Love Me Do! The Beatles Progress is regarded by many credible sources as the best book about the Beatles and while I'm not the one to dispute this-- this is the only book about The Beatles I've read-- I think this is a great book on its own merits, an in-the-moment meditation on fame, mania, art, and celebrity-- The Beatles stuff is just icing on the cake; anyway, Michael Braun accompanies the Liverpudlians for several weeks of a world tour in 1963, just as Beatlemania is taking hold of the world-- and The Beatles present a telling contrast to Elvis and Cliff Richard, two of the big stars at the time-- both crooners who were very male and rather sexual . . Frank Sinatra is another artist mentioned frequently; meanwhile, no one over twenty could understand what was going on with The Beatles, teenagers, mainly girls, flocked to anywhere that a Beatle might turn up, and Braun was there to document it all . . . this is a quick read and I recommend you go along for the magical mystery tour and read the book, but if not, here is a quick and messy look at the things I highlighted on my Kindle:
there are plenty of quips and quotes, and many of them reveal the archetypal character traits that become more concrete later in their careers;
Ringo Starr, 23 years old . . . "I don't care about politics . . . just people";
George Harrison, 21 years old, says: "I wouldn't do anything I didn't want to, would I?" and then explains his ambition is to design a guitar;
Paul McCartney, 22, would like "to be successful" and wants "money to do nothing with, money to have in case you wanted to do something";
John Lennon, 23, explains: "The more people you meet, the more you realize it's all a class thing";
then some trouble with visas when they came to America for the first time, but they were eventually granted an H2 visa, a step above the H3 trainee visa, but below H1, which was reserved for "persons of distinguished merit and ability";
there are, of course, moments that seem prescient now . . . such as, in New York, before the Ed Sullivan appearance, Cynthia Lennon wanted to go out shopping but was afraid to venture out into the city alone, and she noted "the fans here seem a bit wackier than in England";
Braun actually delves into the intellectuals and their attempt to understand Beatlemania, instead of dismissing it . . . he describes how the critics spoke of pandiatonic versus diatonic, unresolved leading tones, false modal frames, and dominant seventh of the mixolydian . . . but the appeal was more than musical . . .
well known television psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers offered her two cents as well, explaining that teen revolt is perfectly normal and unavoidable in a country which allows "social change, individualism, and free choice of lifestyle" and parents may fight back against this rebellion but it's because they have blocked out how difficult and traumatic it is to be a teenager in such a world, adults "honestly cannot believe that we ourselves were ever that unreasonable, sloppy and goonish . . . and so from generation to generation, the war wages on . . . the Beatles are a marvelous symbol to adolescents of their rebellion against adult society"
and Dr Renee Fox, sociologist, discussed their dual roles as male and female, adult and child, and how appealing this was, and how-- because they can barely be heard above the shrieks of the audience, they almost play the role of mimes . . . a play within a play . . .
and I'll end with one last bit of interesting coleopteran information . . . George Harrison made the mistake of telling fans that he liked to eat "jelly babies," a British gummy candy that takes the form of a plump infant, and so fans constantly pelted the band with these sweets, sometimes leaving them in the bag . . . Ringo Starr said getting hit with bag after bag of jelly babies felt like enduring "hailstones"
and the while the band's high jinks are tame and clownish by today's standards, Michael Braun can tell there's something big and bold in this popular rebellion, and The Beatles had the wit, talent, looks, and ability to ride the wave all the way to shore.