The (Un)True Identity of Burial

Ask any DJ (or electronic music aficionado or bath-salt-sniffing club-goer, if you can get close enough to them without having your face eaten off), and they’ll likely tell you that the true identity of Burial is of course William Bevan, of the Woodford Row Bevans – that is, they would do if they’d bothered to show up for their set. Nonetheless, debate and speculation swirled this year as to Burial’s, that is Bevan’s, that is his (or her), real identity. A now-infamous tongue-in-cheek tweet from Four Tet at the end of 2012 seemed to indicate that Kiran Hebden might actually be the man behind Burial’s mysterious moniker. And the cryptic sample at the tail end of Burial’s most recent release only adds another fresh squeeze of lighter fluid to the fire. But at long last, here and now, for once and for all, I will finally and definitively reveal who Burial really is – and also that, if you happen to be his landlord, you should definitely never accept his personal cheques.

Over the course of the year, social networks and blogs ebbed and flowed with cases proving or discrediting Burial’s true identity as Hebden’s. But this theory rests upon the assumption, made quite incorrectly if I may point out here, that Kiran Hebden is indeed Four Tet in the first place, given that it is equally plausible that, armed with this information, Bevan is Four Tet. Let’s test the logic: if Hebden is Burial, then Burial isn’t Bevan, but if Hebden is Burial, then the identity of Four Tet must be called into question, assuming the output of Burial and Four Tet is too voluminous and stylistically divergent to attribute to one man, even if that man does possess all the hairstyling skills of a young Dr. Emmett Brown. Therefor, if Four Tet’s identity is up for grabs, one William Bevan could just as plausibly helm the Four Tet project as anyone, now that Bevan is all of a sudden unemployed, or at least underemployed, as the fake Burial he’d been masquerading to be all this time, in addition to being the laziest Tweeter in the history of show business.

What none of the commentators ever knew, however, and what I am prepared to reveal to you now, just before going into hiding in the same place as Edward Snowden, Walter White, and Charles Manson, is that neither Bevan nor Hebdan exist at all; they are merely fabrications, like unicorns, or leprechauns, or Boris Johnson’s conscience. Here it comes, are you ready? It is, in all manner of fact Paul McCartney who is not only both Four Tet and Burial, but also hundreds if not thousands of other artists, working across dozens of genres, for a half-dozen decades, from Wings to Jimmy Buffett and Olivia Newton-John, from Garth Brooks and Jennifer Lopez to every member of One Direction – and their entire stage crew. Behind a wall of secrecy that would make David Bowie’s entourage look like a sewing circle, it’s rumored that McCartney even drives the tour bus, which is convenient for everyone involved – everyone, in this instance, being only Sir Paul. Fortunately for McCartney, who has accumulated more moving violations than any other former Beatle including John who once drove a Rolls Royce into a swimming pool, he only has to drive it in One Direction.

Once you lift your chin up off the floor and we examine the evidence that Macca is everyone under the sun in the sober light of day (or the still-drunk light of day, if you’re that DJ mentioned in the first paragraph), the truth resounds clear as a bell. It’s so obvious that it’s a wonder we hadn’t uncovered it all before now. Let me fill you in on history. In the 1960s, during McCartney’s first incarnation as a member of a little indie rock band called the Beatles, a rumor spread through the popular media of the day that Paul had died. The rumor escalated to the status of urban legend, fuelled by American radio, tabloid press, speculation from journalists and fans, and hysterically confirmed by a Yoko Ono lament performed live in Toronto, the lyrics to which nobody actually understood, even though everyone pretended to.

Verily, the “Paul is Dead” story is so well known as to be stuff of legend today, with the ultimate proof of infamy: its own Wikipedia page. But the most curious supporting tale told at the time – and the one that turns out to be true – came from the most unlikely of sources: the minutes from a 1969 meeting of the Union of New York City Hot-Dog vendors. One such vendor, a man named Artie Fufkin of the Coney Island Fufkins, and a diligent due-paying member of NYC Hot-Dog vendors’ Local #29IF, told the story of how McCartney once ate a hot-dog at his stand, and choked dead right there on the spot.

McCartney had been travelling in the US under the assumed name of Wilford Brimley, but was apparently only wearing an oak leaf over one eye as a disguise, and mumbling about how there were cocoons at the bottom of the pool in his retirement community that were keeping him looking so young, making his identity as McCartney impossible to miss, as well as confirming the atrociousness of his otherwise uncannily prescient Wilford Brimley impersonation. The FBI and CIA quickly swooped in, removed the body, and replaced it with a robot of reasonable likeness. This story is well documented, alongside such other notable subjects as ‘squeezable mustard: gift or curse?’, in the transcripts to the New York City Local #29IF Hot-Dog Vendor’s meeting of August 32nd, 1969.

What is less-well documented, however, is how this top-secret FBI and CIA-led conspiracy continued over the past half-century until this very day, their robot imposter technology refined not only on Macca, but also on a disturbingly long list of artists who were also secretly replaced with McCartney robots of reasonable likeness – robots disguised much more cunningly than McCartney had been on that fateful day in Coney Island in the late 1960s. For example, McCartney’s reasonable likeness Garth Brooks robot disguise involves the donning of a 10-gallon hat fashioned out of two 5-gallon hats. His Jennifer Lopez costume requires a complex welding-on of the boot from a 1984 Opal Corsa. More currently, as Kiran Hebdan, McCartney’s robot wears Brillo pads on his helmet. In the case of William Bevan, well, let’s just say that that isn’t a ‘hoodie’ in that Twitter profile pic. We are officially through the looking glass here, people.

Questions surrounding the identity of great artists are nothing new: historians long thought that Michelangelo’s work originated from a dedicated team of Michelangelisti spiders that clung to the ceiling and worked with tiny paint brushes, and literature scholars once believed Sir Francis Bacon was Shakespeare, but he apparently just had a chicken bone caught in his throat. Recently, Kanye West has sparked rumors by admitting to being an iPhone. But ultimately, the most shocking truth of this whole crazy story – the truth so incredible that it truly sends chills – is that McCartney himself never existed either. All along, he’s actually just been Dick Clark with a bad wig. In addition to still being very much alive, Dick Clark is in fact everyone who has ever lived; from Moses to Susan Boyle, and you guessed it, even you and me. Take a deep breath and let that sink in. We have just lost cabin pressure. The truth is, we are all Dicks.

The real takeaway of this tale, though, is that if you’re going to covertly die choking on a Coney Island hot-dog, or get a facelift, or all of a sudden reveal your real identity, it’s probably best to post it simultaneously to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, WordPress, Instagram, Vine, SoundCloud, Mixcloud, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace, possibly even Friendster, certainly in a sample at the end of your new EP, and most importantly, fill out a change of address form with the post office.