free hit counter code The Beatles Lyrics: The Stories Behind the Music, Including the Handwritten Drafts of More Than 100 Classic Beatles Songs - GoBooks - Download Free Book
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Beatles Lyrics: The Stories Behind the Music, Including the Handwritten Drafts of More Than 100 Classic Beatles Songs

Availability: Ready to download

The definitive book of Beatles songs, shown as first written by their own hands and put into authoritative context, for the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America. For the Beatles, writing songs was a process that could happen anytime -- songs we all know by heart often began as a scribble on the back of an envelope or on hotel stationery. These original documen The definitive book of Beatles songs, shown as first written by their own hands and put into authoritative context, for the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America. For the Beatles, writing songs was a process that could happen anytime -- songs we all know by heart often began as a scribble on the back of an envelope or on hotel stationery. These original documents have ended up scattered across the world at museums and universities and with collectors and friends. Many have never been published before. More than 100 songs and lyrics are reproduced in The Beatles Lyrics, providing Hunter Davies a unique platform to tell the story of the music. The intimacy of these reproductions -- there are sections crossed out and rewritten, and words tossed into the final recordings that were never written down -- ensures that The Beatles Lyrics will be a treasure for musicians, scholars, and fans everywhere.


Compare
Ads Banner

The definitive book of Beatles songs, shown as first written by their own hands and put into authoritative context, for the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America. For the Beatles, writing songs was a process that could happen anytime -- songs we all know by heart often began as a scribble on the back of an envelope or on hotel stationery. These original documen The definitive book of Beatles songs, shown as first written by their own hands and put into authoritative context, for the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to America. For the Beatles, writing songs was a process that could happen anytime -- songs we all know by heart often began as a scribble on the back of an envelope or on hotel stationery. These original documents have ended up scattered across the world at museums and universities and with collectors and friends. Many have never been published before. More than 100 songs and lyrics are reproduced in The Beatles Lyrics, providing Hunter Davies a unique platform to tell the story of the music. The intimacy of these reproductions -- there are sections crossed out and rewritten, and words tossed into the final recordings that were never written down -- ensures that The Beatles Lyrics will be a treasure for musicians, scholars, and fans everywhere.

30 review for The Beatles Lyrics: The Stories Behind the Music, Including the Handwritten Drafts of More Than 100 Classic Beatles Songs

  1. 5 out of 5

    StevenF

    When Davies sticks to info. from The Primary Sources it is an interesting read. The problem is when he speculates and offers analysis...this part is a dismal failure and detracts from the good stuff. Some of his opinions and "analysis" made me cringe. I think John would be spitting up a bit as well.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tom Stamper

    Davies has known the Beatles since the mid 1960s and wrote their only authorized biography. They gave him many of their handwritten written lyrics which had no value at the time. Many of these pieces of paper can now been seen at the British Museum and are worth millions. The book re-prints many of the handwritten lyrics while explaining how the songs came about and what their actual subject matter was. Many other books have attempted to explain the meaning behind the words, but Davies knew the Davies has known the Beatles since the mid 1960s and wrote their only authorized biography. They gave him many of their handwritten written lyrics which had no value at the time. Many of these pieces of paper can now been seen at the British Museum and are worth millions. The book re-prints many of the handwritten lyrics while explaining how the songs came about and what their actual subject matter was. Many other books have attempted to explain the meaning behind the words, but Davies knew the Beatles better than most writers and his analysis has more credibility. For instance, I had always heard that "I'm So Tired" was about John Lennon's struggles trying to quit smoking, but it's really no more complex than insomnia. "Bungalow Bill" was about an interloper who joined them in India and shot some big game. "She's Leaving Home" quotes from a news story about a 17 year old girl who ran away from home. I also learned that the chorus to "Across the Universe" was sung by a group of female fans outside of the recording studio, because professional backup singers were unavailable. The words to Beatles songs are often nonsensical; sometimes for the syllables needed and sometimes just for fun. The poetry runs from great to weak according to Davies and he dismisses more than a few songs that he felt were substandard. It made me realize that I respond positively to many of the songs not because of the exact words or meaning or poetic quality, but because the words compliment such interesting tunes. The words by themselves just don't reveal the power of the finished songs.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John Ellis

