Monday, November 12, 2012

The Beatles Forever

1978, undated ca. 1983 McGraw-Hill edition
Nicholas Schaffner
The Beatles Forever
Original price $9.95, purchase price unknown
Worn paperback

If you've noticed a sharp increase in the number of Beatles-related books on this blog, that's understandable.  As Schaffner recalls, Beatles nostalgia began in 1974 with fanzines and conventions, and then became widespread a couple years later with the rerelease of much of their music.  So by the time we get to '78, there are a lot of Beatles books out there.  This book was originally published in 1977, as the references to the long hair of the new President show, but I'm going with '78 because of the epilogue, "And in the End," which includes not only updates on the four now middle-aged lads, but also mentions of three notable 1978 Beatle-inspired movies: not only infamous Sgt. Pepper, but also the charming I Wanna Hold Your Hand and The Rutles.

Schaffner was an 11-year-old living in New York when the Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and he writes from that perspective, emphasizing how the Beatles seemed to Americans, particularly adolescents, and sometimes telling of concerts he attended.  (Not just for the Beatles as a group and as solo acts, but also Woodstock.)  He also tells what it was like to be a male fan, although he's refreshingly unsexist about the enthusiasm of the female fans.

He has an intelligent but accessible style.  He offers critiques of the music, without getting overly technical.  He has a few writing tics (like too many puns on "Wings" and "Starr"), but overall this is easily the best written of the Beatles books so far, probably of all that I own.  He's refreshingly even-handed, so that there's no sense of an agenda or even preference for one Beatle over another.  As he says, in what he admits is very '60s symbolism, the four Beatles were like four elements (fiery John, airy Paul, watery George, and earthy Ringo) that worked better together than apart.  And yet, he also acknowledges when they had critical and/or popular solo successes.

Schaffner would go on to write a children's book on the Beatles (which I don't think I've ever read), as well as The British Invasion, listed in this edition as his latest book.  We'll look at it for 1983.  And also that year, the book he cowrote with John's childhood friend, Pete Shotton, John Lennon in My Life.

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