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And the musicians of the decade were … The Beatles and The King

Posted on 31 December 2009 | 6:12pm

Other than urging David Cameron to have as his New Year Resolution the promise to set out a detailed set of policies covering the major areas of national life – and meanwhile the Pig on Runway A is set for take off – and urging the British press to start scrutinising the Tories a tenth as much as they do Labour – that little piggy is waiting over on Runway B – I thought I would leave politics out of the last blog of the year.

Instead I would like to elaborate on the tweet I sent out last night after seeing Nowhere Boy, the story of John Lennon’s early years. Even the incredibly annoying noise coming from Avatar on the next screen through an evidently too thin wall – O2 Finchley Road please note – could not detract from a really good night out.

Aaron Johnson, who plays Lennon, and Thomas Sangster, who plays the young Paul McCartney, could have a job for life making movies about the various stages in the lives, careers and in John’s case, death, of these musical geniuses.

Lennon’s assassination, on December 8 1980, is one of those ‘remember where you were’ moments. I was in a car in Tavistock, Devon, and Fiona was driving us into the office of the Tavistock Times, where we were both trainee journalists. We had recently set up home together, and as the news came through from New York, I remember wondering if she would have cried as much if I had died.

She has always been a real Beatle fan. Indeed, when she wrote a piece about what life was like living with me when TB and Downing Street commanded so much of our every waking minute, she always listed as the highlight meeting Paul McCartney when he popped in one day for tea with fellow Scouser Cherie. She has not however gone as far as Burnley chief executive Paul Fletcher and his wife Sian, whose Christmas card was a collection of Beatles photos and albums covers, and who have identical Beatles tattoos on their backsides. I wish he would stop showing it to me mind you.

As I write this, I have Elvis on in the background, as I often do, and I was thrilled The King’s role in Lennon’s musical development was recognised in Nowhere Boy. I loved the bit where he basically wanted to be Elvis.

Our daughter Grace came with us last night, and it is fair to say both Elvis and The Beatles have captured the imagination of successive generations and are likely to do so forever. We just had a discussion about which of all the great musicians of our lifetime would become as established in global cultural history as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, or even Shakespeare.

I’m going for The Beatles, and The King, who would have been 75 next week. Provided we still have a planet, our  grandchildren will be playing their music, and later on so will theirs, and every aspect of their remarkable lives will be the stuff of movie legend too. On that note, Happy New Year.

  • Harry Pearson

    Good New Year talking point I guess. I am a massive Stones fan but I accept they will probably not endure as long. What is for sure is that Britain should be really proud how many of the greats come from these shores. As to who comes first, Elvis or The Beatles, it is a tough call

  • Jeremy Mason

    Michael Jackson … though fair to say Elvis influenced him a fair bit. Not sure anyone this decade will endure that long, certainly not the manufactured lot of Cowellism consumerism. Love the fact you say you’re not writing about politics and put a nice size 13 into Cameron. Plenty more where that came from in the new year please

  • Cassie Hall

    We were just deciding whether to go see Nowhere Boy or Nine .. you’ve decided us … HNY

  • Georgie Kingman

    If you and Fiona have been together 30 years isn’t it time you made an honest woman of her? Or she made an honest man of you?

  • John Bentley

    We watched a DVD of The Queen over Christmas. Must be weird being played on screen. Really hard to get well known people right. Best I saw recently was the Johnny Cash film. Joauqium Phoenix should have got the Oscar. Don’t think Nowhere Boy is Oscar material but nice film and I agree about The King. 75 next week – thanks for that. Great fact

  • Oli Issakainen

    Is it goodbye to cuts and austerity? I have read that next year a new, more optimistic David Cameron is set to be unveiled. He really is a man with thousand faces! It shows that the Tories have no consistency in their policies, and lack overall direction and fundamental convictions.
    Jackie Ashley wrote in the Guardian that this election is not yet won or lost. In order to win a majority, the Tories need a huge swing. Nigel Farage has said that Ukip´s popularity might cost the Conservatives 50 seats and deprive them of the majority. Their poll lead is soft.
    Michael Portillo has written that the Tory vote is piled up in safe seats.
    The electoral system favours Labour. In 2005 Labour won with 35.3% of the vote.
    I saw you twice on TV at Goodison Park. As name-dropping is nothing new on this site, here is my effort at it. (I am not a name-dropper – the Queen told me not to drop names!). I have so far this season seen the following well-known people on TV at Turf Moor: Sir Bobby Charlton, Fabio Capello, David Moyes, George Burley, Gary Megson, Stan Ternent and Barry Kilby. At away games I have seen Paul Fletcher and Brendan Flood of Burnley FC people.
    Happy New Year to AC and his family, all regular readers and Burnley fans.

  • Robert Jackson

    To those amongst us listening to David Cameron’s protestations of the electoral mountain he and his party have to climb: I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the memoirs of Tory politicians written since May 1997 and, without fail with glee, have first read the entries for April 1997.

    The late Alan Clark pointed out that in the run up to the 1997 election the Tories lost sight of the numbers of people who wanted rid of them for too broad a spectrum of reasons (…paraphrased…).

    Before we get complacent about the possibility of Cameron losing the next election we need to think about which groups this government has managed to toss asunder since they all rose, en masse, with Labour and the Lib-Dems to boot the Tories out. Which are gone for good. Who will at best simply sit on their hands on polling day.

  • Joel Ramsay

    Happy New Year Alastair. My two wishes are 1. For me to get a chance to go live on national TV and expose Cameron and 2. Another Labour landslide like 1997 and 2001!!!

  • Alan Quinn

    Cameron’s full of hot air, his policies are as clear as the the dark side of the moon and it’s Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin who get my musical vote.

  • Charlie Reynolds

    I thought you might have done a piece on New Labour’s amazing decade. Closing the gap between the rich and poor. Abolishing boom and bust. Protecting our safety through legitimate and well planned wars. Re-establishing pride and trust in politics. Governing for the many not the few.

    I can see why you are sticking to a different kind of record.

    PS – looking forward to Labour setting out it’s plans for massive cuts. It seems that the media has given up on Labour and stopped questioning at all. Probably best – we don’t want further devaluation and a drop in our credit rating do we?

    Looking forward also to your evidence to Chilcot. Also to your old public school boy barrister boss Tony, although his pathetic attempt to get the big issue out of the way with Fern seems to have massively backfired. Shame – such good people you lot – pride of Britian!!!

  • Mark \’Elvis\’ Wright

    “Before Elvis there was nothing” – John Lennon

  • The Kestral

    On which cheek is Fletchers tatoo?