You Live With Straights: An Excerpt

Lennon’s identification of himself as anti-establishment and McCartney as straight or square was not the only way Lennon infused politics into the issue of the Beatles breakup. The primary legal and personal schism between the two men involved McCartney’s refusal to support the appointment of Lennon’s choice, Allen Klein, as Apple’s new manager. Lennon and Klein repeatedly maintained that McCartney’s refusal to accept Klein was motivated not by legitimate concerns regarding Klein’s legal and financial dealings, but by an emerging middle-class snobbery which, fostered by his new wife Linda, disdained the working-class, and self-professed “anti-establishment” figure, of Klein. This claim was seemingly reinforced by McCartney’s preferred candidates for Klein’s position: John and Lee Eastman. The Eastman’s were wealthy, well-regarded New York entertainment lawyers whose clients included established artists such as Hoagy Carmichael; they were also, by virtue of his March 1969 marriage to Linda Eastman, McCartney’s new brother and father-in-law. McCartney’s preference that the Eastman’s take the managerial position obviously opened up accusations of nepotism from the press at large, Klein, and fellow former Beatles Ringo Starr and George Harrison.

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A New Year’s Announcement and Request


I hope everyone has a  safe and happy New Year; for those of you who are going to ring in the New Year at  Midnight, good for you. As I am three months pregnant, I will be in bed, sleeping, long before the ball drops.

There should hopefully be a new post up within two weeks of the new year, but the timeline of the new post is ultimately out of my hands. The only hint I can offer: Did you know that certain sections of The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions would not technically qualify as primary sources?

Finally, I wanted to make an appeal. When I was at the Sgt. Pepper Conference this June, another presenter, David Thurmaier, was kind enough to show me his copy of Beatlefan, which had a review of The Beatles and the Historians in it. The review was good, if not  exactly glowing — something to the effect that history/historical methods just isn’t very sexy (a conclusion I obviously disagree with) — but I returned David’s Beatlefan to him, and have not been able to find a copy of the review since. I’ve looked online, I’ve asked my publisher (who is supposed to compile reviews for me, but sometimes they slip through McFarland’s fingers), and I’ve been unable to find it again. Does anyone have a copy of Beatlefan from presumably May or June of 2017 with the review of my book in it? And if you do, could you be kind enough to e-mail me the text? Beyond asking our inter-library loan specialist (who is already deluged with enough requests from me that I feel bad about asking for another) I seem to be running out of options.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year,


The Beatles and Drugs, Part II. Book Review: Riding So High, by Joe Goodden

Part II:

Joe Goodden’s Riding So High: The Beatles and Drugs (2017), proves itself to be an essential new work in Beatles historiography. This is due to two major elements: the first involves the book’s subject matter regarding how drug use impacted the Beatles story. This is an absolutely crucial subject – indeed, this historian would argue that the Beatles story and their historiography cannot be properly understood without accounting for it – but also one which has, for numerous reasons, been largely neglected. The second involves the necessary level of objectivity displayed within the book. With the exceptions of Doggett and, at times, MacDonald, few of the most influential secondary writers in Beatles historiography have attempted to approach the issue of the band’s drug use with objectivity and balance. Unfortunately, those works that have emphasized the importance and at times destructiveness of the band’s drug use tended to adopt either prurient, salacious tones, as in Peter Brown’s memoir, or haranguing, condemnatory ones, such as in Albert Goldman’s The Lives of John Lennon. Goodden thankfully and necessarily avoids both of these approaches.

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Setting the Stage: The Beatles and Drugs, Part One

One of the glaring weaknesses endemic throughout many of the major secondary sources and narratives in Beatles historiography is the failure to acknowledge the impact legal and illegal drugs had on the band’s story. For decades, according to most authors, the Beatles’ drug use seemingly occurred in a vacuum; while some secondary sources might acknowledge narcotic and drug influences on certain songs or albums, the idea that the chemical substances ingested by the band’s members impacted issues beyond their artistry was rarely, and only fleetingly, acknowledged.

Examples of this abound: One of the most influential works of 1970s, Nicholas Schaffner’s The Beatles Forever, neglects the drug issue almost entirely and soft-pedals the few mentions it does contain. Another, the first edition of Phillip Norman’s Shout!, never once mentions Lennon and Ono’s breakup-era drug use. Such glaring omissions are not only consigned to the early decades of the band’s historiography; Fred Goodman’s recent biography Allen Klein fails to acknowledge, even once, that Lennon and Ono were taking heroin during the breakup period and particularly in the formative period of their relationship with Klein. Those books that have emphasized the band’s drug use, such as Albert Goldman’s The Lives of John Lennon, rank among the least popular and are widely regarded by fans as among the least credible works in all Beatles historiography. Peter Brown’s memoir The Love You Make has been criticized for its heavy emphasis on sex and drugs, as seemingly every piece of information is filtered through those particular muckraking lenses. Yet The Love You Make contains assessments and conclusions — “If there was a single reason the Beatles broke up, it was John’s heroin addiction” – which, while overlooked for decades, have begun to establish themselves as aspects necessary to explaining how and why the band’s story unfolded as it did.

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