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Blog: Hornsey Road with Mark Lewisohn

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Saturday evening found me in London's glittering LONDON area of London, attending The Theatre for an Interesting Lecture. Why on earth I don't have a Society Column in a leading newspaper yet I do not know.

The lecture was called "Hornsey Road" and was given by Mr Mark Lewisohn, the legendary Beatles scholar who has written MOST of the GRATEST books about The Beatles by the simple expedient of doing some RESEARCH. What makes hims so GRATE is that whereas most people who write about The Beatles simply go back through the old press cuttings and/or other people's books, Mark Lewisohn actually goes and CHECKS and/or talks to people who were THERE. It's Primary Research baby, and it flipping WORKS - his book "Tune In" is FULL of incredible FACTS about the early years of the band before they were famous, including ASTONISHING revelations such as an entirely OTHER name ("The Japage Three") for the group that had never been reported before.

The only problem with this is that it takes FOREVER for him to write them - the second (of three) volumes is still YEARS away apparently, which he acknowledged when he came on stage by saying "Yes, I'm getting on with the next book" to much relieved laughter. One doesn't want to be CRUEL or anything, but looking around the audience when I arrived I realised that this must be a bit of a worry for a lot of them - if I hadn't bumped into Mr S Love on the way in I would have thought I was the youngest person there!

The show itself was FANTASTIC. He took us through "Abbey Road", in chronological order of when each song had been recorded, with a world class Powerpoint presentation. This involved a HUGE number of photographs that I'd never seen before, including some incredible ones of ALL The Beatles, also George Martin and a bloke from Manfred Mann, crowded round a GIGANTIC Moog synthesizer, taking turns to do overdubs on it. There were also some great ones of them working into studio, taken by Yoko from the bed and including her slippers at the bottom of the picture!

He played each song as a "remix", remixing the individual tracks (apparently HACKED from "Beatles Rock Band") and accentuating them variously throughout the song, so he drew attention to, for instance, the bass playing, then the backing vocals, then it all together and so on. This was MOST pertinent during "Oh Darling" when there was a bit with just Macca's vocals and the backing vocals which sounded AMAAAAZING, and drew a round of applause at the end from the crowd.

There were also rounds of applause for some of the INSANE research work, which isn't something that happens often. One of them was for his investigation into the identity of Mr Mustard from the song "Mean Mr Mustard". I don't want to reveal the FUN of it all, but suffice to say there really was a Mr Mustard who really DID shave in the dark, and Mark Lewisohn even had a suggestion as to how John Lennon found out about it. Even more impressive was a detailed map showing EXACTLY where John and Yoko went on their ill-fated motoring tour around the UK using data gleaned from reading local newspaper reports from around the country!

It was brilliant fun, but also VERY INSPIRING, and led me to be determined to get my actual hands on some actual comics for my own research. It'll be something to do while I wait for him to finish book two!

posted 1/10/2019 by MJ Hibbett

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