah, I know. Scoot will ya?” I’d taken a sip of tea while looking at him expectantly. He’d raised an eyebrow and did, even if a bit reluctantly. He didn’t saying anything, he just started playing a random diddy, actin’ like for all sense and purposes, as if my presence was no big deal, which it probably wasn’t. I think if anyone had come upon us, the last thing that would’ve crossed their heads was that me brother had effectively made an announcement that he was leaving the biggest fuckin’ band that had ever come out of Britain, and which I’d also been part of.
Paul didn’t say anything when I’d leaned over and kissed his temple and then had laid me head on his shoulder. “You’re lucky to be up here. One of the blessings of living in Scotland I gather.”
“It’s a great place.”
“I wouldn’t want you to be in London right now, anyhow.”
“That bad is it?” He’d asked, setting his guitar down on his lap. He’d rested his cheek on the top of me head. I laughed because I knew that he knew it was a stupid question.
“Nicht, not really. I mean considerin’ that they just found out that the best thing to come out of England since Cary Grant’s gone kaput, they’re handling it reasonably well.” I’d chuckled.
“Fancy that.” He’d answered, and expectedly, ran a hand through his thick dark hair and scratched his beard for good measure.
“I love you, Paulie. Nothin’ is ever going to change that, ‘right?” I’d turned to wrap both arms around him and squeezed him tight. Pulling back, I’d given him a bit of a cheeky grin before adding, “Now let’s stop being old women and play me a bit of what you’ve been working on.” He’d stood up, and leading me back to his little makeshift studio, played an advance copy of McCartney – which I’d given him a look over ‘Might self involved of you, Paulie’ – for me from start to finish.
I’d waltzed my laughing newly adopted niece Heather around the studio while Singalong Junk played in the background.
“What happened during the meeting you had with John before the documentary was released?” The reporter asked, returning to the topic we’d been on earlier. I gave a wee shake of my head, like before, meandering in my memories of years past.
“I’d gone ‘round to the flat he and Yoko were staying in. It was Yoko who answered the door; she’d been dressed all in white. ‘What may I help you with, Elizabeth?’ She had asked me. I’d told her that I needed to see John and she’d told me that he was sleeping but that I could wait in the sitting room if I wanted until he woke up. I must’ve sat in that sitting room for almost four hours before John came in. He and Yoko had been messing ‘round with heroin for a while at that point, so he was skin n’ bones. If you look at concert footage of him from the early days and compared it to how he looked in the late ’69 you can see how skinny he got.
‘What’s going on, Liz?’ He had asked. I knew that my being there wasn’t the most welcome thing, but he hadn’t thrown me out, which I guess must’ve counted for something –“
“Were very worried about meeting up with him?”
“Yes and no I s’ppose. I don’t have to elaborate on how angry everyone was with Paul. Within days of his announcement that he was quittin’ the band, all while wanting to throttle the lot of ‘em on one hand and gettin’ fed up with all the bullshit, I’d seen ‘em both alone and told ‘em that I wasn’t going to take sides. ‘Specially with John. He was the kind of person who would cut people out of his life at the drop of a hat, or at least gave the appearance of it. Despite what had happened at Apple and the demise of the band, Paul was still me brother, me family. I’d told John that and that though he wasn’t me blood, that I considered him me brother too.”
“How did John respond when he saw that you’d been waiting him for four hours in his sitting room?”
“He hadn’t know what was going on, but I needed to be honest. I don’t hate Yoko, you see, I never have. What I said may give the impression otherwise, but I didn’t. He wasn’t blind – he’d been there after all, so he knew how things were during the recording of that album. I explained to John that I’d been put off by Yoko always being at the studio, and apologised for what was said between Paul and me in front of those camera scruffs. At the end of it, I wasn’t too fussed by what the rest of the world might’ve thought about things.”
To this day I remembered sitting across from John. His hair had been a long matted nest of brown hair and the bottom half of his face had been shrouded in a thick straggly beard, wire rimmed glasses on the brim of his nose. I’d been both surprised and relieved that Yoko had left us alone for a bit. She’d obviously known that what I needed to talk to him about wasn’t goin’ to be easy and having her there would make it harder.
“What did he say?”
