Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
Several new books mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles arriving in the US and performing in front of a screaming live audience on the Ed Sullivan show--a show that everyone I knew at the time, young and old, watched. What I love about The Beatles Are Here! is that it isn’t about the Beatles themselves--there are plenty of other books for that and I’d rather listen to Beatles music, watch a video of them performing, or laugh through one of their irreverent interviews than read about them anyway. Instead, this book is a forceful but widely varied collection of personal essays by writers, musicians, fans young and old, and even non-fans about the rather amazing impact the Beatles had on culture, music, and individual lives.
Expecting to like this book, I ended up loving it. Just about every essay was fascinating in its own way, bringing back some aspect of that strange 1964, just post-Kennedy assassination, no longer the 50’s but not yet what we think of as the 60’s time like nothing else ever has. The essays that almost electrified me are the ones written by fans because those reignited my own vivid memories of passionate pre-adolescent obsession.
Being only nine I loved Paul because, well, he was the cutest and I wasn’t old enough to be very deep. The problem was, I was almost too rational for my own good. (I wanted to believe in Santa but long before kindergarten I just couldn’t.) I KNEW it was crazy for a nine year old to be infatuated with a 21 year old man she had never met, so I hotly denied any interest in the Beatles as long as I could with frequent random and vehement diatribes that must have fooled no one--I give my mother credit for never calling me on it--but then I reversed and embraced my Paul obsession with fervor. And, like many of the essayists in the book, that passion ended up influencing a somewhat amazing/ridiculous amount of my life.
I read that Paul claimed to like classical music so I decided I did too, and then listening to it I actually did. John, Paul and George wrote their own songs so I wanted to be original too and wrote reams and reams of immature but deeply felt poetry. Unlike many bands the Beatles continued to evolve by keeping their art and lives growing and changing, and still to this day being a lifelong learner and explorer who investigates ideas and embraces experiences is how I try to live.
So thank you John, Paul, George, and Ringo, and thank you Penelope Rowlands for putting this book together. (Penelope got caught up in the Beatles excitement when she was young too--one of those girls screaming on that cover photo is her.)
Essayists include Gay Talese, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Fran Lebowitz, Renée Fleming, Janis Ian, Tom Rush, Roy Blount, Jr. Barbara Ehrenreich, Cousin Brucie, and plenty of “ordinary” but highly articulate fans. This is the second collection put together by Penelope Rowlands that I’ve read and the first, Paris Was Ours which has essays by people who spent formative parts of their lives in the City of Light, is also wonderful.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing. The opinions are obviously all mine.