A charming, delightful collection for Beatles fans and music fans in general.




What’s your favorite Beatles song?

That’s what literary agent and author Blauner (editor: The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages, 2015, etc.) asked some well-known novelists, journalists, music critics, actors, and musicians. Each contributes a pithy essay explaining why. Organized chronologically, a few standards are here—“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Yesterday,” “Let It Be”—as well as a few surprises. David Hajdu, music critic for the Nation, picks a song that usually ends up on the worst-songs list, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).” In an interview, however, Paul McCartney said it was “probably my favorite Beatles track.” John Lennon “relished” it, as well, and Hajdu finds it “irresistibly, if vexingly, compelling.” Singer Shawn Colvin writes, “lyrically, I can’t think of another heartbreak song as satisfying to sing as ‘I’ll Be Back.’ ” Rosanne Cash picks “No Reply” from 1965: “a handful of words, expertly woven into a fierce melody.” New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik is a fan of the 1967 double A-sided single “Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane,” a “perfect expression of the Beatles’ art at the high point of their artistry.” Chuck Klosterman “loves” the “sixth-best song [“Helter Skelter”] on their fifth-best album” because it “intermittently resembles the blades of a lawn mower falling out of alignment after hitting a brick.” Throughout the collection, we learn a great deal about how these songs came to be written and what the Beatles thought about them. Lennon dismissed “Let It Be” as “a bad Christmas carol.” The first song a female musician played on was “She’s Leaving Home.” Other Beatles’ fans picking their favorites include David Duchovny, Jane Smiley, Amy Bloom, Pico Iyer, Rebecca Mead, Jon Pareles, Alec Wilkinson, Touré, and the sly Rick Moody, who cheats, picking the “Golden Slumbers”/ “Carry That Weight”/ “The End” medley.

A charming, delightful collection for Beatles fans and music fans in general.

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1069-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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