BOOK REVIEW: “IN THEIR LIVES: GREAT WRITERS ON GREAT BEATLES SONGS”

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The past nine months have been great ones to be a Beatles fan. Last September, Ron Howard’s documentary “Eight Day’s A Week: The Touring Years” hit the theaters, a few months later it was out on DVD. The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl” was remastered and released for the first time on CD.  There have been numerous new books released- Steve Turner’s “Beatles ’66”- which followed The Beatles through the year in which they made what many feel is their greatest album, “Revolver.”  Rob Sheffield’s “Dreaming The Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and The Whole World”- which I couldn’t put down it was so good.  George Harrison’s “I Me Mine” has been released in an expanded edition. There have been a number of books released in the past couple months dealing with The Beatles most famous album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” with it being the 50th anniversary, some magazines centering on “Sgt. Pepper” and of course the big remastering of Sgt.Pepper in various forms a few weeks ago. To top it all off in mid- May SiriusXM Channel 18 is now The Beatles Channel [I’ve been listening 2-3 hours at least every day}

I was only three when The Beatles invaded America, I have no memory of it but it seems like the past nine months have been about as close as you can get to Beatlemania- without a time machine.

Another interesting book that has come out is called “In Their Lives: Great Writers On Great Beatles Songs.” This book is a collection of 28 essays- some as short as two pages others more lengthy- well dozen pages. The question they write on is The Beatles song that means the most to them- or their favorite Beatles song. Most of the writers here are not household names- the most famous being Rosanne Cash, David Duchovny, the great Chuck Klosterman, author Jane Smiley, and Shawn Colvin.  I found most the essays interesting but some of the best ones are the ones who relate a Beatles song to the impact the song had one their lives- my favorites are Gerald Early “I’m A Loser”- about his growing up in inner-city Philadelphia a Beatle fan surrounded by people who were not Beatles fans except for a classmate who became a friend. Rick Moody “Golden Slumbers/ Carry That Weight/ The End} On these medley of songs and the role they played with him as a young boy with his parents breaking up. Rebecca Mead “Eleanor Rigby” on a neighbor-friend of her’s parents breaking up- and how she related that song to that family and how it gave her a glimpse as a child into the real world of adults. Thomas Beller “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”- how he associated a friends family with listening The Beatles. Maria Popova “Yellow Submarine”- how a song had special meaning to a family through generations.  Some of the essays deconstruct songs- some of these are more interesting than others- Chuck Klosterman on “Helter Skelter”- made me want to listen immediately again to a song I’ve heard hundreds and hundreds of times, Nicholas Dawidoff on “A Day In The Life.” Of course a few of the authors phone in their essay- the ones that didn’t hit with me were Pico Iyer “Yesterday”, David Duchovny’s and Shawn Colvin’s excite me at all.  Most of the essays are pretty good. I am always reading but am not a speed reader. This is a book that as a Beatles fanatic I couldn’t put down. A quick read. I wish they had more essay’s from second and third generation fans though- most of the essay’s are from fans who were there during The Beatles time in the 1960’s- or were aware of them. Something I have always found fascinating is the fanatics who are much younger, who weren’t even alive during the 1960’s. “In Their Lives” a great add to any Beatles library. Recommended.

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23 responses to “BOOK REVIEW: “IN THEIR LIVES: GREAT WRITERS ON GREAT BEATLES SONGS”

    • The Beatles are bigger now than ever before. It is always fascinating to come across fanatics- who were born after The Beatles were over. There are new fans being born everyday!

    • I’ve seen Paul McCartney in concert three times and Ringo last summer. I love seeing all the little kids singing along with them, especially Sir Paul. It’s weird, I didn’t become a mega fan until I was in my early 30s. LOL

    • I was 15 when I ‘discovered’ them– I don’t know how they eluded me that long! I’ve seen Ringo and Sir Paul both one time. Would love to see them again. It is never too late to become a fanatic!

    • I collect books and magazines. If it has “Beatles” on it- I buy it! lol.. and I have the albums I bought back when I caught the disease! The American versions back then… How about yourself?

    • I actually made a video a couple of months ago showing off most of my Beatles collection. I have magazines, books, artwork, pint glasses, mugs, and salt-and-pepper shakers, among other miscellaneous. Only rooms that don’t have Beatles stuff are my two bathrooms and my daughters room.

    • That is awesome. I have a few things like coffee cups– t-shirts, Trying to think what else. My wife is ‘Beatle neutral” I don’t think she understands my fanaticism.

    • “Strawberry Fields Forever” with “In My LIfe” a close second– my list after that- -changes constantly. “I’m Only Sleeping” has always been a favorite too.

    • What turned you on to The Beatles? For me it was a friend talking about them. Made me curious.. I went out and got the compilation album that came out that year ‘ Rock ‘n” Roll”- and it was off to the races!

    • I had a really boring job and I asked my husband to put every Beatles album he could find on my MP3 player. So basically, I discovered my love for them at work! Then I started buying books, listening to their music and watching documentaries. I also have Rock and Roll, with the silver cover.

    • Looking back that Rock N Roll album- wasn’t the best introduction– the Red and Blue albums would have been better- but when I went to the department store that night the one they had was Rock N’ Roll…

    • Those albums are great introductions- not only great hits on them but great album cuts. I remember my grandfather- who was born in 1909- had those two albums.

  1. Gag me with a spoon. I don’t like the Beatles, I never have. It’s embarrassing how the baby boomers are genuinely convinced they were a great band and are blind to the fact that they just happened to be in the right place at the right time in terms of TV, FM radio, a good economy, and a huge, albeit self-insured and highly annoying generation of young people. I can’t wait until these naive senior citizens who cling to the supposed glory of their youth.

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