Sunday, April 27, 2014

Love me Do-the Beatles Progress-- a book review

How the 1964 book, “Love Me Do:  The Beatles Progress” by Michael Braun slipped off my radar for all of these years is beyond me.  John Lennon even spoke of this book in the Rolling Stone Working Class Hero interview in 1970, saying, “A true book.  He wrote how we were, which was bastard.”  John was saying how it was the true Beatles and not the watered-down version that the Hunter Davies biography gave us.  I read the 1995 reprint of the book, which has a really great forward by Mark Lewisohn.   In the forward, Mark explains that it showed the Beatles in their true light as human beings and not just as four mops of hair.  He says how the Beatle Book Monthly, which worked hard to preserve the Beatles good image, did not even mention that the book existed and the NME considered “Love me Do” to be an “image killer” for the Beatles. 

Reading the book 50 years later, the truths about the Beatles, such as the fact that they smoked and drank and liked women, do not seem too bad. In the past 50 years, we have read worse things about the Fab 4 and still have kept our devotion intact.  However, I can see that it would have been uncertain how the teenage girls who adored the boys would have reacted.  This book was published, and fans did not protest the band.   Really, the things that are revealed do not make the Beatles look bad, just human. 

The book was written by Michael Braun, who spent about 3 months with the Beatles from November 1963 through February 1964.   He was there for the end of the 1963 Autumn tour, into the fan club conventions, the Christmas show, the tour of Paris, and the first trip to America.  He witnessed and wrote about the Beatles at one of their most pivotal times.  Really, Braun just lucked out in  that way, because how was he to know that the Beatles were going to take the world by storm during that time period? 

There are plenty of great stories about the Beatles meeting fans backstage before a concert, reading fan letters, or just talking about the fans.  I especially liked the reproduction of some of the fan letters and the story about two fans who went backstage to record an interview with the boys because they had a “friend” who was sick and had to miss the concert. At the end of it all (after they got autographs), they realized that the tape recorder wasn’t working.  Oh well….

But there are a lot of little tidbits that I think have been forgotten over the years.   One thing that I did not know was that backstage at Cambridge in 1963, the Beatles pre-recorded their lines for the Christmas shows they were to do that December.  Because there is so much screaming at the concerts, the director decided it would be best for the Beatles to record the 20 minutes worth of lines for the pantomime (where George played the heroine who was thrown in front of a train, John played the bad guy, Sir Jasper, Paul played the signalman who rescued the girl, and Ringo remained silent the whole time but sprinkled snow on everyone to help the mood).  Here, I thought they said the lines “live” each night.  

Something else that I learned from this book was who the opening acts for the Washington D.C. Coliseum concert were. Beatle historians have debated this for years, and here is the information written right after the show by an author who was there. He says that three American groups played before the Beatles: Tommy Roe, the Chiffons, and Uh Oh. He does not say who the third group was. Maybe that is what causes debate.   

I was fortunate to receive this book unexpectedly in a lot of magazines that I won in an auction. If you happen to own this book and haven’t read it in 50 years, I think it is a great book to re-read. If you have never read it, it is well worth adding to your Beatles library.

The link below is the affiliate link to Amazon, where you can purchase this book.  I get a small percentage of anything purchased through this link.  Money made from the Amazon Afflication is used to pay the annual fee to keep this site online.  Thank you for your support.  Sara

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh! I never knew you didn't know this book!

    This book is so great...I want to transcribe it one day!!!

    It's like you are there!

    It's so Dad, or one of my aunts, had this book when it came out, it was on the bookshelf at my Grandma's, and so I read it when I was little. Flash forward to a few years ago when I searched out a copy (since I knew what John had said about it)....only to find that I had already read it years earlier!

    Definitely one of THE great Beatle books, bar none!

    So happy you read it because....if anyone would appreciate it, it's you!

    (another unbelievably fantastic book that unfortunately is now rare and out of print, and very expensive to acquire, is Al Aronowitz's " Bob Dylan and the Beatles" are no words to describe how great that book is, and if you like Dylan it's even better. There's even a chapter in there about Murray The K that will bring a tear to the most hardened of criminals! If anyone ever has a chance to read that book, do not pass it up!

    Welcome to the "Love Me Do" Appreciation Club, Sara!