DEVIN McKINNEY • I hope you’ll all toggle over to the arts blog Critics at Large, where I’m a contributor, to read my review of Mark Lewisohn’s Tune In, volume one of his three-part Beatles biography. I know, posting that request here is a bit like asking one’s lover to have dinner at the home of another. But I’m proud to post stuff over there, where it’s in super-fine company. And besides, all of us here in the free-content blogosphere need to help each other out.
Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian 288 pp. Simon & Schuster, 2013 Reviewed by Devin McKinney Note: This review was first posted, precipitately, on July 22nd, after review copies of John McMillian's book were sent out; it was difficult for the reviewer to resist reading and responding to it immediately. Now that the book is publicly available, we repost the review, without any changes. A character in Jonathan Lethem’s novel The Fortress of Solitude claims that every small-group dynamic found in fiction or in life is comprehensible via the Beatles model of organizational relationships: “The Beatles thing is an archetype, it’s like [...]
This cover is what happens when a club flyer has sex with the phone book. ...is coming and I cannot wait! MIKE GERBER • According to this article, it's off the press in the UK. According to the author, if you think you've seen an advance copy, you haven't. There are lots of editions—US and UK, mass market (960pp) and Extended Special Mike Gerber Xmas Present Edition (1728pp). The Super-Duper Obsessive Edition, which is the only one we really will discuss on this site, obviously, is slated for November 14 in the UK, and February (maybe) in the US. Rather odd [...]
Harry Nilsson in the studio, right around the time John and Paul made him famous. Can I just assume that everybody reading this knows Harry Nilsson? If not, scroll down to the bottom of this post, and listen—I'll wait until you get back. (You can also go to the great Nilsson site "For The Love of Harry," but it's recently changed to invite-only.) Harry was one of the biggest Beatles fans around, and one of the few who could compose and sing almost as well as the Fabs themselves. He's also a really interesting window into our favorite foursome. “Harry [...]
Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian 288 pp. Simon & Schuster, 2013 Reviewed by Devin McKinney A character in Jonathan Lethem’s novel The Fortress of Solitude claims that every small-group dynamic found in fiction or in life is comprehensible via the Beatles model of organizational relationships: “The Beatles thing is an archetype, it’s like the basic human formation. Everything naturally forms into a Beatles, people can’t help it.” He illustrates this theory by applying it, convincingly, to Star Wars and The Tonight Show. (For the record, the archetypal roles—or “four sides of the circle,” as the title of a Beatles bootleg once [...]
Beatle biographer Philip Norman is writing a new McCartney bio. The New York Times reports that Philip Norman has been signed to do a new McCartney bio. One part of me: all right! Other part of me: oh no. Philip Norman is an excellent writer, with a beyond-thorough grounding in the subject. There is nobody who possesses better tools with which to create the definitive biography of Paul McCartney. He's very smart, knows England of that period, knows rock, knows London, knows The Beatles, knows John Lennon. Unlike Miles, he's his own man; unlike Lewisohn, he's a journalist. Shout: The [...]
DEVIN McKINNEY • Warning—there’s a lot of rant here, most of it to do with Albert Goldman but some of it just my articulated flailings about the nature of biography and criticism, writers and readers. But Michael asked, I answered, this is our blog, and we make the rules. So strap on your poncho and feel free to skip around. Reading the “Drugs and Differences” comments, I took special note when the ghost of Albert Goldman reared its shiny dome. He’s so easy to despise and so difficult to defend on any level, but I’m always curious about the case to be [...]
If anyone will know, it's Mark Lewisohn MIKE GERBER • Volume One of Mark Lewisohn's Beatles bio series is slated for October, promising to be full of Lewisohn's trainspotter-y goodness! Just who was Torchy the Battery-Boy, and how did he influence a young Paul McCartney? Did George Harrison first read two of the Four Noble Truths scrawled on the wall of his father's city bus? Brief but exciting web-teaser is here.
Biographer says he's "unknowable," which is a hell of a thing for a biographer to say MIKE GERBER • It's Lennon-mas again, and there's a new bio out by Tim ("Tell Me Why") Riley. The Christian Science Minotaur has a nice little Q and A with him. Says Riley: "He’s really kind of like an American stuck in a British body. He was the most American member of the band." Will somebody finally acknowledge the scar of drug abuse that disfigured Lennon's life? The Q and A suggests Riley might; I hope he does, because—though a downer, and not part [...]
Poster for "Nowhere Boy," the Lennon biopic, 2010. If you love The Beatles, the idea of a movie based on John Lennon's teenage years is guaranteed to cause mild discomfort, as your leaping heart presses against your rising gorge. (Of course, we all agree that a comedy/mystery based on Lennon's later life is completely OK. By the way, thanks to the hundreds of people who downloaded Life After Death for Beginners yesterday. I hope you all enjoy it.) Faced with Nowhere Boy then, the logical left-brain is definite: "The world does not need John-Julia slash." At the same moment, however, [...]