Saturday, November 1, 2014

Scribblings of Genius

The Beatles Lyrics – The Stories Behind The Music, Including Handwritten Drafts of More Than 100 Classic Beatles Songs – Hunter Davies (Little Brown and Company)

78 year old Hunter Davies, a British journalist and Beatles confidant, in fact the only author in a shelf full of Beatles bios, to ever pen an authorized biography of the entire band is out with a brand new effort, The Beatles Lyrics – The Stories Behind The Music, Including Handwritten Drafts of More Than 100 Classic Beatles Songs.

While there have been numerous books that have examined the Beatles lyrical output eight ways to Sunday, or perhaps better put, “eight days a week,” it is the second half of this book’s title that that generates the most interest. Included in the pages are reproductions of the scraps, shards and fragments of the original scrawls of those lyrics. It seems that whenever the muse struck, whatever was handy sufficed for jotting down the words that would inspire generations.

While those words and the songs that they would become have been a rallying point for multitudes of fans; listened to, sung, quoted, and cherished over and over again, the striking thing that this book illustrates is simple they often really are. Songs that been elevated to oft-quoted, almost Herculean status; able to move mountains, take on a much more stripped down, simple continence.

It seems at times that the members of the Beatles were always wanting for a pad of paper. These historical scraps have ended up flung far and wide, ending up at universities, museums and in personal collections and the hands of friends and acquaintances of the band. Davies has tackled the challenging task of gathering these images under one cover.

His personal access to the band and those around the band offers unique clarity and insight into what the what the band was thinking, what their state of mind was and the things the influenced the writing of these songs. The handwritten versions of the songs often show the evolution that the songs went through on their way to final renditions. I would put this book on par with Mark Lewisohn’s The Beatles: Recording Sessions, which offered an inside view at the recording of the music; a great addition to any fans bookshelf.

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