The Love You Make

Pneumonia Ceilings - Mark Shipper's (humourous) version.

Excerpt from "The Love You Make. An Insider's Story of The Beatles",
by Peter Brown & Steven Gaines.

(Additional information:) It is not a secret that many celebrities are regular weed users, but few, if any at all, actually seek treatment at Marijuana addiction centers in California.

Signet 1984, ISBN 0-451-12797-8
Chapter 8, part 3.

Peter Brown was Executive Director of NEMS Enterprises, the Beatles' management company, and was closely associated with the group, in both business and personal life. He was John Lennon's best man when John married Yoko and still maintains a close personal relationship with the surviving Beatles.

On August 28 (1964) a small but auspicious event occurred at the Delmonico Hotel in New York that would grow to affect the consciousness of the world: Bob Dylan turned the Beatles on to marijuana for the first time in their lives.

Now, the Beatles did not become marijuana addicts immediately after that - it took at least six months for that transformation to occur - but smoking pot with Dylan gave getting high the Sanctification of the Hip. Before that they had spurned marijuana with a passion; as far as they were concerned, pot smokers were junkies, in the same category as heroin addicts. The pills the boys took were pharmaceutical, illegally obtained but not illegal to take. Shortly after their turn-on with Dylan they began to compose under marijuana's spell. It didn't show very much on the next album, most of which was already composed and recorded anyway, but you could almost smell the pungent smoke on the album that was to follow. There was no doubt about it; Dylan had given them a key that opened a door to a new dimension of pop music, and they took the youth of the world across the threshold with them.

John Lennon had long wanted to meet Bob Dylan, but not as badly as he wanted to meet Elvis, however. For John, Elvis was a god who had achieved indescribable sanctity. Dylan was a contemporary, and to John just another competitor, although John was a little envious of Dylan's gift for lyrics. It was only recently that John had begun to take special interest in his own lyrics. His first introspective, autobiographical song, "I'll Cry Instead", had been written for the soundtrack of A Hard Day's Night but had never made it into the movie. The lyrics said, "I've got a chip on my shoulder that's bigger than my feet / I can't talk to people that I meet."

That was certainly the case with Dylan. They were introduced by a mutual friend, writer Al Aronowitz, who was one of the first legitimate journalists to write about pop music. Aronowitz had befriended John the previous spring in England, while writing about him for The Saturday Evening Post. At that time John had told Aronowitz he wanted to meet Dylan, but only "on his own terms", when John had become his "ego equal". On that August 28, after playing the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, with the Beatles' smiling faces on the cover of Life magazine, John was ready.

Aronowitz rode in from Woodstock with Dylan in a blue Ford station wagon driven by Victor Mamoudas, Dylan's road manager and chum. They parked around the corner from the hotel, and Mamoudas, who's tall, dark and Sephardic, bombed Dylan and Aronowitz past the crowd of screaming kids into the relative safety of the hotel lobby. There they found themselves with a two-man police escort to accompany them up to the Beatles' floor. When the elevator door opened Dylan and company were shocked to find still more police, plus a dozen people gaily chatting and drinking booze being served out of Derek Taylor's room. Included in this group waiting to be admitted to the Beatles' suite were various reporters, disc jockeys, and the singing groups The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary.

Dylan was whisked past these people into the Beatles' private domain. Brian, Neil, Mal, and the Beatles had just finished a room-service dinner around the dining room table when Dylan appeared in the doorway. He was smaller than the boys had expected, with a hook nose and merry, twinkling eyes, like a Semitic St. Nick. After clumsy introductions officiated over by Brian, the embarrassed tension in the room was palpable. Brian moved the guests into the living room, trying to keep the evening afloat. He asked Dylan and his friends what they wanted to drink, and Dylan replied, "Cheap wine."

Brian was embarrassed to admit that there was only champagne, French wines, scotch, and Coke in the suite, and Mal was dispatched to get Dylan's favourite cheap wine. During the wait it was obliquely mentioned that some pills of speed were available, and Dylan and Aronowitz reacted strongly against the idea. Both of them were antichemical at the time, especially speed. In lieu of pills, Dylan suggested, perhaps they'd like to try something organic and green, grown out of Mother Eart's sweet flowing breast.

Brian and the Beatles looked at each other apprehensively. "We've never smoked marijuana before," Brian finally admitted. Dylan looked disbelievingly from face to face. "But what about your song?" he asked. The one about getting high?"
The Beatles were stupefied. "Which song?" John managed to ask.
Dylan said, "You know..." and then he sang, "and when I touch you I get high, I get high..."
John flushed with embarrassment. "Those aren't the words," he admitted. "The words are, 'I can't hide, I can't hide, I can't hide...'"

Dylan couldn't wait to initiate them. The preparations to secure the hotel suite took half an hour before Dylan was even allowed to produce the grass. The doors were closed and bolted, and towels from the bathroom were stuffed into every crevice and crack. The blinds were pulled tight and the drapes drawn against the Park Avenue traffic. Finally, a bemused Dylan was allowed to roll the first joint.

Dylan lit the joint, gave them instructions on how to smoke it, and passed it on to John. John took it from him but was too scared to try it himself and passed it on to Ringo, whom he called "my royal taster". Ringo Held onto the joint and finished it himself while Dylan and Aronowitz rolled half a dozen others.

Ringo started laughing first and set the others off. Like many novice pot smokers they found many trivial things funny. Dylan watched for several hours as the Beatles broke each other up, sometimes with something authentically funny, often at nothing more than a look or a word or a pause in the conversation. For a while they all laughed at Brian, who kept saying, "I'm so high I'm on the ceiling. I'm up on the ceiling..." After the smoke had cleared out they allowed a room-service waiter to come in to clear the dining room and found everything he did reason to convulse them with laughter. Months later "Let's have a laugh" became the code for "Let's get stoned".

Paul was overwhelmed with the momentousness of the occasion. "I'm thinking for the first time," he said, "really thinking." So certain was he of uttering gems of wisdom, he demanded that everything he said that evening be recorded for posterity. He had Mal Evans follow him around the hotel suite, writing down every thing he said.

Mal Evans kept these notes - ludicruous pontifications in retrospect - with him up until the time of his death in Los Angeles in 1976. They were confiscated by the police and lost with some of his other belongings.

The evening was the start of a long, albeit intermittent, friendship with Dylan, and they made arrangements to see him again when they passed through New York at the end of their tour.

The link to Marijuana addiction centers near the top is a paid ad.

Pneumonia Ceilings
Expecting Rain