    Why oh why is Hunter Davies compelled to offer analysis on Beatle songwriting? He's no musicologist, and his opinions are appalling. What a pity, this could have been such a fascinating book. It still is, in small parts.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Murray

    Since Hunter Davies was a friend and contemporary of the Fab Four, this is not a scholarly book. Thank goodness. I hate scholarly evaluations of song lyrics because they tend to be off-base and self-aggrandizing. In any event, Davies does a good job describing both the origin and evolution of The Beatles ouevre, from their first to their last albums. I'm always amazed how much they changed the world in 7+ years while recording around only about 20 hours of music. With each page, you can hear the Since Hunter Davies was a friend and contemporary of the Fab Four, this is not a scholarly book. Thank goodness. I hate scholarly evaluations of song lyrics because they tend to be off-base and self-aggrandizing. In any event, Davies does a good job describing both the origin and evolution of The Beatles ouevre, from their first to their last albums. I'm always amazed how much they changed the world in 7+ years while recording around only about 20 hours of music. With each page, you can hear the songs in your head. You barely need to read the lyrics; you know them already. What interested me the most is that some of the band's most complex songs were actually two songs melded together. It was not uncommon for McCartney to write a song and commingle it with a Lennon number. Davies also points out that, unlike most song-writing teams, Lennon and McCartney were each equally adept at writing both the lyrics and the music. Then, when Harrison emerged, he was also capable of writing on both levels, with 'little help from his friends'. A must read for all true Beatles fans, although they probably know a lot of the facts anyway.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Davies wrote a bio of The Beatles in 1967. During the time he knew them, he collected their lyrics, scribbled on notepads and envelopes; those - as well as other work collected by other aficionados - are reproduced in this book. As a result of his interviews with the Beatles and his presence at recording sessions and their homes, Davies describes the creation of many of the band's lyrics. Although John and Paul agreed to credit all compositions to "Lennon-McCartney," many of the songs were solo e Davies wrote a bio of The Beatles in 1967. During the time he knew them, he collected their lyrics, scribbled on notepads and envelopes; those - as well as other work collected by other aficionados - are reproduced in this book. As a result of his interviews with the Beatles and his presence at recording sessions and their homes, Davies describes the creation of many of the band's lyrics. Although John and Paul agreed to credit all compositions to "Lennon-McCartney," many of the songs were solo efforts. In some cases, George Harrison contributed to lyrics. Davies also explains the sources of many songs. Most people know that "Hey, Jude" is John's song for his son Julian. However, few realize that "Only a Northern Song" on "Yellow Submarine" was written by George to criticize his 1.6% financial agreement with Northern Songs; the publisher was pushing for new songs, so George created it just to meet a goal. The book includes at least a short explanation of every song, even if the lyrics aren't included. I took a long, long time reading the book because I had to search many songs on YouTube to sing along!

  6. 5 out of 5

    James M.

    Not much new here. Davies presents the lyrics of all of the Beatles' songs but really doesn't add anything to the conversation. Davies wrote a Beatles biography in 1968 but it's difficult to take him seriously on this subject when he says things such as, "I'd forgotten 'Rain'" (one of the first pre-MTV music videos), or didn't figure out that John and George were singing 'Frère Jacques' in the background of "Paperback Writer" (something a nine-year-old me could hear the first time that I listene Not much new here. Davies presents the lyrics of all of the Beatles' songs but really doesn't add anything to the conversation. Davies wrote a Beatles biography in 1968 but it's difficult to take him seriously on this subject when he says things such as, "I'd forgotten 'Rain'" (one of the first pre-MTV music videos), or didn't figure out that John and George were singing 'Frère Jacques' in the background of "Paperback Writer" (something a nine-year-old me could hear the first time that I listened to it) until he read about it in another book in 1994, or refers to the engineer Geoff Emerick as "Geoff Merrick." About the only really interesting thing about the book is the reproductions of many of the original lyrics written by John, Paul, George and Ringo in their own handwriting on scraps of paper, envelopes, notepads, etc. with verses that were never used and various edits.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mell

