A recent post at Kenwood (an exhaustive blog on both the insides of John's home and insights into his life while he lived there from 64-68) has got me all a-quiver with anticipation.
Kenwood had posted a photo of a school-age George on behalf of beatle historian extraordinaire Mark Lewisohn, asking for anyone who knew the location where the photo was taken to write in. A few days later, the answer was found and a reply from Mark posted up.
Apart from my no.1 jealousy of anyone who was a regular attendee at Cavern/Hamburg gigs, no.2 on my most-envied list is reserved for Mr Lewisohn. Why? Because in the mid 80s EMI gave him unprecedented access to the entire catalogue of beatle archives at Abbey Road which resulted in The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. As the book states, outside of John, Paul, George, Ringo, and George Martin, Mark has heard more beatle recordings (both released, and more importantly, unreleased) than anyone else in the entire world. Lucky sod!
But what makes it even more incredible, and where my envy takes a break for a second, is that Mark is truly the fan's fan - he not only writes his beatle books with 100% accuracy (he won't print something unless he can verify it as being true, no lazy half-hearted guesses for him or taking what every other biographer has written as being gospel), but with a true fan's total respect and love too (see him recreating a Mad Day Out pic above for his Beatles London book, and what fan hasn't recreated a famous beatles pic at some point in their life?). Having added to his exhaustive account of every recording session with a comprehensive log of every gig they ever played (in The Beatles Live) and a day by day account of their career (in The Complete Beatles Chronicle), Mark is now writing a 3 volume biography of our most fabulous of foursomes. As meticulous as ever, it has taken him 6 years to complete Volume 1, which is now due out next autumn.
Why is this so exciting when there are already hundreds (or approaching thousands probably) of books about the Beatles, some of which you can find on every fan's bookshelf (eg Hunter Davies' authorised biography, Cyn and Julia's books, Paul's Many Years From Now, Revolution In the Head, to name a few). Because anything Mark has produced in the past becomes the last word on that particular aspect of the beatles. For instance, if you care about when John met Paul for the first time, then you have Mark to thank for pinpointing the date (which evaded tonnes of writers before him!).
I am a fact junkie and so Mark's books are manna from heaven for me. Other fans might like their beatle tales told with a bit more pizzazz, so I guess it's personal taste. I read all the major 'story' books when I was a teenager, nowadays I just want my beatle history served like my meat, lean and organic :-)
What I also think sets Mark apart from other respected writers is his leave no (rolling) stone unturned approach to the smallest of details - yes, it was Mark who also managed to finally confirm (by just asking Paul, simple really) that it was the Stones' Brian Jones who played sax on You Know My Name, and not the long debated namesake from the boys' former merseybeat buddies, The Undertakers.
So okay, writing this post has helped me exorcise my envy and remind myself that really it's admiration I should reserve for Mark. He is the fan who has gone that extra mile in uncovering beatle history for us, not because he's some bored journalist looking for an instant bestseller, but because the Beatles really matter to him. Just like they do to me, and everyone else who still loves the band 40 years after they have ceased to exist. I only wish we didn't have to wait another year and a half for the release!