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

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

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.

List Price: $ 19.99

Price: $ 14.59

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

  • groei@xs4all.nl says:
    49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    The book on the lyrics to The Beatles’ songs is a job well done by Hunter Davies and joy to have and read., October 7, 2014
    By 
    groei@xs4all.nl (Zoetermeer, The Netherlands) –

    I read the book on Beatles’ lyrics today, oh boy.
    .
    And I like it.
    .
    The layout and size of this book is similar to Hunter Davies’ book ‘The John Lennon Letters’, this means little less than 400 pages, in a mid-size hardcover book with reader friendly but old fashioned typography. The layout similarity is especially noticeable in the way the content of the manuscript photographs is repeated in the text body, as in the `Lennon Letters’ book this works very well here. The images provide a glimpse of a Beatles’ activity in the past, writing on a piece of paper; the words reproduced in the text-body are presented for contemplation and analysis and for you to hear the words thru voices and music sounding in the hallways of your mind.
    .
    Davies presents approximately 120 reproductions of song transcripts. Sometimes these were scraps of paper on the studio-floor from 1966/7 Hunter Davies took with him, when he had the privileged position of closeness to the boys while working on his authorized biography, others are nuggets from antiquarian shops, published in auctions catalogues or from unnamed friends. Hunter even had the opportunity to ask the boys for handwritten lyrics of songs he said he wanted to write about in the biography. Manuscripts of lyrics are even re-handwritten after the actual process of composition and recording was finished. Davies presents pictures of these little manuscripts and we are lucky, he adds pictures of e.g. Beatles’ summer activities for 1966, the ‘Being for the benefit of Mr. Kite’-poster, contracts, concert programs, etc.
    .
    Some of these manuscripts reveal the development of the lyrics, occasionally this info is unique and a first. The revealed perspectives are sometime funny as with Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, sometimes illustrative for the creative process e.g. Old Brown Shoe and ‘It’s Only Love’, and for the Beatles’ Sherlock in us, handwriting can raise doubts on who composed what, check out for this e.g. Don’t Pass Me By (?). From the handwritten corrections in the manuscripts we get a perspective on the development of songs and the quality and (un-)intended or meanings of lyrics. E.g. the word ‘naughty’ in “naughty girl you let your knickers down” from John’s ‘I Am The Walrus’ was first considered by John to be a ‘lucky’ girl; yeah right, what else.
    .
    The three pillars of a song, whether from Schubert, Lennon and McCartney, or Dylan are words, voice and music/sound. Davies’ discussion of ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ illustrates this perfectly well and simultaneously confirms the high respect of the song in The Beatles’ catalogue. Other manuscripts suggest that in the process of composition and recording music and the singing, the meaning of words and lines become secondary to the overall sound, as they change words for musical reasons and we see how the meaning of the lyric changes significantly or shifts the perspective ‘from me to you’.
    The lyrical change from ‘lucky girl’ to ‘naughty girl’, in John’s ‘I Am The Walrus’, creates a punchier improved rhyme (naughty and knickers) and adds a bite perfectly fitting Lennon’s singing Beatles’ rock music, yet it also changes the meaning. The ‘lucky’ puts Lennon in a position of: ‘Hey girl you’re lucky to get attention from ME because your knickers are down’, making her grateful for his sexual prowess. The ‘naughty’ transfers the sexual initiative to the girl and puts Lennon in the position of the innocent male who is willing to be seduced. In sixties-thinking this makes the girl more slutty than it does in England today.
    There are terrific risks you are obliged to take as an artist. ‘All songs about relationships between men and women are (potentially) accusable of sexism. Every great writer and artist, who has tackled relationships and sexism has been accused of sexism – Jane Austen was accused of sexism’, Christopher Risk said a few years ago in a conversation with Sean Wilentz.
    The same goes for religious stuff. Any fan of The Beatles knows, John was accused of blasphemy or worse more than once. In the review of ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ Hunter Davies offers considerations that the line ‘they’re gonna crucify me’ was ‘ridiculous’, ‘total paranoia’ or even ‘delusional’ – and then he writes that ‘in a sense, that is what happened to him in the end…’. Now that seems to be too far gone, the journalist Davies is obliged to rise above the public’s stupid mythical point of view and make smarter interpretations. The verb ‘crucify’ does have more meanings than criminals getting death penalty by crucifixion on a wooden cross, there is really more than the literal interpretation of the verb ‘crucify’. But, hey Hunter Davies was the biographer, so maybe he knows john better than anyone of us – the potential buyers of his book.
    .
    Davies does not claim know the truth, he doesn’t brag either and his writing appears to be very relaxed. He doesn’t wanna get you in the…

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  • Stuart Jefferson says:
    34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    “THE FURTHER WE GET FROM THEM, THE BIGGER THEY BECOME.” HUNTER DAVIES., October 26, 2014
    By 
    Stuart Jefferson (San Diego,Ca) –
    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)
      

    Yes, I know, another book on The Beatles’ songs/lyrics. But this one is a bit different. The author, Hunter Davies, the only person to write an authorized biography, and knew the Beatles personally, has collected many of the still existing scraps, envelopes, napkins,and other pieces of paper with lyrics written (and sometimes scribbled quickly) for many of the band’s songs. Along with that he also includes his own observations and memories of the period. Davies’ last book was a collection of John Lennon’s letters that revealed a different side of Lennon/The Beatles, and this new book does a bit of the same kind of thing from a different vantage point.

    Many (most) of the hand written lyrics included (100+) have been gathered from many sources. This is the first time that these original pieces have been tracked down and collected. Is this a book for someone with only a passing interest in The Beatles and/or reading/seeing the lyrics in the original forms? No. This book is for a deep fan of The Beatles, someone who liked the Lennon letters collection for instance. Davies gives these lyrics a foundation from his personal knowledge of the group–what they were doing at the time, what was going on around them, their thought process, and in some cases, how the original lyrics changed at recording time.

    The chapters are laid out with titles like “Love Me Do”, “With The Beatles”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Beatles For Sale”, “Help!”, “Rubber Soul”, “Revolver”, “Strawberry Fields”, and so on. Included are many photos from the various periods in the band’s life, posters, ads, and of course reproductions of the lyrics themselves in their original written form. Some of these are virtually illegible so the lyrics are printed next to the originals. Also included is a twenty-five page Introduction, Discography, Bibliography, and an Index.

    This book is more than just a collection of lyrics. With Davies’ insights of the era we get a deeper look into the many songs included here. Before I started going through this book, I was pretty certain that this book was just another “Beatles book”. But I was wrong. This is worth reading or just browsing through for the Beatles fan who wants to get a bit closer to the band through Davies observations and memories. This book is also available with a different red cover from the British publisher.

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  • T. M. Monroe says:
    25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Great book! (PURCHASED ELSEWHERE due to Amazon vs Hachette), October 30, 2014
    By 
    Great book. Not any real revelations since so much has already been written about the Beatles and their writing. However, it’s good to have a nice single volume that collects many photos of the actual handwritten song manuscripts along with the narrative commentary by Davies.

    Purchased somewhere else though because of the IDIOTIC embargo that Amazon has placed against Hachette Book Group due to Amazon’s dispute with Hachette. Amazon claims it will take up to 3 weeks for this book when it is readily available elsewhere for not much more than Amazon’s currently listed price of $31.50(MSRP $35.00)

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