    This was okay. The author spends too much time bragging about his relationship with the Beatles and offering his opinions (unwanted, from my perspective) on which Beatles lyrics are good and worthy enough to be included/written out in the book. His unknown rubric baffles me; he praises "Across the Universe" as some of Lennon's best lyrics, but then neglects to list them. Titles on the Abbey Road album feel especially neglected. Other songs get the full treatment. The photos and manuscripts are n This was okay. The author spends too much time bragging about his relationship with the Beatles and offering his opinions (unwanted, from my perspective) on which Beatles lyrics are good and worthy enough to be included/written out in the book. His unknown rubric baffles me; he praises "Across the Universe" as some of Lennon's best lyrics, but then neglects to list them. Titles on the Abbey Road album feel especially neglected. Other songs get the full treatment. The photos and manuscripts are nice. But I'd prefer he stick to the lyrics (the purpose of the book) and omit his reminiscing (boasting) about a vacation with Paul and Linda.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Just like the Beatles, this was Fab! A Christmas present several years ago, it finally got promoted to its position as 'coffee-table book' in July 2019 and I have been dipping in and out of it since then. Great writing from that aficionado of all things Beatles, football and 'the North', Hunter Davies, as he brings to life the lyrics and thought processes behind every (or almost every?) Beatles album track and single over the relatively short period of their career as a group. Written as a disco Just like the Beatles, this was Fab! A Christmas present several years ago, it finally got promoted to its position as 'coffee-table book' in July 2019 and I have been dipping in and out of it since then. Great writing from that aficionado of all things Beatles, football and 'the North', Hunter Davies, as he brings to life the lyrics and thought processes behind every (or almost every?) Beatles album track and single over the relatively short period of their career as a group. Written as a discography, album-by-album, we learn what the group were up to at the time, whose idea and song it was, see the scribbled lyrics written on whatever came to hand (back of an envelope etc.) and how it fitted in with their lives and career. Absolutely loved it and wouldn't part with it for the world! Great job, Hunter!! - 10/10.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Sheehan

    Interesting book, glad I have it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Skipper Steve Morris

    Lately I have been reading about the musicians of the 60’s and trying to learn about the thinking behind their top hits. This book is among the best at describing the songwriting genius of the Beatles. The book even includes photos of the scraps of paper onto which they wrote their music. Fascinating! I highly recommend it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    I liked this book, very interesting. I enjoy the Beatles music and learned a great deal about them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    TRIVIA TIME! As the right answers come in, I'll post/repost this review. To get started, I will answer the first question: 1) We know the Beatles first appeared in America on The Ed Sullivan Show. Where and when was their final concert anywhere in the world (excluding the infamous last-minute roof-jam which the cops stopped). ANSWER: San Francisco, Candlestick Park, August 29h, 1966. 2) What song was rumored to have the first drug reference in all of their music? 3) What is the ONLY song that used TRIVIA TIME! As the right answers come in, I'll post/repost this review. To get started, I will answer the first question: 1) We know the Beatles first appeared in America on The Ed Sullivan Show. Where and when was their final concert anywhere in the world (excluding the infamous last-minute roof-jam which the cops stopped). ANSWER: San Francisco, Candlestick Park, August 29h, 1966. 2) What song was rumored to have the first drug reference in all of their music? 3) What is the ONLY song that used the word sex/sexy? 4) "Yesterday" is their most rerecorded song by other artists. What is in second place? 5) What figure was removed from the "Sgt Peppers" album cover at the last minute? 6) Which Beatle's song are you most likely to hear/sing along with at a soccer/sports event? 7) What was the first song written and recorded after their first experiments with LSD? 8) What song was banned forever by the BBC? 9) What's the three longest Beatle's songs and the shortest one? 10) What was the first purely solo song we heard by "The Beatles"? 11) Who turned the guys on to pot? LSD? 12) And who is Martha on the White Album? And now, the reasons I could only give this book 3 stars, as some really good, controversial stuff was left out (like the nude John/Yoko pic which accompanied the protest song, "Give Peace a Chance"), and since the author includes much non-lyric information anyway: 11) What phrase is supposedly repeated over and over if you play "I Am The Walrus" backwards? 12) What is the second line on the license plate appearing closest to the viewer on the cover of Abbey Road and what did it supposedly mean? 13) On the Abbey Road cover, what personage/occupation was each of the guys impersonating? 14) What's the first Beatle album most used as drug paraphernalia? 15) But overall, what's the best Beatle release to use as drug paraphernalia and why?

