Sunday, November 9, 2008

Paul McCartney, R.I.P.

Paul McCartney is, of course, still among the living. But today marks the 42nd anniversary of his hoax death in a purported car accident. This event stood at the heart of the engrossing, even if positively batshit, "Paul is dead" urban legend that took shape in the late 1960s.

I can never get enough of its many details and hidden clues, however far-fetched and contradictory they may be. Like the symbolic album cover for Abbey Road, the loaded lyrics to "I Am the Walrus," the curious figure of Billy Shears, and the effect of playing various songs in reverse, etc. And these only skim the surface of all the intrigue, rumor-mongering, and absurdity that the theory entails. It's just too rich.

Here's one of the most comprehensive "death clue" guides that I've come across. Reading through its analysis is like watching and listening to the mysterious "X" character in JFK divulge his conspiratorial views to Jim Garrison during that fascinating but also lengthy, lengthy scene. When apparent coincidences, chance events, and precarious "facts" all seem to connect as part of a bigger picture, almost regardless of the context, it's a weirdly satisfying feeling.

However, I was somewhat surprised that the article's section on the cover of Abbey Road didn't include what I (falsely) presumed was the conventional interpretation of each Beatles' role: John as God (dressed in all white, with a flowing beard, and at the lead), Ringo as a pastor of some sort (in the black suit with a tie), Paul as the dead man (no shoes, out of step, cigarette in right hand, etc.), and George as the gravedigger (wearing the spartan, all-blue workingman's threads). During its buildup, the hoax evidently reached a point where even its agreed-upon sources of clues didn't elicit the same interpretation. I suppose that's only natural, but it's still indicative of the comically overeager search-for-proof which Paul's "death" inspired.

Also, here's Wikipedia's "Paul is dead" page.

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