116: The Beatles and the Historians

August 7, 2017

Podcast, Podcasting

A show on Beatle books is a fine idea but at the same time a little too broad: without some sort of focus, the confines of a single episode will not allow for a thorough examination. But with the arrival of this recent work by Erin Torkelson Weber, Richard and Robert are able to narrow the discussion to some key works, selected for their power in shaping public perceptions of the Beatles’ story. Applying a strict historiographic methodology, Erin’s book examines where various authors have succeeded or (mostly) failed in presenting accurate and essential tellings of their history. Authors discussed include Mark Lewisohn, Philip Norman, Albert Goldman, Bob Spitz, Hunter Davies, Barry Miles and Jann Wenner.
Find Robert’s books here.
Find Richard’s books here.
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    18 Responses to “116: The Beatles and the Historians”

    1. James Says:

      This episode could serve as an introduction to a series on individual books.Several of the books/interviews mentioned would be great subjects for upcoming episodes.


    2. Christopher Cruz Says:

      Women? Give me a break! George Martin? Brian Epstein? They wrote their own books. Doesn’t get any more definitive than coming straight from the horse’s mouth. Not enough has been written about Stuart Sutcliffe, really. Yes, it is known that he died at the age of 21, but we need something other than what comes from a sister who is trying to making money off of her dead brother. First, she says John Lennon caused his death by kicking him in the head during a street fight, then turns around and retracts that story. And you’d have to be an idiot to believe that their relationship was anything other than a brotherhood.


    3. J Neo Marvin Says:

      That remark at the beginning, “I just hear every mistake, and everything I would re-do” or similar, reminds me of similar comments by John Lennon about going back and listening to Beatles songs.


    4. Louis Says:

      Great artwork. I love Planet of the Apes.


    5. Bill Slocum Says:

      Is Erin Torkelson Weber any relation to Peter Tork? His father was a college professor at UConn with the last name “Thorkelson,” which is kind of close.


    6. Rob Geurtsen Says:

      What a great and informative conversation. Get her on the show more often, to talk about specific books and how Beatles-historiography can be reached in class.


    7. Jim T, Says:

      Excellent show. As someone who collects Beatles/related books, I found it both informative and entertaining.
      Thank you all.


    8. Paul T Says:

      Great episode lads. Erin was superb and so knowledgeable and interesting. What struck me most was a comment early in the show where it was stated that the written word (eg Lennon Remembers) can be brutal in b&w whereas when you HEAR the interview it’s not so bad at all. That hit me big time when I first encountered it.


    9. Jill N Says:

      Read Erin’s book when it first came out. It was fantastic, and I highly recommend it, and was delighted to find this podcast. Someone here seemed to imply in their comment (perhaps I misunderstood) that a woman’s perspective on the Beatles was “give me a break” not important. I would say that the Beatles’ fans were more than 50% women. I was 11 when they came to the U.S., and went to all their concerts (in L.A.) between 1964-1966, and about 70% of the fans in the audience were female. So, I, for one, would love to hear a woman biographer’s take on the Beatles; dealing with the way women – in all the previous biographies and articles, other than Lewisohn’s – were, for example, denigrated for their sexual experience, when the Beatles themselves were far more promiscuous and were praised for it by their male supporters. As Erin said, it isn’t that the male’s perspective is not important or informative or necessary; of course it is! It is just this: where are the female voices? Anyway, I found the interview fascinating and hope that you will have Erin back again.


    10. Jay Says:

      Erin’s outstanding work in The Beatles and The Historians is a mandatory read for any serious Beatles enthousiast.

      Thanks for continuing your great podcast!


    11. David M Says:

      Interesting podcast. Book sounds like rather a dry read though.

      My question: Won’t Lewisohn’s mammoth 3 volume series make pretty much all other biographies redundant? (at least for pre-break up era)


      • Louise Says:

        No! It’s a fascinating read and I didn’t study history beyond the age of 14. It’s accessible, a fascinating subject matter and I learnt so much. If you enjoyed the podcast, you should definitely read the book.


      • Jill N Says:

        David M – In my opinion, it’s not boring at all. It is very well written, and I am not an academic by any stretch of the imagination. You should give it a try! It is the only book I’ve read where the author compares the various ‘versions’ written by the various principals and biographers of several events. She doesn’t take sides. She says, here are the differing versions. It is very interesting.


    12. Alisha Says:

      Wonderful conversation. Erin is intelligent and likable! A+ interview!


    13. Joe Mersch Says:

      Wow – fantastic, and absolutely crucial – thanks for shining a light on the development of the Beatles narrative. I’m surprised I haven’t heard a discussion like this before. I hope you do further episodes of this type – perhaps focusing on particular books or authors. It was evident that you are both equal to your guest’s knowledge of the subject matter, but her perspective as a historiographer seems both fascinating and much needed.

      My first Beatles book was the Tyler and Carr “Illustrated Record” in ’75. It was eye-opening for a 15-year old who had grown up in ignorance of the British releases, but I hated the anti-McCartney slant and the patronizing dismissal of RAM. Now I guess I should buckle down and read “Lennon Remembers” to see where it all came from.

      Thanks again for another great podcast!


    14. Vin Stajsic Says:

      Wonderful episode. Its great to hear a serious topic treated seriously. Full marks. All power to you(s).


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