cover image A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry

A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry

Mark Hertsgaard. Delacorte Press, $23.95 (434pp) ISBN 978-0-385-31377-3

Too much attention has been paid to the Beatles' colorful and often controversial lives, asserts Hertsgaard (On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency), who claims that this focus tends to obscure the band's tremendous artistic accomplishments. And this well-crafted bio delivers on its promise to make the Beatles' music the central subject. The author provides detailed accounts of the composing and recording processes for various songs and albums as well as penetrating and evenhanded critical assessments of virtually every song played by the group. He traces the Beatles' evolution from cheeky pop stars chasing money and fame to tremendously innovative and socially conscious artists and lucidly describes the complex interplay of four distinct and gifted personalities that made the band's music unique and so compelling. Particularly noteworthy is Hertsgaard's assessment of the sometimes less than harmonious but always fruitful Lennon/McCartney collaboration. An exceptional study, thoroughly researched and exhaustively documented, of the quartet's musical legacy. (Mar.)