Paul mccartney with beard is at the center of both #HairStudies and modern Dad Talk. Get Back, Peter Jackson’s careful and beautiful reimagining of footage from the Beatles’ Let It Be sessions in early 1969, has changed for good the old story that the Beatles hated each other very much at this time, a story that even Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have said they believed Paul mccartney with beard.
Instead Paul mccartney with beard, over the course of more than eight hours of footage that is both boring and exciting, Jackson gives viewers a sense of a band that grew up through and past each other but still loved each other very much. And his team’s restoration of the “chunky, grainy, desaturated” film that had been sitting in Apple’s vaults for a long time has given viewers another gift: the ability to see Paul’s beard in all of its beauty and symbolic power.
Paul mccartney with beard The beard is in the background for the first twenty minutes or so of the first episode, until George Harrison says to Paul, “I think your beard looks good on you, man.” Paul smiles and doesn’t say anything, which is unusual, so I think it’s safe to say he’s pretty happy.
First of all Paul mccartney with beard, let’s get this out of the way: George is right. Paul looks great with his beard. It goes well with his shiny, shiny hair and big, giraffe-like eyes. During this time, he likes to wear black, which seems to be the best way to balance out the beauty of his whole head.
But Paul’s Beard isn’t just a silly story. The Beatles always knew how to use their hair to make people think of sexuality. By this time, some of the Beatles seemed to be over the sexual power of hair. For example, during the Get Back sessions, John’s long, center-parted bob often made him look like he was hiding from the world. But Paul’s shag is just the right length to toss back carelessly during a jokey riff on Chuck Berry or Bob Dylan, with his beard turning the boyishness of his hair into something more mellow.
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Paul mccartney with beard shows Paul’s desire for authority, which is based on a hegemonic masculinity that equates facial hair with virility. It also shows his iconoclasm within the group, which is often hidden by Paul’s genius for melody, which he has sometimes used to go beyond the limits of taste (see the duets he produced with Michael Jackson and “Wonderful Christmastime”).
Paul’s beard is a sign of things to come and the end of what the Beatles were. It’s also part of the story in Jackson’s new documentary about a different, more palatable end for the Beatles, in which the Fab Four play one last gig and then grow up, move on, and get the cultural currency of fatherhood. Paul is not dead if he has a beard. Paul has kids.
Paul mccartney with beard To figure out what Paul’s beard meant in 1969 and what it means now Paul mccartney with beard, we need to look at the general meanings of Beatle facial hair. During their meteoric rise to fame, the boys kept their faces clean-shaven. Paul was the first Beatle to grow a mustache. He did this to hide the cuts and bruises on his face that he got when he fell off a moped in 1966. “It caught on with the guys in the group. If one of us did something, like grow his hair long, and we liked the idea, we all tended to do it.
Then Paul mccartney with beard, the idea that young men our age should definitely grow a moustache was seen as kind of radical.” Paul talked about this in Anthology. The mustache covered a wound, but it also helped the Beatles break away from their Fab Four image and create Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which brought a new sound to rock ‘n’ roll.
The psychedelic mustaches Paul mccartney with beard, like their earlier moptops, showed that they were different by being the same. Epstein might have made them wear matching bespoke suits, but their long hair showed that they were rebels. Sociologists and historians have often made the simple but important point that, at least in white heterosexual Euro-American culture, men grow facial hair when hegemonic masculinity is threatened. As an example of how this process works, we could look at how, after the Great Recession, a lot of people grew beards in the 2010s as a way to make up for lost income Paul mccartney with beard.
Since Paul mccartney with beard, say Paul mccartney with beard, Nixon left office, this general idea seems to work for facial hair. But I think that both 1960s facial hair and Beatle facial hair are doing something different. Face hair is always a way for the Beatles to express themselves as a group; it doesn’t mean anything on its own. In this way, we could compare the popularity of Beatle facial hair to the popularity of gay facial hair, especially the “Castro clone” look that became popular among gay men in the 1970s.
