We recently asked Jude Southerland Kessler, author of The John Lennon Series, if she had any favorite music biographies or books and if she had read any recently that she’d like to recommend. Here’s what she had to say. And, in case you missed our exclusive “Five Questions” interview with Jude on what would have been John Lennon's 75th birthday, you can check it out here.
My favorite book about The Beatles is Jim O’Donnell’s The Day John Met Paul. It’s a slim volume concentrating just on that one magical day in history, but it’s the only book I’ve ever read about The Beatles that “gets” the magic of Liverpool. O’Donnell is the one person who seems to understand what I feel when I clack my booted heels across those cracked sidewalks on Renshaw and Ranaleigh Streets…when I meander through a million daffodils in Sefton Park…when I walk from Pete Shotton’s house on Vale to John Lennon’s on Menlove. O’Donnell understands what Liverpool means. I love his writing style, his attention to detail, and his superb research. This book is extremely special.
I also adored Angie McCartney’s book, My Long and Winding Road. Her stories of life with The Beatles and Beatles-related people are fascinating, but it’s her glee and her wonderful expressions that kept me smiling from page 1 to page End. Angie cherishes life, and I can see why Jim McCartney wanted her around him 24/7. If you’re down, this book will restore your smile.
Equally wonderful is Ivor Davis’s book, The Beatles and Me on Tour. When I picked up this volume last year, I thought I knew all of The Beatles stories in existence, but Ivor informed me! I learned a lot from this witty, savvy journalist who toured with The Beatles on their August 1964 North American Tour. First-hand stories that have never been told until now…this book is a gem! And so is Ivor!
For those of you who are Beatles music buffs (not biography buffs), you should not…no, you cannot miss Robert Rodriguez’s Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll and his equally superb Solo in the 70’s, Kit O’Toole’s new release Songs We Were Singing: Guided Tours Through the Beatles’ Lesser-Known Tracks, and Anthony Robustelli’s I Want to Tell You: The Definitive Guide to the Music of the Beatles, Vol. 1 (1962-63). With these four books in your library, you will have covered the scope of Beatles’ music from the early days right up through their solo careers, and there will be no stone left unturned (or no turn left unstoned) in your musical education. Rodriguez, O’Toole, and Robustelli thoroughly discuss each and every song (Robustelli even hits The Beatles cover songs!) ever sung by the Fab Four. These four books are must-haves, in my opinion. Brilliantly researched and written! Each one a gift to yourself.
Finally, if you want to step outside The Beatles Box and really DIGEST (ahem!) some new music, you have to have the original Recipe Records. Yeah, yeah, yeah… it’s a cookbook, but each recipe suggests a “Music List” to play and enjoy while you cook that particular dish. And the music in these lists is so varied that it makes “eclectic” look tame! Witty and smart authors Lanea Stagg and the late Maggie McHugh furnish rock’n’roll history, trivia, and personal stories what will make you beam with joy. Even if you never set foot in a kitchen, you’re going to want to read this book and write down new songs to seek out and hear. It’s killer-good!
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