  13. 5 out of 5

    Greg Talbot

    You really do lose a lot in a joke by explaining the mechanics. Unraveling generally does teach something, you usually get that at least. There is one really good reason to get this book. The photos of the authentic lyrics and pictures of the Beatles. Really does give a glimpse to the creative process of the fab four. Appreciation must be given to Hunter Davies singling out Northwestern University has having the largest public collection of Beatles lyrics...really need to go check that out. What I You really do lose a lot in a joke by explaining the mechanics. Unraveling generally does teach something, you usually get that at least. There is one really good reason to get this book. The photos of the authentic lyrics and pictures of the Beatles. Really does give a glimpse to the creative process of the fab four. Appreciation must be given to Hunter Davies singling out Northwestern University has having the largest public collection of Beatles lyrics...really need to go check that out. What I took away from this book was a joy for the Bealtes songs, not a joy of Davies's elucidation. Yes, it's nice that he has a personal history with Paul. Yes it's nice he's an official biographer, and some stories are good. But the book does little to give deep readings to Beatles songs. Davies gives his own musings sometimes "Dig it - really silly an pointless lytrics, with made-up words and lists of names out of their heads or out of the newspapers (p 326). I'm not trying to put Hunter on blast for dislking "Dig It", but it just has a dismissal and non-value adding type of writing that doesn't make me appreciate the music. And maybe that is some of the sober realism here. Davies rightly points out "these are not poems set to music (p.334). The audience written for was a originally a young teenage audience. Only later did the Bealtes explore themes of the world within (p. 334). In some ways it's a very good chroncile of the series of critical events that defined the Beatles in their 7 years together. Sadly, this book just did so little for me. Like walking through a museum or an art gallery without guides or any insightful panels. You can be impressed with the panels, without appreciating the currator's write ups. Anyway, I just really didn't like the book. Davies is likely a better writer of narratives then lyrical deconstruction.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    There isn’t much here that would be new to Beatles fans. Let’s face it, their songs have been analyzed to death. What makes this book unique is the fact that Davies has provided photos of many of the song lyrics, written out by hand by either John or Paul. Because Davies was the Beatles’ only authorized biographer, he had close contact with them and was able to collect what is perhaps the largest collection of handwritten lyrics (written on scraps of paper, the backs of greeting cards, etc.) in There isn’t much here that would be new to Beatles fans. Let’s face it, their songs have been analyzed to death. What makes this book unique is the fact that Davies has provided photos of many of the song lyrics, written out by hand by either John or Paul. Because Davies was the Beatles’ only authorized biographer, he had close contact with them and was able to collect what is perhaps the largest collection of handwritten lyrics (written on scraps of paper, the backs of greeting cards, etc.) in the world. (He donated the entire collection to the British Museum, and it’s now housed in the British Library building.) So if you want to see the original lyrics written out by Paul, John and George, you’ll find this book interesting. The only other unique aspect to the book that I enjoyed was his description of the actual “process” behind the creation of some of the songs. Because he was writing their biography, he was constantly hanging out with them at their homes and in the studio and often witnessed how the songs came to be. I found the whole process of John and Paul putting together “With a Little Help from My Friends” fascinating. The book would have been improved if he had included more of this type of information. This may be the first book to just deal with the lyrics and nothing else, but that doesn’t make it different enough to warrant adding it to your Beatles collection.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lou