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Even though the word ” Paul mccartney with beard clone” has a condescending tone to it, the look that came to define male queerness in the decade after the Beatles broke up embraced a uniform-like sameness of appearance to subvert traditional masculinity and bring together a queer community style. In the mid-1960s, the mustache played a similar role, though it didn’t show sexuality so much as a rejection of the Don Draper/George Martin three-shaves-a-day look by young people.
Even though the Sgt. Pepper’s mustache didn’t mean that the Beatles were gay, it did let the four boys from Liverpool show that they had a horizontal, close relationship with each other in which power was shared equally and songs were written “eyeball to eyeball,” as John said of his work with Paul. The Beatles thought this was a big part of how close they were to each other.
John also liked to say that he and Paul wrote songs by “playing into each other’s noses.” The boys lived in bunk beds right above the club where they played, which is always mentioned in stories about the band’s early days in Hamburg. Since they were teenagers, the Beatles have been physically and metaphorically involved in each other’s lives.
In their songs, movies, and public personas, they showed an idealized version of male friendship, which they used to market to fans and get them to feel a certain way. John tells the people in the cheaper seats to clap their hands. Paul and George smile and sing into the same microphone while tossing their heads and shaking their hair to the ooooooooohs of “Twist and Shout.” The audience responds by shaking, screaming, and crying.
So, I think that Beatle facial hair, and Beatle hair in general Paul mccartney with beard, was a physical manifestation of the main tensions that drove and supported the band’s success: their sexual potency was tempered by their goofiness as a group; their emotional and physical closeness as men was tempered by their ability to make girls scream; and their potential threat to the status quo was tempered by the fact that they could be switched out Paul mccartney with beard.
At the same time Paul mccartney with beard, though, the mustache helped the Beatles keep their own patriarchal power by influencing and giving a visual example of how to strengthen the cultural power of “young men of our age,” to quote Paul. (The cover of Sgt. Pepper’s, where men outnumber women by about 5 to 1, is perhaps the clearest example of this process of shoring up.)
Like the Paul mccartney with beard “Castro clone” look, the Sgt. Pepper mustache tried to visually mark and bring together a minority or outsider group, but it was based on the privileges of race, gender, and, in the case of the Beatles, normative sexuality. (Note that Brian Epstein, the only gay person in the inner circle of the Beatles, always wore a perfectly fitting suit and had a clean shave.)
Paul mccartney with beardwas the first Beatle to get rid of his Sgt. Pepper’s mustache. There was a power vacuum in the band after Epstein died. This was caused by a number of things, including George’s interest in transcendental meditation, John’s interest in politics and his new relationship with Yoko Ono, and Paul’s desire to be in charge of the band’s music Paul mccartney with beard. The balance of the Sgt. Pepper’s era was no longer there, but a new style of facial hair tried to fill the void.
Paul mccartney with beardGet Back beard marks a new time in the Beatles’ self-fashioning. The fact that George commented on the beard in the first place shows how symbolic it is. George says this while he, Paul, and Ringo are reading their own fan magazine and making fun of the articles, but they are also obviously interested in themselves as public figures. A picture of a dreamy Paul without a beard in the fan magazine makes George want to say something nice about his real friend’s new look Paul mccartney with beard.
Jackson Paul mccartney with beard is very interested in the times when the Beatles, the most famous people in the world, do things you thought but never hoped they would do, like reading their own press and making fun of their own old songs. Even at the beginning of the movie, John says, “Who’s that little old man?” about George’s (mostly hairless) Hare Krishna friend. This is a reference to A Hard Day’s Night and a joke about how their lives continue to be shown to the public.
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And the public show of being a Beatle was always a chance to show off their hair by shaking it, making fun of it, cutting it, or not cutting it. In this group of men who care a lot about their hair in a way that embraces (white) femininity, there is one who has always been called “the cute one” and was once called “the one who looks like a broad” in an SNL sketch. Sianne Ngai told us that cuteness is an aesthetic category linked to being weak and, at the same time, being female.