“He wasn’t happy with it. Though he didn’t come and say it, I know it hurt him to know about it, but I think my going to talk to him about it, being straight up about what I said, despite my reasons for it, helped a bit.” That was putting it mildly. There were certain things that I was deliberately withholding from the reporter. John had been pretty vocal about the fact that he could be an asshole, but I didn’t want to get full into how he’d called me a cunt when I’d laid it out there. I don’t think the reporter could’ve begun to understand the complexity that was John Lennon. I didn’t think she could fully understand that John always lashed out the hardest at the people he loved. I wasn’t Paul – which as time would show he’d been the closest to – but I knew that I had been capable to hurting him, though he’d deny it to his last breath like the coward we both knew he was.
So be as it might’ve been, I’d stuck around while he did everything but tell me to get the hell out of his home. John as I’ve said before, talked a lot of shit. He was fully capable of saying things that felt like someone was stabbing you in the heart, and it wasn’t long before he’d started going on about George and me.
I’d known that my marriage was something he felt he could throw into this, but I was quick to let him know, “You’re graspin’ for straws, mate. I didn’t rub me marriage in everyone’s face like you did with Yoko, man. What happened with you and Cyn isn’t any of me business, so me and George ain’t any of yours. I came to apologise in person for what I said – I should’ve watched me gob about Yoko, that’s true, so stop being a snot-nosed kid about it. I am sorry, but I’m not going to let you keep insulting me.”
I’d left the flat shortly after that, with John barely looking at me when I’d walked out. I’d been surprised when he’d come ‘round to our new house in Oxfordshire, a former nunnery called Friar Park, a month later with Julian and Yoko for tea. As I’d later found out, George had run into him at Apple a few days earlier and had invited him to drop by. John hadn’t looked too happy with me when I’d asked Julian how his Mum was doing, but by that point I’d been tired of tiptoeing around it everyone did, so I’d ignored it and told him to put the kettle on. John had done so despite Yoko’s silence, and it seemed as if our friendship was back to normal.
“So after that documentary was released, and all of that was out in the open, how did the breakup of the band affect your relationship with the others?” She continued to delve. I recognised that she was asking me almost forty years’ worth of questions.
“Well, there was bitterness there at the beginning. What made it difficult for a while was that the other three were so angry with Paul; for fuck’s sake, I was put off him for a bit there too. He was suing us to get out of the band – it was an abysmal time. But he was me family – I couldn’t just give up on him like that. Our Dad couldn’t have standed it for one.”
I was still reminded of phone call I’d received the morning that Paul’s announcement had hit the papers; it had been our Dad, and which had contributed to my on the fly visit up north the following day. “Liz girl, he’s your brother. If your Mum was still alive it would break her heart if you and Paulie turned your backs on each other.”
“I know as well as you do how fuckin’ unbearable the great man can be at times, but you can’t cut ‘im off, Lizzy. Dad’s gettin’ on these days and you and Paulie goin’ at it won’t help, kid.” Mike had told me over dinner a few days after my return from Kintyre. I’d sighed, but had known that I more than anyone else, had to keep these things in mind. Family could be such a tricky business.
“Did your standing beside Paul when that was going on affect your marriage in any way?”
I stopped to consider that before answering. “It could have, yes, but it didn’t really. I knew when it came down to it, George and Paul would be alright, and I didn’t really have to worry too much about Ringo because it wasn’t his way to give up on the people he cared about. It would be years before John and Paul could talk to each other without any sort of mutual anger or whatever. They’re the ones who had the hardest time of it. But that’s fairly well known, I don’t think I have to go into that too much.”
“What did you think when you found out that John had written How Do You Sleep? Did he play it for you?”
“John came to see George and had asked him to play on his album. George and I went down to their ‘ouse during the time he was making Imagine and that’s where I heard it for the first time.”
“Were you angry?”
I laughed before settling back once more into my chair. “You know, looking back I can see the humour in the situation that I couldn’t see then. We were all sittin’ in their kitchen and John turned to me and said, ‘I want you to hear what I’ve been working on.’ He’d been smiling all mischievous like, you know, like he’d done something really naughty but wanted me to know about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we all went off to his home studio where he was gonna record it and then they started playing it.” I smiled, remembering how I’d wanted to knock John to the floor, but knowing how much you’d enjoy that. “I just remember sitting there, listenin’ to it, and thinkin’ to meself – ‘You wankers are going to be the death of me!’”
