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THE BEATLES by Craig Cross


Day-by-Day, Song-by-Song, Record-by-Record

by Craig Cross

Pub Date: May 14th, 2005
ISBN: 0-595-34663-4

A nearly exhaustive chronicle of the Fab Four.

Ostensibly the “only Beatles book that you’ll ever need,” the necessity–not to mention entertainment value–of this massive tome may be questionable. Mercifully, however, only the first third is devoted to a diary of daily events; the remainder is an alphabetized song list and chronological discography. Cross’s hip, lively narrative–“August 7, 1957: The Quarrymen’s debut at the Cavern Club. Paul couldn’t make it because he was away at scout camp (not very rock ‘n’ roll!)…The club’s clientele at that time was mainly posh jazz kids come to listen to the shitty bebop”–captures the innocent spirit of the band’s rise to superstardom. Because the narrative avoids pedantic historical contextualization, the reader is just as bewildered as the band at the sudden and abrupt eruption of Beatlemania. (Among other perils of celebrity, the Beatles get pelted by stinging jellybeans at concerts.) The lack of context, however, does make it difficult to understand the circumstances behind the Beatles’s meteoric rise to fame. Was the shift away from sugary pop, and toward more expansive, meditative music, precipitated by John Lennon’s purchase of Timothy Leary’s The Psychedelic Experience at the Indica bookshop in March 1966? Or perhaps by their first experience with marijuana, smoked with Bob Dylan on August 28, 1964? As for the beginning of the end, signs of strain began well before 1970–Yoko Ono’s conquest of Lennon, McCartney’s bossiness, Lennon’s heroin addiction, business conflicts with manager Allen Klein–but Cross wisely refrains from passing judgment on the definitive cause of the breakup.

Not the only Beatles book you’ll ever need, but entertaining nonetheless.