Ngai calls it a “commodity aesthetic” that has close ties to the pleasures of home life and easy consumption. Paul’s cuteness was an important part of selling the Beatles and making them a cultural and commercial phenomenon. Paul looks cute in the photo from the fan magazine, which was the thing that sold the Beatles to the world. But that was then, and George knows that Paul with a beard is now someone else.
Paul’s beard rejects cuteness Paul mccartney with beard as a category of commodification and accepts another, more stereotypically masculine sign, embracing a form of white masculinity that is often denied to him in the larger culture. In other words, the way he looks shows that he’s attractive not just to screaming girls but also to women who are more sexually mature. At the same time, the beard shows that he wants to be in charge of the Beatles. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, male pop stars often grew beards when they went from being studio puppets to being their own bosses. This added to the look’s symbolic meaning.
But Paul’s beard also suggests that he is fertile Paul mccartney with beard: he now has a young stepdaughter named Heather and, with that, access to the cultural currency of fatherhood. In the Get Back era, Paul predicts and in many ways sets the pattern for a type of patriarchy that embraces a domesticity that is usually associated with women but doesn’t give up traditional male power.
Modern Paul mccartney with beard Dad Discourse is an example of this type of patriarchy. To make this discussion as simple as possible, we could look at the cultural archetypes that we associate with being a dad: Hot Dad Bod, Big Dad Energy, BBC Dad, and even (God, do you remember Bean Dad?) Each of these modern takes on being a dad shows how we give dads a break in the West. Not all dads are dads, but all dads do the best they can.
Dads are involved. “Ebony and Ivory” says that dads are not cool but sincere. Dads are Barack Obama. Dads is Bob Saget, or at least the TV character he played, but if the hagiographies are to be believed, it’s also the real Bob Saget. (Again, it’s important to remember that these breaks are given to dads who fit society’s idea of who can and should be in charge. Black dads, gay dads, trans dads, poor dads, dads with disabilities, dads without jobs, etc., don’t need to apply to be a canonical dad.)
In 1969 Paul mccartney with beard, Heather was in the studio when “Let It Be” was being recorded. This gives a satisfying ending to what we’ve seen in Jackson’s movie: after George left the band and John almost joined him, our boys are finally back together and having fun. Heather makes everyone a kinder version of themselves, whether she’s talking about eating cats with John, wearing Glyn Johns’ fuzzy jacket, or messing around on the drums with Ringo.
The clip of Heather and Ringo was used in every trailer and advertisement for the movie. Jackson’s story seems to depend on all of this happening while Paul is at the piano recording “Let It Be.” It’s a song that, in both its words and its music, secularizes the sacred by shifting power from the mother to the son, from the feminine to the masculine. Paul had a dream about his mother, and then he turned the dream into a hymn for a godless society called “Amazing Grace.” All while Heather is sitting on his lap Paul mccartney with beard.
As Jackson has shown us, during the “Let It Be” recording sessions, Mother Mary comes to Paul and Father Paul comes to all of us. Paul can bring his daughter to work, and neither his income nor his work will suffer. If this wasn’t a crime, it would be a career killer for a woman. But for a white heterosexual man, this is both very cute and a way to keep his power.
By August 1969, when they shot the famous cover of Abbey Road, the Beatles’ facial hair showed that the group’s homosocial dynamic was changing. Paul was now clean-shaven, while John, George, and Ringo all had beards of different lengths and thicknesses. It’s like the other Beatles knew how powerful it was that they were all the same, but Paul turned it down again.
Maybe they, too, had realized that being a dad is a cultural currency. In their later years, the other Beatles, especially John, would all become fathers to different degrees. When Paul was on Desert Island Discs in 1984, he said that out of all the songs ever written, he would save only “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon. “Beautiful Boy” shows John’s change as a father with his second son Sean, in contrast to how he treated Julian, and it’s also the last place where the two old friends meet up Paul mccartney with beard.
