Jonathan Gould, Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America
Periodically, there are bands I avoid simply because everyone else loves them. For example, Mumford & Sons (and before them Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, The Shins, Coldplay, etc.) may make great music, but can they really be that good? I imagine their catalog to include such titles as“Sheep Off a Cliff,” “Lemmings,” “Kool Aid,” and “We’re Big in Europe!”, but I wouldn’t really know for sure. I’ll hear Mumford’s hits in a doctor’s office soon enough. “Moon river!”
(When I was in tenth grade world religions class, Mrs. Robertson explained that there were four kinds of people in the world—builders, traditionalists, idealists, and individualists—and subsequently asked each of us to signify which we were. No one raised their hand for builder, no one for traditionalist, I was the only idealist, but then everyone else said they were individualists. My attempt to remark upon the irony of the whole situation failed to gain traction, as all the individualists resented my nonconformity. I consoled myself with the knowledge that there’s a difference between pridefulness and simple realism.)
The ur-band of my popularity aversion has been the Beatles. (But Jim, why the love for Elvis, you might ask? Answer: because he was so popular that everyone ended up hating him. This never happened with the Fab Four.) I’ve known some stone cold music lovers who worship the Beatles, but also plenty of buy-CD’s-at-Starbucks types too. 50,000,000 Beatles fans can’t be right, can they?
Add to all this that I grew up listening to “classic rock” radio in the 1990′s, where all the Beatles stations ever played was the soft stuff—“Let It Be,” “Strawberry Fields,” “Yellow Submarine,” and so on. Worst of all, “Hey Jude” seemed to taunt me harder with every false fade out, while my anti-Beatle desultory philippics became less and less brief. These guys were many things, but they weren’t rock and roll. And hey, there’s no “me” in “iconoclastic.”
Years later, I got pregnant with my fourth child. Rather, my wife got pregnant, but I was involved, and therefore I deserved a pick-me-up present to self. Looking around for something suitable, I realized that the Beatles mono boxed set, released a couple of years earlier, was just beginning to come down in price. I remembered the respect that I had for certain music afficionado friends who revered the Beatles, and I decided to sink my bid with them.
This fourth pregnancy was particularly difficult physically, however, and it included some particularly grueling backrubs I had to administer to others. My fingers were aching so badly that I bought an Amazon Kindle. Armed with one-click purchasing power, one of the first e-books I bought was Jonathan Gould’s Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America. Amazon reviews ushered me towards this one as the best of (a large) bunch. Thus I began to listen to every Beatles song one by one, with Gould’s book as a guide to each.
First the Beatles, then the book.
(I like Mumford & Sons, by the way. It would have ruined my intro to have admitted it earlier, though.)
To be continued at http://www.wordsofangehr.com/?p=49.