So Rolling Stone magazine, with little advance warning, dropped its updated list of 500 Albums a week ago. Truthfully, I don’t feel qualified to comment on it; there’s a LOT of albums on that list that I have not listed to, and my brainspace is occupied elsewhere at the moment. My understanding, though, is that everyone who was asked to vote on this project was given an opportunity to simply list 50 albums they wanted to be considered for this project.

Since I am an obscure, non-tenured faculty member at a merely above-average state university who doesn’t specialize academically in music, I was understandably not given a chance to contribute. But if I was, here’s the list I would have given them. These are not my candidates for the 50 Greatest Albums of All Time. Lots of great artists aren’t on my list because I was pretty confident that the Bowie-wanking, Bono-fellating, Springsteen-salad-tossing folks in Rolling Stone’s orbit had those bases covered. Nor are they my 50 favorite albums (my second favorite–Elton John’s Captain Fantastic–and my third favorite–Paul McCartney’s Flaming Pie–aren’t on the list.) Instead, these are the 50 albums whose prospects in the final ranking I wanted to boost– albums that I thought needed an advocate and deserved to either make the list or be ranked higher than they might otherwise have been.

  1. A Tribe Called Quest- Midnight Marauders (1993)
  2. Adele- 21 (2011)
  3. Alabama Shakes- Sound & Color (2015)
  4. Alicia Keyes- Songs in A Minor (2001)
  5. Amy Winehouse- Back to Black (2006)
  6. Aretha Franklin- Young, Gifted & Black (1972)
  7. Beatles- Abbey Road (1969)
  8. Beyonce- Lemonade (2016)
  9. Brandi Carlile- The Story (2007)
  10. Brian Eno: Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978)
  11. Carole King- Tapestry (1971)
  12. Carolina Chocolate Drops- Genuine Negro Jig (2010)
  13. Chicago- Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
  14. Coldplay- X&Y (2005)
  15. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young- Deja Vu (1970)
  16. David Crosby- If I Could Only Remember My Name (1971)
  17. De La Soul- 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
  18. Depeche Mode- Violator (1990)
  19. Dire Straits- Making Movies (1980)
  20. Drive-By Truckers- Southern Rock Opera (2001)
  21. Elton John- Elton John (1970)
  22. Eurythmics- Touch (1983)
  23. Fairport Convention- Liege and Lief (1969)
  24. Flaming Lips- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
  25. Jam- All Mod Cons (1978)
  26. Janelle Monae- The Electric Lady (2013)
  27. Janet Jackson- Control (1986)
  28. Judas Priest- Killing Machine/Hell Bent for Leather (1978)
  29. Kate Bush- The Kick Inside (1978)
  30. Kraftwerk- Trans-Europe Express (1977)
  31. Linda Ronstadt- Heart Like A Wheel (1974)
  32. Left Banke- Walk Away Renée/Pretty Ballerina (1967)
  33. Los Lobos- How Will the Wolf Survive? (1984)
  34. Mumford & Sons- Sigh No More (2009)
  35. Nina Simone- I Put a Spell On You (1965)
  36. Otis Redding- The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (1966)
  37. Peter Gabriel- So (1986)
  38. Pogues- If I Should Fall From Grace with God (1988)
  39. Ray Charles- Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962)
  40. Roots- Phrenology (2002)
  41. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: Give the People What They Want (2014)
  42. Stevie Wonder- Innervisions (1973)
  43. They Might Be Giants- Flood (1990)
  44. TLC- Crazysexycool (1994)
  45. Tool- Aenima (1996)
  46. Van Halen- Van Halen (1978)
  47. War- The World is a Ghetto (1972)
  48. Wendy Carlos- Switched-on Bach (1968)
  49. Yes- Fragile (1971)
  50. Zombies- Odessey and Oracle (1968)

After several bearimys* of anticipation, the four Beatles are ready to perform their last and only reunion concert in The Good Place. The physics of the hereafter provide fine seats for everyone who wants to attend, in a makeshift amphitheater inside a reconstructed Hyde Park. (*a “bearimy” is a non-euclidian unit of afterlife-time in The Good Place).

A little past 8 in the evening, the band comes out to thunderous cheers. The four lads look like their mid-70s selves. Paul is wearing a vest and his hair is shoulder-length in a near-mullet. John is wearing his granny glasses and a beret, and dusted off his old olive-colored army jacket. George has a jean jacket and Maoist-red trousers, his bushy mane of hair complemented by a mustache. Ringo is bearded, and has a “puffy shirt from Seinfeld” sort of tunic on, accentuated by a colorful ascot. Back and off to the side, barely visible, Jeff Lynne is there too, providing extra keyboards or guitar as needed to fill out their sound.

With the first two snaps of Ringo’s snare drum, the concert begins with “Free As A Bird,” the band’s posthumous reunion track, this time allowing for John, Paul, and George to sing harmony in real time. Rapturous applause follow; the energy in the park is electric. Taking the barest moment to bask in the accolades, the band dives right into “I Saw Her Standing There,” another bookend in the band’s career as the first song on their first album.

