The Absurdist Beatle

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 11.56.11 AMJames, 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

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  1. Scott S says

    One thing that has been noted by fans in the past 20 years is that MacDonald too often gets the instrumental and its player wrong. I can’t think of the specifics at the moment, but I do remember reading the book, and thinking…um, that’s not George playing the guitar, it’s John, or that’s Paul on the drums, etc.

    Tim, what did you think of All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release by Philippe Margotin et al. Did you review that yet?

    • says

      Well having made a few mistakes myself I’m inclined to forgive MacDonald. I haven’t started Margotin but will this summer. TR