*Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, volume I*

That is the new book by Mark Lewisohn, and I was so keen to finish it that I neglected to see the Ender’s Game movie yesterday.  944 pp. and you only get up to 1962 and the beginnings of the first LP!  Despite the length, it is gripping throughout.  In addition to the obvious angles on The Beatles, it is a study of Liverpudlian history, the nature of poverty, why educating even really smart people can be problematic, why relative age matters so much for young people, how groups gel, the importance of practice, the importance of management, and the importance of origins, among a variety of other more general topics.

This work is one of my five favorite non-fiction books of the year.  And if you are wondering, it is not just me: the book has received very positive reviews elsewhere.

Comments

If this was 10 years in the making, Lewisohn better step up the pace for the second and third volumes or most of the Beatles' fans will be dead by the time he gets done.

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Tyler: Glad to hear your cultural consumption comes with opportunity costs. I was beginning to think you could absorb several books, three or four films and a Korean lunch simultaneously.

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I liked this comment from one of the Guardian reviews:

"It is a hugely old-fashioned brick of a book, written (and priced) for a baby boomer generation who – like babies, perhaps – quite enjoy being told the same story for the umpteenth time."

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Surely there must be many people posting to this blog under TC's nameM how can one man synthesize so much media? And write so many books? Perhaps he doesn't sleep.

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Who cares? The Beatles are so overrated

You really should warn the world's garbage removal services in advance before making such statements. Just imagine the workload they'll face tomorrow, with all the records that will be discarded now that you've explained The Beatles are overrated.

No one ever said this before!! If only someone had suggested it!!

It is safe to guess that most popular culture winners - the Picassos and the Brandos and the McCartneys and the Lennons and the Nabokovs and the Gehrys and the Milton Friedmans - are overrated because, although gifted with unusual and life-affirming talent, they refused, in conformity with what the popular culture wanted, to take the extra step and create real art that was not routinely overwhelmed by their own excitement at their own luck and timeliness. As Taleb said about Nabokov, if you want to reward yourself, read a chapter, if you want to suffer, read several chapters. Nevertheless, to be fair, while I have never met anyone with that level of popular culture success (although I have met a better artist than Picasso and almost met a better musician than any living famous rock and roll star), it is worth pointing out that anyone can find on-line quotes exhibiting the respect that some of the pop-culture-winner individuals mentioned have for genuine artists (whether in the blues and folk tradition, the Russian literary tradition, or the CounterReformation painting tradition), and that humility from millionaires and billionaires is inspiring. Back to my main point - in my ordinary opinion, there are exceptions - popular artists who were genuine through and through - Dickens, Louis and Bix, Gaudi and W.C. Fields, just to name a few - but usually the biggest sellers are nowhere near the best, and I don't understand why so many people white knight in favor of the super-popular,who don't really need it, and who would, I think, probably prefer, if asked, to see better artists praised.

You've classed the mountebank Dickens with Louis and Bix: aaargh!

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Any artist with that reaches a certain level of self-sustaining hype is going to end up overrated to some degree, but that doesn't mean that they aren't good or interesting.

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You are surely joking to increase the hit of your website.

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I loathe the Beatles (well, Yoko Ono) but even I know they were under-rated, not over-rated. Milton Friedman maybe (incentives matter, LOL), Einstein definitely (time moves slower when you are having fun, duh). Not the Beatles.

I will read this book, when it comes out in PB, thanks to TC's heads up.

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Thanks for the recommendation. My wife will be getting this book for Christmas, and if she isn't thrilled I will be able to blame you.

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From Annus Mirabilis by Philip Larkin: Sexual intercourse began / in nineteen sixty-three / (Which was rather late for me) - / Between the end of the Chatterly ban / And the Beatles' first LP. (First stanza) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECiPN0ivfWE

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