“We’re back!” remarks John. “And it only took the four of us dying,” adds George dryly. “There seems to be this website called PredictIt,” notes Lennon as he chews some gum between songs. “And some of you are trying to make money guessing which songs we do. I think you’ll be in for a few surprises.” With that, they launch into the obscure Larry Williams cover from their 1964 EP, “Slow Down.”

When they finish, Paul speaks to the audience for the first time. “We’re really proud of all those great Lennon-McCartney songs,” he notes, “but we had a third songwriter in the group who really came into his own by the time we got to Rubber Soul.” With that, the familiar chiming guitar of “If I Needed Someone” plays. Then “Getting Better.” Then “A Hard Day’s Night,” with its famous opening chord reverberating through the crowd.

“Hey Ringo,” shouts Paul– “do you want to sing something, luv?” With that invitation, “I Wanna Be Your Man” starts, with a much heavier backbeat and a longer, extended guitar solo from George. After a string of upbeat numbers, the band slows it down just a bit to perform “This Boy,” with exquisite three-part harmonies from John, Paul, and George.

“We’d like to carry on now,” says John with a mischievous grin, “with a song that wasn’t good enough to be on any of our albums,” as the four of them strike up “Leave My Kitten Alone,” an outtake from Beatles for Sale that wasn’t formally released until Anthology 1.

“We’ve got a couple of blokes we’d like to bring out,” announces Paul. To delighted cheers, Stu Stucliffe and Pete Best walk out, with a right-handed drum set wheeled in for Pete. Paul switches to guitar, while Stu plays the bass (even after plenty of rehearsal time in the hereafter, his skills are still on the choppy side.) Nevertheless, their performances of two numbers from the Cavern days, “Move on Down the Line” and “The Hippy Hippy Shake” are two of the best received of the evening, in no small part because of Stu and Pete’s surprise appearances.

Stu and Pete take their bows, Ringo rejoins his mates, and the band concludes their first set with “Nowhere Man” and a string of uptempo numbers: “Ticket to Ride,” “She Said, She Said,” and a rollicking “I’m Down,” with Lennon going unhinged on the keyboards a la Shea Stadium.

A short intermission follows, and when the Second Act begins, a scrim is lifted to reveal George Martin and a small orchestra. They play a medley of “Pepperland,” “Sea of Holes,” and “Yellow Submarine in Pepperland,” as the four Beatles and Jeff Lynne return to their places. From the first notes of Lennon’s keyboard intro, followed seconds later by the orchestra chiming in, a cheer erupts through the crowd. It’s “I Am the Walrus.” With orchestral backing, the band does some psychedelic favorites previously thought to be almost impossible to pull off on stage. This includes “Penny Lane,” replete with a stately trumpet solo, a surprise “It’s All Too Much,” with the audience joining in the barking of “Too Much!” during the coda, and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

“There’s been one or two decent songs since we broke up,” drawls Harrison, as the Beatles and the orchestra cover David Bowie’s “Changes,” with Lennon doing the famous “turn and face the strain” refrain that sounded so much like him on the original. As the scrim comes down and the orchestra departs, The Beatles perform a more recent cover, “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis.

After a loose, jam-like version of “I’ve Got a Feeling,” Lennon wanly walks up to a mic and whispers “shoot…”, triggering Ringo’s drum fills and some of the loudest cheers of the night as the band performs “Come Together.”

“We’d like to bring another friend,” says Ringo from the mic near his drum kit, “someone we met in Hamburg and we stayed friends for some time after…Mr. Billy Preston!” All smiles, Preston jogs out to a keyboard that has been prepared for him, as the band performs both sides of the “Get Back”/”Don’t Let Me Down” single. Ringo gets his other number of the night when the band performs the earliest song of their second set, “Act Naturally.”

“This is a song I maybe shouldn’t have written in hindsight,” Lennon remarks, as he plays the guitar part to “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” and sings along. Paul and George are clearly having a great time doing the girl-group harmonies on the song’s fifties-style coda.

“I’m afraid I wasn’t around when something named Spotify was invented” says George. “But they tell me that the song they…what is it?…streamed the most out of all our numbers…” (he grins at John and Paul) “was one of mine!” Acoustic guitar in hand, he starts “Here Comes the Sun,” with Jeff Lynne doing plenty of synthesizer work in the background to make this number work.

“Anyone here have a birthday?” asks Paul. As sporadic cheers follow, “Birthday” gets the crowd dancing again after George’s mellow song. As the song reaches its end, Ringo keeps up a beat for several measures before the others join in with guitar and bass…it’s the “Sgt. Pepper” reprise, followed by “A Day in the Life,” with the George Martin Orchestra. As John plays that last, resonant piano chord, the four bandmates leave the stage.

But naturally, there’s an encore. They start with a rocker: “Revolution,” with Lennon screaming “All right!!” with glee at its end. Paul moves to piano and George takes up a bass guitar as they perform its A-Side, “Hey Jude,” with the orchestra and the requisite audience participation during its drawn-out coda.

