Whether or not you’re a Beatles fan, you’re probably aware that a new 3-part documentary of the band directed by Peter Jackson (“The Beatles: Get Back”) was premiered this past week. The documentary is a nearly 8-hour look into the recording of the tracks for their final album Let It Be (as well as working out some songs for Abbey Road), and the plans that The Beatles (and many other interested parties) had for their next project. Although Michael Lindsay-Hogg premiered the original film “Let It Be” back in 1970 from the same footage, this expanded version gives viewers a detailed and intimate look at each of the band members, their relationships with each other at the time, and their unique (and prolific) songwriting processes.
All four of The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) grew up in Liverpool, UK. In 1957, McCartney joined Lennon’s extant band The Quarrymen, and in 1958 Harrison joined. The group then changed their name to The Beatles in 1960, and started a residency at a number of different clubs in Hamburg, Germany. Shortly after returning to the UK in 1962, the group’s popularity was growing, and another lineup change saw Ringo Starr join the band, replacing original drummer Pete Best. That same year, The Beatles’ first hit “Love Me Do” was released, and within the next two years, they had arguably become the most popular band in the world.
In 1966, the band retired from international touring and focused on their songwriting and recording. This era saw the release of some of the band’s most beloved albums, including Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, and The Beatles (“The White Album”). Between 1962 and 1968, The Beatles released more than 10 studio albums and recorded over twenty #1 US hits, including “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!,” “Yesterday,” “All You Need Is Love,” “Hey Jude,” and “Let It Be,” plus many, many more.
“The Beatles: Get Back” shows The Beatles nearing the end of their extraordinary journey, and “the end” is talked about quite a bit throughout the documentary (although none of them know exactly when that end will be). In this case, the end occurred officially about one year later in 1970, when all four musicians went their separate ways. Each released their own solo albums in 1970, some of which were the most popular releases that year, testifying to the incredible songwriting capabilities of the group. Although talks of reunions were had throughout the 1970s, none came to fruition before John Lennon’s untimely murder in 1980. It’s somewhat heart wrenching to think of what musically could have been if John Lennon was still with us today.
If you’re interested in learning any of The Beatles’ songs (or about the band itself), here is a selected list of braille and audio materials from the NLS Music Collection and NLS General Collection you may wish to check out:
Each of these books are for voice and piano with chord symbols.
Bill Brown’s Music by Ear (all selections are for guitar unless otherwise noted)
A Hard Day’s Night (DBM04179)
All My Loving. For alto sax. (DBM02803)
All You Need Is Love. For piano (DBM03976)
Get Back (DBM03786)
Here Comes the Sun (DBM02943)
I Feel Fine (DBM04181)
Lady Madonna (DBM03787)
The Long and Winding Road. For piano (DBM02599)
Norwegian Wood (DBM03799)
Octopus’ Garden (DBM02045)
Two of Us (DBM02687)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (DBM02853)
Books about The Beatles from the NLS Music Collection:
The Beatles (DBM00065)
Interview with John Lennon and Paul McCartney, former Beatles, about wealth, fame, and world issues.
John and Yoko (DBM00578)
John Lennon and Yoko Ono discuss fame, money, and drugs.
The Liverpool Scene (DBM00629)
Adrian Henri tells how Liverpool became the pop music capital of the world in the early 1960s and how, within a few years, this activity spread to other arts.
Books about The Beatles from the general NLS Collection:
The Beatles Anthology (DB 50874 and BR 12804)
Chronicle of the innovative English rock group comprised of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon, from their childhoods in Liverpool until their split in 1970. Based largely on a 1994 television documentary series, the book features interviews with the four musicians and their close associates. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2000.
Davies, Hunter. The Beatles (DB 45537)
Originally published in 1968 at the Beatles’ peak in popularity, this authorized biography of the internationally acclaimed musical group includes a 1996 update, as well as supplemental information from the 1985 edition. Davies was permitted full access to the group, spending eighteen months with them at home and in the studio. Some strong language.
Doggett, Peter. You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup (DB 72167)
Music writer chronicles the personal, legal, and financial problems that plagued the former Beatles–John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr)–after the breakup of the band. Discusses their solo careers and the lawsuits between the former collaborators. Some strong language. 2009.
Gould, Jonathan. Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America (DB 66593)
Biography of the Beatles includes social commentary and musical and lyrical analysis. Explains the revolutionary effect the band had on the 1960s music industry and popular culture. Examines the group’s transformation into an international phenomenon and discusses the 1980 murder of John Lennon that dashed reunion hopes. 2007.
Guesdon, Jean-Michel. All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release (DB 96585)
A complete, chronological accounting of every song ever recorded by the Beatles. Includes the official credits for the recording, the genesis of the song, the sound engineering and production details, and trivia for devoted fans. Some strong language. 2013.
Mitchell, James A. The Walrus and the Elephants (DB 78832)
Journalist examines the life of John Lennon (1940-1980) after the Beatles, focusing on his political activism. Chronicles Lennon’s life in New York City through interviews with friends who worked with him on projects. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2013.
Spitz, Bob. The Beatles: The Biography (DB 61584)
Music journalist pens a history of the British rock ’n’ roll band that launched a cultural revolution. Uses primary sources to trace each band member’s family history, recording sessions, concerts, and business deals. Also discusses fast-lane lives of drugs, sex, and excess. Strong language. 2005.
Please note that all materials listed above are also available to borrow by mail, not only through BARD. Please contact the Music Section to borrow talking books on digital cartridge or to borrow hard copies of braille music. Call us at 1-800-424-8567, ext. 2, or e-mail us at [email protected] If you are new to BARD, you may find the following links helpful: Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) and BARD Access.