8 January 2015
Three questions re: Beatles books
2. I love Revolution in the Head so have been surprised to read on here that there are many errors. Can anyone tell me just what these errors are and how we know them to be errors?
Revolution is one of those books, if you are new to Beatles books in general, seems amazing. It had the good fortune to be one of the earlier investigations of Beatles music and tries to be a critical and artistic appreciation of the songs. But unfortunately, it fails to live up to the higher standards of today's Beatle scholarship. The errors are simply too numerous to list, and range from guesswork as to who played what instrument and what instruments are there, to outright myths about songs and the songwriting. It is neither objective nor accurate and is often contradicted in better works like Lewisohn's. To add to the mess, MacDonald died and the last revision of the book published after his death; the publishers had a vested interest in many of the worst excesses of the book remaining, particularly his character assassination of Lennon and Harrison. The book also tries to place the Beatles within the culture of the time with an involved essay on the matter that isn't bad reading but still so opinionated that it's worthless as scholarship. And when MacDonald decided that a songwriting method called 'random' is to blame for half the Beatles output and it all went downhill after Sgt Peppers and it's all that druggie Lennon's fault, well, what conclusion are you likely to reach about his "scholarship"? Compare earlier entries to the later ones: there's simply no consistency, and he completely loses interest in even the semi-musicological approach he started with.
These days we expect a lot more of our Beatles books than we did then, and although Revolution was a step in the right direction, it is still a misstep and unlikely to be revived. Go get the Complete Beatles Chronicle by Mark Lewisohn and read about the songs by someone who actually cared to get it right and backs it with sources.
The following people thank ewe2 for this post:Beatlebug
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