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A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. Hardcover – March 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 434 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385313772
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385313773
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,633,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Hertsgaard focuses on the composing and recording processes of the Fab Four, examining in detail their entire musical output.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

While researching a New Yorker article on the Beatles, Hertsgaard found no single volume that he felt did justice to the group's most important aspect, its music. To rectify that situation, he set out to write a popular but substantial book on the Fab Four, one that would be serious yet accessible--a combination of qualities that the Beatles themselves mastered, which is why they still command interest nearly 25 years after breaking up. Although drawing heavily on archival session tapes, Hertsgaard does concentrate on the music and affords incisive observations on Lennon and McCartney's songwriting process and the band's special chemistry; he provides plenty of biographical background, too (here depending on and dutifully documenting the many earlier Beatles chroniclers). The perpetual interest in the Beatles that should generate Hertsgaard an audience has, by the way, been ratcheted up recently by the release of the group's BBC recordings and in anticipation of a forthcoming TV documentary, so libraries probably need have no fear of Beatles overkill when adding this well-balanced musicological and biographical treatment. Gordon Flagg

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Customer Reviews

What he tries to illuminate is the powerful joy the Beatles music radiates.
G. DeCandido
I have read countless books on the Beatles, and this book is, strangely, among the worst AND the best of the lot.
amadeus
Rubber Soul was the first Beatle album to be more than a collection of singles.
Jim Colyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is probably my favorite book about the Beatles (and I've read quite a few). The musical analysis is compelling, but the beauty of the book is the way this analysis is complemented by chapters about more personal aspects of their lives. The chapter about their "Four-Way Synergy" was especially wonderful because Hertsgaard had been privy to between-take chat that will definitely make you laugh, as well as providing insight into their working relationships. Read this book!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jack Fitzgerald VINE VOICE on February 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you only buy one book on the Beatles, this is as good as any. I found it immensely readable, and had trouble putting it down. It's one of the few books I've read more than twice. Hertsgaard gleaned much of his information from old interviews with the Beatles and those of their inner circle such as producer George Martin and sound engineer Geoff Emerick, along with Neil Aspinall, Derek Taylor, and many others, as detailed in the nearly 100 pages of notes.
What comes out is a nuanced telling of the Beatles story, much of it already known to fans, but with the addition of notes on the recording session and almost every song they recorded, along with tunes like "Besame Mucho" that showed up on bootlegs and many that appeared in the Anthology Series.
After each chapter, I found myself popping in a disk and listening on the headphones to discover things on the songs I'd never noticed before.
A worthwhile read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By G. DeCandido on September 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Hertsgaard examines the Beatles' music chronologically, and places it within its time, its musical context, and its level of innovation.
Biography impinges only tangentially. This is written at a very high level of analysis, but written with a graceful tone and suppleness of
thought.
Even though he is talking about chord changes, etc, a nonmusician can follow.What he tries to illuminate is the powerful joy the Beatles music radiates.
He is unabashedly a fan, but never lets his love for his subject permit him to sentimentalize his analysis. He is clear in teasing out the contributions of all four guys, and sends one running back to the recordings to hear this or that part. He does a wonderful job of pinpointing all the musical innovations that began with the Beatles,
and describes in soaring prose the combination of sheer pleasure, eroticism, and straight-ahead rock and roll that was their music.
Hertsgaard sticks to primary sources and material closest to the four, trying to present as much of the truth as can be known.

A great read--carried it around with me, even on the subway, for two days.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Buisman on July 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
I know Mark Hertsgaard from his book 'The Eagle's Shadow' which is about how the world views America and Americans. This was very insightful book based on his travels around the world.

'A Day in the Life' is about a completely different subject: The Beatles, and to be more precise: the music of the Beatles.

The book does go into how the band got together and how the bandmembers related to each other, but it is done to give a better understanding to the way the made the music.

Of course most of it is about the songwriting tandem of McCartney and Lennon. There are some remarks about what they thought about each other writings. (McCartney's being somewhat sweet) but they complete each other. The best part is about how the worked in the studio and especially the role of producer George Martin and his working with orchestras, strange sounds etc. It truely gives an insight into why the records of the Albums are as important as they are, not only in how the songs are created, but also the extra instrumentation and soundscapes around it.

The part on 'Strawberry Fields forever' is a great part and it truely let's us know why this songs is one of the alltime greatest songs ever, even though Lennon wasn't too satisfied with the end-product.

For Beatles fans and musicfans: this book is a good read
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
Hertsgaard obtained what ardent Beatle fans dream of. He lets us in on what no Beatle fan can accomplish (besides Lewisohn, who, as an employee, is restrained in nuance) : Verbatim accounts of original recording sessions, coupled with his nuanced and informed interpretations of the ORIGINAL SESSION TAPES of a sadly limited number of recording sessions. Will he be rewarded for this fine work with return visits? I cautiously anticipate a sequel.
This is The Beatles portrayed as much like us all, their greatness aside. The author seems to care about the subject and the players without veering into worship or condemnation. This is a wonderful, balanced and informative contribution to the already large body of material dedicated to The Beatles.
I love the intimate climate of this work.
DON'T PASS THIS ONE BY....
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
I found "A Day in the Life" quite enjoyable. It went into great detail about the songwriting partnership of John and Paul, the drug use, and the making of the Fab Four's albums. However, I thought the author overanalyzed the Beatles music. For example, at the top of one page he was describing how the music wasn't there to be thought about, it was there for one to listen to. Then, at the bottom of the page, he was describing just about every single line in a song. Over all, an enjoyable book, and I definitely recommend it to any Beatles fan.
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