Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"The Beatles," by Bob Spitz

This is the book I thought I would one day write. For probably two decades I've been quietly amassing information and opinions that would one day allow me to write about The Beatles as more than a band, as a timeless musical entity, still influential not only for their songs and their albums but for their lives as well. Now it's been written, and for the most part, to paraphrase, I know I should be glad. Ooooo.

"The Beatles" is as serious a biography as one you might read about a major historical figure, full of references, footnotes and all that. Better, however, it provides insight into the lives of the four Beatles, their families and friends, and also their songs, how they came about, their musical and lyrical values and more.

In short, it's a big book of Beatles information, for the most part chronilogically told, with reviews and biographical narrative. And, fortunately, it's neither dogmatic nor pedantic about the sixties and the band's cultural influence on an era. (There are plenty of other places to go for that.)

I won't attempt a review of the book here. For the most part, "The Beatles" is a biography of the band, and Bob Spitz is knowledgeable and thorough ... and a fan. It ends when Paul finally says, "That's it. I'm gone" and cuts off his communication with both his mates and their manager, Allen Klein. It's comprehensive in almost every way, especially good on "Sgt. Pepper," if a little light on "Abbey Road." I recommend it to anyone who sings along with "Can't Buy Me Love" or "Drive My Car," and is surprised by how good "I Should Have Known Better" or "No Reply" is, not having heard it in, maybe, years.

And to anyone who believes Yoko does, indeed, suck.

The book makes me want to go back to "A Hard Day's Night," the Richard Lester movie, see parts (but not all) of "Anthology" again, even watch for another rerun of Ed Sullivan. Maybe now I'll give up jotting notes on scraps of paper and shoving them in notebooks. But I won't give up the music.

Read an excerpt here.


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