In Their Lives
The perfect gift for any Beatles fan, In Their Lives is an anthology of essays from a chorus of twenty-nine luminaries singing the praises of their favorite Beatles songs. The Beatles' influence--on their contemporaries, on our cultural consciousness, and on the music industry ever after--is difficult to overstate. We all have a favorite song from the band that made us want to fall in love, tune in, and follow our dreams. Arranged chronologically by the date of the song's release, these essays highlight both the Beatles' evolution as well as the span of generations their music affected. Whether they are Beatlemaniacs who grew up listening to the iconic albums on vinyl or new fans who stream their favorite songs on their phones, all of the contributors explore that poignant intersection between Beatles history and personal history.With contributions from twenty-nine authors and musicians--Roz Chast on "She Loves You," Jane Smiley on "I Want to Hold Your Hand," Rosanne Cash on "No Reply," Gerald Early on "I'm a Loser," Rick Moody on "The End," Maria Popova on "Yellow Submarine," David Duchovny on "Dear Prudence," Chuck Klosterman on "Helter Skelter," David Hajdu on "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)," and more--the breadth of the band's impact is clear. From musings on young love and family strife to explorations of racial boundaries and identity, these essays pay tribute to a band that ran the gamut of human experience in a way no musical group has done before or since.Timed for the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, this anthology captures the full spectrum of reasons fans still love the Fab Four after all these years."In Their Lives is full of pleasant surprises."--New York Times

In Their Lives Details

TitleIn Their Lives
Author
ReleaseMay 23rd, 2017
PublisherBlue Rider Press
ISBN-139780735210691
Rating
GenreMusic, Nonfiction, Writing, Essays, History, Art

In Their Lives Review

  • Andrew Smith
    January 1, 1970
    I missed the heyday of the Beatles, that’s to say I was born to late. By the time I’d reached my teenage years the band had broken up. In fact, I bought my first single in 1971, a year after the band’s demise. I was certainly aware of the band – I think it was impossible for anyone who lived in the UK not to be – but the new songs hitting the charts were the ones that got me interested in buying records. But then the former band members started to release albums independent of the Beatles, I rec I missed the heyday of the Beatles, that’s to say I was born to late. By the time I’d reached my teenage years the band had broken up. In fact, I bought my first single in 1971, a year after the band’s demise. I was certainly aware of the band – I think it was impossible for anyone who lived in the UK not to be – but the new songs hitting the charts were the ones that got me interested in buying records. But then the former band members started to release albums independent of the Beatles, I recall George Harrison’s Living in the Material World and Paul McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway, in particular. I loved these, and suddenly I wanted to ‘discover’ the Beatles music too. In 1973 two compilation albums were released: The Red Album (1962 – 1966) and The Blue Album (1967 -1970). My favourite was the former, the early stuff. I listened to it over and over.In this book a number of writers (song writers, novelists etc) provide their own recollections of how the music of the Beatles impacted them. Each picks a song and explains why this one in particular is significant, but there’s a wider scope to most accounts and it’s possible to see that this group of young men from Liverpool talked to each in a way that was different to other influences in their lives. Some of the songs I knew and some of them I didn’t. I recognised the names of a few of the writers, but most were new to me. But none of that mattered because I became wrapped up in accounts of specific moments and periods in the life of individuals skilled at putting their personal thoughts into words. What a rich mix it is too. And another quirk of this book is that as just about all of the writers are American or have spent significant time in America, the landscapes of the stories are different from those I’ve previously come across. These are people who fell for a culture, a look and a set of vocal harmonies that were in some senses alien to everything else they’d been previously exposed to. It’s very similar to the impact I’ve heard people in this country talk about when they first heard rock and roll music from America in the 1950’s. A light bulb went on; music seemed to be speaking their language for the very first time.The whole collection is great fun and it’s already got me searching out old favourite songs and a few I’m hearing for the very first time. My thanks to Penguin Group Blue Rider Press & Plume and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    I have a fondness for books about the Beatles and this seemed like a great opportunity – writers discussing songs and what they meant to them. However, it was a bit of a mixed bag in the end, even though Paul McCartney did a short introduction. The songs discussed are: She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There, I Want to Hold Your Hand, I’ll be Back, No Reply, I’m a Loser, Yesterday, Norwegian Wood, Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine, And Your Bird Can Sing, Tomorrow Never Knows, Lucy in the Sky with I have a fondness for books about the Beatles and this seemed like a great opportunity – writers discussing songs and what they meant to them. However, it was a bit of a mixed bag in the end, even though Paul McCartney did a short introduction. The songs discussed are: She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There, I Want to Hold Your Hand, I’ll be Back, No Reply, I’m a Loser, Yesterday, Norwegian Wood, Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine, And Your Bird Can Sing, Tomorrow Never Knows, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, She’s Leaving Home, Good Day Sunshine, She Said She Said, Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane, A Day in the Life, I am the Walrus, Dear Prudence, Helter Skelter, The Ballad of John and Yoko, Octopus’s Garden, The End (Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End), You Know My Name (Look Up the Number), Here Comes the Sun, Let it Be and Two of Us.Most of the writers in this collection were not well known to me – most, I must admit, unknown in fact. I suspect that is because it is obviously an American collection and one of the things that really annoyed me was the Americanisms that crept into even essays by British authors (in Rebecca Mead’s discussion of “Eleanor Rigby,” words like ‘diapers’ crop up that make her words seem edited and take away the immediacy of the writing). I am not sure whether she self-edited, or was edited by another hand, but it felt wrong to me as a reader.These various discussions look at songs from various perspectives – some dissect the music itself, others muse on how the songs have become part of their family life, or recall discovering a particular song, or album, or talk of re-discovering the music through children and grand children. Indeed, there is a lot about later generations discovering the Beatles which definitely resonated with me. I was born in 1966, the year of “Revolver,” although I was sadly not old enough to appreciate the fact (when people point out I was born the year England won the World Cup, I always correct them and say I was born the year the greatest album of all time was released, which is much more important). I arrived at the Beatles via Wings, my ten year old daughter discovered them through me. They appeal to every generation and are constantly re-discovered and timelessly relevant. Like me, my daughter’s favourite Beatle is also Paul. The Beatles play constantly on our school run, as does their solo albums, and newer music is scorned by her as not nearly up to scratch. Like many others, the Beatles have moved her musical tastes sideways, to other groups of the same era, and backwards (Elvis, Little Richard, etc.). I would say forwards to all those the Beatles inspired, but that is virtually everyone; just about all musicians have borrowed from their musical legacy.Although I enjoyed reading these discussions of various songs, they varied in interest. There were also mistakes (again, did editors let these pass, or just not realise, I wonder?). For example, “Rubber Soul,” is quoted as the first album that featured no covers, when it was, “A Hard Day’s Night,” and ‘Starr Time’ attributed to the Beatles in another piece of writing, when that came from Ringo’s time in Rory Storm and the Hurricanes… Niggles aside, I did enjoy much of this collection. Gerald Early’s piece on, “I’m a Loser,” and of the racial divide felt in America over the Beatles was extremely interesting. I loved, Peter Blauner’s piece on “And Your Bird Can Sing,” and of how he under-estimated McCartney’s contributions to John’s work until he was older. Some pieces I will return to, others perhaps I will skip, but it was essentially an interesting idea. Rated 3.5
