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Miscellaneous - This Bird Has Flown: The Enduring Legacy of Rubber Soul Fifty Years On

  by Keith How

published: 10 / 4 / 2016

Miscellaneous - This Bird Has Flown: The Enduring Legacy of  Rubber Soul Fifty Years On


Keith How finds disappointing American author and musician John Kruth's new book 'This Bird Has Flown' on the Beatles 1965 album, 'Rubber Soul'

Hmmm. A book on one of my all time favourite albums by one of my all time favourite bands. What could possibly go wrong? John Kruth is obviously a scholar and a writer of some pedigree having written for 'The New York Times', 'Rolling Stone' and published books on Roy Orbison and Townes Van Zandt. Here he turns his attention to The Beatles 'Rubber Soul', one of the great albums of all time and generally considered as an album that changed peoples expectations. A fantastic project and I was really salivating at the prospect of reading this book. Why then has this been such a difficult read? The very fact that it has taken a long time to“get through” tells me something about the work. I can see that Kruth aims to not only detail the album in its song writing and production but also to chronicle the times and the influences surrounding the Beatles at that time. The author begins the book with two chapters of personal history concerning how he got “into “the Beatles and what was happening around him in 1960's America. All very well but as the Beatles were living and working in Swinging London he could really only be looking from a distance. If one adds to that the confusion over the UK Parlophone release and the U.S.A. Capitol album track listings, following the plot so to speak is tricky. 'Help' (U.K.) is discussed yet most of these songs were written six months previously which seems pointless to say the least .We are treated to many side issues such as John meeting Yoko, and although perhaps not a side issue, the influence of a certain Mr. Bob Dylan on the Beatles. I don’t wish to be cynical here but, while there is no doubting Dylan’s influence, Kruth seems to really push the issue. So where are we? The background history that fills many pages is rather tedious and it appears, reading between the lines, the author is not Paul McCartney's greatest fan. Sweeping suggestions, such as there would have been no Byrds without George’s twelve string Rickenbaker opening to 'Hard Day's Night','are mildly interesting but hardly essential reading. The publishers claims that Kruth puts 'Rubber Soul' in the context of the times it was made and he certainly does that but also refers regularly to future events which have no real bearing on 'Rubber Soul'. Each chapter ends with 'Rubber Covers', a sideways glance at cover versions of each album track. So, I pop my treasured copy of 'Rubber Soul' on the turntable and listen to those amazing timeless songs made in England by four lads from Liverpool in 1965. It's beautiful and I realise that despite all the wordy and knowledgeable information crammed into this book I learned nothing new. Frankly I am sorry to say I did not enjoy this book at all which is a real shame.

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