The Beatles and the Historians

Michael Gerber
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Available on Amazon or wherever good Beatles books are sold.

After commenter Rob raved over it in this comment, I was reminded that I’ve been meaning to hip you all to something for a while. Longtime Dullblog commenter Erin Weber has written a book called The Beatles and the Historians, which anybody who loves this site will eat up with a spoon. In Erin’s words, the book is “an overview of how Beatles’ history has been written over time, the biases, errors, and mistakes within them, and also some of the very valuable works that have been written on the band.”

Erin’s own blog is here. I’m totally crazy with Bystander, but if there is desire for a review, I’ll see if I can twist Nancy or Devin’s arm. And maybe we can get Erin to come on and answer some questions.

Please, Rob and others — drop your thoughts on The Beatles and the Historians in the comments. And congratulations to Erin for writing such a necessary, desperately needed book.

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  1. Avatar evilpants wrote:

    I have a 60% complete review of this book that I was going to submit to you as a possible guest post. I promised it when the book came out, but sadly a major health issue engulfed me and, as you know from your own experience, even when you recover from the specific issue, it can take a long time for the engine of your life to get running again. I’d like to finish my review at some point.
    I’d love to see a proper review done by the regular site writers – obviously I think you’d do an outstanding job Mike, but Bystander is such a labour of love for you, as well as a complete time vampire, so it’s understandable that you don’t have time to devote to it.
    I bought the book entirely because of how much I enjoy Erin’s engaging comments on Hey Dullblog – she has a really clear writing style and a way of debating and disagreeing that takes you along with her, and I loved every page of her book. I’d love to see (or even conduct) a Q&A/interview with her.
    Her book does such a great service to the Beatles, because it helps readers to course-correct and to understand our own biases and the biases implicit in every version of the Beatles story.
    At a time when “truth” and “facts” have become weapons rather than data, and when what you “feel” the facts are is as important as the empirical data (remember the stuff about the murder rate being out of control in the US, and how some Trump surrogates said the facts don’t matter, it’s what they felt was happening and so they didn’t have to pay attention to the data which showed they were wrong?), this book actually can help readers navigate a lot more than just the Beatles story. By taking something that has such cultural relevance and applying proper analytical methods to it, readers can learn a great deal about how to interpret the world that’s presented to them.
    We are in a fantastic period for Beatles scholarship. The people who pretty much started modern pop culture suffered from some of the worst analysis of that culture and their part in it, but now we are at a stage where not only are people trying to write faithful accounts of what happened, people are also writing about the actual impact the previous bad analysis had on culture itself.
    Sometimes I feel a bit sad that I’ll never see the “150 years ago” deep history excavation of the Beatles and their impact – the “distance” that Erin frequently speaks of as being necessary to truly understand history. But modern pop culture is so much more immediate, and so it makes sense for us to be writing about and analysing it as it happens.
    Have other Dullblog readers read the book yet? Did you all love it as much as I did? I rave about it in every Beatles Facebook group I’m involved with, and whenever anyone asks what books to read, my answer is: “Tune in” and “The Beatles and the historians”. Read those two books and you can’t go wrong.

  2. Avatar linda a. wrote:

    Erin’s book is excellent. It’s required reading for anyone interested in Beatles historiography. It would be great if someone here could review it and get a discussion going.

  3. Avatar Hologram Sam wrote:

    I’m looking forward to reading this book. Sounds like a nice corrective to some of the unfortunate biographies I’ve collected over the years.

    I’ve been enjoying the various Stevie Riks parodies. His Bowie impression is startling.

    Here he imagines a phone conversation between Paul and John (John calling from Bermuda) in 1980:

  4. Avatar AJ wrote:

    It’s a bit late for this book. It’s all already been said about the Beatles, or at least as much as most can digest, and I’m assuming in the subsequent decades, there will be less and less interest.

  5. Avatar evilpants wrote:

    Hi Mike – I’m now convinced there’s a definite problem with the website. I’ve posted several comments on this post and ALL of them have disappeared. Not “moderated” or anything – after I submit them on mobile, the page simply reloads without them.
    In addition, the site often takes 20-30 seconds to load on different devices. For troubleshooting purposes I’ve tried this on 3G, 4G and wifi networks, as well as on iPad, MacBook and iPhone.
    I started noticing it when I wrote a comment for an old post and it also disappeared. My comment about the comment also disappeared.
    I’ve submitted 4 comments on this post here, 2 about missing comments and 2 comments in their own right.
    My suspicion is that either your web host has upgraded some PHP/mySQL components, or there’s been a WordPress plugin update, and it’s misbehaving. It might even be that the theme you’re using is no longer compatible with an update to WordPress.
    I know users always say “it’s not working”, but I’m a WordPress programmer who runs my own web server and have seen problems like this before – there’s a problem here, without question. It’s not “user error”, sadly.
    Given my experience, if you’d like a hand troubleshooting I’m more than happy to help. If this comment disappears, I’ll email you off-site 🙂

    • Avatar evilpants wrote:

      The comment above posted fine from my MacBook, which narrows it down: the problem is with mobile. Every time I post a comment using a mobile device, the page loads without the comment posting. Somehow, either the JetPack mobile theme is misbehaving with the WPSHOWER mobile theme, or something else is going wrong.
      Even though the comment posted fine, it still then took 30 seconds for the page to reload. I wonder if your web host is throttling you back, or if your database needs some attention.
      Sorry to hijack the post – if it’s happening to me, it’ll be happening to others 🙁

    • Fixed now, Tony. Expensively, but fixed. I can’t spend as much as I’m spending to keep this site up, so I’ll have to think of something else long-term, because I do think there is some value to it as an archive.

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