I’ve read dozens of books about The Beatles, and I’m pretty familiar with all the old stories. So, as this book opens up, I got the impression it would be a retelling of many of the same chestnuts. Luckily was not at all the case. Brown’s book looks at The Beatles and their fans and their cultural significance. The ‘Glimpses’ are short chapters, moving back and forth in time, all offering different perspectives, and it works surprisingly well.
An early glimpse involves touring the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, now protected by Britain’s National Trust. Brown notices there is not much left to protect; the sites had to be ‘re-created’ from newer additions, and period correct (but not authentic) furniture added. Add to that, both tour guides forbid notes or pictures, as it turns out they are working on books of their own, It’s a sad scenario.
Another glimpse involves Pete Best, the drummer that was kicked out of the band right before stardom. This is the typical story, but Brown takes a deep dive, following Best’s career after The Beatles until the present day.
This is a great approach.
Brown goes on another sad tour of Beatles sites in Hamburg, Germany. The sites are essentially all gone and the city does not seem to care.
He looks at The Beatles from the standpoint of fans: there is a long discussion of the ‘Paul Is Dead’ phenomenon, and one glimpse compares the Queen’s Christmas addresses with The Beatles fan club Christmas flexi discs.
In short, this is a gem of a book that takes a very different tack on the Beatles. It ends with a touching session about manager Brian Epstein; from his suicide back to The Cavern Club where he first saw the band and met them.
If you are a Beatles fan (and who isn’t?) you will find this book a fun, unexpected, and interesting read. Fresh Beatles stories remain to be told!
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