Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America

Jonathan Gould

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Nov. 30, 2007

Rock & Roll Books

Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain And America

by Jonathan Gould
Harmony Books, 650 pp., $27.50

Acres of woodland have been laid to waste with books written about either the Beatles or the 1960s. Few, if any, approach both subjects together in the manner that Jonathan Gould does. Concentrating on the music, Can't Buy Me Love puts the band in a historical context that includes politics, religion, sex, war, civil rights, and personal freedoms, all charged with an ascendant youth-culture the world had never previously experienced. The focus remains on the Fab Four, from their Quarrymen beginnings to the acrimonious breakup, all before any of them reached the age of 30. The book's scope and, at more than 600 pages, its length, might seem daunting, yet the author's research leads to a galvanizing read, especially when enumerating influences as diverse as Elvis, Dylan, LSD, and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Gould's critical eye, as a musician himself, leads to some insightful readings of "A Hard Day's Night," "Eleanor Rigby," and "Penny Lane." Those who lived through the era will find some thrills; others looking for social history will find engrossing detail. All will enjoy the tale of four extraordinary men and a band whose music can only be compared to itself.

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