14 April 2010
I just finished it and really enjoyed it. If you’ve read any Beatles books that cover their childhood(s) up to the breakup (i.e. “Anthology”), you won’t learn any new earth-shattering facts you did not already know. However, you will learn how their actions were influenced by society/culture and how society/culture in Britain and the US and was influenced by them. It really is an interesting angle.
Mr. Gould, being a musician himself, also did a nice job of dissecting each album and most of the songs on them. Some of that was a bit dry for me when he started talking about keys and chords and what-not as I am not a musician and could not possibly care less what key was being played or sung. But I know there are many of you here in the Forum that get all of that so you will probably get more out of it. His take on some of the songs’ meanings was interesting as well.
I also enjoyed his style of writing, although there were times when I thought he owned stock in the company that publishes “Roget’s Thesaurus”. He seemed to strive for the rarely used word versus the simple one. That still did not stop me from enjoying this fine opuscule…I mean, book.
I know I will read it again sometime because there was a lot of info (606 pages) and I’m sure I may have glossed over some of it. If I did not like it all, I wouldn’t bother with a second read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
To the fountain of perpetual mirth, let it roll for all its worth. And all the children boogie.
1 May 2011
Its a book i had to keep putting down, not because it was difficult reading, far from it, but to utilise a theasaurus/dictionary to know what the hell he was talking about. Thank goodness for ipods and free apps.
Certainly the highlight for me was putting the albums into context with what was happening in the UK and US at the time of their releases, gave a greater appreciation of how much impact they had on society but also how much the changing times influenced the Beatles and their output. Its easy to separate the Beatles music from the times so to have some of them linked up was quite something. Pepper is an obvious example, Gould really made me understand just how huge the album was aside from the music contained.
"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris)
5 November 2011
I got Can’t Buy Me Love this summer, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I heard some bad things about it, and that made me lose my interest in getting around to it.
All living things must abide by the laws of the shape they inhabit
14 April 2010
14 December 2009
Yes, read this around last Thanksgiving and liked it a lot – the 2nd-best Beatles book I’ve read in recent memory, after Doggett’s YOGMYM. Extraneous as it may seem to some, I really enjoyed his take on such things as the psychology of groups and the mini-history of U.S. radio.
One anomaly, considering how obsessively he seems to cover practically EVERY other Beatles track, is his almost total-avoidance of the “Yellow Submarine ” material. It’s as if he felt that the Beatles’ semi-disposal of those tracks made them unworthy of his time.
Paul: Yeah well… first of all, we’re bringing out a ‘Stamp Out Detroit’ campaign.
16 July 2013
I stumbled on this book when lovely ( and well-trained! ) husband found it and brought it home from the library and I have to say, I’m very glad he did. This has been one of the best I’ve read (with the qualifier that I still have many to go!).
Gould’s musical analysis sometimes went beyond my understanding ( which is not saying much! ) but was exceptionally well done and his contextualizing of the music, and the personalities of the boys themselves, in the social and political environment of the 60’s was very thought provoking.
I particularly liked the way he dealt with the people at the centre of things – no vindictive nastiness and no sycophantic sugar-coating either. It approaches everyone even-handedly and as non-judgementally as anyone reasonably can.
I also really liked the way Gould covered the break-up and the end-game legal wrangles, though it never gets any easier to read about that awful time. For me, it was presented in a way that leaves me feeling I have a much better handle on all the elements that were in play and the things that were driving each of the four at the time.
"Try to realise it's all within yourself - no-one else can make you change"
5 February 2014
This was the first ‘in-depth’ book on the Beatles I read, and that was a couple of years ago. The one thing that has stuck with me was Gould’s explanation for Beatlemania; the social condition of the western world at the time of their rise and how they provided the outlet for a great amount of angst and uncertainty many were experiencing at the time. Seemed logical.
14 April 2010
8 January 2015
Sounds like a more useful cultural/musical guide than MacDonald, I’ll have to find a copy!
I'm like Necko only I'm a bassist ukulele guitar synthesizer kazoo penguin and also everyone. Or is everyone me? Now I'm a confused bassist ukulele guitar synthesizer kazoo penguin everyone who is definitely not @Joe. This has been true for 2016 & 2017 but I may have to get more specific in the future.
9 March 2022
I just finished and really liked it. The social and political context Gould puts the events surrounding The Beatles in is illuminating and fascinating. I think he approaches the story from a very neutral place, which is an interesting take when authors tend to let their personal opinions seep through and taint the narrative.
I loved the section on Liverpool accents.
Unfortunately he leaves George and Ringo out for the most part and barely even covers their songs.
I didn’t love his interpretations on the songs in general, actually. I don’t think he always has the right attitude about them and clearly focuses on ones that he personally rates highly. Basically, if I did want analyses on Beatles songs, he doesn’t strike me as the the guy to go to *that would be The Beatles Naked podcast*. He could have cut a lot of that to keep the story more concise.
He seems to lose steam for The Beatles as the years go on and that reflects in the book: it starts with a big drump thwap and ends with a absentminded guitar strum. To put it in quasi-musical terms lol
Overall, though, I definitely enjoyed and recommend this one!
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