Can’t Buy Me Love, like Brothers (about the Kennedys) was a chance for me to catch up with the cultural touchstones of my parents’ generation. I grew up listening to the Beatles and aware of Beatlemania in a general sense, but appreciated this chance to learn more.
Gould takes an interesting tack in examining the Beatles phenomenon – combining a decently thorough biography of each Beatle with detailed descriptions of their music. This was my first significant exposure to music criticism and the vocabulary was occasionally beyond me. Because I have the One album on my iPod, I was able to listen to the songs while reading their descriptions and learned a bit. For example, I had never noticed the double-tracking of the vocals on many songs, and I am used to listening to them as Greatest Hits, divorced from their original context, so I learned a lot about the structure of each album.
The biographical material, however, was probably excessive. For one, Ringo didn’t do much interesting musically or otherwise and he throws off the attempt to balance all four Beatles; George takes quite awhile to establish himself as a musician, so coverage of him is also weak until he starts writing songs and learning the sitar. As the group started falling apart in 1968 and 1969, 500 pages in, I just ran out of interest. I knew enough about each’s post-Beatles performing life that I felt I knew how the story was going to end. A die-hard Beatles fan would probably know most of this already and for a newcomer to Beatles writing, it was a bit too much.