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    In some ways, In Their Lives is like the Beatles catalog. Part of the magic of Beatles music is that it changed so much from one track to the next. They produced very deep and brooding music, as well as upbeat, fun, seemingly nonsensical tunes. While I wouldn't label any of the essays in the book as nonsensical, the tone of the individual authors varied considerably. Each essay is by a different author and focused on a single Beatles song. Some authors wrote a brief memoir about a time and place In some ways, In Their Lives is like the Beatles catalog. Part of the magic of Beatles music is that it changed so much from one track to the next. They produced very deep and brooding music, as well as upbeat, fun, seemingly nonsensical tunes. While I wouldn't label any of the essays in the book as nonsensical, the tone of the individual authors varied considerably. Each essay is by a different author and focused on a single Beatles song. Some authors wrote a brief memoir about a time and place that they return to every time they hear the song. Some authors deconstructed the song and analyzed meaning and interpretations of the music. Some focused on Lennon and McCartney, some authors spoke about their own family and experience hearing the song for the first time. The essays are organized chronologically by release date, but the tone of the essays differs so much, it is like having every Beatles song on "shuffle". After one ends, you don't know if you're going to get I Want to Hold Your Hand, or A Day In The Life, or Revolution #9 next. The tone for each is very, very different.As a Beatles fan, I appreciate the compilation as a whole, but some of the essays did not hold my interest as well as others. I was expecting more of a collection of personal memoirs about what the song means to the individual. Some fit that description, while some of the essays get very deep into the significance of every note and chord in the song. Others analyze the lyrics and their cultural significance at the time. Of course, some songs, like Helter Skelter or The Ballad of John and Yoko, lend themselves to that type of analysis. The former because of the unintended impact of a misinterpretation after it was released, the latter as a product of the cultural impact of the Beatles success on John Lennon personally. Naturally, those songs will inspire a very different response than, say, Golden Slumbers or I Saw Her Standing There.One thing I do appreciate is that this is not a breezy read of "Greatest Hits". There are some deeper tracks that I had to revisit before reading the corresponding essay. The Beatles will always be one of my favorite bands, but I realized I do not listen to them often enough and after reading this, I feel the need to listen to more of their music. The nostalgia has also inspired me to want to buy a record player and listen to the original LPs on vinyl, but that part will have to wait.Thank you to the Penguin Random House First to Read program for providing me with an advance digital copy of this book for review.
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  • Brittany
    January 1, 1970
    I received the ARC for In Their Lives as part of the "First to Read" program in exchange for my honest review.In their Lives is a collection of essays from various writers (some in the music industry some not) that each focus on one (and in a few cases two) Beatles song that affected them the most. Some writers chose to go the technical route and discuss the meaning or even detail the melody and how it was constructed while others wrote a more personal essay on how the song impacted, or soundtra I received the ARC for In Their Lives as part of the "First to Read" program in exchange for my honest review.In their Lives is a collection of essays from various writers (some in the music industry some not) that each focus on one (and in a few cases two) Beatles song that affected them the most. Some writers chose to go the technical route and discuss the meaning or even detail the melody and how it was constructed while others wrote a more personal essay on how the song impacted, or soundtracked an important part of their lives. The stories are in order by release date which shows the progression in their sound and also shows how they went from point a-b: the beginning of Beatlemania to what fans thought was an all-too-soon break-up. I think the mix in essay type reaches a broader audience, although if you're in love with the Beatles you would probably read either way. I preferred the personal essays, and the essays that delved into the song meaning, the music theory essays went slightly (ok, completely) over my head. The note from Paul McCartney in the beginning of the book was a nice touch and it's nice to know that even after all these years it still interests him to know how his music had affected so many people. 4.5/5
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  • Cindy Burnett
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI generally really enjoy compilations of this sort where songs or art work are written about by a variety of authors, and In Their Lives was no exception. In Their Lives includes a series of essays written about Beatles songs chosen by each author in chronological order from She Loves You to Two of Us. In addition, Paul McCartney has written a brief note at the beginning. I knew some of the songs and had never heard of others. I had fun listening to each song before I started the essay 3.5 starsI generally really enjoy compilations of this sort where songs or art work are written about by a variety of authors, and In Their Lives was no exception. In Their Lives includes a series of essays written about Beatles songs chosen by each author in chronological order from She Loves You to Two of Us. In addition, Paul McCartney has written a brief note at the beginning. I knew some of the songs and had never heard of others. I had fun listening to each song before I started the essay about that particular song and felt that enhanced my reading of each composition. Some of the essays are fabulous; Jane Smiley’s tale about “I Want to Hold Your Hand’ was highly entertaining. Others focus more on the intricacies of the chords or certain sections of the song or even some random topic unrelated it seemed to the song about which the individual was supposed to be writing. Those selections I did not like as much. Beatles fans and most music lovers will find much to like in this compilation and may find themselves skimming through an essay or two. Thanks to Blue Rider Press and NetGalley for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Koeeoaddi
    January 1, 1970
    2.5Some of these essays were fun, a few were dull and one or two were just plain insufferable. On the bright side, even the crappy ones made me want to dig the song up and listen to it.
