The Beatles-The Early Years.Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years follows in the footsteps of James A. Michener, we start the story of the Beatles in the 1840s or so. I’ve never been that into the whole Roots thing and have little interest in what John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s great grandparents were up to. I do like the idea that the Beatles are towering historic figures worthy of such treatment, but on the other hand, it seems a bit silly. As the Beatles themselves liked to say, they were just a band that got very popular for a bit.
Listening to a British book read by a British person is always a revelation. Here words I am familiar with are twisted into something new by the British tongue. A favorite different pronunciation is for aluminum, al-you-min-e-um. Here a word that pops up often is Liverpudlian, a word with no American equivalent that I know of, but an odd sounding word all the same. Liver-Pud-Lee-Ann. It’s the kind of word Sheldon might come up with.
One odd bit of business near the start is the casual dropping of words like nigger, mic, spic, crip, wog, and kite. I know this is the 1950s, but I am again surprised that a group of lowlifes living in public housing and accepting public assistance think they are better than anyone. As proof that they seem to know no better, they even use these terms for musicians they proclaim to love.
One overly cute gimmick is using the titles of Beatles songs at every opportunity. Place names like Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields are one thing, Daytrippers and Something New and so on and so forth are another. I guess I would be tempted to do the same, but it is a bit distracting to have these Easter Eggs pop up at random moments.
There are endless tiny details here about not only John, Paul, George, and Ringo, but also about Stu Sutcliffe, Pete Best, George Martin, Brian Epstein, and countless other random people who crossed The Beatles path between 1955 and 1962. We also learn about The Cavern and the Hamburg clubs the Kaiserkeller, Top Ten, and Star-Club. These are places where The Beatles put in their 10,000 hours and became the greatest performers of the age.
This first part of the Beatles story covers the entire history of Rock n Roll, Rhythm and Blues, and the birth of Motown. There is also rather a lot of info about Skiffle music and constant talk about how Rock is a fad that will soon fade.
Any fan of rock music knows about the death of Buddy Holly, but I didn’t recall the death of Eddie Cochran. The death of one time Beatle Stu is still shocking and tragic. Other deaths affect the Beatles here and there as well.
Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years is a massive book. Clocking in at 944 pages and an audio book length of just under 44 hours. I thought I was a pretty serious Beatles fan, but there was a ton of stuff here that I was not familiar with. Endless bits of Beatles minutia. Countless references to B sides-and plenty of A sides-I never heard of from stars of the day. All the odds and ends that shaped the Beatles and their music.
This is a book well worth reading.