544 pages, Vintage Books (January 6, 2009)
This "Bible of the Beatles" captures the iconic band's magical and mysterious journey from adorable teenagers to revered cultural emissaries. In this fully updated version, each of their 241 tracks is assessed chronologically from their first amateur recordings in 1957 to their final "reunion" recording in 1995.
It also incorporates new information from the Anthology series and recent interviews with Paul McCartney.
This comprehensive guide offers fascinating details about the Beatles’ lives, music, and era, never losing sight of what made the band so important, unique, and enjoyable.
The book begins with prefaces to each edition.
The Preface to the Second Revised Edition discusses The Beatles' continued popularity into the 21st century, providing criticism of their lyrics and noting the death of George Harrison in November 2001.
The Preface to the First Revised Edition briefly discusses the British art school scene that spawned The Beatles, and notes some of the differences between British and US culture that affect the two nations' respective views of The Beatles.
The book continues with the ambitious 37-page introductory essay "Fabled Foursome, Disappearing Decade".
The body of the book is entitled "The Beatles' Records" and contains individual entries covering every song recorded by the group. This section is divided into four parts: "Going Up" covers all of The Beatles' early recordings up to and including 1965; "The Top" covers the years 1966-67; "Coming Down" covers the years 1967-70; and "Looking Back" briefly summarises the solo careers of each of The Beatles and contains entries on the "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" recordings.
The entry for each recording consists of a list of the musicians and instruments present on the track, the song's producers and engineers, and the dates of its recording sessions and its first UK and US releases.
MacDonald provides opinionated musicological and sociological commentary on each song in essays ranging in length from a single sentence for "Wild Honey Pie" to several pages for tracks such as "I Want to Hold Your Hand", "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Revolution 1".
The next part of the book is a 78-page month-by-month chronology of the 1960s, consisting of a table listing events in The Beatles' career alongside significant events in UK pop music, current affairs and culture.
The book concludes with a bibliography relating to The Beatles and the 1960s in general, a glossary of musical and recording terms, a Beatles discography, an index of songs (and the keys in which they are played), and finally an index to the main text.