I'd intended to read a big chunk, but the first new chapter I encountered was so ... newsworthy ... that I had to devote a review just to that. The whole book is newsworthy, meaning, I'm learning things about the Beatles and related groups in just about every chapter. But the chapter "Helter Skelter" taught me something big and newsworthy that goes well beyond the Beatles, and I truly didn't know before.
Sheffield says if you ask 100 people on street, 99 will tell you that Charles Manson not only incited but actually committed the infamous Tate-La Bianca murders. I'd be one of those 99 -- or would have been, until I read this chapter, in which Sheffield explains that Manson was not even physically in the room in which the murders occurred. He indeed was convicted of First Degree Murder, hence the assumption that he actually, physically did the murders - but this is as factually incorrect as the notion that somehow The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" was responsible for the murders, because it seized and somehow commanded Manson's sick mind, an idiocy which Sheffield also intelligently disposes of.
I at least never believed for a moment that second idea - you cannot, on general principle, blame what a psycho might be inspired to do on a popular culture inspiration. The blame resides with the human monster, not the works he may have read, heard, or seen.
Sheffield argues that the combination of the Manson murders (Beatles) and Altamont murders (Stones) ended the 1960s. They certainly put a serious dent in that age. But I've always argued, to the contrary, and contra Don MacLean, that ultimately the 60s never died. The forces of creativity and freedom unleashed in that decade have taken many a beating in the ensuing years and decades, including most recently with the election and presidency of Donald Trump.
But the sixties live on, nonetheless. I just heard "Dr. Robert" on the Beatles Channel on Sirius/XM Radio. Yesterday I heard "I'll Follow the Sun". And I just read an eye-opening chapter in Sheffield's wonderful book. More soon.
See also Review of Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles 1 of X: The Love Affair ... 2 of X: The Heroine with a Thousand Faces ... 3 of X: Dear Beatles ... 4 of X: Paradox George ... 5 of X: The Power of Yeah ... 6 of X: The Case for Ringo ... 7 of X: Anatomy of a Ride ... 8 of X: Rubber Soul on July 4 ... 9 of X: Covers ... 10 of X: I. A. Richards ... 11 of X: Underrated Revolver ... 12 of X: Sgt. Pepper ... 13 of X: Beatles vs. Stones ... 15 of X: Voting for McCartney, Again ... 16 of X: "I'm A Loser" ... 17 of X: The Split ... 18 of X: "Absolute Elsewhere"
lots of Beatles in here