Let It Be: How Many Beatles Books Are Enough?
From where I am sitting, I spy at least three Beatles books that were released in the past year alone: A gigantic LIFE job on the Fab Four, a nine-pounder on John Lennon, and another just on the boys' post-Fab solo career work and best singles. All three are great additions to any Beatles library, especially the solo-work one.
But every few months or so, myself or someone else at Rocks Off gets another email or press release about a new Beatles book in the offing or announcing that we will soon be holding one of them in our hands.
There have literally been hundreds of books written about the group, with tons more in the pipeline. You could say that they are here, there, and everywhere. And the Beatles aren't the only ones who have libraries full of literature about them. The Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, and Bruce Springsteen are common fodder for rock writers.
But even Beatles fans are starting to say enough is enough, and publishers should just let it be. You could say these paperback writers better get back from writing so many Beatles books. Forgive me if I'm down on Beatles books.
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It's a testament to the Fab's legend that every year untold amounts of music scribes attempt to write the next Great Beatles Biography. Plus, anniversaries are cheap now. Anything big or small or invented can be commemorated. The Beatles' first trip to Japan? I am sure there is a coffee-table tome on that somewhere.
But how much is too much? How many biographies of John Lennon must there be? How many retellings of the same stories over and over again will it take for authors to let Lennon rest, or the Beatles' legacy in general, at least as far as literature goes?
Plus, many critics say that these well-meaning rock authors pick up mistakes from other books and repeat them, again and again, and again. Most books about John Lennon are riddled with fabrications by hangers-on and contort reality to create controversy.
Everything that needs to be known has been learned. What is out there that needs to be gleamed from their discography, and their relatively short time together. Ten years isn't too terribly long in the grand scheme of things.
Of course the Beatles themselves have told their story already -- at least the Apple-sanctioned one -- numerous times. 1995's The Beatles Anthology can be found on YouTube and DVD, and the book that followed years later was exhaustive and addicting.
Aren't there plenty of other bands of that era that should be written exhaustively about? The Kinks have a torrid history. I have never seen a decent book on Jefferson Airplane. Joe Meek, Bruce Haack and Arthur Brown all have great stories too. Please clue me in if I am missing something.
I get that anything -- be it a book, a dildo, a garbage bag, a frying pan -- with a Beatle on it will sell rather well. But as far as the books go, how much can be regurgitated? God bless you if you can find something new and interesting or get a survivor to give you a juicy quote, but come on, it's all been done.
Said the pot to the kettle.
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