The reporter laughed, “Did you have any choice words afterwards?”
“I just nodded a bit and that was that. I didn’t think that I needed to say anything to either of ‘em. John was very curious about what I had to say though, so I just told him to keep me out of his pissin’ contest with Paul, and I’d said the same thing to Paul when he writin’ the material for Ram. They both knew that I wasn’t goin’ to get involved in what was going on with ‘em though they tried. Y’see I knew that eventually they’d move past their anger with each other, but it would be years yet.”
“You didn’t wait around to tell George off?” The reporter laughed good-naturedly.
“George knew how I felt about everything, just like I knew how he felt. He and Paul were on speaking terms, ‘cos of me probably, but I knew that there was anger there. He’d been in the band since ‘round the time that Paul joined, so if anyone was going to have the harder time it was going to be those three and that’s how it was. I couldn’t be angry with George for feeling how he felt. I understood.”
“You know Liz, you said something earlier that struck me. You said that you weren’t a very nice person in those days.”
“I wasn’t, I’m still not. Don’t let the grey hairs and wrinkles fool you.”
“Yet you were able to maintain your neutrality during those early days of the breakup of the band. You were able to maintain a relationship with your brother, John, and Ringo and your marriage was able to survive despite the fact that you were both in the band. I think you’re underestimating yourself!”
“It wasn’t neutrality so much as knowing that it would blow over in time. I was involved in the lawsuit just like they were, but I needed to try and see the bigger picture. Appearing in a court of law, with barristers and all that, with both me husband, older brother, and two lads I considered closer than brothers wasn’t what I ever thought I’d do, but to break the band up, it’s what we needed to do. The Beatles was one part of my life – an incredible part of my life, but it’s not the whole story.”
“The guys are main characters of that story.”
“ ‘Course they are. I know that I was in one of the luckiest positions in the world. I had the chance to be in a band with some of the best musicians that ever lived and that we made music that millions of people have loved and continue to love. Not everyone can say that.”
“How did your life change following the breakup?”
“ ‘Cor, it’s been almost forty years since the end of it, most of me life’s gone and changed since the breakup!” I chuckled and helped myself to more tea. “After The Beatles, I decided to take it easy, I guess. Not give up on music or anything, but just take my time with things. I had children for one.”
When I found out I was pregnant towards the end of that summer, it’d only been days after we’d flown back to England after the concert he’d organised in New York with Ravi Shankar to raise money to help the people of Bangladesh, I remembered that I’d felt a mixture of anxiety and relief. I hadn’t known if I’d ever be able to have a child. George and I’d been married for almost five years and other than the miscarriage from almost three years before, that had only been the second time I’d been pregnant. Despite everythin’ in me to keep it from George until I was at least past nearin’ the end of my first trimester, I’d told him that evenin’ after my visit with the G.P.
Like the last time, the smile that’d covered his face had been near to blindin’. I can almost imagine how bloody frightened I must have looked when I’d sat him down, and I can only imagine the thoughts that may’ve been runnin’ through his head when I’d turned said to him so serious-like, “George, there’s something I need to talk to you ‘bout. It’s important.” Until
I finally laid it out, I could’ve only imagined what he thought was goin’ on.
Like before, he’d sprung up, and had his arms tight ‘round me within seconds. “Lizzy, my God Lizzy. My sweet, sweet girl. It’ll be fine – better than fine, it’ll be perfect this time ‘round, luv. We’re havin’ our baby, Lizzy.” He’d pulled me back, and he’d looked so bleeding happy...so bleeding chuffed as he said while he’d moved my hair from the front of my face, “I still can’t wait to see what you look like when you’re the size of a ‘ouse!”
And mind you, his words had been prophetic – I’d grown to be the size of a house and was tortured relentlessly by the others, ‘specially John who’d broken into a fit of maniacal laughter when George and I’d come to New York during my seventh month. “Now who’s the one that challenged the fat lady down the road and won, eh?” He’d given me a one-armed hug, seein’ as he didn’t think he could get his arms ‘round my big fat belly.
