- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2001

Instant song

"Balladry was not unknown to pop music in 1965, but 'Yesterday' signaled to the world that the Beatles and rock & roll had made a sudden leap from brash adolescent to literate and tasteful maturity. Performed by Paul McCartney … 'Yesterday' quickly became one of the most widely recognized and most covered songs in the Beatles catalog… .

"The genesis of 'Yesterday' is as unlikely as that of any Beatles song… . Arising from his bed at his Cavendish Avenue home in London one morning in early 1965, McCartney laid his hands on the keys of the piano he kept at his bedside, and out poured a tune.

" 'It was just all there,' McCartney later recalled. 'A complete thing. I couldn't believe it.' In fact, it was so fully formed … that he was sure he must have unconsciously plagiarized a melody he'd heard somewhere else. So for months he allowed the unpolished song to sit on the shelf 'Scrambled Eggs' was the working title he gave it occasionally strumming a few bars for [producer George] Martin or [drummer] Ringo Starr and asking, 'Is this like something?' That June, assured that it was his own, McCartney recorded a couple of takes for Martin, who wisely advised that the song should stand unadorned. 'I can't hear anything except strings on it,' Martin told McCartney. 'When we played it back to the other Beatles, they flipped,' he says."

David Thigpen, writing on "The Beatles," in the March 1 issue of Rolling Stone

Feminist beginnings

"Feminism happened, says [author Warren Farrell], because women naturally chose to marry men who would be the best providers. And men who have good jobs don't tend to have much of a nurturing side. How can they? They spend all their time at work, the better to show their love by earning money for their families. So these rich women, not understanding that their husbands were demonstrating their love the best they knew how, had a lot of time and money on their hands. Rich women went to therapists. Therapists told them they were oppressed. A movement was born… .

"[Mr. Farrell says:] 'Women want men to follow their rules, because they think their rules are better and their values are better. And that's understandable, but that's not equality.' "

Amy Benfer, writing on "Save the Males," Tuesday in Salon at www.salon.com

Code of honor

"In a traditional honor-based society, like the Old South, if you were insulted by a social equal, you challenged him to a duel, and if you were insulted by a social inferior, you bludgeoned him with a cane. But under no circumstances would a gentleman sue another gentleman, because the honor code held that an offense against honor could only be answered by a physical attack.

"For example, when Sam Houston, the former governor of Tennessee, was accused of corruption by Rep. William Stanbery of Ohio in 1832, Houston wrote a letter demanding satisfaction in a duel. Stanbery did not reply compounding the insult by refusing to recognize Houston as an equal and so Houston took a cane that had been cut from a hickory tree on the estate of his patron, Andrew Jackson, and used it to bludgeon Stanbery on the street. Jackson's opponents tried Houston on the floor of the House of Representatives for contempt. Despite an able defense by Francis Scott Key, the author of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' Houston was censured by the speaker and was later fined $500 by a federal court. But Jackson, who had been raised in the Southern tradition that courts should never interfere in disputes about honor, officially remitted the fine. Jackson's own mother, the president later emphasized, had raised him to 'indict no man for assault and battery or sue him for slander.' "

Jeffrey Rosen, writing on "In Lieu of Manners," in the Feb. 4 issue of the New York Times Magazine

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