In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs by Andrew Blauner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In Their Lives is a collection of essays that take a look at the Beatles from the writer's perspective. It covers the entire career of the band with discussions on most of their major hits as well as a few deeper B-side cuts.
Although every essay has its interesting moment, I was surprised that I recognized so few of the writers featured here. I also noticed that there were very few essays included for those second generation fans—the ones that were born well after the breakup of the Beatles and would have a different perspective of the music (though some writers do include these experiences through child/grandchild anecdotes).
Some of the essays approach the songs and memories attached to it as you would expect—the song is representative of a moment in time for the writer, whether that's the first time they heard it or what changed after years of listening. Many of the essays hardly stitch a connection between the song and the main characters of the essay, giving those works the feeling that the song itself is just an afterthought.
And then there are the few special ones in this collection that borderline on the absurd, presenting a Beatles song in such an academic way that you laugh, even though the writer's intention was probably not for it to be humorous at all (even the Beatles themselves thought it was ridiculous that colleges offered courses that deconstructed every line of their lyrics for serious study).
Overall, it's a good read if you want to get into the mood to think about your own first experience with the Beatles or which song is deeply attached to a personal memory. A passage from Rick Moody's essay probably sums up the band and the way we all use their songs as a soundtrack to our lives very well: “Not capable of being confined by British popular music, or psychedelia, or Baroque music, or Indian music, or anything else, but magpies, claiming whatever shiny thing seized them, and refining and repurposing the material.”
*Provided by Penguin First to Read
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