Weekly Standard Books & Arts editor Phil Terzian thought I was thinking a bit too much about saints and not enough about sinners, so he kindly assigned me to review The Beatles in Hamburg, a new book about the Fab Four's early years playing seedy Reeperbahn taverns. I'm thrilled to see that it's the lead review in the magazine's current issue. It begins:
Back when the expression “longhair music” evoked Handel, not Hendrix, William Mann made history as the first “serious” scribe to give a well-manicured thumbs-up to the Fab Four. On December 27, 1963, the Times of London critic declared in his column that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were “the outstanding English composers” of the year, raving about the group’s “pandiatonic clusters” and “submediant key switches.” Most famously, he praised the “Aeolian cadence” in the group’s album track “Not a Second Time,” likening it to the chord progression that ends Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. (Lennon, in one of his final interviews, confessed, “To this day, I don’t have any idea what [Aeolian cadences] are. They sound like exotic birds.”)Weekly Standard subscribers can continue reading on the magazine's website.