The above referenced book is one of the best music books I have ever read. Period. This one came to me courtesy of my friend Luke. Luke and I worked together for several years at Crown Books. Unhappily, then the rednecks moved in and took over the now defunct Crown Books. Change was imminent, and change was not pretty. Luke and I got along famously (understatement of the year) and bonded over music and books that we were both fans of. I think The Beatles may have been the first band that we had long talks at the bookstore about, and he knew I read like a banshee, so he recommended this book to me. He described it as the best Beatles book he had ever read. Luke read a lot of music books, and he hadn’t led me down a path of shitty books or music before this, so I took his recommendation to heart and set off trying to find the book. Little did I know that it would take a long while. Happily, I got a chance to find it, read it, and discuss with him before he moved onto rougher occupational waters at the H-dale Crooks-A-Zillion. I have been able to recommend it to fellow Beatle fanatics, and for a while over the years, had to attach a disclaimer that it might take the Ninth Gate to find the damn thing. I am pretty certain it’s now back in print, in trade, and with a spiffy new black and white cover. If you haven’t picked it up or read it, do so. I like to say that the Hunter S. Davies books on the Beatles are Beatles Lite. The Albert Goldman books are a little on the tabloid scandal sheet side, and light on the music. No thank you. This book bares the gold coins and the tarnished spikes on the crown that was the Beatles majestic musical ride. Read it!
I went through a lot of Long Island Iced Teas at Time-Out and watered down Southern Comfort and Cokes at Brixie’s before I found it. There was a trip to some out of print bookstore in the middle of a field in West Lafayette, Indiana. I believe it’s now called Von’s, but don’t think it was called that then. I ran across it years later on one of our many BAM trips through the cornfields for district manager meetings; Donna and Mary were always motoring in attempts to find off the beaten path shops in the middle of exciting, rural Indiana. This was way before that attempt. This time out was my best friend Jen, her mom Carol, and I in the middle of nowhere hunting down cheap cigarettes and whatever little thrift stores we could find. I think Jen was hunting for things to put her altar together; Carol just loved jumping in the Olds and going for a long drive. Indiana wasn’t far and it wasn’t expensive. West Lafayette was also close enough for our G N’R obsessed hearts to say it’s “near” Axl Rose’s birthplace. Von’s had a great selection of things. I found a lot of cool out of print books on the 80’s, a Gus Van Sant biography (why I was hunting that down at that time, no idea), and a hardcover copy of Hunter S. Thompson’s Hell’s Angels book. I also found a vinyl copy of Culture Club’s 3rd album Waking Up With The House on Fire, which was useless, because once I returned to my hood, I found that Heidi’s sister Cherie had gotten a copy of it in plastic from Tip Tap Toe, where she was working at the time. The Holy Book of Beatle wasn’t at Von’s.
My next try was at what is now Earl Plaza Books, in Lafayette. After the three of us had a run-in with some hick over their attempt to sell “Amish bread” which was just regular bread (for the record, there is a difference. Janine L. would attest to this) to us, we got the hell out of West Lafayette and head over to Lafayette. There’s jack shit there, I can see why Axl and Izzy both wanted out. But they had Earl Plaza! This place was cool even back then. They had comics, used books, and new books. Comics! I think that may have been my first exposure to comics in a bookstore setting, on the other side of a cornfield. I found a new thing to focus on. My 2nd idiot was obsessed with comics, and got me hooked. In quick fashion and typical of anything in five feet of his reach, he managed to ruin that for me, so I stopped giving a shit- at least until that met its merciful end. That fool was long gone, so I took my time and picked up some comics. Sandman by Neil Gaiman was among my purchases, influenced at that time, no doubt, by a Mr. Joe Vanis Flytrap, who got me into Sandman years back, at LCP in the mid-90’s. The comics were in perfect shape. No dice on the Beatles book, although the owner of the shop knew of it and warned it was going to be a bitch to procure. Indeed.
By this time, we rolled back into Illinois. Jen and I tried a few places in Illinois- the old bookstore in downtown Blue Island that the nice old lady owned (for the love of toast, I cannot remember the name. It was on 147th and Western ,not far from the Caesar’s). Borders on 95th and Western in Evergreen Park. SuperCrown on Lincoln Highway. I am pretty sure there were two other used bookstores near Jen that we tried; time has taken their names away. I was about to give up, when I found it in the unlikeliest of places- a fucking garage sale.
When I was a kid, garage sales were cool to go to. Especially in my family. However, I took myself out of the garage sale ring when I threw my cards down on the cool cats table. Jen dragged me to a huge garage sale out on Dixie Highway. By huge, I mean almost the entirety of Dixie Highway, alongside of it, was full of homes that were having a community wide garage sale. Massive was an understatement. It took Jen and I three whole days to navigate that bitch. Stacey was most understanding of my quest for trying to find this book, so I got that weekend off of Crown. I had never seen so much useless shit in my life than I did at this garage sale. However, as I was getting ready to leave and Jen was again telling me how the four Beatles are more talented in their solo careers than together, I saw the corner of something. I saw the words The Love You. I confess, some pessimistic little book ant said “Come on, get serious. You’ve seen every plaid shirt that Roseanne Barr likely had for wardrobe on her show, why would someone own a copy of this book?”. And with that utterance, I think I found the Holy Grail of Optimism. For there, underneath a bunch of tattered John Denver records, was a tattered copy of the book. It was yellowed, it was stinky from laying in an attic with Uncle Jack’s smelly denim overalls, the cover was creased, but it was there! I bought it for the princely sum of $2.50. I have no idea what, if any, value would be gained from selling it these days, but it matters not for it’s going nowhere. It is definitely in the higher echelon of books I will never part with, and it went with me on the cruise I took with Heidi, Dave, & Lady Samantha in 2002. Was I made fun of for having this on a cruise when most of the passengers were reading the newest jackie Collins? Yes. Did I care? Fuck no. Was I made fun of by Jen, who just couldn’t get over the huge scene I made? Oh yes. Did I care? No, I still reference it with her to see her wince. Totally worth the wait between the time it took me to find it from Luke telling me about it until it became mine.