    Good - A few stories I don't remember having heard before. Reading this caused me to dust off my cds and listen to them all again. I still knew all the words, but I'd forgotten just how FUN their music is -- particularly the early stuff. The book is, for the most part, the stories behind and around the lyrics, not critical analysis. Not so good -- Davies throws in way too much speculation, and a lot of his assumptions are definitely not the conclusions this fan would jump to. One of his comments Good - A few stories I don't remember having heard before. Reading this caused me to dust off my cds and listen to them all again. I still knew all the words, but I'd forgotten just how FUN their music is -- particularly the early stuff. The book is, for the most part, the stories behind and around the lyrics, not critical analysis. Not so good -- Davies throws in way too much speculation, and a lot of his assumptions are definitely not the conclusions this fan would jump to. One of his comments on Day Tripper (one of many throughout the book in which he uses the word "perhaps") made me wonder how many decades it's been since he actually listened to the song. There are also several occasions where Davies just gets things wrong and it comes as a bit of a jolt, e.g. when he refers to John's "long weekend" rather than "lost weekend". A minor thing, but several such errors are disconcerting. Yes, Davies had access to the band and was a witness to some amazing music history. He's compiled an interesting collection of manuscripts (which I didn't find as compelling as I would have thought). This is a worthwhile, but sometimes flawed book that could have benefited from better editing, preferably by a fan.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Flewts

    The handwritten lyrics were hard to read, they weren't as inspiring as I thought they'd be, but the information written by Hunter Davies (who was their only authorized biographer during the time they were together as a group) was new to me and gave real insight into how the group worked. John was very into the lyrics, was a poet, and his music reflected what was going on in his life at the time. Paul's music was more upbeat and joyful, and while the words were important to him, he was comfortable The handwritten lyrics were hard to read, they weren't as inspiring as I thought they'd be, but the information written by Hunter Davies (who was their only authorized biographer during the time they were together as a group) was new to me and gave real insight into how the group worked. John was very into the lyrics, was a poet, and his music reflected what was going on in his life at the time. Paul's music was more upbeat and joyful, and while the words were important to him, he was comfortable with keeping it simple if that was what was called for. But he was also comfortable with showing John where he was and accepting improvements for the right word. George was younger than them and it took longer for him to find his voice as far as lyrics were concerned. John tended to talk down to him, long after George was actually doing well with his music writing, and George resented it. I had not read a lot of Beatles biography--not a rabid fan, just a musician appreciating their music--so much of the biographical info in this book was new to me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Evan Bolick

    Do you REALLY enjoy the Beatles? Read this book. If not? Don't (seems obvious, but wanted to start off this way). The author was a friend of the Beatles (despite his friendship, he is plenty critical of their lyrics) and shares many fun and insightful stories about his times with them. There are plenty of reproductions of the hand-written lyrics as well as earlier drafts of songs as well (more cursing and bluntness in earlier drafts than what made it on to the finished product). The most interes Do you REALLY enjoy the Beatles? Read this book. If not? Don't (seems obvious, but wanted to start off this way). The author was a friend of the Beatles (despite his friendship, he is plenty critical of their lyrics) and shares many fun and insightful stories about his times with them. There are plenty of reproductions of the hand-written lyrics as well as earlier drafts of songs as well (more cursing and bluntness in earlier drafts than what made it on to the finished product). The most interesting thing I learned was that John often derived lyrics from posters or newspaper articles (for example, most of the lyrics from "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" came directly from a poster that caught his eye). He also seems to have a particular soft spot for George, so that's a plus for any acolyte of Harrison (interestingly, he notes that George may have stolen some lyrics from James Taylor. That guy could not help himself from cribbing things from other artists). Not essential reading by any means, but a great way to spend time for a true fan of the Fab Four.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eliane

