The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Back In '64

Day off today. Finished a thing in the early hours, it’s now been accepted, approved, and I’m sure I will have forgotten about having written it in a few day’s time. I can never remember things about things I’ve written. I have to record over the memories whenever I’m writing something else, there isn’t the room. Still, it means when I do read things back, or listen, or whatever, they seem new again. And I get to laugh at my own jokes. Which I do a lot. This thing I’ve just written has an excruciating pun which I am desperately proud of. It makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Anyway, day off, and off to the National Portrait Gallery to look at their exhibition, Beatles to Bowie, a load of photos charting sixties pop music fashion. Basically, a few representative snaps of each of band or artist, year by year, interspersed with collections of magazine covers, record sleeves and so on.

What does it tell us? Firstly, that to be a pop star in the sixties, you really didn’t have to be good looking. I blame rationing; that’s why Gerry And The Pacemakers all looked forty even when they were only twenty. And secondly, it demonstrates, beyond doubt, that whatever the Beatles did, the Rolling Stones did six months later, rubbishly.

By concentrating solely on photographs, though, it gives a misleading impression of how record sleeves evolved during that era; there’s a whole history of graphic design missed out. And you could do a whole exhibition on the Beatles increasingly surreal photo sessions; from umbrellas to springs to bloodstained dolls.

After that, we visited Edward Keinholz’s Hoerengracht at the National Gallery, which was superb. Always been a fan of his walk-in installations ever since I saw the Beanery twenty years ago. I wrote a whole novel about it.

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