  • Len or Len
    January 1, 1970
    Collections like this are usually uneven, but the only two I didn't like were Chuck Klosterman's take on Helter Skelter and Gerald Early talking about I'm a Loser (he doesn't even like the Beatles). My favorite essays were by music critic Alan Light (I Saw Her Standing There) and Roseanne Cash (No Reply). I think any Beatles fan would get something out of this book.
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  • Adriana
    January 1, 1970
    Consisting of an interesting if slightly confusing collection of essays from fans of the Beatles, I felt a bit like this book suffers from a lack of direction. Some essays are serious musical theory studies into what makes the songs great while others are personal recollections on what a song meant to the author at a certain time. Both are perfectly acceptable directions to take when discussing the Beatles, but not necessarily when doing both at once.
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  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    When my father died two years ago, my brother and I talked about his influence on us as we were growing up. Dad was a computer programmer; my brother earned a double graduate degree in mathematics and computer science, while I run coding and robotics programs at my elementary school. Dad loved to read; we are both avid readers. But one of the earliest influences he had on us was music. He loved music and performed in many church groups, and there were often records playing in the house when we w When my father died two years ago, my brother and I talked about his influence on us as we were growing up. Dad was a computer programmer; my brother earned a double graduate degree in mathematics and computer science, while I run coding and robotics programs at my elementary school. Dad loved to read; we are both avid readers. But one of the earliest influences he had on us was music. He loved music and performed in many church groups, and there were often records playing in the house when we were young (yes, vinyl). The majority of the albums were by gospel or folk groups, but Dad also had The Beatles. And that is where our love of rock and roll began.Reading through the essays in this book was like having conversations with my brother about the different songs. Remembering the first time we realized this was a different type of music than The Kingston Trio or Simon and Garfunkel. Noticing songs on the car radio that we had heard on the stereo at home and singing along. Thinking of the first time we managed to play one of the songs on the piano or guitar. Laughing over the memories together. Famous authors and musicians may have written the essays, but there is an inclusiveness about them that pulls you in as you read. We all have similar memories of where we were when we first discovered a Beatles album (whatever the medium), or a story about our favorite song. The remembrances of how a specific song connects to a life event or loved one are also something communal that we can add to with our own memories. If you are a Beatles fan of any age, or simply interested in rock history and its impact on culture, then you should pick up a copy of this book. The discussions of how the group changed the face of popular music and how the songs changed as they matured as musicians and explored new techniques are interesting even to those of us not in the industry. Putting the essays in chronological order by the release date of the songs was a great idea. Even though the authors may have come to each song at different points between its release and the present day, we can still see the group's evolution over the years. And it reinforces the point that The Beatles have a continuing impact on those who have been listeners all their lives, those who have only recently discovered an affinity for their work, and everyone in between.I highly recommend this book for young adults and up. (There are some instances of language that keep it from being ideal for a younger audience.) I received access to the galley for free through the First to Read program.
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  • Evelyn
    January 1, 1970
    "I was the species of moody adolescent who drove people away from me when that was the last thing I wanted, so I spent a lot of time alone. I had private enthusiasms. I liked to be in the woods by myself. I liked to sleep, I liked to swim underwater, and I liked to sit in my room and listen to music, usually repetitively, while looking at the record's cover. The first record I did this with was THE KINGSTON TRIO AT LARGE, which belonged to one of my older brothers. I played it often enough that "I was the species of moody adolescent who drove people away from me when that was the last thing I wanted, so I spent a lot of time alone. I had private enthusiasms. I liked to be in the woods by myself. I liked to sleep, I liked to swim underwater, and I liked to sit in my room and listen to music, usually repetitively, while looking at the record's cover. The first record I did this with was THE KINGSTON TRIO AT LARGE, which belonged to one of my older brothers. I played it often enough that I was able finally to establish who among the three men was Dave Guard, who was Bob Shane, and who was Nick Reynolds, also who had the husky voice, who had the tenor, and who had the slightly stiff delivery. Likewise several years later, starting at the cover of the Grateful Dead's first record, I determined who was Bob Weir, who were Captain Trips, Phil Lesh, and Bill the Drummer, and who was Pigpen. (People tend to look like their names, and when they sing they often sound like their names too). "from Alec Wilkinson's essay on She Said She SaidI quoted that passage because it was so delightfully evocative. Wilkinson, like many of the authors here, does not confine himself to discussing a particular Beatles song (or even the topic of the Beatles) but sets the essay in the context of his or her life. It's stating the obvious to point out why this makes sense. The Beatles are the soundtrack for so many lives (and for an entire epoch), and whether together or as individuals, the Beatles endure as a cultural touchstone for generations. Like any great subject, the territory is never exhausted. Your mileage may vary, but I especially enjoyed: Gerald Early on I'm a Loser-- he takes us through his Philly neighborhood, and his remembrance of that time and place--as well as a vanished friendship-- has the air of elegyRoseanne Cash on No Reply-- links the song's yearning to a bittersweet childhood scene of poring through her mother's closet -- so tenderRick Moody--tour de force essay on The End conjures the "funereal" stereo system his parents purchased shortly before their divorce, and ends by making a case for the redemptive power of music and hope I'm giving a copy of this to my Beatles-mad 14 year old--!
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  • Zach Herman
    January 1, 1970
    And though the book was rather dullI didn't hate it allThere's a few good paragraphsI don't recommend reading this entire collection--too many quotidian observations from too many talented writers whose work seems out of place here. For the all-killer, no-filler version, read:Chuck Klosterman on "Helter Skelter"Amy Bloom on "Norwegian Wood"Rick Moody on "The End"Rebecca Mead on "Eleanor Rigby"Ben Zimmer on "I Am the Walrus"
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  • Marne Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    I don't really know that much about the Beatles. I remember hearing "Yesterday" on the radio a lot as a child, and forever etched in my memory is the day I heard "Eleanor Rigby" on a transistor radio in the waiting room while my parents talked to their lawyer behind closed doors. But I don't think I even realized these songs were by the same group (as demonstrated by the fact that I spent a lot of years trying to find that song I'd heard called "All the Lonely People.")All this is to say that I' I don't really know that much about the Beatles. I remember hearing "Yesterday" on the radio a lot as a child, and forever etched in my memory is the day I heard "Eleanor Rigby" on a transistor radio in the waiting room while my parents talked to their lawyer behind closed doors. But I don't think I even realized these songs were by the same group (as demonstrated by the fact that I spent a lot of years trying to find that song I'd heard called "All the Lonely People.")All this is to say that I'm really not the target audience for this book, and yet I won it in a Goodreads giveaway, so I've been dutifully making my way through it one essay at a time. Most were written by people a generation ahead of me who were young kids during Beatlemania. Although each of the essays is ostensibly on a particular song, most of these people ended up writing very similar things about how the Beatles formed the soundtrack of their childhoods. A few of the essays take a different tack and try to analyze the assigned song musically. It was embarrassing to admit that I'd never even heard of some of the songs thus analyzed (such as "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "Dear Prudence"), but I did end up finding some of them on Youtube and listening to them. I hadn't heard of most of the writers here, but there are a few essays from famous authors (most notably Francine Prose and Jane Smiley) and some from non-writer celebrities (like David Duchovy and Roseanne Cash). As is usual with these kinds of projects, the essays from many of these famous people seem kind of phoned-in, while most of the others are really quite good. My favorite is undoubtedly Pico Iyer's essay on "Yesterday." Maybe some of that is because of my familiarity with the song, but it's also because he's one of the few authors who submitted a deeply personal essay that wasn't about early childhood. Instead, he wrote a meditation about how the song helped bring him together with his eventual wife. I'm always a sucker for a love story, and this was no exception.I can't say what a passionate Beatles fan would think of this book, but I'm sure there are enough reviews from them already. All I can say is that this collection was hit or miss for me, but there were enough hits to make me slightly more interested in learning about the Beatles. I suppose that's a win.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    I would probably not refer to the authors of these essays as "great writers." Only one or two of them have earned that sobriquet. Some aren't principally "writers" at all, but actors or have some other claim to being in the public eye. However, that doesn't discount the credibility of their opinions, some of which are backed up with a lot of technical musical detail. in fact, among the "writers," it became clear that if a man was writing, he would at some point go off in a techno/production tang I would probably not refer to the authors of these essays as "great writers." Only one or two of them have earned that sobriquet. Some aren't principally "writers" at all, but actors or have some other claim to being in the public eye. However, that doesn't discount the credibility of their opinions, some of which are backed up with a lot of technical musical detail. in fact, among the "writers," it became clear that if a man was writing, he would at some point go off in a techno/production tangent (all of which is perfectly fine, although I found some of it tedious. You don't have to prove to me that they were musical wizards) and if a woman was writing, she would stick mainly to how the song in question made her feel. I think that's a fair assessment of how Beatles fans fall: either they're under the spell emotionally or else blown away by the musicianship and both are what sets Beatles music apart from anything else.It was of note to realize that many (most?) of the authors were slightly younger than I am, meaning that their first impressions of the Beatles were as children rather than as teenagers, which is a huge gulf, psychologically speaking. The few who are my age or older had a different experience altogether. Of course, I related better to those who knew what it was like to put a record on and feel that John, or Paul, or George, or Ringo was singing just to her. Like all books about the Beatles, this one was heavy on the John/Paul bias and neglectful of the George/Ringo contributions. I suppose this is inevitable, given the weight of their various roles in the Beatles. Of course, I am a Paul fan, through and through and so I was delighted by some observations by a John fan (Peter Blauner) that Paul "is the indispensable element" through-out the entire Beatles oevre, whether he wrote, sang lead, or not! This book is treat for all fans as it covers some of the more obscure songs as well as the standards and re-validates (if still needed!) that the Beatles were the greatest Rock (Pop, Balladeers, experimentalists, etc.) group of all time.
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  • Scarlett Sims
    January 1, 1970
    Most of the time, if I'm reading an anthology or collection, it's really hard to give it more than three stars because there will be essays I connected with and ones I didn't. It's just sort of the nature of the format that it's going to be a mixed bag. But this is a really great collection. Much like the Beatles' own catalog, any weaker moments are just completely overshadowed by the standouts.The essays address wildly divergent topics and take different approaches to the Fab Four. Some authors Most of the time, if I'm reading an anthology or collection, it's really hard to give it more than three stars because there will be essays I connected with and ones I didn't. It's just sort of the nature of the format that it's going to be a mixed bag. But this is a really great collection. Much like the Beatles' own catalog, any weaker moments are just completely overshadowed by the standouts.The essays address wildly divergent topics and take different approaches to the Fab Four. Some authors us music as a jumping off point for a personal essay, others use it as reflections on the culture at the time, and still others go into lyrical explications or musical analyses. Familiar as well as not-so-familiar tracks are covered; it actually made me want to go and listen to some of the songs I was less familiar with.I guess if I had one complaint it would be that most of the authors seemed to be of an age where they at least were alive and cognizant while the Beatles were still together as a group. (I'm gathering this mainly from textual references in the essays themselves). It would have been cool to see essays from millennials or younger Gen-Xers who got into the Beatles later as sort of a way to show how big a phenomenon they continue to be.I received this book free from Penguin's First to Read.
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  • Lissa
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars.
  • Gary Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    Review coming soon ...
  • scherzo♫
    January 1, 1970
    "As Giacometti told his biographer James Lord, 'The more you struggle to make it lifelike the less like life it becomes. But since a work of art is an illusion anyway, if you heighten the illusory qualities, then you come closer to the effect of life.' The illusion of something ordinary becomes something eternal, the forever day--the song of a lifetime."--Nicolas Davidoff A Day in the Life
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  • Geoff
    January 1, 1970
    uneven, but the variety of ways the authors tackle these Beatles songs is really fascinating.
  • Maureen
    January 1, 1970
    Enjoyed this.
  • Jen's Unique Reads
    January 1, 1970
    First, thank you Penguin FTR for this arc in exchange for an honest review. I'm going to keep this review brief due to the many problems with this arc.This is a book about a few very select songs from the Beatles. It doesn't cover all of their hits. Of course, we would be here all day long if this book did cover the entire catalog. Anyway, this arc wasn't what I expected to read. I did enjoy the fact that Sir Paul did write a note in the beginning of the book. That was great. However, I don't be First, thank you Penguin FTR for this arc in exchange for an honest review. I'm going to keep this review brief due to the many problems with this arc.This is a book about a few very select songs from the Beatles. It doesn't cover all of their hits. Of course, we would be here all day long if this book did cover the entire catalog. Anyway, this arc wasn't what I expected to read. I did enjoy the fact that Sir Paul did write a note in the beginning of the book. That was great. However, I don't believe Sir Paul should read the rest of the book. Why?It didn't (to me) paint any of the Beatles in a positive light. "I didn't really like the Beatles all that much... but..." Yes! That part bugged me the most. If you didn't care for the Beatles, why say anything at all? I'm not expecting it to be unicorns and rainbows, but damn... where are the positive comments? The author didn't dig well enough for positive essays on the Beatles or stories. Some of these writers took the golden opportunity to express their political stances. Even those this book is a compilation of essays. I was excited to read this book. Why? I thought it would be about something positive for once. Damn, I got this one wrong. All it has is a bunch of negative people in it. Look, I'm glad we included all the other bands and solo artists. Give them their own books. This is supposed to be about the Beatles. There's nothing that "Beatlemaniacs" don't already know. It showed us nothing new. Just a bunch of knee-jerk reactions. The Beatles have influenced a countless number of bands either indirectly or directly. They have inspired speeches, novels, short stories, plays, and countless other things both in the UK and the USA. Yes, we already know about the drugs & LSD trips. That's nothing new. A lot of bands have/had their own set of drug issues. We know about John vs. Paul feud. It's nothing new. I, personally, didn't learn anything but a bunch of ramblings that didn't make sense to me. The over analyzing when it's just a group of guys who chose to play music. They marched to their own beat and it was, for the most part, a hit. The Beatles haven't faded into memory. New generations are listening to them, and their lyrics. "They didn't create heavy metal." No, but a ton of heavy metal bands do mention Helter Skelter from the Beatles. We can go on and on about heavy metal bands. They all tip their perspective hats to the Beatles. Or at least, they were influenced by another heavy metal band who was influenced by the Beatles. It all comes to a full circle, one way or another.It felt like this was a "rush" job. And this book didn't include all of the great songs from the Beatles. Anyway, I'm just another asshole with an opinion. This book really rubbed me the wrong way.
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  • Joan
    January 1, 1970
    In Their Lives was a fun book to read. Although I enjoy Beatles songs, I don't consider myself to be a super fan who knows every song and the associated background information. There were several songs written about in the essays that I had not heard before. So, I pulled up the YouTube version and listened to each song as I read the associated essay. Overall, it was a very enjoyable reading and listening experience. I received an ARC of this book from Penguin's First to Read program.
