Revolution In The Head (The Beatles' Records and the Sixties)
by Ian MacDonald
An A Cappella Book
Over the years I've read dozens of books by various Beatles insiders and outsiders. Each generally provides some unique insight, but usually they offer a relatively narrow view from a personal perspective, with each writer's relationship with an individual Beatle—mostly John—coloring the book in some way that keeps it from being an impartial view.
Over the years there have also been conflicting accounts about the contributions that Lennon or McCartney made toward one song or another. Revolution In The Head attempts to clear up most of these conflicts. It also puts each song in context, explaining how the contemporary culture of the time as well as personal and political relations inspired the songs. This book also offers evidence of how these songs influenced culture in a larger, more indirect way. For instance, Bob Dylan was inspired to plug-in as a result of The Beatles' success. It wasn’t so much that Dylan wanted more wealth and fame, it was more about reaching more people with his messages.
No Beatles book has ever attempted to do what MacDonald has. MacDonald meticulously researched the entire song catalog and offers it up in chronological order. He also provides an accompanying timeline with cross-references that put each song in context with bulleted cultural events and notes as to what else was going on in the world of music while The Beatles were constantly raising the bar.
This—the third edition—contains a number of expansions and revisions that came about as new books and interviews were published after the initial release. Revolution In The Head is scholarly in nature and it is probably not for the casual Beatles fan, but it is a must-read for all serious fans and for any student interested in gaining an understanding of the revolutionary cultural changes of the 1960s that continue to color our world. The Beatles certainly left a massive footprint, and they played a large part in shaping—or at least bringing to the forefront—segments of the '60s culture that are large parts of many of our lives to this day.