From Publishers Weekly
In 1967, drug guru Timothy Leary proclaimed, "[T]he message from Liverpool is the Newest Testament, chanted by Four Evangelists—saints John, Paul, George, and Ringo." Leary certainly captured the feelings of a generation pursuing freedom from old social conventions and searching for love in the lyrics, looks and music of the Beatles. In less than a decade, the group evolved from the fun-loving frantic boys of A Hard Day's Night
(1964) to the philosophical poets of Abbey Road
(1969) and Let It Be
(1970), weaving more references to religion and spirituality into their music. Acclaimed pop music writer Turner (A Man Called Cash
) unsuccessfully attempts to reveal the "gospel" of the Fab Four in this plodding book. He recounts the already well-known biographies of each Beatle, pointing out that each had some early brushes with either the Church of England or Roman Catholicism. Turner takes John Lennon's now-infamous 1966 claim that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus" as his starting point and then examines superficially the well-known turn East that the group took in the late 1960s. The book lacks in-depth interpretations of the Beatles' song lyrics and fails to account for the rich and complex meanings that arguably make their lyrics some of the most religious in rock. (Aug.)
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John Lennon famously proclaimed the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Music journalist Turner says they were a kind of religion in themselves, and in this entertaining look at their religious and spiritual influences and ideas, he examines each of the Beatles' attitudes toward religion. Lennon, who sang in his local church choir while growing up in Liverpool, was fascinated by the life of the historical Jesus. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr didn't have particularly strong religious feelings. George Harrison increasingly leaned toward Eastern religion. They had in common skepticism toward orthodox religion. Turner follows the arc of the Beatles' remarkable career and also examines their individual lives. While much of the information and anecdotes Turner relays is familiar to Beatles fans, his spiritual perspective refreshens it all. A longtime Beatles admirer, Turner clearly loves the band and the music they created. Fellow fans are sure to appreciate the personal engagement that he brings to the material. June SawyersCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved