Does the world really need another book about the Beatles? The people behind “In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs” think so, and they’ve come up with a seemingly irresistible wrinkle: Ask a lineup of literati to choose the Beatles song that means the most to them. Since everyone likes the Beatles, the results are practically guaranteed to please.
Well, maybe. But the most predictable thing about this endeavor is how predictable it is. The Rule of Themed Anthologies says that one-third of such collections will be thought-provoking and insightful, one third will be just okay, and one third will be tossed-off words from writers too guilty or desperate to say no to the commissioning editor. “In Their Lives” satisfies this formula with eerie precision.
The only sensible approach to evaluating such a book is to enumerate the successes, of which there are several. Writing about “Eleanor Rigby,” Rebecca Mead notes, with typical clarity and grace, that the song, “which so perfectly captures the pathos of loneliness, was generated in an atmosphere of intimacy and friendship . . . a product of the extraordinarily fruitful four-way marriage that was the Beatles collaborative.”
By: Michael Lindgren
Source: Washington Post