Song by song, record by record, an American music critic discusses the Beatles albums from Please Please Me (1962) to Abbey Road (1969), recounts the circumstances that led to the composition of each song and analyzes the means by which it achieves its individual character. A final chapter, ""The Dream Is Over,'' surveys and sums up the subsequent solo albums. Riley shows that Paul McCartney rarely personalized his songs the way John Lennon did; he had a keener commercial instinct and satisfied pop expectations, while Lennon challenged his audience with lofty ideas like the illusory nature of reality and acute anxiety. Once they became solo artists, their best albums epitomized their strengths as they delineated what a remarkable match of sensibilities the two of them had been. An essential work for all interested parties.