Terri's Reviews > In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs

In Their Lives by Andrew Blauner
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's review
Apr 21, 2017

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction

In Their Lives is a collection of essays that take a look at the Beatles from the writer's perspective. It covers the entire career of the band with discussions on most of their major hits as well as a few deeper B-side cuts.

Although every essay has its interesting moment, I was surprised that I recognized so few of the writers featured here. I also noticed that there were very few essays included for those second generation fans—the ones that were born well after the breakup of the Beatles and would have a different perspective of the music (though some writers do include these experiences through child/grandchild anecdotes).

Some of the essays approach the songs and memories attached to it as you would expect—the song is representative of a moment in time for the writer, whether that's the first time they heard it or what changed after years of listening. Many of the essays hardly stitch a connection between the song and the main characters of the essay, giving those works the feeling that the song itself is just an afterthought.

And then there are the few special ones in this collection that borderline on the absurd, presenting a Beatles song in such an academic way that you laugh, even though the writer's intention was probably not for it to be humorous at all (even the Beatles themselves thought it was ridiculous that colleges offered courses that deconstructed every line of their lyrics for serious study).

Overall, it's a good read if you want to get into the mood to think about your own first experience with the Beatles or which song is deeply attached to a personal memory. A passage from Rick Moody's essay probably sums up the band and the way we all use their songs as a soundtrack to our lives very well: “Not capable of being confined by British popular music, or psychedelia, or Baroque music, or Indian music, or anything else, but magpies, claiming whatever shiny thing seized them, and refining and repurposing the material.”

*Provided by Penguin First to Read

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Reading Progress

March 21, 2017 – Started Reading
March 21, 2017 – Shelved
March 21, 2017 –
page 13
March 23, 2017 –
page 27
March 25, 2017 –
page 43
April 3, 2017 –
page 111
April 12, 2017 –
page 167
April 14, 2017 –
page 225
April 17, 2017 –
page 269
April 21, 2017 – Shelved as: non-fiction
April 21, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Randie (new)

Randie There are many music scholars and academics who rightfully teach and study The Beatles music,

The early Beatles lyrics were more simple but a lot of their early music was actually much more complex. Just one of many examples I always loved this very early John song written and recorded in 1962 Ask Me Why.


I have always loved this great beautiful song written by John,with such typical beautiful melodies and harmonies John and Paul usually wrote,and John's usual beautiful singing voice.And this was amazingly recorded in 1962 on only two track tape! with such limited,primitive recording technology but it of course still sounds great.Except I hate mono it's limited sounding and only makes their already limited recording technology sound even more limited.I tried to find the stereo version of this song on youtube but I couldn't find it.

Here university of Pennsylvania graduate musicologist Alan W.Pollack who did an 11 year extensive analysis of every one of the 200 Beatles songs,analyzes Ask Me Why and explains that it's structurally complex.


Here is Alan's whole Beatles song analysis series


message 2: by Randie (new)

Randie Award winning classical composer and music professor Dr.Glen Gass's Beatles course he's been teaching since 1982 and he's been teaching a course in rock music in general since then.



message 3: by Randie (new)

Randie 32 Year old Beatles and music scholar Arron Krerowicz plays many instruments & writes his own music too


FAQ - AARON KREROWICZ, Professional Beatles Scholar


You claim to be a “professional Beatles scholar”. What exactly does that mean? It means that I have no professional responsibilities other than analyzing, writing ...

message 4: by Randie (new)

Randie University Of Berklee Multi-talented Musician,Guitar Teacher,First Female Guitar Teacher,And Now Music Professor Lauren Passarelli Has Loved The Beatles Since She Saw Them On The ED Sullivan Show When She Was 4 Years Old.



message 5: by Randie (new)

Randie Bass Player & Berklee Music Professor Suzanne M.Clark Teaches Courses On The Beatles,Solo Beatles & Music Of John Lennon


Suzanne M. Clark Berklee College of Music

Suzanne M. Clark is a professor in the Harmony Department at Berklee College of Music who also teaches in the Songwriting Department. In 2010, Clark received the Don ...

message 6: by Randie (new)

Randie University Of Southern California Music Professor And Musician,Bill Biersach Has Always Been A Huge Beatles Fan & And Has Been Teaching A Beatles Course For 40 Years.



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