A common science fiction plot element is the parallel dimension—a world like ours, but slightly or hugely different than the one we currently exist in and which can only be entered through some sort of portal. (Star Trek really went to town with this, starting with the original series, and then extending it through DS9 and Enterprise.) A common feature of that plot element is that you can’t really get there by choice—anyone who ends up in the parallel dimension, or who arrives here in the “normal” earth from there, does so accidentally, and often without any knowledge of what happened.
I happen to love these sorts of stories, so I was highly intrigued to say the least when I heard about the story of James Richards, who bumped into a person named Jonas, who just happened to be from an alternate Earth where the Beatles never broke up. As proof, James Richards stole a cassette of their album Everyday Chemistry.
I don’t want to say too much about it here, since you can read a great article about it on medium or and a particularly fun one on Elsewhere. For that matter, you can actually visit the website of James Richards, where you can download the entire album and get the entire story directly from the horse’s mouth.
Most people will apply Occam’s razor, and say what is painfully obvious: these songs are all mash-ups of songs the members of the Beatles made after they broke up, and that James Richards is either a liar, a trickster, or deranged. If this is a fake, one thing is clear: somebody took a lot of time and effort to mash these songs together. They’re not a bad listen. And having been a very small child to teenager when I first heard most of these songs, they did bring back some memories.
Of course, Occam’s razor does not mean that the simplest solution is always the best, but that it’s usually the best. It’s quite possible that James Richards is telling the absolute truth, and that Jonas did pop through from an alternate Earth where the Beatles never did break up, and the creative efforts that they put into their solo work actually went into this, and presumably other, albums. In other words, this might not be a fake. We simply have no evidence either way, and interestingly, no one has come out of the woodwork to say that they helped mash all these songs together.
At any rate, it’s a fun thing to think about.
Coincidentally (or possibly not), there is a science fiction story by Stephen Baxter called “The Twelfth Album” from 1998 which tells a similar story. Hmmm…
And people have shown up from time to time with no prior history, such as Kaspar Hauser. There is also the story of the man from Taured, which may be an urban legend or possibly not. The Cryptonaut Podcast has a great episode about both the man from Taured and Jophar Vorin. It is one of my favorite episodes.
Anyway, you can give Everyday Chemistry a listen on YouTube: