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Richard Brautigan was my favorite Beatle

Richard Brautigan recorded on Apple RecordsYou know you’re a Post- Baby Boomer when you had to learn that Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds was not an Elton John song. I remember being told by a nanny that you liked either the Monkeys or the Beatles. They broke up before I began listening to pop music. John became an activist, Paul was determined to return to commercial sounds, and George and Ringo faded to slackerdom, having ever only composed While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Octopus’s Garden between them, so I thought. I knew only the Beatles Red and White anthologies.

Barbara Bach and Got My Heart Set on You redeemed Ringo Starr fairly enough, and later I came to appreciate George Harrison. Actually later I heard Ravi Shankar liken Harrison’s exertions on the sitar to a monkey handling a violin, and we come full circle.

But before that was Handmade Films, Harrison’s project to finance Monty Python adventures, and something I’ve just come upon, recordings of my favorite post-beat writer Richard Brautigan. Someone at Apple Records, and I like to imagine it was George, approached RB about putting his poems on vinyl. Someone in the production process knew what to add to the poetry to please his fans. The tracks recorded Brautigan taking off his clothes, answering the phone, and brushing his teeth. I knew of the recordings, I didn’t know it was on Apple.

I came upon Richard Brautigan late too. In 1986 I read The Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar, and was pleased enough to imagine one day meeting him. It wasn’t until I was standing in the reference shelves of Penrose Library several years later, that I read a jacket liner which referenced Brautigan in the past tense. I was profoundly shattered that he lived no more, and I am still confused that a voice so lyrically optimistic could choose to commit suicide. I collected all his books but eventually lost a curiosity to read them.

Brautigan wrote: “All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds.”

He took his life two years before I encountered The Confederate General and Trout Fishing. There is something uniformly post-mortem about my generation.

Richard Brautigan is considered a beat writer, although he came on the scene a decade later. Which oddly leads me to mention my favorite of his, The Abortion.

One thought on “Richard Brautigan was my favorite Beatle

  1. I am also a huge Brautigan fan. Many of his writings are upbeat, but much darkness exists there as well. On a Beatles note, I discovered that the Brautigan spoken word album was actually to be released on an Apple sub label called Zapple (as Zapple #3), but did not come out on that label as the Beatles’ evil manager Allen Klein had shut the label down.
    A couple of other Beatles points:
    – “Got my mind set on you” is By Harrison.
    – Although Ringo’s songwriting list is fairly short, Harrison on the other hand wrote and recorded many songs as a Beatle. I think the fact that they had three writers is one of the elements that made them so successful.

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