The Dark Horse Rises

The boy was being kicked out of school. But that was okay: he could get a job of some kind. He was only 16 and had no real prospects, but he was able-bodied.

All he needed was a piece of paper. Something for the prospective employers. Something to say, hey, things didn’t work out for him academically, but he can probably learn how to fix cars, or weld, or drive a forklift. Maybe he could someday drive a bus like his dad.

That was all. A piece of paper from the headmaster. Hire him, keep him off the streets. Let him be a productive member of society; he’ll keep his nose clean. Live in an apartment, get married, have four or five kids. Maybe someday he’ll wind up surprising us all by saving up enough to buy a house.

That wasn’t what the boy got. He got this:

I can’t tell you what his work has been like because he hasn’t done any. [He] has taken part in no school activity whatsoever.

As his biographer, writing fifty years later, drily notes:

With this document [he] was meant to make his way in the world.

How’d the boy do? Well, within five years he – along with his mates John, Paul, and Ringo – was doing this:

This little snippet is one of countless gems in Mark Lewisohn’s tour de force, Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, a book I could not put down – except for the times I put it down because I didn’t want it to end. The research done by Lewisohn is nothing short of astonishing, even for mildly obsessive Beatle fans like myself. Now let’s hope the next two installments come quickly!

Onward and upward with a great book and of course, the great George Harrison, the wayward boy who failed to impress his headmaster – but who did some pretty good work after all:


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