Monday, November 5, 2007

Free Lance Star gives nod to "The White Book"



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The music world of the Beatles from an insider's perspective in "The White Book"

Date published: 11/4/2007

I ONCE BELIEVED that The Beatles' legacy as the greatest rock 'n roll band was assured in perpetuity. But there appears to a generational divide that is developing and I am alarmed that I seem to be on the end that skews older and, dare I say, wistful.

My mother-in-law saw The Beatles in concert. My wife's high school students were given an extra credit question recently asking them to name all four Beatles. Not a single student could come up with all four names.

Ken Mansfield's newest memoir, "The White Book," falls decidedly in the older and wistful Beatles' camp. Mansfield was the U.S. manager of the Apple Records label and as such was granted an insider seat at assorted meetings and tables with the Fab Four, including the final rooftop concert in 1969.

Many of the Beatle anecdotes that Mansfield shares in "The White Book" were printed previously in his first memoir, "The Beatles, The Bible and Bodega Bay: My Long and Winding Road." "The White Book" does not contain the spiritual or religious slant of the prior memoir, but if one has read the first, there will be repetition in reading the second memoir.

He has numerous personal anecdotes about the Beatles as a phenomenon as well as stories that offer glimpses into the lads as individuals. He was witness to the first-ever meeting between Ringo Starr and Dolly Parton because it occurred at a dinner party he threw at his house.

Most of Mansfield's stories are of George and Ringo, but he, like much of the world, was devastated by John's murder.

"Something else happened when John Lennon died, and like the Beatles, the second thing was bigger than we could ever imagine. What happened was we ended up with a hero that we didn't want. We didn't want John Lennon to be our hero. We didn't want him to be a martyr for our cause. We just wanted John Lennon to talk to us through his art and music about what was going on around us."

Mansfield occasionally becomes too clever in his insertion of Beatles lyrics into his writing, but he also can bring a lyricism and humility to the stories that is too often lacking in memoirs that are built around the reflected glory of someone other than the author.

"If the Beatles' music and legend last forever, then also the people who were there are eternally ensconced in the echoes of the events that transpired."

Once, there was never a question of "if."

Drew Gallagher is a freelance writer living in Spotsylvania.

THE WHITE BOOK: THE BEATLES, THE BANDS, THE BIZ By Ken Mansfield (Thomas Nelson, $22.95)

Date published: 11/4/2007

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