Monday, April 18, 2011

The Left and the Right assess "Taxman"

"George Harrison and the Taxman," via Counterpunch. (Note: it's obvious that this piece wasn't carefully edited, but I still really enjoyed its detailed analysis of "Taxman.")

The opening count-off mocks itself: George Harrison’s voice is apparently slowed down by the tape and is heard with a nasal fustiness, as if he were counting money rather than launching one of the up-tempo album openers beloved and expected of the Beatles when Revolver was snapped up by eager fans in the summer of 1966. This count-off seems to to undo the Ancient Greek formulation that music is number in sound. Harrison’s vocalized numbers are precisely metronomic without being invested with the musical life we know as rhythm: the deadeningly accurate enunciations of the taxman are an accounting of time not an animation of it. It is a brilliant lead-in, simultaneously parodying the idea of the count-off while also creating a vision of the auditor, who seems to hover the rest of a song so resistant to his ways and wants. The tone has been set before a note is played or sung.

And from the Right: "What the Taxman Wrought", via National Review. (Note: the notion that lower taxes might have saved The Beatles strikes me as quite a reach. It discounts so many other factors.)

Klein was on a collision course with McCartney from day one. Klein’s laser focus on money often slighted artistic goals — witness the doctored Let It Be tapes, released without McCartney’s consent. McCartney, finding the prospect of continuing with Klein unacceptable, ultimately enraged the other Beatles by suing them to dissolve their partnership in 1970.

This story is widely known. But what often gets overlooked is the fact that without the potent tax dilemma, it is doubtful that the Apple group of companies would ever have been founded in the first place. In other words, no super tax, no Apple fiasco. No Apple fiasco, no Allen Klein. No Allen Klein, no lawsuit.

In fact, from beyond the grave, Lloyd George had forced the Beatles to spend more time figuring out how to shelter their wealth than making music. It is hard to believe that they would not have behaved more rationally, and stayed together longer as a working band, under a milder tax policy.

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