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Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America Paperback – November 4, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Gould, a musician, started this project 20 years ago. He looked at the Beatles from back at the very beginning-their roots. How did they become songwriters? How did Lennon and McCartney become such a wonderful songwriting team? Who were there major influences?
He doesn't rely on the memories of those who were there 50 years ago. Instead, he looks to the original sources, the music writers and fans of that time, in the words they wrote then.
He follows the Beatles course during their short but prolific time together. He looks at many of the songs and the stories behind them-the ideas that were formed in the studio and elsewhere, influences like India, drugs, women, philosophy, etc. Little tricks and accidents changed so many songs from what they might have been to something even better.
Throughout he plugs readers into what was happening in the world as the Beatles were making their indelible mark upon it.
'T is a thing of beauty. These things needed to be said.
Gould not only recites the familiar details, but explains their significance. For instance, Woolton is a suburb of Liverpool where Lennon was raised, but Gould places the locale in its suburban context vs. the supposedly working-class upbringing the maturing John was afforded. Instead of saying he dressed like a Teddy Boy, he goes on the place that movement within its psuedo-Edwardian origins in a war-straitened tailoring innovation that failed to catch on among the dandies so much as the sartorial rebels after the Second War. Such detail for many may be more than the reader may have bargained for, and as with the excursus upon Max Weber's theories, has surprised critics expecting another dutiful slog through accounts of Lennon wearing a toilet seat around his neck in Hamburg. Gould, to his credit, avoids the tiresome repetition.
When he discusses the Maharishi and his Transcendental Meditation, he opines how the guru proved a clever salesman who did not exactly tell the Beatles that the noun was much easier to attain than the adjective, so to speak! He handles the Eastman-Klein-NEMS negotiations in the same numbing detail that Spitz had, but adds to the discussion of these necessary facts an understanding of the reasons Lennon and McCartney may have desired such legal and managerial changes, why they picked who they did, and what blunders were made by all sides.Read more ›
It's when he becomes a music reviewer that he delves into troubled waters. A few of his insights are interesting, but so many others are way, way over the top analysis-wise, and when he turns negative, whoa!
Music is something so personal for a lot of people. It's expected that one appreciate other's opinions. Still, no matter how open-minded one tries to be, it can be a bit psychologically unnerving to read such an obviously intelligent and learned individual put down one's favorite songs as either "a muddled-leaden mess" or "awkward-sounding rewrite... with... dreadful lyrics" or "an outright gaffe". It's as if someone is putting down the clothes you're wearing or the type of friends you keep.
- Gives personal history without going into minutiae
- Discusses the Beatles' influences on a 'real-time' basis to their recordings (rather than just list them at the beginning, ignoring subsequent ones that emerge)
- Treats the Beatles as a singular entity for a large majority of their history; the closer you get to the end, the more individual each member becomes, so the biography starts to fray as the band did
- Goes into detail as to what made certain songs work (or not work)
- Keeps the music industry itself in the foreground, so you see the circular impacts as they occur
- With one small qualifier, easy to read (see flaws listed below)
There are two flaws in this book, though, that prevent me from giving it 5 stars:
The first flaw is that a lot of the songs are described in a manner that requires one to know music theory to appreciate (e.g. Yesterday is seven bars instead of the traditional eight, or the discussion of chord changes within a song). Fortunately, it's not overly cumbersome, and honestly does not constitute a large portion of the book, so you could probably get away with just nodding your head and pretending you understand what he's talking about, even if you don't.
The second flaw is one of interpretation; in the book he gives his interpretations as if they are what was intended by the Beatles. At the end of Day in the Life, there is a second orchestral bit followed by The Chord. The author equates it with For The Benefit of Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Super interesting read about some of the background and inner workings of the Beatles. Great shipping time and condition.Published 5 months ago by Chelsey
great and very informative book. my favorite beatles book hands down.Published 6 months ago by Erik Maynard
Although this book has many interesting passages, probably 100 pages could be deleted and not take away from the good parts of the book. Read morePublished 7 months ago by LucyintheSky
The print in the book is so light that it is very hard to read. I had to return the book! Too bad!Published 11 months ago by J. Silver
Not enough about the Beatles personal lives. Too much detail about their music. Not difficult to do research about their songs without talking to each of the Beatles about their... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Eric
It borrows everyone else's research and compiles it into a compendium, but sadly slowly looses focus of the purported subject of the book. Read morePublished on March 3, 2014 by Peter Anagnostos