Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Songs We Were Singing-- A book Review

Sometimes when I agree to review a book written by a friend, I get a little nervous.   What if I don't like the book?     I always have been honest in my reviews on this blog but I never want to hurt anyone's feelings.    So I have stopped promising book reviews until after I have read a book written by someone I know.    However, I made an exception with Dr. Kit O'Toole's book, Songs We Were Singing for a number of reasons.   First and foremost in the years I have know Kit, she has proven herself to be one of the leading experts on the music of the Beatles.    I have had the privilege to be on a number of panels at the Fest for Beatles fans with her and I am always amazed by her knowledge and the way she articulates what she knows.    The second reason why I promised to review the book prior to reading it is because I had already read most of the book online.     You see, Songs we Were Singing is a collection of articles that Kit has written over the past seven years for various blogs and online magazines.   

My mom and I pose with Dr. Kit O'Toole and her book at the Fest for Beatle fans in Chicago 2015

Kit has taken what she has deemed "The Beatles lesser-known tracks" and dug into those songs to explain the meaning, musicianship and circumstances behind each song.   To truly appreciate the book, you need to sit down with your Beatles albums and listen to each song and then read about it.   I didn't have time to do that myself, because I wanted to read the book to write this review, but I intend to do so in the future.     Kit gets special brownie points with me because she put the songs in chronological order!    If you read my reviews, you know it annoys me to no end when a book isn't in chronological order.   And so Kit starts you off with the Decca auctions and moves on through to Let it Be and then she even continues with a few solo tracks.    Each song is a short chapter of only a few pages each.   This is great because it makes it an easy book to read in short sections if you want to.  

I enjoy the research that Kit put into each song.   You really get a feeling for songs such as my personal favorites, "I call your name,"  "Hey Bulldog," or "The Word."     As you know, I LOVE the Beatles' music, but I focus more on the historical side of the Beatles' and not so much on the musicianship.   So don't always know who played exactly what instrument on what track, but by reading this book, I really got a better feel for the songs that I love so much.    I have to admit, Kit's writing about "Mr. Moonlight" wasn't just humorous, but it also allowed me to see a song that I have always dismissed in a different light.   So thank you Dr. O'Toole!

What didn't I like about the book?   Well----there weren't any photos!   Photographs of the Beatles recording some of these songs or performing them in concert would have really tied things together. 

I give Songs We Were Singing my complete and full recommendation to hard core Beatle geeks and casual fans alike because there is something new for everyone to learn about in this book.    With so many amazing Beatles tracks that get forgotten, let's hope that her first book is the first of a series.  

If you would like to own this book, the best way to get it is through Amazon.  (see link below).  It is available as a paperback and now it is available on kindle!   So you can take your music and the book anywhere and learn more about forgotten Beatles songs!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I have to say: it has always broken my heart how so many Beatlefans don't "get" "Mister Moonlight". 1.) It's one of John's great vocal performances, unbelievable. 2.) Maybe if people hear the original Dr. Feelgood version, they'll hear it's not some corny song, but a great R&B tune. 3.) Maybe it's the organ that people find corny or something 4.) Great lyrics for a late 50s-early 60s song. The harmony is great. Paul's harmony on the fade is fantastic (though it was faded short on the 1987 cds, a total crime...get the full version).