Despite actively discouraging contrarian theories, I have enjoyed Vern’s determined sallies on the pop-influentialitiness of the Beatles – especially his concluding assessment that, on balance, he had “comprehensively demolished [my] literalist, book of Genesis theory on the Beatles”.
The appeal of this judgement lies in the fact that I was completely unaware that I held such strident Creationist views on pop music, and my take on the thing was that Vern had slipped gently from Position A (a cantankerous suggestion that the Fab Four influenced few developments bar the pretentious noodlings of Yes), to a much weaker but more plausible Position B: the claim that the Beatles were themselves influenced by previous musicians, and that there have existed other influential musicians besides the Beatles, such as Bob Dylan.
Since I wouldn’t dream of disagreeing with Position B, which is perfectly obvious and compatible with my huge but conventional Beatle-respeck, I assumed that Vern and I had moved to a state of sweet convergence and harmony. But no, of course the Battle was the point, and so Brit had to be Comprehensively Demolished.
One significant aspect of commenting I neglected to mention here, is the potential for protracted argument. It’s almost exclusively a male pastime, and Vern’s effort on Beatledom is the very best kind of internet combativeness: indefatigable, gloriously pointless and impeccably, teethgrittedly well-mannered. Furthermore, it required dedicated research, rising manfully from his sickbed to google out the dates of arcane prototype concept albums featuring Red Indians.
The episode brings back a nostalgia for my old days of blogging, which consisted almost entirely of exactly that sort of trivial combat. But it’s time-consuming, inevitably repetitive and even if, like Vern, you announce confidently that you’ve Won, there’s never really a Last Word. 'Ardest game in the world, blog arguing is. I was in that game fifty years, man and boy. I’m well out of it, mate.
But it’s good to know it’s there, if I ever need it. Get well soon, Vern.