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BOOK REVIEW - THE BEATLES TUNE IN by Mark Lewisohn

BOOK OF THE MONTH

THE BEATLES

TUNE IN

by Mark Lewisohn

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THE BEST BEATLES BOOK EVER?

 

 

"Mark Lewisohn's biography is the first true and accurate account of the Beatles, a contextual history built upon impeccable research and written with energy, style, objectively and insight. This book is for anyone who wishes to own the complete story in all its stunning and extraordinary detail, and is the first volume covering the period up to 1962 in 950 pages."

THE BRITISH BEATLES FAN CLUB

Some books you could drown in and the 950 pages of Mark Lewisohn’s THE BEATLES – TUNE IN - the first installment of three biographies chronicling the story of The Beatles is certainly deep and weighty enough to make opening the cover a real commitment.

 


With a historian’s eye for detail and more than enough commentary from multiple sources to lift it from a mere history to a living document in short it’s a triumph, that is already being bestowed various accolades from those that matter the most – the fans.

 


Such an immense undertaking could easily have veered off into a dry chronicle of events, but there’s an obvious love and deep familiarity with the subject that Lewisohn masterfully conveys without once stepping into the murky waters of ‘fandom’.

 


If you want to know all about the converging childhoods of the main players it’s all here, along with insightful commentary that draws the stories together artistically and contextually. The stories of those four separate lives are of course interesting primarily because we know what is coming, and in those early days there is no real sense of any path or divine plan. What is interesting is the four very different characters and how they eventually collide. It’s not all about the main actors either; as the story grows the strings of the support cast are drawn in with Epstein in particular so crucial to the story.   

 


Following the school years, illnesses, girlfriends and births, deaths and marriages the story really begins with the Teddy Boys and two singers – Elvis Presley and Little Richard. It’s hard of course these days to imagine the life changing power of a single song in a world where everything is at our fingertips, but to Lennon Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ was where it all really began.

 


Even better of course are the tales from Germany, that I’d never read in so much fantastic detail before and it’s in those Chapters that you can first sense the gears moving.

 


On top of that there’s everything about early group dynamics, the Pete Best – Ringo Starr saga, the first recording contract, George Martin and Brian Epstein: all in rich and vivid detail. There’s so much you didn’t know and so many stories clarified all make particularly interesting reading.  And while you might think that at just under a  thousand pages it might all get a bit laboured, Lewinsohn’s narrative is both assured  and engaging.

 


When you step back to think that this volume only takes us through family histories, childhood, adolescence and the band up to 1962 it’s astonishing to imagine what is to come as presumably there are more sources and more material available from later years, not to mention richer and more diverse music and the epic final tales of isolation and the eventual split. 

 


I know I’ve said it before, but this really is essential reading for a Beatles fan, or even a lover of great biographies with a real eye for historical detail. There will never be another Beatles and this book recreates that perfect storm.

 

 

 

By Mark Diggins