Lennon – “In His Own Write” and “A Spaniard in the Works” 50th Anniversary Editions

The final instalment in the Christmas/birthday gift series* features three books.

We were alerted to the impending publication of the first two last year by Wogblog. These are two faithfully reproduced replicas – re-published to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the release of John Lennon’s two literary works. The first is In His Own Write (from 1964):

Own Write coverOwn Write rear

The back cover (above) contains a short biography penned by Lennon, done in the quirky word-play style of the whole book: I was bored on the 9th of Octover 1940 when, I believe, the Nasties were still booming us led by Madalf Heatlump (Who only had one). Anyway they didn’t get me. I attended to varicous schools in Liddypol. And still didn’t pass-much to my Aunties supplies. As a member of the most publified Beatles my and (P, G, and R’s) records might seem funnier to some than this book, but as far as I’m conceived this correction of short writty is the most wonderfoul larf I’ve ever ready. God help and breed you all.

In His Own Write was John’s debut as an author, a book of stories, drawings and poems that was received with great critical acclaim and became a phenomenon – selling over 600,000 copies in the UK alone and revealing a hitherto unseen side to Lennon’s artistic output and talent.

Then, in 1965, came the follow-up A Spaniard in the Works, which continued on in a similar vein:Spaniard coverSpaniard rear

Published by Canongate Books in the UK, these are both very nicely made little hardbacks and while we haven’t ever seen or owned a copy of an original release, they look to have recreated the originals well. They’re both very reasonably priced, and form a nice addition to the collection.

Here are two typical pages from inside In His Own Write:Own Write pages

And a typical couple of pages from A Spaniard in the WorksSpaniard pages

While looking around the web to track down these two books we came across a third publication by John Lennon – this one is a similar collection of stories, drawings and poems, but this time published after his death:

Skywriting cover

Skywriting by Word of Mouth is sub-titled And Other Writings, Including “The Ballad of John and Yoko”. It was first released in 1986 and includes an afterword by Yoko Ono. Like the two other works detailed here, this book contains miscellaneous writings and cartoons. It was written during the five years that Lennon took off as a holiday from the music business and he always intended to have it published.

“The Ballad of John and Yoko” section kicks off the book and it is not the same as the famous song. It ranges over 23 pages and details his life with Yoko, and talks about the Beatles’ break-up: “When I finally had the guts to tell the other three that I, quote, wanted a divorce, unquote, they knew it was for real….I felt guilty….I had Yoko – they only had each other….”, and “I started the band. I disbanded it. It’s as simple as that”. Lennon says that he has no hard feelings against his former bandmates: “In retrospect, the Beatles were no more an important part of my life than any other (and less than some)”.

Lennon mentioned the manuscript in a 1980 Playboy interview: “At one point… I wrote about two hundred pages of mad stuff”. The manuscript was stolen from the Lennons’ apartment in 1982, and later recovered in 1986, when Ono had it published. Here’s a typical couple of pages:Skywriting pages

So, three books under the Christmas tree to complete our collection of John Lennon solo literary works.

P.S. Both In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works were gathered together in one volume in 1966 by Penguin Books in a book called The Penguin John Lennon. We found a second-hand copy in a bookstore in 2010. It has been re-published with different covers many times since. Quite by chance the Chained and Perfumed blog also posted an image of one of them just a couple of days ago….

* See also here, and here for more 2014 Christmas/birthday posts. 

The Beatles Lyrics – Hunter Davies

Continuing on the theme of recent Christmas and birthday gifts which have added to our ever-growing Beatles collection….

A very welcome birthday present was a copy of Hunter Davies’ new book The Beatles Lyrics – The Unseen Story Behind Their Music. This came out late last year and we’ve been keen to get our hands on it since. It joins his very good The John Lennon Letters from 2012. Davies is a prolific writer on many topics and is of course the first authorised biographer of the Beatles.Beatles Lyrics coverBeatles Lyrics rear

Davies makes the point in his introduction to The Beatles Lyrics that the work of the Beatles has been analysed ad nauseam – that is apart from the lyrics themselves. And so he set himself the task of tracking down as many original, hand-written examples of the songs as he could and then to use those to give new insights and background to each song. It makes for a fascinating read.

This Irish Times review sums it up well (and is worth reading in full): The result of these endeavours is a treasure of a book, a forensic, song-by-song exploration of the band’s creative process. Each set of lyrics is given a context by the author: the story or inspiration behind them, where and when they were written and what the band was doing at the time. Alongside these he produces John, Paul, George and Ringo’s first handwritten expression of the song, usually scribbled but occasionally spelled out in painstaking capitals, on scraps of paper, unpaid bills, hotel notepaper or whatever happened to be at hand when inspiration struck.

There’s another great review here.

