The Beatles: Day By Day: The Sixties As They Happened, by Terry Burrows
This book happened to be a birthday present from my mother, and she did so just knowing my love of books, the Beatles , and historical chronology. By chance, it happens to mirror the class I took on Coursera about the Beatles, which spent a lot of time talking about songs and music (interests which this particular book mirrors), while examining the course of the Beatles along a very clear career track. First, the Beatles had to learn their craft through hard work and lots of covers and paying their dues in Liverpool and Hamburg. Here they opened and did backup duties for more established acts and developed the rudiments of their songwriting after working with a lot of acts in genres like skiffle, comedy, and R&B. After this, the Beatles developed their songwriting, first John and Paul and then George, albeit belatedly, while they became more and more popular within Great Britain. Then, of course, came Beatlemania within the United States, and then the gradual distance that grew between their ambitious studio sound and their increasingly difficult live performances, followed by their period as increasingly distinct singer-songwriters with less and less collaboration between them.
This book is organized in a chronological fashion, going back to the marriages of the Beatles’ parents, and the births of the Beatles and the key people in their lives. The book covers the important concerts, recording incidents, personal incidents, business affairs, studio work, and travels of the Beatles, the early revolving lineup, and includes sidebars to important cultural events that were related to the Beatles. Of particular interest is the way that the author manages to subtly cover many of the complicated elements that influenced the Beatles, including girl groups as well as the music of the Beach Boys and Bob Dylan. There is, of course, a lot of discussion about drugs, including how it divided the Beatles, how different members of the Beatles had visa problems later on with the United States because of drug convictions, and how the Beatles actually sponsored an advertisement in the 1960’s seeking for the legalization of marijuana, which they all smoked, among other things.
This particular book is about two hundred pages long, and constructed like a diary, with brief but informative entries that show the complex tangle between the personal and professional lives of the Beatles. The book also continues to basically the present day, looking at the ups and downs of the individual Beatles. It does not cover their inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but it does cover their significant solo albums, their last hit records, and the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. For a Beatles fan, even one who is critical about their personal relationship drama, their rampant drug use, and their general role in encouraging and mirroring cultural decline, this is a worthwhile book and an honest book that does not whitewash the history but rather seeks to present it honestly, even where there are differences in accounts between multiple people. This sort of open and fair-minded approach makes this a valuable work of history about very familiar subjects.
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