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  • Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5There appears to be no end to the number of ways to get The Beatles on the cover of a book. I've read more than a few in the last few years since I started this book review blog. Since it seems that enough biographies have been written and there have been some well-researched, in-depth looks at the recording sessions, and we've turned now to more and more reflections on The Beatles. If you've ever listened to a Beatles so This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5There appears to be no end to the number of ways to get The Beatles on the cover of a book. I've read more than a few in the last few years since I started this book review blog. Since it seems that enough biographies have been written and there have been some well-researched, in-depth looks at the recording sessions, and we've turned now to more and more reflections on The Beatles. If you've ever listened to a Beatles song, it's time to get out your pen and jot down your reactions so that you, too, can put out a Beatles-related book.The sub-title to this book is "Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs." Both of these subjects ("Great Writers" and "Great Songs") are clearly a bit subjective. As to the songs, just because it's a Beatles song doesn't make it 'great' and even some of these writers refer to the song they write about as not great. "Helter Skelter" may be famous, but is it a great song? "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)"? As for the writers ... I may be familiar with the names of a quarter of these writers and I'm not sure I'd refer to any of these authors as "great." But what's really important isn't the title, but the essays themselves.The writers seemed t have been given a pretty big leeway as to what to write about. Some write about how they first discovered The Beatles and their music. Some write about how the music affected them. Some write what might be better described as an explanation of how a song was written (and less about how it affected the one writing the essay).As with almost any collection of essays from different writers, some of these were wonderful and extremely engaging for me, while others were flops.The first essay to really grab me was Gerald Early's "I'm a Loser." Early writes about coming to The Beatles as a black youth. Black boy/white music. This isn't a perspective I'd ever thought about before. In fact it had never occurred to me until I'd read this that The Beatles might be seen as "white music". Early brings about his childhood very clearly and this really made me think."Eleanor Rigby" by Rebecca Mead was another reflection that I really enjoyed. Mead weaves the history of the song in and out of how it came about to have such a profound affect on her life. When we think or reflect on The Beatles and the culture of the time, we too often think in a grand scale and the social effects The Beatles had on society, but Mead reminds us that during this time there are simple lives, fracturing, and that sometimes music holds us together.Alec Wilkinson writes about "She Said She Said" and describes drug use by the listener in such a way as to make us feel as though we might be just a little bit high as well. He does a really nice job of making the association.Nicholas Dawidoff writes about "A Day in the Life." His essay seems a little less personal and writes about how The Beatles worked together, even through their difficult times. Although it felt a little different in scope from the other works in the collection, I really appreciated this take on the teamwork of the Fab Four.And finally, "I Am the Walrus" was written by Ben Zimmer. He starts by stating "Inspired nonsense has held me in its spell for as long as I can remember" and I knew that I would be able to relate to Zimmer and his thoughts on the song. And I did.Most of the rest of these were incredibly average. Pico Iyer's "Yesterday" felt more like a work of fiction and because of that I didn't care for the piece at all.It's interesting to think that this book isn't really about The Beatles at all, but rather it's about these twenty-eight different writers and one of the few things they all have in common - their listening to The Beatles. Because of this, I'm not sure much I would recommend this book. It's really a series of mini-memoirs, each focused on a Beatles song. But as I mentioned earlier, I don't really know any of these writers so how The Beatles affected them really means nothing to me. Only you can decide if this sounds like something that might interest you.Also, I found it rather humorous that there's a "Note" from Paul McCartney at the beginning of the book, surely to help lend some authenticity to the work. But I couldn't help but laugh at McCartney's last lines "Enjoy read it. I know I will." Will? He's written a Note for the book but he hasn't read it yet? Yup.This book contains the following:A Note From Paul McCartneyIntroduction"She Loves You" - Roz Chast"I Saw Her Standing There" - Alan Light"I Want to Hold Your Hand" - Jane Smiley"I'll Be Back" - Shawn Colvin"No Reply" - Rosanne Cash"I'm a Loser" Gerald Early"Yesterday" - Pico Iyer"Norwegian Wood" - Amy Bloom"Eleanor Rigby" - Rebecca Mead"Yellow Submarine" - Maria Popova"And Your Bird Can Sing" - Peter Blauner"Tomorrow Never Knows" - Jon Pareles"Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" - Thomas Beller"She's Leaving Home" - Mona Simpson"Good Day Sunshine" - Joseph O'Neill"She Said She Said" - Alec Wilkinson"Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane" - Adam Gopnik"A Day in the Life" - Nicholas Dawidoff"I Am the Walrus" - Ben Zimmer"Dear Prudence" - David Duchovny"Helter Skelter" - Chuck Klosterman"The Ballad of John and Yoko" - Touré"Octopus's Garden" - Elissa Schappell"The End" - Rick Moody"You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" - David Hajdu"Here Comes the Sun/There's a Place" - Francine Prose and Emilia Ruiz-Michels"Let It Be" - John Hockenberry"Two of Us" - Bill FlanaganLooking for a good book? The collection of essays, In Their Lives, edited by Andrew Blauner, reflects on how The Beatles and their music personally affected each writer. Some of these essays are most definitely worth reading.I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Aimee
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked the idea of this book and was eager to read it. I have been a Beatle's fan for a long time and was looking forward to an in depth look at some of their songs. Some of the essays did focus on the songs, they looked at detail into the lyrics and the musical arrangements and they were very interesting. Some of the essays focused on the author of the essay and how the song they picked was important to them. I really enjoyed quite a few of the essays, but others I found to be boring. I I really liked the idea of this book and was eager to read it. I have been a Beatle's fan for a long time and was looking forward to an in depth look at some of their songs. Some of the essays did focus on the songs, they looked at detail into the lyrics and the musical arrangements and they were very interesting. Some of the essays focused on the author of the essay and how the song they picked was important to them. I really enjoyed quite a few of the essays, but others I found to be boring. If you are a Beatle's fan I think you will like this book, the songs picked are fun to look at more closely and some of the essays are very entertaining. Unfortunately I found myself skimming through quite a few of the essays which is why I only give this book three stars.I did receive this book from NetGalley for a review.
