I just finished reading Mark Hertsgaard’s excellent book, A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles and I loved it. My father-in-law — who, in 1974, was actually kicked out of the Troubadour with John for heckling the Smothers Brothers — gave it to me a few weeks ago after he’d read it. It’s an awesome read for any Beatles fan. Instead of the typical biography drudgery, Hertsgaard writes the story of the music that was created. So although there’s a little bit of the same old “Lennon was born in Liverpool … They played at the Cavern Club a zillion times …” it is mostly an analysis of how the songs themselves came to be created. Hertsgaard managed to gain access to the archived Abbey Road recording studio tapes and gives blow-by-blow accounts of which of the artists added this line or that chord to each song. He also chronicles the often hysterical banter between the lads from Liverpool as they worked.
The book, unlike most Beatles dreck, is based solely on primary sources: interviews with John, Paul, George, and Ringo, as well as dozens of studio technicians, producers, and managers, the original audio tracks of sessions, and video and radio recordings of the band. It is really a marvelous find for anyone who loves the Fab Four.
“Just say whatever it is that comes into your head each time — ‘attracts me like a … cauliflower’ — until you get the word.” — John Lennon, helping George Harrison compose the words to “Something”