I acquired Beatles In Their Own Words forty-two years ago in mid-1980, after I discovered the music of the Beatles. As a fourteen-year-old I certainly knew who the Beatles were and many songs they did, but it was my first listen to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that spring that hooked me for life. In 1980 I spent my meagre paper route money on Beatles records and books, and this was one of my first acquisitions. When friends and family learned of my fondness for the Beatles they would often give me books, and sometimes I would get duplicates. My first copy, which I bought, was published by Quick Fox in 1978 and retailed for $5.95. The edition I read (and whose covers I scanned) was a third impression by Delilah/Putnam which I received as a gift. By late 1980 it retailed for $7.95 when it was reprinted after the death of John Lennon. Sadly you can see how the covers of the later edition yellowed. My first copy is still pristine white on its front and back covers.
I do not recall reading this book literally cover-to-cover when I first got it. Its format is best suited for thumbing through and looking at the photos and reading the adjacent quotations. I certainly read it this way, in discontiguous segments. As I review my collection of Beatles books I realize I don’t need this one, even for the sentimental reason that it was one of my first. I can part with both of them by giving it a formal cover-to-cover read and kiss-off. It isn’t that good a collection of quotations anyway.
The quotations were divided into chapters by subject matter, starting with Beatles: The Story, followed by Press Conferences, Songwriting, The Songs, The Films, Drugs, and Politics. What I was most shocked by, as I would have been at the age of fourteen, was that the book’s compiler, (Barry) Miles, chose to start the book with several paragraphs of quotations by John Lennon where every second word was the F-bomb. Couldn’t he have chosen something else? The best chapter was on the press conferences as it was filled with the Beatles’ comeback one-liners that had the press corps on their knees. I giggled through many of them, my favourite of which was:
How do you feel about the invasion of your privacy all the time?
Ringo: The only time it bothers us is when they get us to the floor and really mangle us.
I am parting with this book because the quotations weren’t all that interesting, especially in snippet format when an entire interview would have been more to my liking. When so many quotes are assembled around a common theme, they make a boring read. That’s why the press conferences chapter was such fun. Many photos were blown up to grainy oversized pixel dimensions, which made them unattractive.