The band once again leaves the stage and once again returns, for a bright, jaunty “Day Tripper” and a final performance of “Twist and Shout,” with Lennon screaming his throat raw and leaving nothing on the table, just as in 1963.

And with that, the band does one of their signature bows, and they bring out a surprised and deeply honored Brian Epstein and George Martin to join them for one final bow before leaving the stage, and bringing the band’s story to its eternal conclusion.

It’s nice to imagine, right?

The setlist, again, is:

  1. Free As A Bird 
  2. I Saw Her Standing There 
  3. Slow Down 
  4. If I Needed Someone 
  5. Getting Better
  6. A Hard Days Night
  7. I Wanna Be Your Man 
  8. This Boy
  9. Leave My Kitten Alone 
  10. Move on Down the Line (w/ Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best)
  11. The Hippy Hippy Shake (w/ Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best)
  12. Nowhere Man
  13. Ticket to Ride
  14. She Said, She Said
  15. I’m Down
  16. Pepperland/Sea of Holes/Yellow Submarine in Pepperland (w/ George Martin Orchestra)
  17. I Am the Walrus (w/ George Martin Orchestra) 
  18. Penny Lane (w/ George Martin Orchestra)
  19. It’s All Too Much (w/ George Martin Orchestra)
  20. Strawberry Fields Forever (w/ George Martin Orchestra)
  21. Changes (w/ George Martin Orchestra)
  22. Champagne Supernova
  23. I’ve Got a Feeling 
  24. Come Together 
  25. Get Back (w/ Billy Preston)
  26. Don’t Let Me Down (w/ Billy Preston)
  27. Act Naturally
  28. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
  29. Here Comes the Sun
  30. Birthday
  31. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
  32. A Day in the Life (w/ George Martin Orchestra)
  1. Revolution
  2. Hey Jude (w/ George Martin Orchestra)
  1. Day Tripper 
  2. Twist and Shout

Our “Good Place”-style version of the hereafter is having one final Beatles reunion in the form of a week-long festival. Part 1 looked at supporting acts and duets between various combinations of Beatles. Part 2 explored George and Ringo’s solo sets. For Part 3, we’ll look at the solo sets Paul and John have cooked up.

Paul McCartney solo set:

  • Paul McCartney: lead vocals, bass, guitar, piano
  • Linda McCartney: keyboards, background vocals
  • Brian Ray: guitar, bass, background vocals
  • Rusty Anderson: guitar, background vocals
  • Abe Laboriel, Jr.: drums, percussion, background vocals
  • Paul “Wix” Wickens: keyboards, accordion, background vocals

  1. Junior’s Farm
  2. Can’t Buy Me Love
  3. Jet 
  4. All My Loving 
  5. Letting Go
  6. I’m Looking Through You
  7. FourFiveSeconds (w/ Kanye West and Rihanna)
  8. Sing the Changes
  9. Eat at Home 
  10. Back in the USSR
  11. Flaming Pie 
  12. I’ve Just Seen A Face 
  13. Things We Said Today 
  14. Here, There, and Everywhere
  15. Blackbird (solo on guitar)
  16. Every Night (solo on guitar)
  17. At the Mercy (solo on piano)
  18. Lady Madonna (solo on piano)
  19. Yesterday (just Paul on guitar, Wix on keys)
  20. Listen To What the Man Said
  21. We Can Work It Out (w/ Stevie Wonder)
  22. Band on the Run
  23. Queenie Eye 
  24. You Never Give Me Your Money
  25. Got to Get You Into My Life 
  26. Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey 


  1. Let It Be
  2. Maybe I’m Amazed
  3. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End

Paul’s set is characteristically a crowd-pleaser. Big hits abound, but he also surprises with a number of deep cuts from fan favorite albums: “Queenie Eye” from New, the title track to Flaming Pie, and “Eat at Home” from Ram all make it into the set. Although the ballads deliver as always, Paul connects most fully with the audience during the rockers, including a rousing, set-closing “Kansas City”, the Chuck Berry and Beach Boys homage “Back in the USSR,” and fun, unpretentious “Can’t Buy Me Love.” A number of absences make people wonder what songs will make it into the Beatles’ upcoming set, noting that “Live and Let Die,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “My Love,” and “Hey Jude” all didn’t get played. Aside from a few puzzling comments from Kanye when he was brought out to the stage, this concert goes without a hitch.

