Too many Beatles books? In my house there’s always room for one more, and this week’s addition is All Together Now (Matador, £9.99), an ABC of Beatles’ songs by registered Fabs geek David Rowley.
This is his third book on the subject, for like many repeat offenders, Rowley has spent more years writing about the Beatles than the Beatles spent being the Beatles. His competition is Ian McDonald’s legendary Revolution in the Head, a chronological, rigorous and shamelessly tendentious analysis of the songs that irritates some readers by being just a bit too much like the old NME.
This is a much simpler book, less stylishly written for sure, but factually sound and, with its alphabetical structure, more of a lucky dip: the Beatles loo book, if you like.
We learn (if we didn’t know already) that ‘Eight Days a Week’ was the first song they ever spent more than three hours recording; that neither John nor Paul ever recorded a note of Beatles music on their birthdays; that ‘Here Comes the Sun’ is the most popular Beatles record on iTunes, having been inspired by a freakish cold spell in February and March 1969 (but April was warmer than usual, and enjoyed an extraordinary 189 hours of sunshine). ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ was written by the side of John’s swimming pool. ‘Help!’ was about John feeling ‘very fat, very insecure’.
And so on and on, until you have to go and play all the records again, whether you want to or not.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 25 May 2013Tags: Bookend review, Marcus berkmann, The Beatles