As well as lots of insights, facts and information about each song there’s a wealth of visual content to pour over. Davies has painstakingly tracked down 100 original manuscripts from collections around the world. Most private collectors were happy to have their treasures included, but for security reasons (these items are now incredibly valuable) just about all of them wished to remain anonymous. The result is that we get to see gathered together for the first time a huge number of reproduced examples of the Beatles songs in their original form – jotted down on any bits of paper they had to hand. Here are three examples. The first from Lennon/McCartney (which was also artistically illustrated with felt pen by Paul McCartney at the time):Beatles Lyrics page2

A song from the hand of George Harrison:Beatles Lyrics page1

And finally – an example from Ringo Starr:Beatles Lyrics page3

As Davies says: “At last Ringo had done it – composed his first Beatles song…..”

You can hear an interview with Hunter Davies on Australian radio by ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly from October, 2014:

In the US the book has a different coloured cover:

Beatles Lyrics US cover

Three Great Beatle Auction Items

Over the years we’ve purchased a lot of pre-loved Beatle CDs (and vinyl) at online auctions (e.g. Ebay), but never before at a real, live auction – until now.

The Mossgreen Auction house in Melbourne, Victoria recently held a major sale of collectables. Part of it was a significant offering of Beatle items – memorabilia, books, records and CDs. You can view the catalogue online (the Beatle items start on page 8 at Lot No. 715. They continue to Lot No. 836).

These all came from one collector who was downsizing….pretty impressive.

For a while now we’ve had a hankering to get the previously-released CD boxed sets of the Beatles singles, and the CD EP’s. These came out way back in 1992 – and in the Mossgreen auction there was one lot containing both box sets: IMG_1006

There was also another separate lot with all the CD singles in a special box, all on 3-inch CD’s. This was issued in 1989:IMG_0993

Figuring we’d take a chance we put a pre-auction bid on both lots. It was one of those auction sites where you could watch and also listen in live online as the auction actually proceeded. The auctioneer steadily worked his way to our first lot (for the 3-inch CD single set). We won it in quick time – with nobody else bidding at all. The set was ours.

It comes in a very dark blue-black cardboard and brass-hinged hinged box:

IMG_0996

Each of the 22 tiny CDs is housed in an individual folder:

IMG_0995IMG_1001IMG_1005IMG_1003These 3-inch CD’s were also issued individually over a period of time (late 1988-1989), ut it’s nice to have them collected in one box. There’s a small black folder in the box detailing each single.

Next up in the auction was the lot of two boxed sets. One was the Beatles EP’s, and one the CD singles again, this time on individual, regular sized CDs. Again, our pre-auction bid was the only one made, and again we won. It was all over so very fast:IMG_1010

Each of these boxes is in mint condition. They’re both dark grey-black in colour with gold lettering and they’re hinged at the top. These boxes are quite beautifully made with a cloth-covered, thick board. In the photo above you can see the brass rivets holding them together. On the EP box the outer top tilts forward and there is a secondary flap inside which lifts to reveal the 14 CD sleeves (including a double CD Magical Mystery Tour):IMG_1012IMG_1013IMG_1015The 22 CD singles box is very similar:IMG_1016IMG_1017IMG_1018IMG_1021So, expecting to win maybe just one auction lot if we were lucky – we ended up with two! Three great CD box sets in all, and in mint condition from a Beatle collector in Melbourne who was selling off some of their prized items…..

George Harrison’s Historic House “Friar Park” – New Book

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had an interest in the homes of the Beatles. Not a snooping, voyeuristic interest – but more of an architectural one because they (especially John and George) have lived in some very interesting buildings over the years.

That’s why our interest was sparked when we got a press release this week from a company called The Campfire Network advertising a new book. In coordination with “Ye Friends of Friar Park,” Campfire has just announced the publication of the second book in a series which celebrates the history and architecture of residences which at some point were homes of one or more of the Beatles. (Their first book in the series was The Dakota Scrapbook, published last year).

Now comes Friar Park: A Pictorial History, a collection of vintage, rare, and original photographs and illustrations telling the story of George Harrison’s spectacular and unusual home – Friar Park – from the time Sir Frank Crisp began purchasing land in the medieval town of Henley-on-Thames in the late 1800s, all the way to the time it was purchased by Harrison.Friar_Park

Carefully selected images offer a rare and unique glimpse of the property’s extraordinary gardens, mansion home, lodges, and assorted structures, lakes, and secret underground caves, as well as other architectural and horticultural treasures and wonders on the grounds of Friar Park. Here are some of the pages and images from the book:Friar Park. A Pictorial History Pages_3Friar Park. A Pictorial History Pages_4Friar Park. A Pictorial History Pages_6Friar Park. A Pictorial History Pages_7

Campfire’s Marketing Director Kelly Cardinal says: “Beatles fans, architects, historians, and anyone interested in grand homes and beautiful gardens have long-admired Friar Park from afar, with little more than the occasional description or photos that have appeared here and there. Now, for the first time, is a publication that includes the largest collection of photos and information about Friar Park that has ever been gathered together in one place before. It has generated quite a bit of excitement.”

