Sunday, June 08, 2008

Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles

by Kenneth Womack

In Long and Winding Roads, Kenneth Womack brings the Beatles' story vividly to life. By mapping the group's development as an artistic fusion, Womack traces the Beatles' creative arc from their first, primitive recordings through Abbey Road and the twilight of their career.

To communicate the nature and power of the band's remarkable achievement, Womack examines the Beatles' body of work as an evolving art object. He investigates the origins and creation of the group's compositions, as well as the songwriting and recording practices that brought them to fruition. Womack's analysis of the Beatles' albums transports readers on a journey through the band's heyday as recording artists between 1962 and 1969, when they enjoyed a staggering musical and lyrical leap that took them from their first album Please Please Me -- recorded in a single day -- to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the White Album, and Abbey Road -- albums that collectively required thousands of hours to produce.

In addition to contextualizing the band's work within the lives and times of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, Womack addresses the common themes that characterize the Beatles' recording career, including the deeply felt nostalgia that developed along with Lennon and McCartney's abilities as songwriters, their growing reverence for the awesome weight of the past, and their recognition of the creative possibilities and rewards of authorship. Womack also explores the Beatles' albums as a collection of musical and lyrical impressions that finds them working towards a sense of aesthetic unity. In Long and Winding Roads, Womack reveals the ways in which the Beatles gave life to a musical synthesis that would change the world.

Kenneth Womack is Professor of English and Head of the Division of Arts and Humanities at Penn State University's Altoona College.

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