Jul. 14th, 2015

19_crows: (Default)
I finished Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America, Jonathan Gould, and give it five stars.
Yes, I'm that person who "hates" the Beatles. Well, I don't exactly hate them. I like some of their songs, but I've heard them all way way way too many times. If I could not hear them for 20 years or so they might sound fresh again. In fact occasionally I hear one I haven't heard in a long time and like it - that happened last week with "Hey Bulldog". Mainly I hate how people, especially those my age, think they're the be all and end all of popular music. They're good, but there's a lot of music I like much more. I'll admit, there are a lot of their songs I do hate. Mostly ones by Paul.

So they came along when I was 8 or 9 and I instantly loved them and along with my friends obsessively listened to their records and argued over which was the cutest. But then I discovered the Rolling Stones and the Beatles went into the big pile of "other stuff I like". By that time my mom was saying how cute they were, like choirboys, and that kind of put the kibosh on them.

It's been interesting, as an adult, to look back on that time and learn about adult stuff that was going on. I knew Elvis had caused a ruckus but he was old hat by the time I was aware of music. This book describes all of that - the music that influenced the Beatles, the political and social zeitgeist. It has short biographies of everyone involved and how the relationships among the group functioned - how their original presentation of themselves as a group instead of individuals spoke to young people; how for a long time they each felt understood only by the other group members; the breakup.

It has a lot of information about how their songs and albums are structured, and about John and Paul's writing process, which I found really interesting. The author was a working musician and it shows.

I still don't want to hear any Beatles for another 20 years, though.

Things I have learned:
- John was the most middle class one - I'd thought he grew up in a slum, the child of a single mother. He fooled me with that working class hero album.
- Pet Sounds didn't do well commercially, though it made up for it later.
- I thought John sang "I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends".
- Richard Lester is American; Nik Cohn, British.
- The Beatles all admired The Band and their music.
- John was an even bigger prick than I'd though.

Now reading One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, Jim Fergus. Here we have an interesting alternate history - apparently a Cheyenne chief really did suggest to the BIA that if the US would send 1000 white women to marry his braves, it would result in peace between the nations. This speculates on what would have happened, in the form of a journal and letters by one of them.

I'm afraid her voice isn't that of a 19th century woman, even one who has been sent to an asylum by her family for her promiscuity (living as the common law wife of a man whose status is beneath her and bearing him two children.) She's far too wordly and liberal minded about a black woman in the group and about the Indian spouses. One reviewer suggests the book would be more interesting if it were unclear whether she was unfairly persecuted by her family or if she was really crazy, and I agree. But I'm going to finish it.

May 2016

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