Title: One, Two, Three, Four – The Beatles in Time
Author: Craig Brown
Pages: 642 Pages
Publisher: 4th Estate
From the award-winning author of Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret comes a fascinating, hilarious, kaleidoscopic biography of the Fab Four.
On April 10th 2020, it will be exactly 50 years since Paul McCartney announced the break-up of the Beatles. At that point, we will be at the same distance in time from 1970 as 1970 was from 1920, the year Al Jolson’s ‘Swanee’ was the bestselling record and Gustav Holst composed The Planets.
The Beatles continue to occupy a position unique in popular culture. They have entered people’s minds in a way that did not occur before, and has not occurred since. Their influence extended way beyond the realm of music to fashion, politics, class, religion and ethics. Countless books have doggedly catalogued the minutiae of The Beatles. If you want to know the make of George Harrison’s first car you will always be able to find the answer (a second hand, two-door, blue Ford Anglia 105E Deluxe, purchased from Brian Epstein’s friend Terry Doran, who worked at a dealership in Warrington). Before she met John Lennon, who was the only Beatle Yoko Ono could name, and why? Ringo. Because ‘ringo’ means ‘apple’ in Japanese. All very interesting, but there is, as yet, no book about The Beatles that combines the intriguing minutiae of their day-to-day lives with broader questions about their effect – complicated and fascinating – on the world around them, their contemporaries, and generations to come.
Craig Brown’s 1-2-3-4: The Beatles in Time is a unique, kaleidoscopic examination of The Beatles phenomenon – part biography, part anthropology, part memoir, by turns humorous and serious, elegiac and speculative. It follows the unique “exploded biography” form of his internationally bestselling, Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret.
It always surprises me that there can be anything new to say about a bad that split up over 50 years ago. Yet, here is another. One, Two, Three, Four is Craig Brown’s interesting take on The Beatles legacy.
Much like his previous book Ma’am Darling, Brown mixes the truth with fiction. He includes chapters to The Beatles story that didn’t happen but totally sound like they could have take place.
What is interesting about One, Two, Three, Four is that Brown has come to telling The Beatles story from conception to end with a mix of current events thrown in. He hasn’t come at his writing from the point of view of a fan telling us what impact The Beatles had on his life. Instead, the way in which he writes his book you feel like you are listening to actual conversations between the Fab Four.
The joy of this book is trying to decipher the truth from the lies. Some are easier than others but either way it is a hell of a ride.
One, Two, Three, Four – The Beatles in Time by Craig Brown is available now.
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