John Lennon solo set:

  • John Lennon: lead vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica
  • Earl Slick: lead guitar, background vocals
  • Klaus Voormann: bass, background vocals
  • Nicky Hopkins: keyboards, background vocals
  • Alan White: drums
  1. I’m Losing You 
  2. Yer Blues 
  3. You Can’t Catch Me 
  4. Help! 
  5. Much Too Late for Goodbyes (w/ Julian Lennon)
  6. In My Life 
  7. Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)
  8. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
  9. Julia/Mother
  10. Imagine
  11. Working Class Hero 
  12. (Just Like) Starting Over 
  13. Hey Bulldog
  14. Whatever Gets You Thru the Night (w/ Elton John)
  15. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (w/ Elton John) 
  16. Watching the Wheels 
  17. One Day at a Time
  18. Walking on Thin Ice (w/ Yoko Ono) 
  19. Money (That’s What I Want)
  20. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)
  21. Dizzy Miss Lizzie 
  22. New York City 


  1. Instant Karma (We All Shine On!)
  2. Johnny B. Goode 
  3. Give Peace a Chance 

Giving a concert longer than any he gave as a solo artist, John Lennon did not disappoint. Although sometimes flubbing lyrics, as is his wont, this set delivers by playing to Lennon’s strengths of radical political activism and his love of old time rock and roll. He eschews most of the early Lennon-McCartney compositions in favor of the more introspective material from both the band and his time on his own or with the Plastic Ono Band. Highlights include the first time John and Julian perform on stage together, with a proud dad handling the harmonica parts on “Just Too Late for Goodbyes.” Even Yoko’s contribution to the set, poignantly the song John helped her record on the night he died, is well received. Elton provided glitz and showmanship by helping out with Lennon’s first #1 as a solo artist, “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” and the piano man’s version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

So– that’s all there is for now. Part 4 will cover the highly anticipated reunion of all four Beatles on stage. Any predictions for their setlists?

All right, jabronies–we made it to the end of this timeline, exploring the presidencies of a splintered United States, with New England breaking away in the 1810s, and the Midwest breaking away in the 1870s, with France retaining most of the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest, and Mexico never losing Texas, California, or the rest of what is now the American Southwest.

So here are our last three president cards for the Algonquin League, and I may post some concluding thoughts on this timeline in the future. For now, I need to post this before my son wakes up from his nap…

Our final list of Algonquin League presidents:

  1. Zachariah Chandler (Michigan, Old Whig, 1876-1879)
  2. William T. Sherman (Ohio, Old Whig, 1879-1887)
  3. James Birdseye McPherson (Ohio, Old Whig, 1887-1890)
  4. William Windom (Minnesota, Old Whig, 1890-1891)
  5. John Hay (Illinois, Old Whig, 1891-1895)
  6. Adlai Stevenson (Illinois, Democratic, 1895-1899)
  7. Marshall Field (Illinois, Old Whig, 1899-1903)
  8. Russell Alger (Michigan, Old Whig, 1903-1907)
  9. Eugene V. Debs (Indiana, Farmer-Labor, 1907-1911)
  10. Nicholas Longworth (Ohio, Old Whig, 1911-1919) 
  11. Irvine Lenroot (Wisconsin, Old Whig, 1919-1927)
  12. Edward Jackson (Indiana, Old Whig, 1927-1931)
  13. Norman Thomas (Ohio, Farmer-Labor, 1931-1939)
  14. Arthur Vandenberg (Michigan, Old Whig, 1939-1944)
  15. John W. Bricker (Ohio, Old Whig, 1944-1947)
  16. Henry A. Wallace (Iowa, Farmer-Labor, 1947-1955)
  17. Harold Handley (Indiana, Old Whig, 1955-1963)
  18. Hubert H. Humphrey (Minnesota, DFL, 1963-1971)
  19. James Rhodes (Ohio, Old Whig, 1971-1975)
  20. George McGovern (Dakota, DFL, 1975-1983)
  21. Roger Chafee (Michigan, Old Whig, 1983-1991)
  22. Thomas Hayden (Michigan, DFL, 1991-1995)
  23. Fred Grandy (Iowa, Old Whig, 1995-1999)
  24. Hillary R. Collins (Illinois, DFL, 1999-2007)
  25. John Kasich (Ohio, Old Whig, 2007-2015)
  26. Scott Walker (Wisconsin, Old Whig, 2015-2019)
  27. Peter Buttigieg (Indiana, DFL, 2019- )

In Part 1, we went through the first few days of the festival, with a number of Beatles-related acts getting to perform, along with every duo possible among The Beatles. Next up are the lads’ solo sets. Day 4 sees both Ringo and George giving full-length concerts in anticipation of the Beatles reunion show just days away.

Ringo Starr’s band:

  • Ringo Starr: lead vocals, drums, percussion
  • Joe Walsh: guitar, vocals
  • Todd Rundgren: guitar, keyboards, vocals
  • Billy Preston: keyboards, vocals
  • Richard Page: bass, vocals
  • Mark Rivera: saxophone, keyboards, percussion
  • Zak Starkey: drums, percussion

Ringo Starr’s setlist:

  1. What’s My Name
  2. Matchbox
  3. Don’t Go Where the Road Don’t Go
  4. Other Side of Liverpool 
  5. Boys
  6. Missouri Loves Company
  7. I Saw the Light (Todd Rundgren on lead vocals)
  8. Will It Go Round in Circles (Billy Preston on lead vocals)
  9. Kyrie (Richard Page on lead vocals)
  10. In The City (Joe Walsh on lead vocals)
  11. Love Me Do
  12. Snookeroo 
  13. Don’t Pass Me By
  14. Back Off Boogaloo
  15. That’s The Way God Planned It (Billy Preston on lead vocals)
  16. Bang on the Drum (Todd Rundgren on lead vocals)
  17. Life’s Been Good to Me (So Far) (Joe Walsh on lead vocals) 
  18. Broken Wings (Richard Page on lead vocals) 
  19. No No Song 
  20. Yellow Submarine
  21. Oh My My
  22. Liverpool 8

Encore: It Don’t Come Easy, With A Little Help From My Friends.