    Do not waste your money with his book, if you really want to know about the Beatles lyrics just search on the internet and be happy. Hunter gives his own opinion and you can't trust anything. There's some good stuff because he actually lived around the Beatles for eighteen months and he tells us a little bit about what happened there. But if you're looking for this kind of information, just read his Beatles biography. Actually he took a lot of references from his beatles biography, which is not Do not waste your money with his book, if you really want to know about the Beatles lyrics just search on the internet and be happy. Hunter gives his own opinion and you can't trust anything. There's some good stuff because he actually lived around the Beatles for eighteen months and he tells us a little bit about what happened there. But if you're looking for this kind of information, just read his Beatles biography. Actually he took a lot of references from his beatles biography, which is not cool at all. There are songs he said he didn't even remember before writing this book. WHAT. He says mean things about songs he doesn't like which was not what I was looking for. I don't want his opinion, I want information about how they did their songs and what were they about. The manuscripts are really nice, Paul could draw really well, I was surprised. Thought John was the artistic one. Anyway, 2 stars just because it is a Beatles book and there was one or two facts I didn't know.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    The scraps of original and in-progress lyrics are the main attraction and worthwhile for that alone, IMO. Some good info and anecdotes, but sprinkled with some very lame and unnecessary speculation. For "Penny Lane" he states that "In the USA, where there is no tradition of artificial poppies being sold to commemorate the 1918 Armistice...," a claim any American could refute. On "Mr. Kite," he surmises they changed Zanthus to Henry the Horse because they couldn't pronounce it. (But they had no t The scraps of original and in-progress lyrics are the main attraction and worthwhile for that alone, IMO. Some good info and anecdotes, but sprinkled with some very lame and unnecessary speculation. For "Penny Lane" he states that "In the USA, where there is no tradition of artificial poppies being sold to commemorate the 1918 Armistice...," a claim any American could refute. On "Mr. Kite," he surmises they changed Zanthus to Henry the Horse because they couldn't pronounce it. (But they had no trouble with Pablo Fanques?) Did "Little Child" imply pedophelia? Give me a break. Bits like this make you wonder about the real details he provides. OTOH, the section on Abbey Road is a brilliant summary of their rise and fall.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicolas

    What a great stroll through Beatle lyrics. it was fascinating to see the hand written originals. It's more conversational than scholarly, but I really liked that. A great addition to the Beatle library.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sara Goldenberg

    I expected to love it but I really didn't. Being that there are 2000 books written about the Beatles, I guess there really isn't anything new to add.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    This was very interesting. I don't usually read books about famous people, but this was an enjoyable read. Thanks Scott, for listing it on your Goodreads...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    The concept behind this book is to provide some insight, detail and occasional analysis of the Beatles song lyrics, album by album, song by song. It's been done before. The twist here is that for 100 of the songs, author Hunter Davies provides images of handwritten manuscripts of the lyrics. While it is interesting to see these manuscripts, there are not many differences between the notes and the final product. A word or two here and there, and occasionally a verse that was never used. It would The concept behind this book is to provide some insight, detail and occasional analysis of the Beatles song lyrics, album by album, song by song. It's been done before. The twist here is that for 100 of the songs, author Hunter Davies provides images of handwritten manuscripts of the lyrics. While it is interesting to see these manuscripts, there are not many differences between the notes and the final product. A word or two here and there, and occasionally a verse that was never used. It would have been fascinating to see multiple, scribbled out and heavily reworked notes, but John and Paul didn't seem to have worked that way, and if they did, those early drafts have not survived. Some of the manuscripts seem to be transcriptions after the fact instead of working notes. The real issue of course, is that up until Rubber Soul, there really isn't much to the lyrics anyway. Boy meets girl. boy loses girl, boy is blue. Like it or not, the Beatles were the original boy band, and the simple lyrics (some written on the back of an envelope on the way the to the studio) were designed to sell records and keep the girls screaming. It took the arrival of Dylan and his stash to open their minds to other lyrical possibilities, but that's another story..... So it's tough to say a whole lot about such thin lyrics. Davies, who was in the inner circle by 1966 and was present during the recording of a few of the later albums, offers some interesting facts an anecdotes, but is not much of literary analyst either. Still, I managed to pick up several little details on many songs and Beatle history, and it's fun to see some of the manuscripts. Anyone that has delved deeply into the Fab Four probably won't learn anything new.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steve Cann

