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Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,766 ratings  ·  308 reviews
“This is the best book about the Beatles ever written”  Mashable

Rob Sheffield, the Rolling Stone columnist and bestselling author of Love Is a Mix Tape offers an entertaining, unconventional look at the most popular band in history, the Beatles, exploring what they mean today and why they still matter so intensely to a generation that has never known a world without them.
ebook, 368 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Dey Street Books
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Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Subtitled, “The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World,” this is something unusual – a different book about the Beatles. Author Rob Sheffield is an editor at Rolling Stones, a music critic and a Beatles fan. Sheffield’s parents were amused, and slightly confused, about the obsession that he, and his sisters, had for the Beatles. Didn’t they know that this band had split up? In fact, Sheffield’s real argument, in this extremely personal love letter to the band, is that the fact the band split ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
[2.5] Although I've loved the Beatles most of my life (since a babysitter introduced me to "I Want to Hold Your Hand") I am not obsessed enough to appreciate this book. I do own every album - but that just means I love the music! This book had too much detail about their songs and lives that didn't interest me or that I already knew. I ended up skimming many of the chapters.
M. Sarki
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

It was never a pressing need for me to read any book about the Beatles. Born in northern Michigan in a small fishing town back in 1953, I grew up with them. It feels like only yesterday when as a thirteen year-old boy I made my way downtown to Loeffler’s Electronics to pick up my pre-ordered copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It felt like precious cargo walking home with that LP tucked under my arm. When I placed it on the turntable in the base
Apr 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I preordered this book back in October. I've read hundreds of books about the Beatles, and am always actively looking for books about the Beatles that are new, refreshing, and different. I'd had high hopes that this would be one of them. It wasn't.

Dreaming the Beatles felt more like a personal attack on Paul McCartney and a love letter to John Lennon (with very average opinions of Ringo and George sprinkled in) with no new anecdotes, stories; or musings. It was recycled material, as many Beatle
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was in middle school, we used to pass around 'slam' books (notebooks that a classmate asked a question at the top of each page, passed it around and everyone in class answered each question, as well as attaching our name to the answer...eventually making its way back to the questioner/owner.) I think every single book had as one of the questions: Beatles or Stones? You had to identify yourself as a Beatles or Stones fan. I don't remember many people answering: both. I was a Stone's "girl. ...more
Karen O
I fear this book is going to send me on a serious Beatles bender...
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I have never been a Beatles fan. Not sure why- they’re right in my sweet spot of sound, era, and interpersonal angst. But something has just never clicked for me. I’ve often said that my favourite Beatles album is the Across the Universe soundtrack. But trust Rob Sheffield to make me care about them anyways. His writing is definitely filtered through his lifelong obsession with the Beatles, but he manages to avoid the kind of grating reverence that so often surrounds dialogue about the ...more
Gretchen Alice
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I mean, it's Rob Sheffield plus The Beatles. Hello, wheelhouse. There have been lots of books written on the Fab Four, but the premise of this one seeks to understand exactly why we love them so much. (The answer mostly comes down to...we just do.) Dreaming the Beatles goes in mostly chronological order, following the band from the early days through its several attempted dissolutions to the massive hit of the 1 album, which got a WHOLE lot of a play in my house.
Here's the thing about The Beatle
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fan fiction almost, a new twist on the familiar story, after all the Beatles belong to every one and every one has their own version of the band. Well after they have split and 2 of them have died the story keeps getting added to and adjusted. The joy of this book is its modern perspective (2018), and Sheffield cites songs that carry the fab 4's influence directly or subtly, including Kendrick Lamar (Control) and Rae Sremmurd's 2016 Black Beatles. McCartney's still at it of course, hanging out w ...more
Don Gorman
(1 1/2) Unless you are a truly hardcore Beatles fan, do not bother cracking this book. The information is fascinating, dull, overwhelming and interestingly engaging all at the same time. The stories behind individual songs, like who was trying to up one another between Dylan, the Stones, the Beach Boys and the Beatles is out there, but it resonates. The exploration of the personality conflicts within the group are nothing new, but Sheffield does seem to put a new spin on it and his perspective s ...more
Jeff Jackson
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who care about the Beatles as music or cultural phenomenon
Recommended to Jeff by: Yoko
Shelves: punk-rock-etc
Surely the best book about the Beatles, this does the impossible and finds something new to say about them. It's a funny, insightful, and provocative exploration of the varieties of fandom they've inspired over the decades, hopscotching between topics like how the band was created inside the roar of "girl noise," John's plan to have them live together on a Greek island, significant cover versions, and 'Paul is a concept by which we measure our pain.' Sheffield is also great on their post-breakup ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, for-me
I have tried to read countless biographies on musical figures I am interested in knowing more about. Rarely do I finish one. They typically don't hold my interest or the writing style is difficult to follow. Neither is true for "Dreaming." Having checked this out from the Library, "Dreaming" is a book that I would treat myself to again at some point. My only qualm is that Rob Sheffield can get a little corny at times, trying to insert lines from various Beatle songs into his own paragraphs...wit ...more
got this for Christmas for a friend musician though Beatles are a bit before my time, struck by how incredibly young they were! he liked it, he knew the songs, he knew the history, i liked this vision of earlier pop... i always tell him, yeah the Beatles were pretty good, but they weren't The Clash...
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not an essential book