Ringo gives an all-star band style performance, sharing the spotlight with some famous friends. Wisely avoiding his late 70s and early 80s records, he adroitly mixes old Beatles favorites, his early 70s records, and his more recent output. A number of surprising deep cuts make the show, including “Missouri Loves Company” from Ringo Rama, and “Snookeroo,” the b-side to “No No Song” written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The all-stars are tight, anchored by Starkey and Rivera’s musicianship. Walsh and Rundgren clown around and play off each other well, giving the proceedings some comic relief. Billy Preston’s enthusiasm is ineffectious, while Page, still as a statue on stage, provides perfect high tenor harmonies.

George Harrison’s band:

  • George Harrison: lead vocals, guitar
  • Dhani Harrison: guitar, background vocals
  • Herbie Flowers: bass, background vocals
  • Gary Wright: keyboards, background vocals
  • Jim Keltner: drums, percussion
  • Ray Cooper: drums, percussion

George Harrison’s setlist:

  1. The Inner Light (w/ Ravi Shankar)
  2. Within You, Without You (w/ Ravi Shankar)
  3. I Want to Tell You
  4. Any Road
  5. Not Guilty 
  6. Dark Horse 
  7. Cheer Down 
  8. Nothing Shaking (But the Leaves on the Trees)
  9. Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
  10. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)
  11. Badge (w/ Eric Clapton)
  12. Cloud Nine (w/ Eric Clapton)
  13. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (w/ Eric Clapton)
  14. Life Itself 
  15. Old Brown Shoe
  16. Isn’t It A Pity
  17. Marwa Blues
  18. Devil’s Radio 
  19. End of the Line 
  20. Something
  21. Savoy Truffle (w/ Muscle Shoals Horns)
  22. Got My Mind Set On You (w/ Muscle Shoals Horns) 
  23. All Things Must Pass ((w/ Muscle Shoals Horns)

Encore: What Is Life? (w/ Muscle Shoals Horns), My Sweet Lord

Never the most engaging frontman, Harrison engages in some wry jokes and banter with his bandmates throughout the set. He begins with Ravi Shankar and about a half dozen musicians who back up George, his eyes closed and sitting cross-legged on a cushion, as they perform two of The Beatles’ best-known Indian-flavored tracks. As the Indian musicians leave the stage, George’s more conventional rock and roll accompanists join him, and a roadie hands him his psychedelic guitar from the Magical Mystery Tour era. Shortly after a couple covers of his favorite artists–Carl Perkins and Bob Dylan–his frenemy Eric Clapton joins him on stage. They perform the Cream staple “Badge”, the title track to Harrison’s comeback album Cloud Nine, and of course, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” with Clapton’s guitar solo earning some of the loudest cheers of the night. He visits some obscure tracks for the second half of his show such as the Wilburys song “End of the Line,” “Life Itself” from Somewhere in England, and the Grammy-winning “Marwa Blues.” After a rousing “Something”, Harrison invites the famous Muscle Shoals horn section to the stage for a few numbers before an encore that includes perhaps the two best known songs from his iconic All Things Must Pass.

John and Paul’s solo sets are up next. Any guesses on what they will play?

I can’t believe it, but we’re at the second-to-last installment of Each Alike in Dignity, the longest, most convoluted timeline I’ve ever attempted. As always, I am including four president cards, these ones covering the midwestern Algonquin League from the 80s through the Naughts. And just for you, Philip, two of them are from Michigan.

Roger Chafee was one of the astronauts who perished in the Apollo 1 fire; in this timeline, where space flight begins in a little bit later, he’s the first man to orbit the earth and lives a much longer life. And if Eugene Debs can become president in a polarized Midwest, why not Tom Hayden, the founder of Students for a Democratic Society? For those of you wondering if any celebrities would be president, Fred Grandy surfaces. As you may know, he played Gopher on The Love Boat and was an Iowa congressman. At last, Hillary gets to be president, and it happens partly because she didn’t marry Bill.

