One of my few claims to pop history is that I was at the Albert Hall’s Pop Proms in 1963 when the Beatles were number two on the bill. Topping the show that day was Del Shannon singing Swiss Maid.(link,ouch) With the screaming girls having eyes for only the Fab Four ,very much a changing of the guard moment.
This thought came back to me as I was leafing through “Revolution in the Head, The Beatles Records and the Sixties by Ian MacDonald.” Somewhere I had read that this was the best book ever written on pop music,and especially if you are interested in The Beatles this could well be true.(I got my copy from Abe Books.)
Basically there is a good intro essay and then a great description and reference work on every one of the 186 recordings they ever made. In the piece on I’m A Loser the influence of Dylan(as elsewhere) is looked at. The harder lyric is a testament to the folk/protest angle which Lennon picked up from Dylan. The Nobel prize winner picked up a more lyrical popular (and controversial) style from the Four.
Anyway on their 1964 US tour they all met up in Manhattan. Our boys drugs of choice were booze and amphetamines. Dylan offered to roll a joint. This was something unknown to the floppy heads. AS McCartney would later say “Till then we had been scotch and coke men.” Booze and speed gave way to cannabis and LSD and a whole new creative chapter .
So while the Beatles started on the long and winding road which led to Sergeant Pepper, Dylan prompted by the “ Beatles’ musical vitality returned to the rock and roll that motivated him as a teenager, the result being Bringing It All back Home, one of the decade’s most influential albums”.
Another chapter in the special relationship!