Thursday, 30 June 2016

Love Me Do!: "Beatles" Progress by Michael Braun

"That was a true book," Lennon told Wenner in his 1970 Lennon Remembers interview. "He wrote about how we were, which was bastards … You have to be a bastard to make it, man. That's a fact, and the Beatles were the biggest bastards on earth." 

The year is 1963 and "Love Me Do" is the Beatles' first number one hit, closely followed by "Please Please Me". John, Paul, George and Ringo celebrate their new found success with a hectic six-week tour, briefly interrupted by an historic live appearance at the "Royal Variety Performance" at the London Palladium. This is the beginning of "Beatlemania" and American writer, Mike Braun, is there to chronicle events and watch as the drama unfolds. A year later, The Beatles are the world's biggest pop group. This book details what really happened in those first magic weeks.

Braun was a former assistant to Stanley Kubrick, and a writer whose work appeared in the Observer and the Sunday Times (he died in 1997; one of his obituaries described him as "a penniless flâneur", drawn to people whose "personal mythology was not limited by prosaic biographical fact"). Contrary to Lennon's picture, his book – a tour diary, essentially, which follows them around provincial England, on to Paris and New York – largely offers a close-up of the Beatles as you might expect it: witty, blunt, quickly breaking out of the drab conventions of British showbiz. 

He evokes ordinary places witnessing quite extraordinary scenes, in incisively simple terms: in the north-east of England, for example, he keeps the Beatles company in yet another hotel, watching them do a phone interview with a DJ in far-away Melbourne, while a gaggle of fans looks up at the window. "When the call was finished," Braun wrote, "they turned the lights out and spent a few minutes looking at the girls through a slit in the curtains before going to bed. The next morning as the Beatles left Sunderland several girls were still gathered in front of the hotel, huddling against the winds blowing from the North Sea." This is what is so compelling about those early treks around provincial theatres and ballrooms: moments of quiet, when the band seemed to marvel at what was happening to them; and the sense of an extended goodbye (by the autumn of 1966, they had stopped touring altogether).

This book was also published in 1964 in the U.S under another title: "The Real True Beatles - Number One"

The 1995 edition has a 1970 Lennon quote on the cover: "A true book. He wrote about how we were, which was bastards"

The original 1964 edition has "4/6" price on the cover and no Lennon quote which distinguishes it from the 1995 re-issue

1964 edition Back cover

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