  1. Zachariah Chandler (Michigan, Old Whig, 1876-1879)
  2. William T. Sherman (Ohio, Old Whig, 1879-1887)
  3. James Birdseye McPherson (Ohio, Old Whig, 1887-1890)
  4. William Windom (Minnesota, Old Whig, 1890-1891)
  5. John Hay (Illinois, Old Whig, 1891-1895)
  6. Adlai Stevenson (Illinois, Democratic, 1895-1899)
  7. Marshall Field (Illinois, Old Whig, 1899-1903)
  8. Russell Alger (Michigan, Old Whig, 1903-1907)
  9. Eugene V. Debs (Indiana, Farmer-Labor, 1907-1911)
  10. Nicholas Longworth (Ohio, Old Whig, 1911-1919) 
  11. Irvine Lenroot (Wisconsin, Old Whig, 1919-1927)
  12. Edward Jackson (Indiana, Old Whig, 1927-1931)
  13. Norman Thomas (Ohio, Farmer-Labor, 1931-1939)
  14. Arthur Vandenberg (Michigan, Old Whig, 1939-1944)
  15. John W. Bricker (Ohio, Old Whig, 1944-1947)
  16. Henry A. Wallace (Iowa, Farmer-Labor, 1947-1955)
  17. Harold Handley (Indiana, Old Whig, 1955-1963)
  18. Hubert H. Humphrey (Minnesota, DFL, 1963-1971)
  19. James Rhodes (Ohio, Old Whig, 1971-1975)
  20. George McGovern (Dakota, DFL, 1975-1983)
  21. Roger Chafee (Michigan, Old Whig, 1983-1991)
  22. Thomas Hayden (Michigan, DFL, 1991-1995)
  23. Fred Grandy (Iowa, Old Whig, 1995-1999)
  24. Hillary R. Collins (Illinois, DFL, 1999-2007)

I’ve been watching The Good Place lately on the suggestion of a number of friends who thought it might be my cup of tea. I’m pleased to say that their suggestion was spot-in; it’s unexpected and delightful to see a prime-time major-network television show devoting time to, say, Soren Kierkegaard and esoteric considerations of what justice is like when our time on earth is over.

Over the course of four seasons, our four human protagonists on the show (aided by reformed demon Michael) realize that one’s fate after death is bogged down in a cumbersome points system that no modern person could possibly overcome to avoid going to “The Bad Place” due to the unintended consequences of their actions. They ultimately convince the heavenly (and hellish) hosts to remake the system. Most people will spend some time in a “bad place” to confront the harm they’ve caused and to finish growing and developing as a person before reaching the “good place.”

Yet the characters ultimately find “the good place” unfulfilling, inert, and too perfect for its own good. In order to enjoy eternity, they realize, their own eternities have to end: our existence needs to be finite. And so a mechanism is devised for someone, after a time enjoying “the good place” and all its experiences and happy reunions, to go peacefully off into oblivion “whenever you’re ready,” as the title of the final episode describes.

This seems like a very strange set-up for a fun post about a fantasy Beatles reunion. But suppose “the good place” is more or less what the hereafter is like? The Beatles and all their contemporaries and compatriots are there– and in time, each of us is there as well. Before The Beatles go off into that final sunset, let’s say they arrange one last reunion concert to end all reunion concerts. In fact, let’s imagine they go a step further and make it a reunion festival.

Preparations are in the works for a few Bearimys, but press agent Derek Taylor finally announces Brian Epstein’s plans for the festival.

It starts out with three days’ worth of mini-sets in a festival atmosphere: but with better sanitation, lots of comfy cushions to sit on, perfect crisp early autumn weather, and a few dozen food trucks offering fare ranging from classic British fish and chips to bahn mi.

The first day of the festival is reserved for acts that inspired John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Short 45-minute sets are reserved in different corners of the grounds for Chuck Berry, Carole King, Roy Orbison, Ray Charles, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly & the Crickets, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, The Shirelles, and Gene Vincent. A few key absences stand out; Jerry Lee Lewis is still struggling his way through the Bad Place, unable to fully grasp the problematic nature of marrying one’s 13-year-old cousin. Elvis is still somehow legally obligated to Col. Parker’s absurd movie contract in the afterlife, and is off filming his 583rd feature, Macau Madness.

Days two and three feature many of the Fab Four’s contemporaries and colleagues. Artists during this part of the festival include Harry Nilsson, Badfinger, Mary Hopkins, Peter & Gordon, Bob Dylan, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Denny Laine, Leon Russell, Tom Petty, Peter Frampton, Cilla Black, Jeff Lyne and the Electric Light Orchestra, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Jools Holland, Joe Walsh, The Meters, Steve Miller, Donovan, The Rutles, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Ravi Shankar, Jackie DeShannon, and The Band.

The Beatles themselves take part as well. To help generate some excitement and anticipation, they sporatically perform in duos throughout these two days, performing short six-song sets with a few backup musicians. Between themselves, John, Paul, George, and Ringo make an agreement to not perform the same song twice during the festival.

Paul and George–maybe the most fraught interpersonal relationship in the group–come first, with a collaboration between them that ended up on the first disc they recorded, “In Spite of All the Danger.” They follow with a breezy “I’ll Follow the Sun” and with a knowing wink, do “Wah Wah,” a song Harrison wrote to vent out his frustrations on Macca during the Let It Be sessions. The Cute One and The Quiet One carry on with “Handle with Care,” as McCartney steps in for Roy Orbison on the bridge. Paul and George swap to ukuleles for “Dance Tonight,” and finally, Paul breaks out his fuzz bass to end with a rousing “Think For Yourself.”

