Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘music’

23 AUGUST, 2012

The Beatles in Comics

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A graphic history of the Fab Four.

The Beatles were only together for a decade, yet they remain the most massive and enduring phenomenon in music culture some four decades after their breakup. On the heels of the Fab Four’s final photo shoot comes Beatles in Comic Strips (public library), edited by journalist and music critic Enzo Gentile and comics collector Fabio Schiavo — a fantastic compendium of more than 200 rare cartoon strips dedicated to John, Paul, George, and Ringo, released this week on the fiftieth anniversary of their first single, “Love Me Do,” and joining the ranks of other fine graphic nonfiction.

'Beatles Story No. 4' (1974)

Image: Marvel Comics Group

'Beatles Story No. 26' (1974)

Image: Artima Color Marvel

'Beatles Story No. 30' (1974)

Image: Artima Color Marvel

'Girls' Romances' (1965)

Image: DC Comics

'Beatles Story No. 1' (1974)

Image: Artima Color Marvel

'The Invisibles No. 1' (1994)

Image: DC Comics

'Beatles Story No. 36' (1974)

Image: Artima Color Marvel

Beatles in Comic Strips is the grown-up Beatle geek’s counterpart to the lovely vintage children’s book We Love You Beatles, and is guaranteed to delight in innumerable ways.

Whitney Matheson

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22 AUGUST, 2012

August 22, 1969: The Beatles’ Final Photo Shoot

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The Fab Four with Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney at Tittenhurst Park.

It’s a been a booming era for rediscovered Beatles photos, from the famous lost Beatles photographs taken by their tour manager to Linda McCartney’s tender portraits to Harry Benson’s luminous black-and-white photos of the Fab Four.

On this day in 1969, two days after their final recording session, the Beatles gathered at Tittenhurst Park, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono resided, for a photo shoot they didn’t realize would be their last — an instance of those bittersweet “unknown lasts” that wedge themselves between our lived experience and our memory, sometimes violently and other times with the tender wistfulness of nostalgia.

The cast of characters on that fateful August 22, captured by photographers Ethan Russell and Monte Fresco and Beatles assistant Mal Evans, included the Fab Four, Yoko Ono, a very pregnant Linda McCarney (a photographer herself), Apple Corps’ press officer Derek Taylor, Paul McCartney’s sheepdog Martha, and two donkeys Lennon and Ono kept on the property.

Linda shot some 16mm footage on my camera. That turned out to be the last film taken.” ~ Paul McCartney

It was just a photo session. I wasn’t there thinking, ‘OK, this is the last photo session.'” ~ Ringo Starr

Beatles Bible

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15 AUGUST, 2012

Nick Hornby on Your Cultural Snobbery

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What Céline Dion has to do with Jonathan Franzen and the construction of intellectual identity.

“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider,” Francis Bacon advised in 1597. “One should read less and less, not more and more,” Henry Miller remarked as he reflected on a lifetime of reading in 1952.

Roughly half a millennium after Bacon and half a century after Miller, beloved critic and author Nick Hornby, whose Stuff I’ve Been Reading column in Believer never ceases to delight, captures our relationship with reading even more succinctly and unapologetically: “Read what you enjoy, not what bores you.” More Baths Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself (public library) collects Hornby’s Believer writings over the past two years, spanning everything from the devastating effects of the World Cup to Marshall McLuhan to the reading life as memento mori — a witty and illuminating blueprint to the habits and how-to’s of reading good books well.

In one particular essay, Hornby explores our distorted dichotomy of cultural taste by discussing Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste:

Why does everyone hate Céline Dion? Except, of course, it’s not everyone, is it? She’s sold more albums than just about anyone alive. Everyone loves Céline Dion, if you think about it. So actually, he asks the question: why do I and my friends and all rock critics and everyone likely to be reading this book and magazines like the Believer hate Céline Dion? And the answers he finds are profound, provocative, and leave you wondering who the hell you actually are — especially if, like many of us around these parts, you set great store by cultural consumption as an indicator of both character and, let’s face it, intelligence. We are cool people! We read Jonathan Franzen and we listen to Pavement, but we also love Mozart and Seinfeld! Hurrah for us!

Hornby cites Wilson’s swift summation of cultural snobbery:

It’s always other people following crowds, whereas my own taste reflects my specialness.

(Still, cue in William Gibson on taste as the building block of the “personal microculture” that defines us creatively and intellectually.)

More Baths Less Talking comes on the heels of three previous volumes of Hornby’s collected Believer columns, all excellent — The Polysyllabic Spree (2004), Housekeeping vs. the Dirt (2006), and Shakespeare Wrote for Money (2008).

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