‘Assessing The Beatles’!

The ’70s were a time to be a Beatles beginner.

The Fab Four were acrimoniously divorced, with John, Paul and George likely to sniping at each other in interviews (Ringo, always the peacemaker, was able to keep on friendly terms with everyone). Paul McCartney and Wings hovered high on the charts with unremarkable hits like Silly Love Songs.   And fans were so fixated on their desire they couldn’t appreciate the extraordinary fact that the group had ever existed to start with.

“Our Beatles,” the writer marvels, “have outlasted theirs.”

Sheffield, whose previous Novels include the Superb Love Is a Mixtape: Love and Loss, 1 Song at a Time, is fired up about this Idea.

So fired up that entire chapters are devoted to irresistible arguments for the genius of Ringo Starr and Paul being the very Beatlesque Beatle, all written in a loose, genial mix of cool trivia, endearing (if sometimes off-topic) asides and hardcore nerding out.

The result is that of tucking into a corner booth with a complete pitcher and a lot of buddies to debate whether “that I believe I’m gonna be miserable” is the most portentous John Lennon lyric ever or we still obsess over the individuality of the Walrus when virtually all of us, as Sheffield notes, have heard I’m the Walrus more times than John possibly could have.

“The Beatles invented most of what rock stars do. They devised dividing. They invented drugs. They devised long hair, going to India, using a professional, round glasses, solo careers, beards, media conferences, divisive girlfriends, composing your own tunes, funny drummers,” Sheffield writes in one of many clever insights. “They invented the concept of building a worldwide mass audience and challenging, disappointing, confusing this viewer.”

Sheffield’s observations reach a fever pitch of excitement when he declares, “Being born on precisely the exact same planet as The Beatles is among the 10 best things that has ever occurred to me.”

However, for once, the author may be underestimating how much we love them. Because it’s simply one of the top 5.