Our son Sam, or rather, Samuel Peter Harrison, was born on 20th March 1972. To this day I could remember bein’ so bloody tired, hurtin’ so bloody much, and then all of a sudden hearin’ our baby cry for the first time as his little body was placed on my chest. It’d been one of the most beautiful moments in my entire life. When I’d woken up a few hours later it’d been to the sight of George holdin’ the baby – one hand under his small cap covered head, and the other cradling his back. I’d watched him starin’ at our baby for a few minutes before I’d asked, “Somethin’ wrong with ‘im then? Should we send him back with a card marked ‘defective merchandise’ written on it?” I’d asked doin’ my best to sound quite serious when I was still doped up on pain medication.
“He’s bloody perfect, Liz. Bloody marvellous really!” And when he’d smiled at me, I’d known that he meant it more than anything he’d ever said. It’s mad to think of things in certain ways, but George and I’d been friends together, then Beatles together, then married together, and finally became parents to a perfectly beautiful son together. Even for someone who could be a bit oblivious about those sort of things, it was humbling to realise all that we’d experienced together, he and I.
“You and George had four children together – Sam, Louise, Meg, and Dhani – what impact did that have on you?” The reporter asked.
I looked at her a bit quizzically before answering. “You have children don’t you? Having kids changes everything – it’s not just ‘bout you anymore, you know? There are these little people depending on you for every little thing, and ‘you’ have to take a back seat for a while. Having kids is equally the best and most difficult thing to ever happen to me...as the sayin’ goes, kids don’t come with instruction books, so you have to learn how to be a parent along the way.”
“Which of your children would you say is the most like you...the most like George?”
I laughed quietly. “They all have bits and pieces of the both of us, even some things ‘bout us that we may’ve wished they wouldn’t get along the way! Of the four, I’d say that Sam’s the most like me; we tend to get fussed over similar things, and bless him, he looks too much like Paul for his own comfort!”
“I never imagined I’d have the spittin’ image of Paul for a son, ya know.” George had said to me during one of our vacations to the Virgin Islands. The kids had been building a sand castle on the beach. “Well at least we won’t have to worry ‘bout him ever pullin’ a bird or two, with his pretty face and all.” We’d shared a laugh over it.
“With Paulie’s mile long eye lashes, and your smile, how could he not?” I’d winked before tugging my wide brimmed hat further down my head.
“Louise is the most like George in character, I s’ppose, though Dhani’s the most like him physically.” I finished answering Nancy-the-reporter’s question.
“Other than having children, how else did your life change following the break up of the band?” She continued, drinking a bit more coffee.
“It just slowed down a bit, I guess. I went ‘bout my daily life, really, it just wasn’t as crazy as it was when I was still in The Beatles.”
“Did you never have the inclination to start or join another band, Liz?”
“No, not really. Music was always there if I wanted it. After the band split up, I was able to play music when I wanted to, and to not play when I didn’t want to – simple as that. There was no one pushin’ me to do anythin’ if I didn’t want to. It was really lovely, actually.”
“I have it that George Martin introduced you to the director of the London Symphony Orchestra and that this gentleman invited you to perform as a soloist for a few performances. How would you compare the experience of being in a rock band like The Beatles, to performing as a cellist in an orchestra?”
“They’re two completely different things, being in The Beatles for almost ten years, to playing classical music with an orchestra. It’s as different as day and night in some regards. The similarities come down to the fact that I was able to play the cello in both scenarios and look back fondly on both. As I said, when it came down to it, after the band split up, I was able to play music when I wanted and not play if I didn’t want to. That was a nice thing to have in the 70s; our family was growin’, and I really just wanted to be a mum.
Bein’ asked to join The Beatles was a once in a lifetime sort of thing – I think if it had come down to havin’ to pick between me and another bloke to take Stu’s old spot, if he’d gotten on well with the lads, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. Havin’ been as ambitious as I was when I was eighteen and joined up, I didn’t imagine I’d ever wanting to stop playing or makin’ music to settle down and have a family, but after I had my first babe, I wanted to enjoy it. I know that I don’t have to tell you how it went down with John and Julian during the heyday of Beatlemania. I didn’t want to go through that with my own kids so I made a choice to spend as much time with ‘em as I could.”
“Did you perform on the albums of the other four during those years?”
