Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs

Liam Cagney in The Irish Times:

ImageIn Ulysses, when the character Haines hears that Stephen Dedalus has concocted an elaborate theory about Hamlet, he quips that Shakespeare is “the happy hunting ground of all minds that have lost their balance”. The same might be said of the Bard’s 20th-century artistic interlopers The Beatles. At one end of the spectrum there’s Ian MacDonald, encyclopaedically charting the circumstances behind every Beatles song; at the other end, Mark David Chapman, obsessive fan turned assassin (and I won’t even start on The Beatles Never Existed, surely the web’s weirdest conspiracy site).

More placidly in the centre are the rest of us, at whom this collection is aimed. Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, In Their Lives presents essays by 28 writers and songwriters on their favourite Beatles song. The essays are ordered chronologically, from 1963’s She Loves You to 1970’s Two Of Us. Their tone ranges from David Duchovny’s whimsical four pages on Dear Prudence (“I’m gonna do this from memory”) to Nicholas Dawidoff’s earnest 20 pages on A Day in the Life (“Who ever loved pop music who loved not at first sight?”). As well as giving a gradual overview of the Fab Four’s career, the essays give a cumulative insight on their enduring popularity.

More here.