Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America by Jonathan Gould.
Nearly twenty years in the making, Can’t Buy Me Love is a masterful work of group biography, cultural history, and musical criticism. That the Beatles were an unprecedented phenomenon is a given. In Can’t Buy Me Love, Jonathan Gould seeks to explain why, placing the Fab Four in the broad and tumultuous panorama of their time and place, rooting their story in the social context that girded both their rise and their demise.
Beginning with their adolescence in Liverpool, Gould describes the seminal influences––from Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry to The Goon Show and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland––that shaped the Beatles both as individuals and as a group. In addition to chronicling their growth as singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists, he highlights the advances in recording technology that made their sound both possible and unique, as well as the developments in television and radio that lent an explosive force to their popular success. With a musician’s ear, Gould sensitively evokes the timeless appeal of the Lennon-McCartney collaboration and their emergence as one of the most creative and significant songwriting teams in history. And he sheds new light on the significance of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as rock’s first concept album, down to its memorable cover art.
Behind the scenes Gould explores the pivotal roles played by manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin, credits the influence on the Beatles’ music of contemporaries like Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and Ravi Shankar, and traces the gradual escalation of the fractious internal rivalries that led to the group’s breakup after their final masterpiece, Abbey Road. Most significantly, by chronicling their revolutionary impact on popular culture during the 1960s, Can’t Buy Me Love illuminates the Beatles as a charismatic phenomenon of international proportions, whose anarchic energy and unexpected import was derived from the historic shifts in fortune that transformed the relationship between Britain and America in the decades after World War II.
From the Beats in America and the Angry Young Men in England to the shadow of the Profumo Affair and JFK’s assassination, Gould captures the pulse of a time that made the Beatles possible—and even necessary. As seen through the prism of the Beatles and their music, an entire generation’s experience comes astonishingly to life. Beautifully written, consistently insightful, and utterly original, Can’t Buy Me Love is a landmark work about the Beatles, Britain, and America.
Then, there is John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman:
Drawing on previously unknown sources, unpublished letters, and unprecedented access to all the key figures, author and journalist Philip Norman gives us the most complete and revealing portrait of John Lennon that is ever likely to be published.And then, my mind for some reason drifted to Beatrix Potter and Lucy Maud Montgomery. I have Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings by Mary Henley Rubio (as well as books actually by her!):
For this masterpiece of biography, Philip Norman set himself the challenge of looking afresh at every aspect of Lennon’s much-chronicled life. He has not just dug deep into the archives, including his own vast collection of tapes and notebooks dating back to the 60s, but spoken to hundreds of witnesses, from every walk of life and every stage of Lennon’s. The interviewees include Sean Lennon, whose moving reminiscences reveal his father as never before, and Yoko Ono, who speaks with sometimes shocking candour about her marriage to John.
In his brilliant Shout!, we were shown a band; in John Lennon, Philip Norman gives us a portrait of a man. It reconciles as never before the contradictions of this endlessly fascinating character–the volatile and violent hippie, the phenomenally wealthy advocate of no possessions, the family man and junkie–and his journey from Liverpool suburbia to becoming one of the presiding geniuses of pop culture.
Mary Henley Rubio has spent over two decades researching Montgomery’s life, and has put together a comprehensive and penetrating picture of this Canadian literary icon, all set in rich social context. Extensive interviews with people who knew Montgomery – her son, maids, friends, relatives, all now deceased – are only part of the material gathered in a journey to understand Montgomery that took Rubio to Poland and the highlands of Scotland.Then, I have Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear:
From Montgomery’s apparently idyllic childhood in Prince Edward Island to her passion-filled adolescence and young adulthood, to her legal fights as world-famous author, to her shattering experiences with motherhood and as wife to a deeply troubled man, this fascinating, intimate narrative of her life will engage and delight.
Peter Rabbit, Mr. McGregor, and many other Beatrix Potter characters remain in the hearts of millions. However, though Potter is a household name around the world, few know the woman behind the illustrations. Her personal life, including a romantic relationship with her publisher, Norman Warne, and her significant achievements outside of children's literature remain largely unknown. In Linda Lear’s enchanting new biography, we get the life story of this incredible, funny, and independent woman. As one of the first female naturalists in the world, Potter brought the beauty and importance of nature back into the imagination at a time when plunder was more popular than preservation. Through her art she sought to encourage conservation and change the world. With never before seen illustrations and intimate detail, Lear goes beyond our perrenial fascination with Potter as a writer and illustrator of children's books, and delves deeply into the life of a most unusual and gifted woman--one whose art was timeless, and whose generosity left an indelible imprint on the countryside.Lots of good stuff, huh? Now, to find time to read them! Instead of reading, though, I am listening to Midnight Oil on YouTube...
Two songs in particular! They are hard to find ones that are embedded, though...