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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

There are three great books about The Beatles

Stumbled upon my copy of Michael Braun's "Love Me Do" yesterday. I'm not sure you can get it at the moment, which is a shame. This is a 1995 reissue of the original book which came out in 1965 and was written in 1963-4. Braun was an American journalist who went on the road with the Beatles when nobody beyond the showbiz columns was interested in them. In his introduction to the 1995 version he wrote that what interested him was they were "a new kind of people". John Lennon later said that Braun's was the best book about The Beatles because "he wrote how we were, which was bastards".

They don't come over as bastards, just four blokes from unremarkable backgrounds (flicking through it I come upon the bit where Lennon says Ringo had only been to school for two days thanks to his childhood illnesses) who suddenly find themselves bulleted into a position no humans had ever been in before and somehow deal with it. It's not the most joined-up narrative. Instead Braun just records what people said amid the chaos.

It's as if the window is just closing on their real lives and henceforth we will only be able to see them through clouds of myth. It starts in the bar of the ABC in Cambridge.

In another corner John Lennon is sipping a coke which he keeps replenishing with Scotch.
"How long do you think the group will last?" somebody asks.
"About five years."
"Will the group stay together?"
"Don't know," says Mr Lennon and pours another Scotch into the coke.

The other two important books about The Beatles are Ian Macdonald's Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties, which is all about the music, and Peter Doggett's You Never Give Me Your Money: The Battle For The Soul Of The Beatles, which is all about what happened afterwards.