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In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great…

In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs

by Andrew Blauner

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Everyone has a favorite Beatles song. I'd be hard pressed to pick just one. Is there a more perfect song than Yesterday? Sure, the lyrics on their own are trite. But pair them with the melody and arrangement and it becomes something transcendent. Or maybe I'd choose Blackbird, a song I've loved since my high school ensemble sang an arrangement my senior year. The story of Eleanor Rigby has always touched me. And nothing beats When I'm Sixty-Four for sheer fun.

Editor Andrew Blauner has collected essays from well-known writers reflecting on their favorite Beatles song. As is typical with any collection, some contributions are stronger than others. Some are centered around memories associated with a particular song. Others focus on an analysis of the music. What is most striking about the collection is the diversity of the authors, with representation from multiple cultures, ethnicities, and generations. The Beatles wrote and recorded so many different styles of music that their discography holds something for everybody.

Although this isn't an illustrated, coffee table-sized book, it's the kind of book you'd want to display for guests to browse. It would be a great conversation starter. Is your favorite Beatles song represented in the book? If it is, did the author do it justice? If it's not, why not? Recommended for music lovers of all ages.

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jul 29, 2017 |
It would be hard for me to not like this book. Beatles? Oh, yeah. I was pleased to get an advance read courtesy of First to Read.
The concept is simple: Ask writers to write about their favorite Beatles songs, tell stories of what the songs mean to them, the how and why of it all.
The responses are fascinating to me...some personal, some expository. More than a couple of things were new... composition, group politics, life events...and I've read a bit on the Beatles. Not surprisingly, a few tidbits were in conflict with knowledge from other sources, but that made this all the more interesting.

I don't have a "favorite" Beatles song, nor even a favorite album or creative period. I do have a few dislikes, but even John, Paul, George and Ringo disliked some of their works. This book prompted me to reflect on how I would answer that question. And to go through the catalog again.

And again and again, because...the Beatles!
( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
3.5 stars

I generally really enjoy compilations of this sort where songs or art work are written about by a variety of authors, and In Their Lives was no exception. In Their Lives includes a series of essays written about Beatles songs chosen by each author in chronological order from She Loves You to Two of Us. In addition, Paul McCartney has written a brief note at the beginning. I knew some of the songs and had never heard of others. I had fun listening to each song before I started the essay about that particular song and felt that enhanced my reading of each composition. Some of the essays are fabulous; Jane Smiley’s tale about “I Want to Hold Your Hand’ was highly entertaining. Others focus more on the intricacies of the chords or certain sections of the song or even some random topic unrelated it seemed to the song about which the individual was supposed to be writing. Those selections I did not like as much. Beatles fans and most music lovers will find much to like in this compilation and may find themselves skimming through an essay or two. Thanks to Blue Rider Press and NetGalley for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  cburnett5 | May 17, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0735210691, Hardcover)

For readers who loved Tune In and Nick Hornby’s Songbook, an anthology of essays from a chorus of twenty-nine luminaries singing the praises of their favorite Beatles songs.

The Beatles’ influence—on their contemporaries, on our cultural consciousness, and on the music industry ever after—is difficult to overstate. We all have a favorite song from the band that made us want to fall in love, tune in, and follow our dreams. Arranged chronologically by the date of the song’s release, these essays highlight both the Beatles’ evolution as well as the span of generations their music affected. From Beatlemaniacs who grew up listening to the iconic albums on vinyl to new fans who download the songs on iTunes, each contributor explores a poignant intersection between Beatles history and personal history.

With contributions from twenty-nine authors and musicians—Roz Chast on “She Loves You,” Jane Smiley on “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” Rosanne Cash on “No Reply,” Gerald Early on “I’m a Loser,” Rick Moody on “The End,” Maria Popova on “Yellow Submarine,” David Duchovny on “Dear Prudence,” Chuck Klosterman on “Helter Skelter,” David Hadju on “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number),” and more—the breadth of the band’s impact is clear. From musings on young love and family strife to explorations of racial boundaries and identity, these essays pay tribute to a band that ran the gamut of human experience in a way no musical group has done before or since.

Timed for the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, this anthology captures the full spectrum of reasons fans still love the Fab Four after all these years.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 01 Mar 2017 23:09:51 -0500)

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