    It was great to receive this book as a surprise Father’s Day present from my son, and I was so looking forward to reading it. I’ve read other excellent books about the stories behind Beatles’ songs before, but this one (as the name suggests) concentrates solely on the lyrical content. Hunter Davies is of course known to Beatles’ fans as their official biographer, and has a wealth of knowledge and personal experience of spending time with the band in the late 60s, some of which he dips into in this It was great to receive this book as a surprise Father’s Day present from my son, and I was so looking forward to reading it. I’ve read other excellent books about the stories behind Beatles’ songs before, but this one (as the name suggests) concentrates solely on the lyrical content. Hunter Davies is of course known to Beatles’ fans as their official biographer, and has a wealth of knowledge and personal experience of spending time with the band in the late 60s, some of which he dips into in this book. The songs are all laid out chronologically, as we literary start at the very beginning, long before the band were famous. He works through the years and the various albums, giving insights into each song, and also giving us pictures (where possible) of the original hand-written lyrics. Many of these are worth a fortune and in the hands of private collectors or museums, so it’s great to have them all assembled here, and they really are fascinating. The only minor drawback is that Hunter does sometimes state the obvious - it’s a safe assumption that anyone picking up this book will already be a diehard fan, and have a good knowledge of the band’s history. So it would be better to start a sentence with ‘as I’m sure we’re all aware/know...’ than treating it as new information. Sometimes he gives his own opinions of songs he dislikes, or even seems unfamiliar with - again, most fans will probably have their own views, or wonder why he doesn’t seem to remember a classic like ‘Rain’! Th book could maybe benefit from an edit in this respect, and a little tidying up. But, those small things aside, this was a fascinating and well-researched book, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Definitely a must for all Beatles’ fans!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    *3.5 stars This one was a hard one to rate. I'd say 5 stars for the lyrics and stories behind the lyrics, but I found the author insufferable. I get he was a friend of the Beatles and a writer who hung with and covered them extensively, but I felt he put himself too much into the book. I'm here for the facts, or the legends as it may be, not the author's opinions on the songs. I found his constant "John/Paul/George/Ringo said Song X was inspired by ____, but they're wrong" very off-putting. Not to *3.5 stars This one was a hard one to rate. I'd say 5 stars for the lyrics and stories behind the lyrics, but I found the author insufferable. I get he was a friend of the Beatles and a writer who hung with and covered them extensively, but I felt he put himself too much into the book. I'm here for the facts, or the legends as it may be, not the author's opinions on the songs. I found his constant "John/Paul/George/Ringo said Song X was inspired by ____, but they're wrong" very off-putting. Not to mention how he puffed up his own importance to the group in contrast to other people in the Beatles' sphere. Or how he reduced Ringo to a footnote. This dude never met a back-handed compliment he didn't like! I'm kicking myself for not keeping track of the number of lyrics/songs he labeled "corny". And he got worse as the book went on; I don't know if he tired of his own idea or the songs himself. It was hard to believe he was the fan he put himself out to be. So basically: come for the stories, but make sure your eyes are rested because they will get a work out from all the rolling at the author's self-importance. Edited to add: Thinking back, there's only maybe 6 songs the author compliments, or seems to 'like'. If someone who nothing of the Beatles were to pick this book up, they'd likely finish and wonder why the Beatles were such a big deal since Lennon/McCartney seemingly always wrote 'corny' or 'mushy' songs with 'bad rhymes'. Which totally wasn't the case. The more I think about this book, the more I'm perplexed about the "why" of it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Crosby

    Having owned the albums & listened to most of these songs hundreds of times, I was very familiar with most of the lyrics before reading this book. I was hoping for some added insight into the thought process that created each song. The book emphasized those songs where hand written lyrics by the Beatles could still be found. It was interesting to see how words were crossed out and replaced with others to create the final version of the song. Sometimes whole verses were omitted in the process. Th Having owned the albums & listened to most of these songs hundreds of times, I was very familiar with most of the lyrics before reading this book. I was hoping for some added insight into the thought process that created each song. The book emphasized those songs where hand written lyrics by the Beatles could still be found. It was interesting to see how words were crossed out and replaced with others to create the final version of the song. Sometimes whole verses were omitted in the process. The author also contributed some interesting personal experiences by relating times when he was present as a song was being created. He also occasionally expresses his opinion about the importance or impact of specific songs (some of which I agree with & some not). Furthermore, he speculates as to the meaning of some of the lyrics and suggests double meanings but does not support his thoughts through Beatle comments. For someone new to Beatles music, the book could be a good informational guide but to someone who is well acquainted with the music the book does not provide many new insights especially for those songs with no available handwritten lyrics. Nevertheless, it was fun to re-visit familiar territory with someone who shares the same respect for the music.

