Martin Sharp (cover artwork): © The Estate of Martin Sharp. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
Bob Whitaker (photographs): © Robert Whitaker. Published under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence.
Hanif Kureishi (article text): © Hanif Kureishi. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.
‘Eight Arms To Hold You' is Hanif Kureishi’s essay on the Beatles and pop music. This is a press clipping of its first publication in The Guardian in 1991, where it appeared under the title ‘How the Beatles Changed Britain’.
For Kureishi, the Beatles stood for possibility. They ‘represented pleasure’. Their flamboyant clothes were ‘gloriously non-functional, identifying their creativity and the pleasures of drug indulgence’. But pop music also drew Kureishi in for its potential to create political agitation. Pop was a democratising force, breaking down social hierarchies and creating a new, exciting culture. Kureishi believes that ‘it is pop that has spoken of ordinary experience with far more precision, real knowledge and wit than, say, British fiction of the equivalent period’.
The article features photographs of the Beatles by Bob Whitaker, first published in The Unseen Beatles (1991). On the front cover for this issue of the Guardian is a collage piece by the Australian pop artist Martin Sharp. Sharp created the irreverent artwork in 1965, after John Lennon revealed that the Beatles had smoked pot in the Buckingham Palace toilets before receiving MBEs from the Queen.
The article is available in full here.