For added fun, continue adding “…while high,” to every milestone you can think of.  You’d be surprised at how often it applies!

Part of the difficulty of this strip was narrowing down the list of milestones to celebrate.  Sure, it’s easy to celebrate the major stuff – the final concert (…while high), the “bigger than Jesus” interview (…while high), the release of Rubber Soul, Revolver, and so on (…while high).

The last few years have seen some pretty great reissues and remasters, not just of the music, but of the Beatles’ movies and other ephemera. And the next few years are only going to bring more; it’s going to be a great decade to be a Beatles fan.  As someone whose early development was informed by seeing Yellow Submarine on TV at age 3, it was a treat to get to see it in a theater, digitally restored and looking amazing, with Mowrer, Christian, and Christian’s 4 year-old daughter  (she loved Ringo.  Kids always love Ringo).

And it was a…different kind of treat, getting to see Magical Mystery Tour in a theater, in advance of the blu-ray release.  Obsessive completist that I am, I found MMT online a few years ago, so unlike most of the rest of the audience, I had appropriately lowered expectations.  The best part, besides I Am The Walrus,” was the audible titter as most of the audience realized where the band Death Cab For Cutie got their name.

That moment when you realize you took the brown acid

It’s because I’m that obsessive completist that the stuff  want to see is much less likely to get rereleased.  Exhibit A: The Beatles cartoon.

The cartoons created an awkward situation for King Features Syndicate, who were almost certainly imagining a long run of innocent romps and “yeah yeah yeah” hits, at a time when the band were moving into increasingly complex musical territory.  Try making a kiddie cartoon out of a song like “Tomorrow Never Knows,” with its imagery from the Tibetan Book Of The Dead, or something like “Run For Your Life,” in which John rather hypocritically declares, “I’d rather see you dead little girl than to be with another man.”

Even more than the Beatles’ movies, the cartoons can be seen as a template for The Monkees; comedic premise, romp, song, resolution.  The difference was the cartoons were shorter – a half-hour episode would feature two seven-minute cartoons, plus a couple of singalongs – and based more directly on the featured songs.  That would lead to either some incredibly on-the-nose situations (“you see, kids, Old Lady Rigby’s not mean, she’s just one of the lonely people”), or weirdly abstracted ones like…well, see for yourself (warning: cheerful 60s racism ahead).

The show featured some fine voice work by the legendary Paul Frees, even if he did make the bewildering choice to play George as Peter Lorre.  The show ended in 1967, right about the time the Beatles definitively broke from the suited, clean-shaven moptops their TV avatars represented.  But King wasn’t quite done with the Beatles yet – they went on to produce Yellow Submarine.  So that worked out.

At some point, Let It Be became The Beatles’ Song Of The South; it’s an excellent movie, but it presents a version of The Beatles that just doesn’t fit with the image they want to present.  John and George had basically checked out – George was tired of being marginalized, and was itching to go solo, while John just wanted to make weird “art” projects with Yoko (…while high). George, in fact, ragequit at one point, a fact that was carefully edited out of the movie.  Only Paul, it seems, was working to keep the band together, and as such, fairly or not, he comes across as more than a little pushy.

It’s a fascinating time capsule of an important moment in music history, but to the two remaining individuals who lived that moment, it’s gotta be like having your embarrassing fails show up on YouTube.

So what are you hoping to see during this decade of Fabness?  I’m going to keep hoping for an upgrade to The Beatles: Rock Bandintegrating the RB3 keyboard and finally granting us all the songs (yes, all of them), as well as a 20th anniversary rerelease of the Beatles Anthology “reunion” single, “Free As A Bird,” remixed by Giles Martin so that it actually sounds like, y’know, The Beatles, rather than ELO.  And I’ll be looking forward to the 50th anniversary of The Beatles accepting a drink from a dentist they didn’t know.

…while high.