Author David Rowley says he tried to put a different perspective in his latest book, “All Together Now” (also available in the UK) that tells the story of the Beatles' albums and their individual songs both individually and collectively. It's not the first book of its kind, but Rowley had some ideas he wanted to follow.
“I started out by trying to answer all my own questions about the Beatles songs. What made them so special and superior to other artists? What made them tick? What gave them an edge?,” he said. “There are other books out there on the Beatles music, but for me none have tried to isolate and explain the Beatles X-factor.”
He said while he hopes hardcore fans like the book, it would particularly please him if young fans used it was their introduction to the group.
“I know if the book does not please hardcore fans then it is going to get a rough ride. Beatles hardcore fans are pretty rough with anything they feel does not have the same dedication to detail the Beatles themselves put into their music. But, really the biggest thrill would come from knowing it is the first book a young person has read on the Beatles. Something that would provide the same excitement as when I read 'Shout' by Philip Norman as an 18 year old.”
As one example of how the book is framed, he cites a George Harrison song.
“'Here Comes The Sun' is a great song, but I always felt the story behind it was a little bland. Which was basically George bunks off a business meeting, feels much better for it and enjoys one of the first warm days of spring and writes a song about it. Its the most popular Beatles song on iTunes (the last time I looked), I felt there must be something more profound.
“I had a hunch that there might have been some extraordinary weather at the time of writing. We only know it was written in April, but not the exact day. After checking up on this, I was amazed to find this was the case and no one had ever matched up the two facts. February and March 1969 were particularly cold. March had very little sunlight, while April set a record for sunlight hours that stood for 25 years. Indeed, I read in a British newspaper that the Easter break in 1969 has gone down as the sunniest on record.
He also points up an interesting story about a song the Beatles covered.
“Another fun piece of research was around how John would often change the lyrics to cover versions. I think he did it because he was not as disciplined as Paul, but often his changes improved a song. 'Baby It's You' is the best example. The Shirelles' original ends up very down, with a repetition of its verse of how the singer is sitting alone at home and crying. However, John sings this verse only once and instead concludes with a repetition of the verse about how he is defiant and will never lover anyone else. It creates a vibrant positive ending - a typical positive spin on life that the world loved about John.”
Rowley's book is organized a bit differently than similar books. In his, all the listings are alphabetical, instead of only by album, though listings for each album are included, as well. But it wasn't always that way.
“The book has been around 22 years in the making. For about 19 years, it was an album-by-album listing. I came to be bored by this,” he said. “There is a tendency to look for ways in which one album track links to the next, but often with three different songwriters there isn't much of a connection.
"So I dropped that. I think an alphabetical listing is liberating. It makes it easier for a reader to go to their favorite song and then they get the fun of quite random tracks alongside each other, say like a 'White Album' track next to one from the debut album.”
This isn't Rowley's first Beatles book, by the way. He's also the author of “Help! 50 Songwriting, Recording and Career Tips Used By the Beatles.”
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