Magic Circles The Beatles in Dream and History Synopsis
No one expressed the heart and soul of the Sixties as powerfully as the Beatles did through the words, images, and rhythms of their music. In Magic Circles Devin McKinney uncovers the secret history of a generation and a pivotal moment in twentieth-century culture. He reveals how the Beatles enacted the dream life of their time and shows how they embodied a kaleidoscope of desire and anguish for all who listened--hippies or reactionaries, teenage fans or harried parents, Bob Dylan or Charles Manson. The reader who dares to re-enter the vortex that was the Sixties will appreciate, perhaps for the first time, much of what lay beneath the social trauma of the day. Delving into concerts and interviews, films and music, outtakes and bootlegs, Devin McKinney brings to bear the insights of history, aesthetics, sociology, psychology, and mythology to account for the depth and resonance of the Beatles' impact. His book is also a uniquely multifaceted appreciation of the group's artistic achievement, exploring their music as both timeless expression and visceral response to their historical moment. Starting in the cellars of Liverpool and Hamburg, and continuing through the triumph of Beatlemania, the groundbreaking studio albums, and the last brutal, sorrowful thrust of the White Album, Magic Circles captures both the dream and the reality of four extraordinary musicians and their substance as artists. At once an entrancing narrative and an analytical montage, the book follows the drama, comedy, mystery, irony, and curious off-ramps of investigation and inquiry that contributed to one of the most amazing odysseys in pop culture.
Magic Circles The Beatles in Dream and History Press Reviews
You'll find it hard to resist the urge to leap up and play whatever song [McKinney's] dissecting; though you may think you're sick of 'Happiness Is a Warm Gun,' Mr. McKinney will convince you otherwise. Any fan under 40 may be a phony Beatlemaniac, but new generations continue to wrap their heads around The White Album, and Magic Circles is a welcome reminder of why that record remains continually fresh. -- Brett Sokol New York Observer 20031020 McKinney, born in 1966, never experienced the [Beatles] phenomenon firsthand. His perspective grants him freedom to see new combinations, to consider and even dismantle the existing critical apparatus; in doing so, he jolts his subject back to bristling life...If this is a history, it's a poetic one, driven by smart, breathless connections rather than a need to gather all the facts. -- Ed Park Village Voice 20031015 With a white-hot prose style and a poet's instinct for metaphor, independent scholar McKinney exhumes, interrogates, and otherwise energizes the Fab Four in all their musical glory and mythic resonance. Born too late (1966) for phase one Beatlemania, he brings to the job a necessary detachment, a willingness to puncture pieties, and finally a script-flipping thesis: The Beatles were the '60s. If he gets surprising mileage out of the most lurid artifacts of that collective dream--the butcher cover, the Paul-is-dead rumor--he's also terrific at maximizing the excitement of a Reeperbahn stand or a mysterious bootleg, and always renders the music in three dimensions. Voice Literary Supplement 20031210 From the very first lines of Magic Circles, you know you're in for a different sort of ride...Devin McKinney's Magic Circles is as much pop culture comment as it is biography. In either role it's a fascinating study of a time--and a band--worth remembering. January Magazine 20031210 Using literary techniques of montage and free association not unlike those found in the Beatles' more psychedelic songs, McKinney spins a fabulous, fabulist psychic and social history of the band...A detailed, exhaustive and creative look at the Beatles that challenges readers to hear them with new ears. -- Seth Rogovoy Newsday 20040104 [An] intelligent study of the Beatles...McKinney crunches the facts and pulps the possibilities before tossing everything into a great metaphysical soup, and his book carries sentences not unlike those Norman Mailer used to write forty years ago in the Village Voice. -- Andrew O'Hagan New York Review of Books 20040527 [McKinney] is very good indeed on tracking the Beatles' collective footprints through the sands of the collective unconscious. He's a pleasure to read on the Marcos debacle and the 'butcher' photograph (in a chapter entitled 'Meat'): his deconstruction of Help! is little short of masterly...This is the work of a critic bold enough to cite 'Happiness is a Warm Gun' as 'the defining song of the Beatles' greatest album.' -- Charles Shaar Murray Mojo 20040601