Magic Circles: The Beatles in Dream and Historyby Devin McKinney, McKinney
Pub. Date: 09/15/2003
Publisher: Harvard University Press
No one expressed the heart and soul of the Sixties as powerfully as the Beatles did through the words, images, and rhythms of their music. In Magic Circles Devin McKinney uncovers the secret history of a generation and a pivotal moment in twentieth-century culture. He reveals how the Beatles enacted the dream life of their time and shows how they embodied a/i>
No one expressed the heart and soul of the Sixties as powerfully as the Beatles did through the words, images, and rhythms of their music. In Magic Circles Devin McKinney uncovers the secret history of a generation and a pivotal moment in twentieth-century culture. He reveals how the Beatles enacted the dream life of their time and shows how they embodied a kaleidoscope of desire and anguish for all who listened--hippies or reactionaries, teenage fans or harried parents, Bob Dylan or Charles Manson. The reader who dares to re-enter the vortex that was the Sixties will appreciate, perhaps for the first time, much of what lay beneath the social trauma of the day.
Delving into concerts and interviews, films and music, outtakes and bootlegs, Devin McKinney brings to bear the insights of history, aesthetics, sociology, psychology, and mythology to account for the depth and resonance of the Beatles' impact. His book is also a uniquely multifaceted appreciation of the group's artistic achievement, exploring their music as both timeless expression and visceral response to their historical moment. Starting in the cellars of Liverpool and Hamburg, and continuing through the triumph of Beatlemania, the groundbreaking studio albums, and the last brutal, sorrowful thrust of the White Album, Magic Circles captures both the dream and the reality of four extraordinary musicians and their substance as artists. At once an entrancing narrative and an analytical montage, the book follows the drama, comedy, mystery, irony, and curious off-ramps of investigation and inquiry that contributed to one of the most amazing odysseys in pop culture.
- Harvard University Press
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- 6.25(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.30(d)
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McKinney tells us he used to consider Hey Jude 'overrated' and now 'trembles' when he hears the song. I'm of McKinney's generation and I've found time and again the way a Beatles' song or album I thought I knew so well it could delight but not surprise me, will, upon a sudden hearing, bring me to my knees. McKinney writes a fine and true story about these Beatles, that does justice to the peculiar position of our generation: passionate response to art that ostensibly drew its life from the moment of its making. You must read the book to discover for yourself that only a passionate mind can articulate the difference between nostalgia and actual history. McKinney's book also demonstrates so much that is absent from nearly all contemporary nonfiction: it is passionate without being sentimental; it is personal without being confessional; its intelligence is alive and transparent and neither the fill-in-the-blanks obscurantism of fashionable cultural analysis nor middlebrow accessibility. And the photos are so well-chosen--really rich images that complement the text. I only wish McKinney had included a good annotated bibliography in addition to his discography. Really, read this book now and Revolver will never sound the same again.
I read an advance copy of this book and was truly amazed by the author's original look at the Beatles. There have been hundreds of books written about this greatest of music groups, but this is the first one to delve into the subconsoius relationships the Beatles had with their fans. For anyone who loves the Beatles or for that matter is fascinated by the 1960's, I urge you to purchase this book.
The author's confident, fresh style; meticulous academic research, and obvious love for the subject matter synthesize into a brilliant must-read. In this thorough and intimate account, Devin McKinney lucidly and gracefully guides his reader through the complex and oft-dark layers of Beatles history and cultural myth. I literally could not put this book down--read it in one sitting!