I laughed, “I played on most of ‘em! It’d always been musically stimulating to play music with the four of ‘em, I just needed a break from The Beatles mold for a while, but was always willin’ to help out if they asked. Most of the time anyway.”
“I’m sure they were happy to have you!” The reporter grinned.
“Probably doin’ it out of what they thought was the kindness of their hearts more like.” I said with a bit of a wry smile. During the 70s, I’d flown all over the world at one time or another to play on one of their LPs. Be it goin’ to L.A. to work with John on Walls and Bridges, or travellin’ down to Nigeria when Paulie asked me to come help in layin’ down a few tracks on Band on the Run. It’d been great fun for the most part, gettin’ back into the studio with all of ‘em, doin’ something together that we’d known more than loved to do – we needed to do it.
What’d made it especially grand was that it felt so comfortable to play music with all of ‘em again – with John, Ringo, and Paulie I mean – and that included gettin’ back to telling each other off if we had a problem with each other’s playing. I’d known that we must’ve looked quite naff sittin’ huddled over our instruments together, barely havin’ to exchange a word, it only bein’ enough to give each other a look or even hear the way they were playin’ a note to know how they were wantin’ to play something.
It was almost like ridin’ a bicycle: you knew what to do when you got back on all instinctively like. That’s how it was whenever more than one of us got into the same room – it flowed together as naturally as it could after havin’ played together for nine years in my case, and thirteen/fourteen in John, Paul, and George’s.
“You priorities changed when The Beatles ended, wouldn’t you say?” The reporter asked, once again leanin’ towards me with an inquisitive, searchin’ look on her face.
“Of course, they had to. It wasn’t the early days anymore where the only things that mattered to me – to any of us – was to play music, make it big. I know it sounds naff to admit it, but we grew up. I know for me, music was still a huge part of my life and it always will be, but your priorities can’t help but change, and drastically mind, when you have these wee babies dependin’ on you to lead them through the world. John and Richie both had kids durin’ the craziness of those early days, and it wasn’t easy. It was rough for both of ‘em to be Beatle John and Beatle Richie while bein’ husbands and fathers, ya know? I can’t speak for anyone else, but after that, I wanted to slow down a wee bit. I wanted to actually enjoy what I’d busted my arse for, and I wanted to know my kids.”
The reporter didn’t respond for a few minutes at least, and I heard the quiet hum and then eventual click of her tape recorder. Givin’ me a slight smile, she withdrew it, and replaced it. I coughed, somehow havin’ neglected to measure out the time she and I’d been chattin’ my how quickly I was fillin’ up those tapes! I almost chuckled when I thought ‘bout the time that she or one of her assistants (as most reporters like her were wont to have probably) would have gettin’ through what may’ve been hours of me just ramblin’ on and on about decades ago.
Well I couldn’t feel too sorry for her, she’s the one who’d somehow gotten it into her head that I’d be an interestin’ subject for an article.
“Were you ever asked to go on tour with any of them, Liz?” She asked me once she’d started recording again.
I shrugged. “Paul’s asked once or twice over the years, but I preferred not to. After the last tour we did as The Beatles in ’66, I no longer had a desire to go on stage to a crowd of screamin’ kids. That was the nice thing about performing those few times with the London Symphony was that the people who came to see us were too civilised-like to start screamin’ the moment I came on stage – not that those birds who came to The Beatles shows were screamin’ over me, but you know what I mean.
George was about as fond of the idea of tourin’ as I was, otherwise there may’ve been a chance the kids and I’d have been like Linda and Heather, Mary, Stella and then James. The press’d probably say that the Maccas were startin’ a trend.” I grinned as I imagined me and George goin’ all over the world in that decade followin’ the end of our former partnership with three other people with four kids under the age of 8 – Sam bein’ born in ’72, Louise in ’74, Meg in ’76, and then finally my wee baby Dhani in ’78.
“Is Dhani the only one of your children who is musically inclined?”
“The four of ‘em have always been surrounded by music, and even Dhani will tell you that he did all he could to not pursue it, because of whatever box he may have been put it just by nature of bein’ the kid of George Harrison and Liz McCartney. But sometimes, though, you just have to go with it if that’s what you’re meant to do.”
