Friday, May 8, 2009

Inferior manuscripts by dead Beatles come to light

Maybe the eyeglasses give it away - maybe not - but this is a bad sketch of John Lennon, executed by me and by my kid, Leyla Fern, who added the extremities when I wasn't looking.

Our bad sketch is modelled after an earlier work, not much better, in Lennon's own hand, sketched onto a piece of paper that also included a real rarity: something that John Lennon wrote that has not yet been published.

I didn't bother copying down the words, I recall, because they really weren't very interesting. No insult to the dead man. They are not all triples into the right field corner. Sometimes you hit a routine dribbler back to the mound.

The only reason I am publishing this inferior effort by Leyla and myself is because new light has been shed as of this morning on another C-list or D-list product by a dead former Beatle, the late and lamented George Harrison.

On the information IV-drip of Twitter this morning, I am told that "a previously unseen George Harrison lyric, found by author and collector Hunter Davies, goes on display at the British Library today (8 May 2009). Written in early 1967 when George was aged 23 or 24, the untitled song was penned at a time when The Beatles had stopped touring to spend more time in the studio to work on what would arguably become their most famous record, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

I know, that's more than 140 characters, all you can edge into a Twitter post. I like the Twitter posts that are links to longer stories. In the British Library press release, a well crafted artifact in its own right, complete with an audio component of the collector yarning about his find, Davies tells us that he saved many such discarded lyrics from the cleaning ladies at Abbey Road Studios.

Here is the text in question:

Im happy to say that its only a dream
when I come across people like you,
its only a dream and you make it obscene
with the things that you think and you do.
your so unaware of the pain that I bear
and jealous for what you cant do.
There's times when I feel that you haven't a hope
but I also know that isn't true.

The collector, Davis, says that George wrote this when he was a teenager. Kind of sounds like it.

According to Jamie Andrews, Head of Modern Literary Manuscripts at the British Library, this is now the only manuscript in George's hand in the collection of the national library.

Leyla and I sketched John Lennon's self-portrait, by the way, in that same space, a very beautiful new modern library facility. We were waiting for Peter F. Alexander, the biographer of Les Murray. I was putting the make on Peter to write an essay about Les' poem The Sydney Highrise Variations, which we are scoring this year.

He consented, and Peter's essay is now in the digital archive of Poetry Scores, awaiting us to finish and publish our score.

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