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  • Jenny T.
    January 1, 1970
    This book contains a collection of essays from various writers reflecting on their favorite Beatles song in their own individual lives. I enjoyed reading each person's impressions about the Beatles included with bits of Beatles history and trivia. This book definitely made me reflect about how the band has influenced my own musical life and how I did not experience the progression of their songs/albums since everything was out and available to me by the time I was aware of this Liverpool band.Th This book contains a collection of essays from various writers reflecting on their favorite Beatles song in their own individual lives. I enjoyed reading each person's impressions about the Beatles included with bits of Beatles history and trivia. This book definitely made me reflect about how the band has influenced my own musical life and how I did not experience the progression of their songs/albums since everything was out and available to me by the time I was aware of this Liverpool band.Thanks to First to Read- Penguin Books USA for the free copy of this book.
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  • Michael Ritchie
    January 1, 1970
    (3-1/2 stars) There are some fine essays here, the best of which--Jon Pareles on "Tomorrow Never Knows," Peter Blauner on "And Your Bird Can Sing," David Hadju on "You Know My Name (Look up the Number)"--combine personal reminiscence with musical analysis and interpretation. Essays that come down too heavily one way or the other tend to be on the weak side. And some of the lesser essays still make interesting points, as when Thomas Bellar, in an otherwise lackluster piece on "Lucy in the Sky wit (3-1/2 stars) There are some fine essays here, the best of which--Jon Pareles on "Tomorrow Never Knows," Peter Blauner on "And Your Bird Can Sing," David Hadju on "You Know My Name (Look up the Number)"--combine personal reminiscence with musical analysis and interpretation. Essays that come down too heavily one way or the other tend to be on the weak side. And some of the lesser essays still make interesting points, as when Thomas Bellar, in an otherwise lackluster piece on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," refers to Elton John having made the song "wholesome" in his cover version. Gerald Early turns his essay on "I'm a Loser" into a good reflection on being a black kid grooving to the very white Beatles--though he pads the essay out with unnecessary lists of pop culture artifacts.I'm sorry that great songs like "Norwegian Wood" and "She Loves You" get essays that feel knocked off in a weekend on assignment. And I wish that someone had written about some lesser-known songs like "Blue Jay Way" or 'Things We Said Today." But my main beef is with the infrastructure. No disrespect is meant here for Pareles or Hadju or anyone else, but these essays are not really by "great" writers. Great writers are Thomas Pynchon or Toni Morrison or Stephen King or Haruki Muakami or Ta-Nehisi Coates or Hilton Als. None of them are here. Jane Smiley, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, may be a great writer, and I've heard lots of praise for Rick Moody and Joseph O'Neill though I've not read their works. But the subtitle should have been "Competent Writers on Great Beatles Songs." Aside from the pieces by Hadju, Blauner, Pareles, and Early, I doubt any of these musings will stick with me--maybe John Hockenberry's ode to "Let It Be" (and to his daughter Olivia) and Chuck Klosterman's deconstruction of "Helter Skelter." The rest have already left my mind, and while only a couple of essays are total crap, these great songs should have inspired better material. Read this book, but check it out of the library--it doesn't need to be on your permanent Beatles bookshelf.And, just to show how petty I can be, the order of essays is faulty. In the intro, it's stated that the songs are presented in chronological order of release, but the songs from Sgt. Pepper come between songs from Revolver (wrong!) and "Strawberry Fields Forever" comes in the middle of that muddle (wrong!). Clearly not a labor of love.
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  • Dawn
    January 1, 1970
    Seeing Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney recently reminded me that I had not finished this book. I am giving it four stars because I did go back to the library to check it out again almost a year after returning it unfinished, and because there are definitely some four- and five-star moments in the book, including Maria Popova's essay on Yellow Submarine and the whistle-call, a concept of her parents' courting time in Bulgaria, Gerald Early and I'm a Loser, who outlines a period of "musical de Seeing Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney recently reminded me that I had not finished this book. I am giving it four stars because I did go back to the library to check it out again almost a year after returning it unfinished, and because there are definitely some four- and five-star moments in the book, including Maria Popova's essay on Yellow Submarine and the whistle-call, a concept of her parents' courting time in Bulgaria, Gerald Early and I'm a Loser, who outlines a period of "musical detente" in the early 60s when Billboard did not publish a separate black music or R&B chart, and who suggests that the Beatles, leading the British Invasion, "re-racialized the American pop charts by sharply dividing black and white taste again," and John Hockenberry, for whom the Beatles were resurrected for him after 40 years by his 10-year-old daughter performing Let It Be at a school talent show (he had not heard her rehearse, or have any idea as to what she was about to perform). "She sang out the words, lamenting a middle school student's times of trouble, calling out to Mother Mary, looking for the words of wisdom as though this song had been written for this talent show. Let It Be. . . .The wisdom of "letting it be" could not have been more relevant in that moment, and I recalled clearly how the song had eased the mind of my seventh-grade self in a brand-new town and school after a sudden move in 1970. Forty years connected by a song that celebrated simplicity and a brave performance that reassured a father that the future was one step ahead, and then another, and another." This essay afforded a read-out-loud-to-my-spouse opportunity. While reading In Their Lives, I had a constant sound-track playing in the back of my head, and utilized YouTube to listen to Beatles tunes as yet unfamiliar. Glad I went back to get the book once again. Reading it reminded me of the timeline of my own life in relation to their timeline as a group.
