Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Faces on the Sgt Pepper Cover, Continued: Carl Jung, Edgar Allan Poe, Fred Astaire, Richard Merkin



Paul McCartney’s father, Jim McCartney, fronted a ragtime jazz band when he was young. It was called Jim Mac’s Jazz band and Jim played trumpet. McCartney recalled in the Beatles Anthology documentary: "He'd played trumpet in a little jazz band when he was younger. I unearthed a photo in the Sixties, which someone in the family had given me, and there he is in front of a big bass drum. That gave us the idea for Sgt. Pepper: the Jimmy Mac Jazz Band."

Here is the photo:

That’s Jimmy Mac circled, 3rd from the right of the drum.

But Jimmy Mac was not only the inspiration for the cover.

When I’m 64 was one of the first songs McCartney wrote, when he was 16. It was basically a tune with some lyrics added, revised when his father turned 64 the year before Sgt Pepper. The song was played by the Beatles in their early days as a something to perform around a piano when their amplifiers broke down from overheating or the electricity went off. The lyrics were added to and tweaked for Sgt Pepper and was the first song recorded for the album.

Carl Jung:

Now you can see why Jung’s brow on the Sgt Pepper cover looks like that of Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It's because Jung has spectacles on his forehead.

  • Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961): Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. 
  • Jung’s work has been influential not only in psychiatry but also in anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy and religious studies. Jung was also an artist, craftsman and builder as well as a prolific writer. Many of his works were not published until after his death and some are still awaiting publication. 
  • Jung collaborated with the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, on psychology and Freud came to see Jung as his heir in that field. Jung’s inability to fully accept Freud’s dogma resulted in an acrimonious split which had historic as well as painful personal repercussions that have lasted to this day. 
  • Jung believed that a human being is inwardly whole, but that we lose touch with important parts of ourselves. The messages of our dreams and waking imagination, can put us in contact with, and reintegration of, our different parts. The goal of life is “individuation”, the process of coming to know, giving expression to, and harmonising the various components of the psyche. If we realize our uniqueness, we can undertake a process of individuation and tap into our true self. Each human being has a specific nature and calling which is uniquely his or her own, and unless these are fulfilled through a union of conscious and unconscious, the person can become sick. 
  • Jung believed that what passed for normality often was the very force which screwed up our personalities, that trying to be "normal" violates our inner nature. 
  • Like Freud, he believed that all products of the unconscious are symbolic and can be taken as guiding messages. What is the dream or fantasy leading the person toward? The unconscious will live, and will move us, whether we like it or not. 
  • Some Jungian thoughts: 
“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.” 

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” 

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” 

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” 

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” 
  • Gallery:
From left (front): Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung; (back): Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, and Sandor Ferenczi. Visit to Clark University in 909 for a series of 5 lectures. 
  • This is an opportunity to post these couple . . . 


Edgar Allan Poe:

  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849): American writer, editor, and literary critic, best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. 
  • Poe is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and American literature as a whole. Oone of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story, Poe is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career. 
  • He married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin, in 1836 and in 1845 published his poem "The Raven", an instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years after its publication. Poe died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849, at age 40; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents. 
  • The use of Poe’s picture on the Sgt Pepper cover in 1867 preceded a reference by John Lennon to Poe in I Am the Walrus later that year: 
"Elementary penguin singing Hari Krishna 
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe." 
  • It is hard to decipher a meaning to that partial lyric in that the whole song is a collection of nonsense lyrics. Lennon had received a letter from a pupil at Quarry Bank High School, which he had attended, telling him that the English master was making his class analyse Beatles' lyrics. Amused that a teacher was putting so much effort into understanding the Beatles' lyrics, he wrote I am the Walrus with deliberately confusing lyrics. Once finished, he stated "Let the fuckers work that one out." 

Poe published the first detective story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” before the word “detective” entered the English language and became the first American to invent a new literary genre. Even before most urban police forces had detectives on staff, Poe followed this with a series of precedent-setting mysteries including the first important treasure hunt mystery, the first comic detective story, the first locked-room mystery, and the first detective story based on a true crime. 
  • Gallery:
 1845 portrait by Samuel Stillman Osgood 

A portrait of Virginia Clemm Poe after her death. 

Fred Astaire:

  • Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz (1899 – 1987): American dancer, singer, actor, choreographer and television presenter. 
  • Astaire’s stage and subsequent film and television careers spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films and several television specials and issued numerous recordings. As a dancer, he is best remembered for his sense of rhythm, his perfectionism, and as the dancing partner and on-screen romantic interest of Ginger Rogers, with whom he co-starred in a series of ten Hollywood musicals. 
  • Astaire was ranked by the American Film Institute as the fifth greatest male star of Classic Hollywood cinema in 100 Years... 100 Stars. 
  • Gene Kelly, another star in filmed dance, said that "the history of dance on film begins with Astaire." 
  • According to Hollywood folklore, a screen test report on Astaire for RKO Radio Pictures, now lost along with the test, is reported to have read: "Can't sing. Can't act. Balding. Can dance a little." Astaire later clarified, insisting that the report had actually read: "Can't act. Slightly bald. Also dances." David O. Selznick, who had signed Astaire to RKO and commissioned the test, stated in a memo, "I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous that it comes through even on this wretched test." 
  • Astaire died from pneumonia on June 22, 1987, at the age of 88. Shortly before his death, Astaire said: "I didn't want to leave this world without knowing who my descendant was, thank you Michael"—referring to Michael Jackson. 
  • Gallery:
Adele and Fred Astaire. 
Adele and Fred were brother and sister who had a dancing act for vaudeville and later on Broadway.. It was Fred and Adele's mother who suggested that they change their name to "Astaire," as she felt "Austerlitz" sounded reminiscent of the name of a battle. Fred often wore a top hat to make him look taller. They split up when Adele married in 1932. 

Adele and Fred Astaire, 1921 

On the set of Dancing Lady with Joan Crawford, 1933 

Richard Merkin:

  • Richard Marshall Merkin (1938 – 2009): American painter, illustrator and arts educator. 
  • Merkin spent much of his career as a professional painter and illustrator creating narrative scenes romanticizing the post-World War I era that took place just before his birth. He had a special affinity for jazz and took a special delight in crafting colorful, abstract scenes of jazz bars and musicians. 
  • He was also known for his eccentric collecting habits and his elegant  fashion. 
  • Gallery: 

Some of Merkin’s workin’s . . .

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