John and Ringo go next for a fun, back-to-basics set that begins with “I’m the Greatest,” featuring some spritely keyboard work form Billy Preston. Lennon performs “Cold Turkey” followed by a jocular “What Goes On”, the latter being a rare collaboration between Lennon and Ringo. Feigning a yawn, Lennon then performs “I’m So Tired” before ending with “Goodnight Vienna” and one of Ringo’s finest moments as a drummer, “Rain.”

Paul and Ringo go next, and having lived the longest, they certainly had the most opportunities to collaborate. They begin with an ersatz “Temporary Secretary”, before switching to a tender “Walk With You” and “Six O’Clock,” an earnest song Macca wrote for the Ringo album. Next is one of Ringo’s #1 hits, “You’re Sixteen,” and Paul gamely reprises his kazoo solo from the 1973 original. “Helter Skelter” comes next, raucous and loud as could be, with Ringo gleefully shouting “I’VE GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!!” before concluding with “Beautiful Night,” from Flaming Pie.

John and George begin on a rocking note with “Give Me Some Truth”. John says some uncharacteristically kind words about George’s hard work to create the backwards solo on “I’m Only Sleeping” before they perform that track for the audience. Next, they go back to the Hamburg days to break out the instrumental “Cry for a Shadow.” George, shy in front the microphone after all these years, talks about John’s influence on his early life and the hurt his assassination caused before performing “All Those Years Ago.” As a lark, they tease the first verse of “How Do You Sleep” before switching to “Do You Want To Know A Secret.” For their finale, George is handed a sitar, and the two perform “Norwegian Wood.”

George and Ringo–perhaps the strongest and least complicated Beatles relationship (even after George and Maureen slept together) share a visible camaraderie during their set. Beginning with Dylan’s “If Not For You,” George then uses his slide guitar for the deep cut “King of Broken Hearts” from Vertical Man. As mutual Carl Perkins fans, their enjoyment at playing “Honey Don’t” is manifest, with Ringo giving one of his trademark invitations to a George guitar solo. “Photograph”–a collaboration between the two that went to #1–comes next, and Ringo thanks George for his help composing “Octopus’s Garden”. To end their set, they visit Harrison’s Cloud Nine album with the nostalgic “When We Was Fab.”

It goes without saying that John and Paul’s set is the most highly anticipated, and their performance closes out this segment of the festival. The lineup is stripped down: just the two of them come out at first, each with an acoustic guitar, to perform “Two of Us.” Then, they are joined by Jim Keltner on drums, and McCartney utility man Brian Ray switching between guitars, bass, and keyboards as needed. The foursome perform “The Ballad of John and Yoko” after reminiscing how much fun it was to record the song just the two of them in early 1969. During “Let Me Roll It”, Paul notes how he tried to make a song in the style of Lennon’s solo work, and invites John to take a verse. Things take a more serious turn with “The Song We Were Singing” from Flaming Pie. After doing one of their initial “Lennon-McCartney Originals,” “One After 909,” they conclude the set with the final song recorded by The Beatles, “Real Love.”

Needless to say, anticipation is at a fever pitch for the big day. But getting the four lads on stage together will have to wait. Each Beatle is getting a solo set in the festival– and we’ll cover that in Part 2.

The big moment has come. As longtime readers know, my alternate history timelines have one hard and fast rule: no IRL (in real-life) presidents, and nobody who was a president in a previous timeline I’ve written. So this post is my one chance to speculate on the presidencies of my two very favorite unsuccessful candidates: George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey. Believe me, I’d very much like to live in a world where each of them had eight years as president.

Designer’s notes: I couldn’t find a real right-winger who fit the Midwest well– instead I went with Handley–a quintessential “could have been worse” guy from the most reactionary state in the Midwest, and Jim Rhodes, most famous for unleashing the National Guard at Kent State.

But it’s Humphrey and McGovern that stand out to me- two very different sides of liberalism. Humphrey had plenty of administrative talent, a gift for gab, and was knew how to work through parliamentary maneuvers to be an effective legislator. And in this timeline, he doesn’t have Lyndon Johnson to keep screwing him over. McGovern was an idealist, a moralist, and a rare introverted politician. I wanted both men’s good intentions to come to unpredictable ends– Humphrey’s desire to send out good young persons in service to the world ends in a drawn-out war in Latin America. And McGovern’s desire for peace ends in committing soldiers to try and stop a genocide. The latter was inspired by McGovern’s comments that if he had been elected, he would have used American military power to halt the Khmer Rouge atrocities against their own people in Cambodia–striking for a man running on a platform of withdrawal from Vietnam.

