Sunday, January 20, 2008

Posting has dropped off a bit, yeah I know, but I've been spending my time wisely I think; I've been reading. Specifically, I've been reading a spate of books that I have acquired for Christmas, as I posted about the other day, and none has been as interesting as one of the few fresh takes on the well-worn saga of the Beatles: Stephen Gould's Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America.

As this NY Times review states:

"Gould aims to meld the three primary, often distinct strands of Beatle bibliography — biography, music appreciation and pop sociology — into a single volume, a mother ship of Beatles books, with, as the subtitle implies, a special emphasis on the divide between the country that gave them birth and the country that arguably loved them best."

And that's true- one of my favorite Beatle books is musicologist Tim Riley's Tell Me Why, in which he deconstructs the musical output of the Fabs via the nuts and bolts of how the songs were put together in regards to the actual notes-on-paper, and Gould does a fair amount of that here. But as Timothy White did in his book about the Beach Boys, The Nearest Faraway Place, he also takes a look at the phenomenon from a sociological viewpoint as well, and while sometimes he does diverge a bit into areas that I don't really care about too much, this is often fascinating and is quite the antidote for the last few Fabs-related works I've read, which often concerned themselves with warts-and-all portrayals of these four men, and not always in a flattering fashion. It's not that I don't want to know that George was a self-absorbed dick to not only Pattie Boyd but just about everyone in his orbit in the early 1970's, or John was borderline psychotic and a mean, nasty drunk, or Paul was often a prima donna and mistreated his co-workers/bandmates while they were making music that I love, but the little part of me that still wants to hero worship a wee bit gets very sad with every revelation. Even sturdy old Geoff Emerick, the visionary engineer whose sonic innovations helped the sound of the Beatles during their most fruitful years, couldn't resist telling tales out of school about the Fabs' asshattery. Gould's book, so far, has been a refreshingly "just the facts" take- even though he and I differ in general opinion of many songs.

It's kind of a dense read so far, though- I'm only just now up to the Rubber Soul era. Unless the rest of the book totally devolves into sludge, I think, though, that I can recommend this unequivocally to those, like me, who have an interest in the music and not so much the dirt.

Anywho, I did start the new Spinner Rack Junkie today, and sincerely hope to get it posted this week.

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