Artificial Paradise
The Dark Side of the Beatles' Utopian Dream
by Kevin Courrier
December 2008, 360pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-34586-9
$44, £33, 37€, A63
eBook Available: 978-0-313-34587-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Courrier examines how some of the darker elements of America’s cultural revolution were provoked by, and filtered through, the Beatles’s Utopian dreams.

There is an epigram in this book from the Phil Ochs song, “Crucifixion”, about the Kennedy assassination, that states: I fear to contemplate that beneath the greatest love, lies a hurricane of hate. On February 11th 1963, the Beatles recorded “There’s a Place”, a dazzling, unheralded tune which was included on their electrifying debut album, Please Please Me. This song firmly laid the foundation on which a huge utopian dream of the sixties would be built. Within that dream, however, also lay the seeds of a darker vision that would emerge out of the very counterculture that the Beatles and their music helped create. Thus, even as their music attracted adoring fans, it also enticed the murderous ambitions of Charles Manson; and though the Beatles may have inspired others to form bands, their own failed hopes ultimately led to their breakup.

The disillusionment with the sixties, and the hopes associated with the group, would many years later culminate in the assassination of John Lennon and the attempted slaying of George Harrison by deranged and obsessive fans. In this incisive examination, author Kevin Courrier (Dangerous Kitchen: the Subversive World of Zappa, Randy Newman’s American Dreams) examines how the Fab Four, through their astonishing music and comically rebellious personalities, created the promise of an inclusive culture built on the principles of pleasure and fulfillment. By taking us through their richly inventive catalogue, Courrier illustrates how the Beatles’ startling impact on popular culture built a bond with audiences that was so strong, people today continue to either cling nostalgically to it, or struggle — and often struggle violently — to escape its influence.

Reviews

"Beatles collectors and music libraries must have this different approach linking the Beatles phenomenon to social change."—Midwest Book Review, March 1, 2009

"Courrier has provided a thoughtful alternative to the fawning biographies of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the myth-shattering exposes of more recent years. . . . A dandy read!"—Green Man Review, 00/00/00

"The author takes the reader on a tour of the Beatles musical catalogue, almost song-by-song, simultaneously setting the music in the context of the career and lives of the Liverpool foursome and the wider cultural milieu, all while advancing the central conceit of the book, which is that the Beatles’ music advanced utopian hope that as often as not turned out to be fleeting and illusionary.' "—Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2009
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