  27. 5 out of 5

    C B

    Fine, but I'm sure who it's for, exactly. Those looking for a compendium of all Beatle lyrics will be disappointed: Davies only includes them if he was able to find an original copy of the lyrics, handwritten (or typed in at least one instance) by a Beatle or part of their inner circle, with Mal Evans being a frequent suspect. For someone who enjoys reading so much, I'm not a lyrics person and don't care: I often prefer my misheard lyrics than the actual ones. I came for the contextual mini-essa Fine, but I'm sure who it's for, exactly. Those looking for a compendium of all Beatle lyrics will be disappointed: Davies only includes them if he was able to find an original copy of the lyrics, handwritten (or typed in at least one instance) by a Beatle or part of their inner circle, with Mal Evans being a frequent suspect. For someone who enjoys reading so much, I'm not a lyrics person and don't care: I often prefer my misheard lyrics than the actual ones. I came for the contextual mini-essays, told by someone who was actually there for part of the story. But others will find it incomplete at best: surely the prospective reader would want the lyric even if their is no corresponding original document? As for the behind-the-scenes stories, some are well-worn in Beatle lore, some were new to me. I wanted a book I could read when I can't give a book my full-attention and this served that purpose well.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bianca Caligagan

    Aside from the author bragging about his relationship with the Beatles (which I find unwarranted), I find this book interesting. His analysis about the Beatles songs were presented in an unscholarly manner which made this book tolerable and an enjoyable read. Don't get me wrong, I looooove Beatles but I didn't mind whether Hunter Davies offered his interpretations about their songs in a non-academic way. It was through this book that I get a glimpse of how brilliant Paul, John, George and Ringo, Aside from the author bragging about his relationship with the Beatles (which I find unwarranted), I find this book interesting. His analysis about the Beatles songs were presented in an unscholarly manner which made this book tolerable and an enjoyable read. Don't get me wrong, I looooove Beatles but I didn't mind whether Hunter Davies offered his interpretations about their songs in a non-academic way. It was through this book that I get a glimpse of how brilliant Paul, John, George and Ringo, on their own respective roles. Some of their songs speak like poems which made me feel alive, hopeful, and in loved. The second thing I hate about the book is that there are few things mentioned about Ringo. While I understand that this book is about the meaning behind Beatles'lyrics, at least, the author could've presented it in a manner that the reader will not feel Ringo is left behind.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Fascinating! IF you're a Beatles fan, you will enjoy seeing the original copies of lyrics written on backs of birthday cards, bills, napkins and scraps in addition to the story behind how it came to be written, as interpreted through the eyes of the author who has had a close relationship with the group since the 1960s. He gives insights into stories he was aware of that are probably closer to reality then much conjecture over the background and meaning of the songs. As a Beatle fan since 1963, Fascinating! IF you're a Beatles fan, you will enjoy seeing the original copies of lyrics written on backs of birthday cards, bills, napkins and scraps in addition to the story behind how it came to be written, as interpreted through the eyes of the author who has had a close relationship with the group since the 1960s. He gives insights into stories he was aware of that are probably closer to reality then much conjecture over the background and meaning of the songs. As a Beatle fan since 1963, this was an especially interesting read for me. I also learned a lot about the nature of their complex relationships and interactions. The best part was reading it while on a cruise ending in Manchester England! Not exactly Liverpool, but home of The Animals and Sting!

  30. 5 out of 5

    John

    Hunter Davies is widely regarded as one of the best people to go to for information on the Beatles, since he wrote the only authorized biography of the band and edited The John Lennon Letters. He's done a good job with this book and it's fun to read, and I absolutely love that he's included hand-written drafts for a number of the songs, but I feel it wasn't necessarily what I was expecting. A lot of the songs don't seem to be given much thought or attention, while only the big songs (such as Str Hunter Davies is widely regarded as one of the best people to go to for information on the Beatles, since he wrote the only authorized biography of the band and edited The John Lennon Letters. He's done a good job with this book and it's fun to read, and I absolutely love that he's included hand-written drafts for a number of the songs, but I feel it wasn't necessarily what I was expecting. A lot of the songs don't seem to be given much thought or attention, while only the big songs (such as Strawberry Fields Forever) get in-depth analysis. And rather than actually knowing what the message of the songs were, a lot of these descriptions seemed based on assumptions and speculation. Regardless it was still a good book with a lot to learn from it.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.