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The Gospel According to the Beatles

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Overview

Renowned British music journalist and author Steve Turner surveys the religious and spiritual influence of the Beatles, the band that changed the history of music forever. With new interviews, never-before-published material, and fresh insights, Turner helps the reader understand the religious and spiritual ideas and ideals that influenced the music and lives of the Beatles and helps us see how the Fab Four influenced our own lives and culture.

Topics discussed include the ...

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Overview

Renowned British music journalist and author Steve Turner surveys the religious and spiritual influence of the Beatles, the band that changed the history of music forever. With new interviews, never-before-published material, and fresh insights, Turner helps the reader understand the religious and spiritual ideas and ideals that influenced the music and lives of the Beatles and helps us see how the Fab Four influenced our own lives and culture.

Topics discussed include the religious upbringing of John, Paul, George, and Ringo; the backlash in the United States after John Lennon's "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus" comment; the dabbling in Eastern religion; the use of drugs to attempt to enter a higher level of consciousness; and the overall legacy that the Beatles and their music have left. While there is no religious system that permanently anchored the Beatles or their music, they did leave a gospel, Turner concludes: one of love, peace, personal freedom, and the search for transcendence.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1967, drug guru Timothy Leary proclaimed, "[T]he message from Liverpool is the Newest Testament, chanted by Four Evangelistssaints John, Paul, George, and Ringo." Leary certainly captured the feelings of a generation pursuing freedom from old social conventions and searching for love in the lyrics, looks and music of the Beatles. In less than a decade, the group evolved from the fun-loving frantic boys of A Hard Day's Night (1964) to the philosophical poets of Abbey Road (1969) and Let It Be (1970), weaving more references to religion and spirituality into their music. Acclaimed pop music writer Turner (A Man Called Cash) unsuccessfully attempts to reveal the "gospel" of the Fab Four in this plodding book. He recounts the already well-known biographies of each Beatle, pointing out that each had some early brushes with either the Church of England or Roman Catholicism. Turner takes John Lennon's now-infamous 1966 claim that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus" as his starting point and then examines superficially the well-known turn East that the group took in the late 1960s. The book lacks in-depth interpretations of the Beatles' song lyrics and fails to account for the rich and complex meanings that arguably make their lyrics some of the most religious in rock. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Readers of Robert L. Short's The Gospel According to Peanuts will recognize that writer and poet Turner used it as inspiration for this book. As evidenced by his earlier A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles' Song, London resident Turner is well situated to cover both the Beatles and their music. While 1000-plus titles about the Beatles are available, this book takes the distinctive approach that the Beatles's journey included a search for a meaningful spirituality. This spirituality, Turner would be quick to note, involves a gospel not in the sense of a church creed but in a hunger for transcendence. Some fans will deny that the Beatles had any kind of gospel to spread, but many of these doubters will come to respect Turner for his nonvested argument that the Beatles had things to say about spirituality and that many of these things were taken seriously at the time by many young people. Turner's fresh path through familiar terrain allows the songs to disclose the instinct for fellowship, ritual, mystery, and worship, which makes this well-documented book an insightful and valuable addition to all public libraries. Leroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach P.L. Dist., FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780664229832
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2006
  • Series: The Gospel According To... Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 823,824
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Steve Turner is a British rock journalist and author of more than thirty books, including The Man Called Cash, Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Beloved Song, and A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song. He lives in London.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2007

    Across the Universe

    The editorial reviews really have it wrong about this book. Why complain that it doesn't go into depth about the song lyrics when Steve Turner already wrote A Hard Day's Write, considering every single Beatles song? What some reviewers see as the weakness is, to me, the strength of this book, and a key to its uniqueness in the pantheon of Beatleania. Turner considers the press releases and reviews of the time, not merely the word of mouth and usually wrong rumours of Beatlemania headlines. The notable example is John Lennon's quip that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, which was not an off- handed quip at all, and was escalated by the media from a non-event to a riot, including burning of Beatles records. That event was orchestrated by a cynical DJ ''They have to buy the records to burn 'em!''. Turner goes behind the scenes to show that all those seemingly random Lennon lyrics reflected his states of mind, and his attempt to duplicate the acid trips he took 'LSD was legal until 1966' in singles beginning with 'Strawberry Fields'. A musician friend and I were watching the Beatles anthology DVD set, and both of us found it the perfect complement to Turner's book. Or the other way round. Both reintroduce that absolutely unique chemistry of that unique decade of the four lads from Liverpool, or as Ed Sullivan so notably put it, 'Ladies and Gentlemen: the Beatles'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2009

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