In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs

The Beatles performed together for only a decade, but for those touched by their ubiquitous presence on the radio in the early '60s and everywhere else after that, they live forever. Among their steadfast fans are writers and critics who still have Beatles songs permanently stuck on replay in their minds. Anthologist and unashamed Beatlemaniac Andrew Blauner (Central Park; Our Boston) has collected the memories of 27 of them for In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs.

Many of these writers are grandparents sharing their Beatles love with grandchildren. Several are too young to have been "screamers" themselves, and so got their Beatles jones from their parents. Novelist Jane Smiley's gateway song was "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Linguist Ben Zimmer fell hard for "I Am the Walrus," unsurprisingly putting it in a literary context: "It would be nice to think of 'I Am the Walrus,' Finnegans Wake, and Carroll's Alice stories forming a kind of wordplay-laden intertextual triangle." Perhaps the final word goes to cartoonist Roz Chast, whose short paean to "She Loves You" tells of how it promised "a possible future... more interesting than my lonely and borderline-grim childhood with its homework and tests and mean girls and stupid boys and parents who worried about everything and got angry over nothing." Who wouldn't love the Beatles when this was the alternative--or when the other hits of the day were "Take Good Care of My Baby" or "It's My Party?" Now more than ever, "we all live in a yellow submarine." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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