New Podcast Interview with Joe Wisbey

Here is a new podcast interview with Joe Wisbey’s Beatles Books podcast.

Beatles Books Podcast – Erin Torkelson Weber – ‘The Beatles And The Historians’ | Free Listening on Podbean App

I really enjoyed the discussion with Joe, especially our emphasis on whether certain works should still be used as research materials. As always, questions and comments are welcomed.


5 thoughts on “New Podcast Interview with Joe Wisbey

  1. Mel says:

    Just listened to the podcast and really enjoyed it. It was so interesting to hear your starting point Erin, and to learn that it was the Beatles ‘story’ more so than the music that inspired you to go down the Beatles historiography path.

    I think quite apart from the music, their story, or their ‘saga’ (and our trying to get to the bottom of it) is a massive part of what has always made The Beatles endlessly appealing to people from all over the world. That, and the popular practice of ‘characterising’ each Beatle from the earliest days have really been the drivers of so much Beatles narrative, not to mention mythology. And the Beatles story and characters change over the course of time as new books and evidence emerges, new ‘authors’ tinker with the narrative as it were. It seems that John was keenly aware of this from very early on and I guess it goes some way in explaining his rejection of the story (as it was then), and his role in it.

    I hope you do more podcasts, really do enjoy hearing your thoughts on it all!


    • Erin says:

      Thanks for the comment, Mel. I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast.

      Yeah, my introduction to Beatles literature happened primarily by sheer happenstance. As a devoted library browser, seeing the biography on the shelf of my local branch made me pick it up, really out of sheer curiosity. Obviously, Spitz’s book is a doorstop — I think its around 1000 pages — which doesn’t intimidate me, but, as a Beatles book novice, it made me curious whether there was, in fact, that much to the story to merit that many pages. (Mark Lewisohn would like a word). I also, as I said, wanted to see the case made for why they were the world’s greatest band and didn’t want to be hypocritical and go to Wikipedia for the answer, because I’d emphasized to my students why its not the first place to go when researching something. I’d been hearing that my whole life, but wanted to see someone offer evidence and prove it. Ironic, considering I shrugged that off pretty quick when I became engrossed in the story and appalled at the methodology.

      Yes, John being aware of tinkering with the narrative does not surprise me. One thing history tells us is that those who make it are very conscious of producing evidence that reflects well on them, even when that evidence sometimes appears to be more window-dressing than accurate representation. Primary and secondary sources can and often do abrupt about-faces, desperate not to be left behind on the wrong side of history. I’ll never forget researching on the English coverage of the American Civil War. The British publication “Punch” was, to put it mildly, contemptuous in its depiction of Abraham Lincoln. It mocked his humble background, his appearance, his sometimes low-brow humor, his political stances, his leadership during the war (which they regarded as a bloodletting that civilized nations didn’t engage in) pretty much everything. Then Lincoln gets assassinated and poof! Lincoln is a saint, martyr, great statesman, etc. Punch even published a poem mourning Lincoln. To their credit, they owned it — acknowledging they had been wrong in their evaluation and contempt of him — but it was a great example of conveniently reversing course.


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