“Do they have an idea of just how good a musician you are, Liz?” Nancy-the-reporter asked, and I broke into a fit of laughter because the idea of it was bloody ridiculous.
“Of course they do. Had to write it on pieces of paper a hundred times over every mornin’ before breakfast they did!” I stopped to refill my cup. Somehow along the way we’d fallen into a pattern of some kind where even in moments of sayin’ nothin’, the conversation was still progressing.
“You really don’t believe all your hype, do you?”
“No, I don’t.” I answered truthfully. “Like I said, I was just someone who was given the chance to do something that they loved. It’s great that people still like the music I made with my former bandmates during my youth, but really, I wouldn’t call myself anything special. The day I start believin’ ‘my own hype’ as you call it is the day I stop bein’ meself, and I’d never want to do that.”
She rubbed her fingers over a few pieces of paper that I’d somehow neglected to see that she’d taken out at some point, lookin’ at me evenly and like before, with that continued curiosity. “The bulk of this interview has been about your days in The Beatles. I’m sure as both Paul and Ringo, the only two other remaining Beatles can attest to, the fascination that the public seems to have with all of you seems to grow and grow over time rather than lessening. Though you haven’t given a major interview in over forty years, you must’ve kept up with the media and all the times that the other four would get asked ‘Is there a chance you will ever get together again?’ Is that a reason, do you think that you’ve neglected to be a public figure like your brother and Ringo are now, and John was for a while, so that you wouldn’t constantly be badgered with questions like that, with comparisons to your old work?”
“Ya nailed in on the head, Nancy! The people that love our music are great, but I’m sure it got to be a lot to never escape that inevitable question. Change happens, and as the others have said, they couldn’t stay moptops forever – just no way.”
“Have you ever read anything your former bandmates would say about you?”
“Well you hear bits and pieces, but I wouldn’t pick up magazines they’d been interviewed in to look for what they’d say about me, no.” I settled back into my chair, and crossed a leg comfortably over the other.
“A few years before John died, he was interviewed by Playboy and he was talked about many thing, included among them, his relationship with you, your involvement with the band,
etcetra. Would you mind if I read you a bit of what he said?”
I expected candidness if nothing else. I nodded, “No, not all.” I became incredibly aware of the soft hum of the tape then.
She withdrew a pair of wire-rimmed specs from her bag, and givin’ a quick, efficient tap of the papers in front of her, she started readin'.
So I handed my guitar to her, wanting to put her in her place ‘cause birds didn’t play rock n’ roll. Next thing I knew, she was playing the bloody thing. I guess I expected her to be shit, but she wasn’t. Paul then decides to mention a while later ‘Oh yeah mate, me sister plays the cello almost every day’. I didn’t know what to think. No one I knew would admit to anything so fuckin’ posh, ya know? So I said to Paul, ‘It would be a great laugh to hear it’ and then next thing I knew, we were off to some old teacher’s house to hear her play.
She was good. There’s no way of getting around that. Lizzy Macca is a bloody good musician. She’s one of those guitarists who has a way with the guitar that many don't. There’s no point goin’ about her cello and violin playin’ skills. That’s why I asked her to join my band, because she was too good not to ask. No other bird but her would’ve ever come close, but if I wanted my band to be the greatest, the biggest, I needed to set aside whatever fucking reservations I had with taking a girl into my group, and just go with it. She was better than most of the blokes we'd tried out, and by nature of that, she got in.”
I nodded, not too sure of what else I could or should do ‘bout that. I would've expected nothin' less than candidness from John Lennon, if anythin' else.
“Your being a Beatle was made a big deal of because you were a female, but over the years, both John and Paul did say that the reason you were asked to join – even with being Paul’s younger sister --- was because you were a gifted musician. There must have been a lot of mutual respect between all of you for the work that you came up with in the years following the split wouldn’t you agree?” She continued.
“Yeah, of course. I’ve always had a lot of respect for the work that they did. They accomplished a lot, and that should be congratulated.”
“Many people have considered Double Fantasy to be the best album that John made as a solo artist. You played on the guitar on the first song from the album. Did you have any idea that that album would be the last John would ever release?”
“Of course not. There was no way of knowin’ something like that.”
“Where were you when you found out he died?”
Continue onto Part 5(2)