  1. Zachariah Chandler (Michigan, Old Whig, 1876-1879)
  2. William T. Sherman (Ohio, Old Whig, 1879-1887)
  3. James Birdseye McPherson (Ohio, Old Whig, 1887-1890)
  4. William Windom (Minnesota, Old Whig, 1890-1891)
  5. John Hay (Illinois, Old Whig, 1891-1895)
  6. Adlai Stevenson (Illinois, Democratic, 1895-1899)
  7. Marshall Field (Illinois, Old Whig, 1899-1903)
  8. Russell Alger (Michigan, Old Whig, 1903-1907)
  9. Eugene V. Debs (Indiana, Farmer-Labor, 1907-1911)
  10. Nicholas Longworth (Ohio, Old Whig, 1911-1919) 
  11. Irvine Lenroot (Wisconsin, Old Whig, 1919-1927)
  12. Edward Jackson (Indiana, Old Whig, 1927-1931)
  13. Norman Thomas (Ohio, Farmer-Labor, 1931-1939)
  14. Arthur Vandenberg (Michigan, Old Whig, 1939-1944)
  15. John W. Bricker (Ohio, Old Whig, 1944-1947)
  16. Henry A. Wallace (Iowa, Farmer-Labor, 1947-1955)
  17. Harold Handley (Indiana, Old Whig, 1955-1963)
  18. Hubert H. Humphrey (Minnesota, DFL, 1963-1971)
  19. James Rhodes (Ohio, Old Whig, 1971-1975)
  20. George McGovern (Dakota, DFL, 1975-1983)

Although other projects have delayed the conclusion of this series, I’m submitting for your consideration the four most iconic fictional characters from our final ten states.


  • Tom Joad (The Grapes of Wrath)
  • Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders)
  • Curly McClain (Oklahoma!)
  • Mike Doonesbury (Doonesbury)


  • J.R. Ewing (Dallas)
  • Cordell Walker (Walker, Texas Ranger)
  • Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
  • Bo “Bandit” Darville (Smoky and the Bandit)

New Mexico:

  • Pecos Bill (folk legend) 
  • Ethel Mertz (I Love Lucy)
  • Walter White (Breaking Bad)
  • Will Kane (High Noon)


  • Eleanor Shellstrop (The Good Place)
  • Thunderbird (X-Men…for three issues, anyway)
  • John Rambo (Rambo)
  • Thel (The Family Circus)


  • Ben Cartwright (Bonanza)
  • Jim Dangle (Reno 911)
  • Leslie Chow (The Hangover)
  • Rusty Martin (Viva Las Vegas)


  • Bojack Horseman (Bojack Horseman)
  • The Dude (The Big Lebowski)
  • Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Ron Burgundy (Anchorman)


  • Homer Simpson (The Simpsons)
  • Coraline (eponymous graphic novel and movie)
  • Ramona Quimby (eponymous children’s novel)
  • Chief Bromden (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)


  • Frasier Crane (Frasier)
  • Bella Swan (Twilight)
  • Poison Ivy (Batman comics and Batman & Robin)
  • Anastasia Steele (Fifty Shades of Gray)


  • William Riker (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  • Buck (Call of the Wild)
  • Maggie O’Connell (Northern Exposure)
  • Meyer Landsman (Yiddish Policeman’s Union)


  • Lilo Pelekai (Lilo & Stitch)
  • Dano Williams (Hawaii Five-O)
  • Thomas Magnum (Magnum PI)
  • Gilligan (Gilligan’s Island)

What do you think? I realize putting down Homer Simpson for Oregon was cheating a little bit but Matt Groening has been more than open about his childhood in the Beaver State inspiring his most famous television series.

As we established last time, the Algonquin States are going to swing a bit between far-left and reaction. Nowhere is that more apparent than in this set, which covers the equivalent of World War II, called the Trans-oceanic War in this timeline.

Designer’s notes: Only in a world of tense polarization could Henry Wallace and Norman Thomas become heads of state! But they both show radicalism in the U.S. frequently has Midwestern roots right out of the American soil. In fact, a religious element was often present: Wallace had a strong lineage in the social gospel tradition–his grandfather was a pastor in that school of thought–and Norman Thomas was himself a pastor.

  1. Zachariah Chandler (Michigan, Old Whig, 1876-1879)
  2. William T. Sherman (Ohio, Old Whig, 1879-1887)
  3. James Birdseye McPherson (Ohio, Old Whig, 1887-1890)
  4. William Windom (Minnesota, Old Whig, 1890-1891)
  5. John Hay (Illinois, Old Whig, 1891-1895)
  6. Adlai Stevenson (Illinois, Democratic, 1895-1899)
  7. Marshall Field (Illinois, Old Whig, 1899-1903)
  8. Russell Alger (Michigan, Old Whig, 1903-1907)
  9. Eugene V. Debs (Indiana, Farmer-Labor, 1907-1911)
  10. Nicholas Longworth (Ohio, Old Whig, 1911-1919) 
  11. Irvine Lenroot (Wisconsin, Old Whig, 1919-1927)
  12. Edward Jackson (Indiana, Old Whig, 1927-1931)
  13. Norman Thomas (Ohio, Farmer-Labor, 1931-1939)
  14. Arthur Vandenberg (Michigan, Old Whig, 1939-1944)
  15. John W. Bricker (Ohio, Old Whig, 1944-1947)
  16. Henry A. Wallace (Iowa, Farmer-Labor, 1947-1955)