As I was writing this Paul mccartney with beard, I saw a photo on Instagram of Paul with his grown-up daughter Mary. Paul would soon be making vegan Yorkshire puddings and something called (dad joke) a Maccarita on Mary’s cooking show. This vision of Paul with a grown-up Mary made me think of Paul’s beard at its peak, when he grew it back in the months after Abbey Road.
Still, the McCartney album, which came with a press release saying that Paul had no plans to work with the Beatles again, was seen as the end of the line. The front of the album is a picture of a bowl of spilled cherries, but the back is a picture of Paul McCartney holding their baby Mary in a fur coat, taken by Linda McCartney. Bathed in the golden light of Scotland’s golden hour, the beard is back, as is a big, carefree smile.
In this picture, Linda makes the father and daughter look like Lady Madonna and the Child. Using images of holy women, modern fatherhood becomes a category of pop stardom that can make money. Paul McCartney has always known how to use his natural femininity to appeal to women within the homosocial group dynamic of the Beatles, but Linda’s image uses not only the power of femininity but also the power of motherhood. It says, “Buy this album and put your money into something new.” Invest in a Paul who has gotten rid of his bandmates and replaced them with something better: a nuclear family.
The beard is back to balance out the femininity of the image of Mary. In fact, the beard and the fuzzy texture of Paul’s coat give the impression of a man who is very mature for his age. Paul, who fought for control as the Beatles broke up, now writes every song, plays every instrument himself, is a vegetarian, and wears his baby. What a lucky person!
Part of me wants to cheer him on. Dads should care, be silly, and be there. And in the process, they might even become more desirable. With a beard and a child, Paul goes from being cute to being sexy. But I can’t get over the fact that this Dad/Daddy persona is shown through the visual use of what little power mothers have in Western society (the power to nurture and comfort), power that female artists of the time could never have used without losing their marketability.
(Seriously, try to picture a similar picture on a 1970 album by, say, Aretha Franklin or Joni Mitchell, two women for whom motherhood was a deep source of conflict, if not a direct threat to their lives and careers.) I guess we’re lucky to live in a time when artists like M.I.A., Pink, Beyoncé, and Rihanna have shown that motherhood and being a pop star don’t have to be opposites.
These artists have made motherhood part of their brand image without giving up their sexiness or talent. But don’t we still give dads time off that moms can only dream about? Doesn’t Paul’s beard suggest a version of fatherhood that borrows a lot from the stories we can tell about mothers but doesn’t require any of the sacrifices? Dads get a chance to talk. Moms are way too fucked up busy.
Fifty years after McCartney, it’s not easy for modern dads to find a balance between being caring and being overbearing, masculine and feminine, cool and not cool. Just ask Bean Dad or Obama on the day he wore the tan suit. But if you do it right, you can go from being in the best band in the world to making Maccaritas and become even stronger and sexier.
Paul’s beard is a physical representation of this story. It shows the cultural currency of being a modern dad and how being a modern dad is often based on rejecting homosocial collectivity and giving dads more social and cultural power than we give mothers.
As shown in Get Back and in Linda McCartney’s photo, this story helps us tell a different and more comforting story about how the Beatles broke up. This story says that it wasn’t Yoko who broke up the Beatles. It was a powerful symbol of the nuclear family, and Paul wanted more than anything to take on the role and money of the Dad. Can we blame him, given the cultural norms of both the past and the present?
Hair, there, and everywhere, says Jill Spivey Caddell. @jillcaddell is her Twitter handle.
*In Get Back, men are the only ones who take care of their hair, which is a nice change from lazy stereotypes. Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney have hair that stands out for how unfinished it is. This is a big change from the beauty standards for women in the 1960s. Their hair says, “We’re artists, the most famous men in the world love us, and the 1960s are dead.
**The Wine Mom stands out because it is a cry for help that looks like a meme.