The pictures and information in the book were found during the development of a forthcoming film documentary about the home.

Friar Park: A Pictorial History is now available from Amazon, as is a companion volume called Friar Park: 1919 Estate Auction Cataloguea recreation of the official auction catalogue for the house when it was sold following the passing of original owner Sir Frank Crisp. Upon his death his family instructed auctioneers to sell the entire estate, including all the grounds, the boathouse on Henley-on-Thames, and three grand residential sites. The sale took place on Saturday, August 9th, 1919 and this book is a scholastic and educational study of an architecturally and historically significant English country house.

If you are interested in this sort of thing, “The Story of Tittenhurst Park” – the English stately home owned by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, will be released in 2015.

And the same company has also published The Dakota Apartments: Vintage Articles.

(Each of the links above are to Amazon pages with a “Look Inside” function so that you can have a bit more of a sticky beak at these very interesting books).

There are also two YouTube clips promoting Friar Park: A Pictorial History:

Comprehensive New Russian Beatles Books Released

We have a lot of Russian readers and so it’s appropriate to mention what looks like a very comprehensive, two-volume Beatles book published recently in Russia.

Earlier this year Vladimir Bokarev and Yury Mitrofanov released the two-volume book called ИСТОРИЯ “БИТЛЗ” В СССР (1964-1970 гг). That translates as The History of the Beatles in the USSR (1964-1970). Here’s the cover of Volume One:Том1

And here’s Volume Two:

Том2

These publications form a forensic, historical research of the Beatles as a phenomenon in Soviet society. Through examining numerous historical sources the authors show the evolution and rise of the popularity of the Beatles in the Soviet press, Beatle art in the Soviet Union (for example through their records, printed music, lyrics and translations, concert performances by other artists, films, etc.), and the influence of the Beatles on Soviet youth.

Record images and other items shown in the books come from the collections of Andrey Lukanin (Russia), and Vadim Legkokonets (Ukraine). As well there’s a wealth of information provided from these two great websites:
http://www.beatlesvinyl.com.ua/
http://beatlespress.com.ua/

To order this set of two books (published only in Russian) write to beatera@yandex.ru

The authors plan to continue the work and publish a further book on the same theme – but about the years 1971-1980.

A is For Apple Book – More Info

Since we reported back in September on a new series of books detailing the history of the Beatles Apple company, there’s been a flurry of activity and a lot of further information coming through.

The authors of A is For Apple now have a cover for Volume 1, which is due for publication in April next year:A is For Apple Cover

And they’ve produced a YouTube video, too:

There are a couple of further very interesting draft sample pages now available here and here. (These come with a “big file” warning and may take some time to download).

For Apple fans these both contain great info and photos.

And there are now details about some special offers and bonus material which will come with Volume 1 of A is For Apple.

One Apple artist has given the publishers permission to release two rare recordings with the project. Jackie Lomax, just a couple of days before his tragic death in 2013, signed an agreement to include an exclusive 7“ vinyl of his previously unreleased track ‘Land Of People’, and the demo version of ‘Is This What You Want?’. Both songs will be included with Vol. 1 of A is For Apple.A is For Apple Bonus1A is For Apple Bonus2

Additionally, if you pre-order Volume 1 before December 3, you not only save €5 Euro on the purchase price but also receive a strictly limited edition bonus flexi disc of The Iveys‘ unreleased 1968 Christmas Record:A is For Apple Bonus3

In late 1968 The Iveys (later to become Badfinger) taped a Christmas message for their fans just like the Beatles had done since 1963. But contrary to the Beatles‘ annual Crimble messages this one has never been released. Only very recently the A is For Apple people got permission to include this Christmas flexi disc that never was.

For the whole story of the project so far see the A is For Apple website.

Something About the Beatles – Do Yourself a Favour and Have a Listen

We raved about a new podcast called Something About the Beatles back when it first came out. SATB is hosted by two Beatle experts and authors Robert Rodriguez and Richard Buskin.

If you need any convincing to make this a regular download, have a listen to Episode 11.

It’s a great example of how interesting this podcast is. The two look into the instruments that the Beatles used on stage and in the studio – and how these directly impacted the sound and their creative push to always try new ways of making music. Buskin interviews Andy Babiuk, author of Beatles Gear (and the newly-published Rolling Stones Gear), but also talks with his co-host Rodriguez, delving into their own extensive knowledge and understanding of the music. Great stuff.

It is episodes like this that make it well worth subscribing to this podcast – which comes out roughly once a month:Something About the Beatles-tiffSee also our post on Beatles 101, Richard Buskin’s latest book.