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  • Colleen
    January 1, 1970
    It’s undeniable that the Beatles have had an incredible influence on our contemporary culture and we’re still feeling the effects of their music 55 years after they burst onto the world’s stage. What the editors of “In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs” did was take 29 individuals and ask them to share their personal favourite Beatles song and explain why it affected them the way it did. To be honest, I was not familiar with many of the writers who submitted essays, but that didn It’s undeniable that the Beatles have had an incredible influence on our contemporary culture and we’re still feeling the effects of their music 55 years after they burst onto the world’s stage. What the editors of “In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs” did was take 29 individuals and ask them to share their personal favourite Beatles song and explain why it affected them the way it did. To be honest, I was not familiar with many of the writers who submitted essays, but that didn’t really matter. I didn’t care that I had no idea who they were; it was still interesting to read why a particular song came to mean so much to them. The contributions vary considerably from person to person: some are very personal and explain how a Beatles song changed their life and why; others go into in-depth descriptions of the way a song was written and how it impacted on song writing and the music industry. (These were the ones that I skipped over because I know absolutely nothing about music theory.)Although I didn’t read every entry and skimmed quite a bit, I still enjoyed what I did read. It’s always interesting to read which Beatles songs bring meaning to someone’s life; it gave me a chance to reflect back on a few songs that I hadn’t really thought about much, listen to them with a different perspective, and mentally debate the merits of their choice. I particularly enjoyed Alan Light’s contribution (“I Saw Her Standing There”): how this song impacted on him as a young child, and then he got to watch the whole process repeat itself with his own son. Very cool.
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  • Shirmz
    January 1, 1970
    There were several fantastic essays in this book. Chuck Klosterman's opening line in his essay asserts that Helter Skelter is nobody's favorite Beatles song. I loved this. A surprise from the book: David Duchovney's essay on Dear Prudence is pretty good! I just found The Washington Post's review of the book and it really sums it up: "The Rule of Themed Anthologies says that one-third of such collections will be thought-provoking and insightful, one third will be just okay, and one third will be There were several fantastic essays in this book. Chuck Klosterman's opening line in his essay asserts that Helter Skelter is nobody's favorite Beatles song. I loved this. A surprise from the book: David Duchovney's essay on Dear Prudence is pretty good! I just found The Washington Post's review of the book and it really sums it up: "The Rule of Themed Anthologies says that one-third of such collections will be thought-provoking and insightful, one third will be just okay, and one third will be tossed-off words from writers too guilty or desperate to say no to the commissioning editor. “In Their Lives” satisfies this formula with eerie precision." However, a lot of the essays were just people talking about how the Beatles reminded them of some part of their life. I got this book from the library, and I suggest you do the same. Here are the essays really worth it:- Gerald Early, I'm a Loser: A standout from the book. He writes about how irrelevant the Beatles were to an African-American kid growing up in Philly, but how he connected to this song.- Maria Popoya, Yellow Submarine: One of the only writers that successfully ties her personal story to one of the Beatles' songs. She uses Yellow Submarine as a starting point to detail her parents love affair. - David Duchovny and Chuck Klosterman (as said above)- Toure, The Ballad of John and Yoko- Rick Moody, The End (Had me listening to the instrumentation of the song in a different way than I had before.)
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  • Jim Krotzman
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very enjoyable book about writers, their favorite Beatles songs, and the effects these songs had on their lives. I was not familiar with some of the writers. The description of the authors and the books they have written was in the back of the book. I would have liked to have had that information after their names before their stories. I wish I had played the songs the writers had chosen before, during, or after the essays they had written. I remembered most of the songs, but not in t This is a very enjoyable book about writers, their favorite Beatles songs, and the effects these songs had on their lives. I was not familiar with some of the writers. The description of the authors and the books they have written was in the back of the book. I would have liked to have had that information after their names before their stories. I wish I had played the songs the writers had chosen before, during, or after the essays they had written. I remembered most of the songs, but not in the detail the authors referred to them. The essay that was the most disappointing and had the least work done was the one written by David Duchovny. He wrote his story from memories of 30 years before. He wrote about "Dear Prudence," and his analysis was simplistic. He had no idea the song was written with Mia Farrow's sister Prudence in mind or that they were at a retreat with the Beatles and the Maharishma Yogi. Some of the authors are Rick Moody, Maria Popova, Jane Smiley, Shawn Colvin, Roseanne Cash, and Francine Prose. Some of the songs discussed are "I Saw Her Standing There," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Eleanor Rigby," "Yellow Submarine," "She's Leaving Home," "Here Comes the Sun," and "A Day in the Life."
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  • Raymond
    January 1, 1970
    I was given an advanced copy of "In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs." by Netgalley and Blue Rider Press in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!I was interested in reading this book as I myself am a huge Beatles fan. I have many books about The Beatles and all their records, and was interested to know what other Beatle fans thought of the Fab Four. I have to admit that all but one (David Duchovny) of the writers in this book were unknown to me. The essays themselves I was given an advanced copy of "In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs." by Netgalley and Blue Rider Press in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!I was interested in reading this book as I myself am a huge Beatles fan. I have many books about The Beatles and all their records, and was interested to know what other Beatle fans thought of the Fab Four. I have to admit that all but one (David Duchovny) of the writers in this book were unknown to me. The essays themselves are of different interest to me. Some writers deconstruct their chosen song, chord by chord, and give their opinion on what this means to them, others tell of their lives at the time of hearing their chosen song for the first time. And others tell of their memories of the time the song was released. The stories themselves are interesting to read, but some were less interesting to read than others, also mistaken facts about the Beatles pop up every so often which I was surprised weren't caught. Overall its an interesting read. But it needed more identifiable people to be involved.
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