I would have no basis for claiming to be the world’s oldest surviving Beatlemaniac, so I must content myself with the distinction of being the oldest one I personally know. Thus, amid all the high-profile 50th anniversaries being celebrated this year (Apollo 11, Woodstock, the Jets and the Mets), I mark today a most elegiac anniversary. For August 20, 1969 was the last day that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were ever in a recording studio together.

I do so – in the context of this odd little series of all-time favorite books – by offering one of the greatest of the thousands of books about the group, which is sadly the all-time most underrated: Jonathan Gould’s Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America (2007).

This is a book that operates brilliantly on several levels. Musically, it is at once the most sophisticated yet least pretentious: it wants us to appreciate the depth of the Beatles’ creativity without ever getting in the way of the joy and the fun. Culturally, it’s a unique tracing of the growing influence of all things British – My Fair Lady, Camelot, the comedy of Beyond the Fringe – on this country in the years leading up to the Beatles' explosion on the American scene in February 1964. Psychologically, it parses Beatlemania (seriously but never ponderously) through the writings of Freud, Max Weber and Daniel Boorstin on mass charismatic phenomena.

But above all it’s the writing – perceptive and stylish – that captures this writer’s attention and admiration. “They strongly resented the tendency of the press to treat their music as a sidelight of their appeal,” Mr. Gould writes of the group as it verged on global stardom. “This attitude led them to draw a distinction between Beatlemania, which they saw as…a pseudo-event of immense proportions manufactured by the press, and the Beatles, which they saw as the collective expression of their own identity, ambition and talent.”

“At some point during the fall of 1963, the four of them slipped their moorings in the safe harbor of show business and drifted out into the murky, uncharted waters where they would remain for the next seven years.” In fact, both these quotes come from one long paragraph in the book – a paragraph of such insight and elegance as to stop you in your tracks, and demand that you read it again. And again.

© 2019 Nick Murray. All rights reserved. The 20th anniversary edition of Nick’s classic book for clients, Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth, was published in April, and is available only on www.nickmurray.com.