There are many viewpoints expressed. Music journalist Toure offers the perspective that, having been born a year after the Beatles’ dissolving, he didn’t get to live through their soap-opera-like existence but still eventually found the story of the Beatles so crazy that it helped him dig deep into understanding the band’s brilliance.
Tom Piazza is a writer from the Southern U.S. who says the Beatles burst on the scene as a fun antidote to the grim imagery of the sparkling Kennedy being replaced by earlier-era-like LBJ and that image stuck with them even as they morphed throughout the horrific days of Vietnam. He says they also brought the old sounds of jazz and R&B and blues into their music and helped America discover itself.
Biographer of Enlightenment writers Paul Mariani views the Beatles as cartoon editions of the likes of Hobbes and Bacon and Locke, but still every bit as worthy and exceptional as all of them.
Greg Kot, who once taught me in a rock journalism course and is famed for his writing at the Chicago Tribune and his musings on the Sound Opinions podcast, makes the case that the Beatles touched on so many genres and types of music - in ways nobody else could ever replicate - that their legend and style is impossible to equal. He notes that most bands opt for replicating the likes of the Velvet Underground and new wave bands, whose music tends not to venture too far afield from one song to the next.
Jazz writer Ashley Kahn recalls how John Lennon said nothing changed by the end of the 60s era (he was then 30 and everybody just had long hair) but what hasn’t changed is the simple idealism throughout the band’s songs that remain something humanity should hope to achieve some day.
Colin Hall is the custodian of “Mendips,” the house on Menlove Avenue in Liverpool where John lived from ages 5 to 23. He tells stories visitors have told him over the years and movingly writes about what the house is like and the meaning it brings to Beatles fans.
Musician Steve Earle compiles the 10 most important Beatles songs and defies anyone to look at the list before ever trying to compare Oasis with the Beatles. It’s probably the weakest essay in the collection and even mentioning Oasis in the same breath cheapens it considerably.
Music journalist Anthony DeCurtis talks about his personal meetings with Yoko Ono (whom he has erotic dreams about), George Harrison (who asks him how Paul McCartney is doing), and Paul (who walks around New York with the writer after 9/11 in a bit of a personal quest by the Beatle to keep the city alive during some dark days).
Poet Wyn Cooper writes about how the Beatles forced him out of living in his small world to want to go out into experiencing a larger world.