James, I’ve always loved MacDonald’s book even though I carry one major critical gripe: he structures it song-by-song in chronological order, arguing that understanding the “correct” sequence of recording helps trace thematic and musical development. But never quite follows through on this theme: seldom comments on whether, or how far, say, “A Day in the Life” stands from “Tomorrow Never Knows” from the previous year. Or how “Julia,” the final track session for the White Album may be more intricately shaped than even “Happiness…” Then he continues to argue that considering the tracks in their conceptual sequences, as albums, misses this thread, and yields little or no interesting insight. So “A Day in the Life” as a FINALE to Pepper misses the point somehow since it was the FIRST track recorded for same.
I’ve never seen his prose so lovingly dissected, though. And I adore your opening graph, especially Ringo, “the absurdist Beatle, syncopates his hair and stirs his drum kit with a distant smile, as if resigned and reconciled already to the madness.” That’s fine. TR