Regular readers may recall that a while ago I posted a few excerpts from the really awesome book, Revolution in the Head: The Beatles Records and the 1960s by Ian MacDonald. I gave the book to my dad originally, and upon reading it, he said, "Have you read Shout! ?" I said I hadn't, and he promptly sent it to me a month later for my birthday. It's a pretty well-known book, and for good reason. You can't possibly imagine how exhaustive Phil Norman's portrayal is. I'm only on page 110 (a fifth of the way through), and they haven't even recorded a song yet but it's still fascinating reading about the comedy of errors that was the Quarry Men, then Johnny and the Moondogs, then the Quarry Men again, then the Silver Beatles, then the Beatles. Their living conditions during their residency on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg make for a great read, but I also really enjoy the anecdotes about their family. One of my favorites:
"Paul's father, Jim McCartney, was the first of their parents to investigate
this new epoch [the band's gigs at the Cavern Club in Liverpool]. He had
noticed the state in which Paul came home from the Cavern, with clothes stinking
of mold and a shirt so drenched it could be wrung out over the kitchen
sink. Jim was still in the cotton business, working at the Cotton Exchange
just around the corner from Mathew Street. Venturing into the Cavern on
his own lunch hour, Jim could not get near enough to the stage to speak to
Paul. When he came after that it would usually be to drop in some meat he
had bought to cook for Paul and Michael that evening. Above the din in the
band room he would give Paul careful instructions about when, and at what
number, to switch on the electric cooker."
The book is great at showing you how amateurish the greatest pop band of all time were in their formative years -- hell, they got kicked out of Hamburg because George was only 17 and couldn't play past the midnight curfew. Anyway, I highly recommend reading this book and I plan to post more excerpts as I go.