In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs

Edited by Andrew Blauner. Blue Rider, $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1069-1
More than 50 years after the Beatles conquered America and unleashed Beatlemania upon the world, the Fab Four still exert an influence on popular music that even ex-Beatle Paul McCartney finds “astounding.” As in his previous collections, such as The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages, Blauner asks a range of writers to examine famous works; here, he requeststhe stories of their favorite Beatles songs, including “what the songs mean to them, the how and why of it all.” The 29 essays by artists such as Rosanne Cash, Rick Moody, and Jane Smiley are arranged chronologically by the songs’ release dates, so the collection serves as a miniature history of the Beatles. The author selection is somewhat arbitrary, but the authors all clearly care about the influence of the songs on their lives, and the essays are uniformly excellent and informative. Most fascinating is how often the authors address childhood and aging; cartoonist Roz Chast writes, “When I think about ‘She Loves You’... and how happy it made me feel to hear it, I think about how much it represented the mirage of a possible future.” This theme is echoed by novelist and music writer Bill Flanigan discussing “Two of Us” from the Beatles’ final album: “They showed us the way to go out into the world and get lost and they showed us the way to get back home.” (May)

This review has been corrected to fix a typo in a contributor's name.

Reviewed on: 02/27/2017
Release date: 05/23/2017
Ebook - 978-0-7352-1071-4
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