This time around on #askNat it looks like I have a couple questions from Brian Cornish. Brian did not give me his location but I don’t think that will keep me from getting his two questions answered. Brian’s first message goes like this:
I’m curious about the back cover of the Abbey Road album. Is there any background you can share about why the shot includes a ‘walk-by’ and where exactly is this block lettering located?
Okay Brian – fair enough. If I didn’t know better I’d say you were fishing for a discussion concerning the Paul McCartney “death clues.” I can almost smell these things ahead of time. I’ve heard and read of hundreds of these and many are quite a stretch. In fact it seems to me that nine times out of ten – if it is a discussion about the Abbey Road cover, this “death clue” topic is going to come out. In any event, I’ll start out here by just telling you what I know about the photo session, including a few details about the front cover.
The photographs used for both the front and back shots were taken by Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan on August 8, 1969. Prior to the shoot, Paul McCartney had sketched his ideas for the front cover on paper and explained his idea to the photographer. For the front cover shot the image chosen shows the four Beatles walking across the crosswalk just outside Abbey Road Studios. One bit of symbolism that has nothing to do with any sort of “clues” about Paul’s death is that the specific image used for the front cover shows The Beatles walking away from the studio where they had spent most of the past seven years. You may say it’s appropriate since this album’s sessions would be the last time the four of them would record together.
As for the back, Iain Macmillan took a photo of a tiled street sign that was located at the corner of Abbey Road and Alexandra Road. The sign has since been replaced and, in fact, the junction no longer exists since the road was removed as part of the development of the Abbey Road housing estate between Boundary Road and Belsize Road.
Brian also asks why a woman in a blue mini-skirt is walking by in the photo. Could it be that this is Jane Asher, Paul’s one-time fiancée, running from the scene of the alleged car crash that killed him in 1966? I’m just kidding there and couldn’t resist. The reason that someone is passing by in the photo is simply because they happened to be there when the photo was taken. The only further info would have to come from Iain Macmillan himself, but he died in 2006.
Okay now…on to Brian’s second question:
In all the “clues” about Paul’s death, I have never hear this one that I’ve always been curious about. In the song “Magical Mystery Tour,” when the chorus is sung for the second time and the car zooms by, if you listen closely, you can hear that it skids and crashes. No one seems to mention that one. What can you tell me about that “clue?”
Okay, that does it Brian. Now I KNOW you want to start up a “death clue” discussion. Well… What can I say here?
The funny thing is that Brian is not just imagining this. If you listen to the original stereo mix of “Magical Mystery Tour” at 0:47 seconds in you’ll hear what Brian is calling the car zooming by (actually that IS imagination, it’s really just a drum roll) and immediately afterwards, at 0:50 seconds, you hear a skidding/screeching type noise. The drum roll is apparent in the mono mix but not the screeching sound. Curiously, in the recently remastered BluRay/DVD Magical Mystery Tour film the drum roll and screeching sound are both completely mixed out. Using headphones, this screeching sound could very well pass for the sound of a car’s tires on pavement after a sudden slamming of the brakes. Something to think about…
The thing about these “death clues” on The Beatles albums and within the music is this – they are there if you are looking for them. Do I think the real Paul is dead and that he was replaced by an impostor? Of course not. Did The Beatles put little messages in their music and cover art from time to time to get people thinking crazy thoughts? Yes, I think so. Beatles will be Beatles.
A real discussion about the “death clues” is really beyond the scope of this post. Knowing what I already know about it, I realize that to do it justice would take an entire book, so I really don’t want to get into it here. For further info though I can recommend a book on the subject that has already been written. I read it myself a few years back and it is quite interesting in its own way, with literally hundreds of “death clues” listed and discussed in detail. If you are into this kind of thing, I’d say it’s well worth the $10 or so to get it. It’s by R. Gary Patterson and is called The Walrus Was Paul. I have a link below for reading more about it and ordering a copy for yourself if you like.
Thanks for two interesting questions Brian, wherever you happen to be. If anyone has anything to add – or if you want to have a “death clue” listing party – I invite you to do just that in the comments section below.
Thank you to everyone who has sent in their questions! Keep #askNat going by sending your questions to me in any of the following ways:
1) There is a designated form that you fill out right on the website where you can give your name, location, email address and submit your question. The form is right here and is the same form used to submit requests for BROWs (Beatles Rarity Of The Weeks), but modfied to do both BROW requests and #askNat questions.
2) If you are a Facebook user, you can submit your question right on TheBeatlesRarity FB wall at www.facebook.com/beatlesrarity. If you think about it, try to remember to flag your question with “#askNat”.
3) Similarly, if you are a Google+ user, you can submit your question on TheBeatlesRarity Google+ page at www.gplus.to/beatlesrarity. Google+ supports hashtag searchability so it will be helpful if you preface your question with “#askNat” here too.
4) For you Twitter users, www.twitter.com/beatlesrarity gets you to the right place. Post your question and be sure to add “#askNat” somewhere in the tweet.
Here are some links to Amazon to read more or purchase some of the music related to this post:
1) The Walrus Was Paul: The Great Beatle Death Clues – More than you’d ever want to know about the “Paul McCartney death clues” in the cover art and music of The Beatles.
2) Abbey Road (Remastered) 2009 stereo CD remaster of original 1969 album by The Beatles. Contains booklet with additional photos from August 8. 1969 photo shoot by Iain Macmillan.
3) Magical Mystery Tour – 2009 stereo remastered CD of original 1967 album. Contains the title track “Magical Mystery Tour” mentioned above.
4) Magical Mystery Tour [Blu-ray] 2012 stereo/5.1 remaster/remix of original 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles (DVD also available). Contains added scenes and lots of bonus material.