I bought this based on the recommendation of a friend who proclaimed that he learned so much new information about the Beatles (first chapter, according to him). I didn’t learn much I didn’t know already. The Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da story was new to me and I was happy to learn that one. I’m still not sure it was worth the price.

While I can’t say I regret reading the book, I do kind of regret buying it. There’s not much new here. While it’s interesting to read another super fan’s
May 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ugh, non-fiction
This book should have been called "Mansplaining the Beatles: A Love Story of One Band and Rob Sheffield". I think it's supposed to feel like a conversation. Unfortunately, it's the one you're stuck in with the guy you just met at a party who loves the sound of his own voice and uses every topic to prove what an expert he is in, oh, everything, and if you have the nerve to disagree he proceeds to explain that it's simply because you haven't thought about in the way he is about to enlighten you on ...more
Leslye Davidson
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
The book jumps all over the place, from the Beatles to the bands they influenced to the bands they competed with... yet never answers the premise: Why are the Beatles still so beloved and popular? Perhaps I am discontented because I did not know this was going to be a book of essays... and I generally don't like books of essays. Perhaps it is because Rob Sheffield clearly is not a Macca fan and made more of a case for why McCartney would not still be popular. I found myself often thinking the au ...more
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
total delight for anyone who went through Beatles phase or never left one...will make you fall in love again but with a sharp critical eye
Christopher Renberg
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Read most of what he has written, so I reckon I am a fan. Picked this up because I figured it would read as a fella's thoughts on the Beatles. It was, and I responded to his thoughts (sometimes out loud) as I read through it. A little snippet on "It's All Too Much" was great as I just discovered that song last year. Having never ever heard it before despite years of listening to the Beatles, it is now on fairly constant rotation. His references to the 70s compilations: Rock and Roll Music and th ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Rounding up to 5 because of how much fun it was to read and discuss this with my husband. Sheffield doesn't hide any of his personal opinions from us and disagreeing with him is half the delight. (He's so wrong about She's Leaving Home.) For true Beatles fans, I recommend buying your own copy, because you will want to return to your dog-eared pages.
Dec 29, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Christmas present - wasn't expecting to read it next, but opened it and that was it....
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: music-tv-movies
Sheffield is always an entertaining writer, but I feel like I was sold a bit of goods in that the book promises to examine the Beatles' relationship to the world, and it's really more about the Beatles' relationship to Rob Sheffield. Which is okay, but not quite what I was expecting. Sheffield takes some well known Beatles history, adds his own conjecture and a lot of Beatles puns, and winds up with a quick read that sheds very little new light on the Fab Four. And although he spends a whole cha ...more
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-beatles
My reviews of this outstanding book begin with -

I've always loved The Beatles. First as a fan, always as a fan. How much as a fan? Well, I was delighted to find a subscription to Sirius/XM Radio in my new car, early this month, and I promptly tuned it to MSNBC. Until The Beatles channel checked in on May 18, and that's what I listen to when I'm driving now. Even when I'm not driving -- I just came in from my driveway, because I wanted to hear the end of "Baby You Can Drive My Car". I'd probably
Matthew Peck
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
If the music of the Beatles endures in a sanctified area of your soul, you should read this insightful and wonderfully subjective book by the Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield. Over a number of chapters that serve as a rough chronology of the band's career and aftermath, "Dreaming The Beatles" asks a question: why are they still so popular - indeed, even more so than when they were the world's most popular group in the 1960s? I started listening to the Beatles in my early adolescence and my ...more
Deacon Tom Frankenfield
I have read many books and articles about the Beatles and this one offers very little new. It is boring and very ordinary. His use of song titles is, however, creative.

He handles relationships very lightly. John and Paul as young boys were very complicated. They deserved more than a few paragraphs.

Save your book money for another book. If you must review this, go to the library or borrow it — you will thank me.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
another journalist fails to explain Paul. not the first, not the last.
Jack Wolfe
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For my birthday this year I wanted to be in my comfort zone, and comfort for me is the Beatles. They are the closest thing I have to a religion, a place where I go when I feel low (when I feel blue), a big ol' checkmark in the "good" column of "human achievement." (I think of that scene in "My Struggle 2" when Karl Ove decorates his newborn child's bedroom with pictures of things that make life worth living, and include photos of baby animals and the Beatles in their psychedelic period.) Rob She ...more
Donna Hines
Had it not been for the author's excitement about the Beatles I probably would've never picked this up.
It's before my time however they are in their own right legends and Paul still carries on so even now in the 21st century they are still a popular band.
Each song represented and evoked a personal emotion for the author and it showed.
The Beatles it's said , " They invented breaking up. They invented long hair. They invented drugs." They invented in essence what rock stars do and don't do.
John a
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Dreaming the Beatles, music writer Rob Sheffield offers a loving appreciation of the Fab Four and their enduring legacy. In the opening essay, “Prelude: Thanks, Mo,” he lays down the claim that when the Beatles broke up in 1970, it was anything but an ending. On the contrary, it was only the beginning of a supercharged afterlife that shows no signs of winding down even fifty years later. He then proceeds with his examination, Beatle by Beatle, album by album, and decade by decade of fandom. S ...more
Rina Ayra Diaz
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable book that any Beatles fan would surely enjoy. Although it doesn't have a lot of stories that you wouldn't already know if you're a Beatles hardcore fan. But it feels like talking to a friend, discussing some songs and stories about the fab 4 like they're just some old bloke we know very well over some coffee or tea on a Sunday afternoon. What made the reading experience enjoyable for me was when the author is discussing a song that's not part of my playlist, I go over it to hear w ...more
Tim Julian
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Subtitled The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World this is not yet another Beatles biography but a reflection and meditation on what the Beatles mean to the writer and an attempt to explain their enduring appeal, nearly 50 years since the split. Sheffield begins with what may sound like an exaggerated claim: "They’ve gone from being the world’s biggest group to the act that’s bigger than all the rest of pop music combined. At this point, rock and roll is famous mostly because it’s what the ...more
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Rob Sheffield is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine. In addition to writing music reviews and profile stories, Sheffield also writes the Pop Life column in the Mixed Media section of the magazine. His work has also been featured in The Village Voice and Spin. A native of Boston, Sheffield attended Yale and the University of Virginia, and is six foot five.

His first book, Love is a Mix

Related Articles

His Favorite Books About Music: Sheffield shares five books that will be in sync with music lovers.
27 likes · 5 comments
“But if you listen to outtakes from the sessions, you can hear the Beatles worked out harmonies for “Eight Days a Week”—beautiful harmonies, in fact. Yet they cut the harmonies and sang in unison, to make the song sound like it took less work than it did. They spent seven hours in the studio tinkering with “Eight Days a Week,” adding and subtracting, until they got that unrehearsed feel. So much guile went into making the song sound like a moment’s exhalation.” 1 likes
“PAUL IS SOMEBODY WHO DOES THINGS WITH ENTHUSIASM, which makes people feel appalled and insulted at things he chooses to do. If you’re under thirty, you have never heard of a song called “Spies Like Us,” and I am a horrible person for being the one to tell you. It was the theme for a big-budget Hollywood spy comedy starring Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. Nobody saw the movie, but Paul’s theme was worse than the movie could have been. MTV played it constantly during the 1985 holiday season, though radio wouldn’t touch it. Paul does a rap that goes something like, “Oooh oooh, no one can dance like you.” In the video he plays multiple roles as members of a studio band, mugging and biting his lower lip. The drumming is where his cheeky-chappy act gets profoundly upsetting. You see this video, you’re going to be depressed for at least ten minutes about the existential condition of Paul-dom. His enthusiasm makes you doubt the sincerity of his other public displays. It makes you doubt yourself. You might think it’s a cheap laugh but it will cost you something.” 1 likes
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