BOOK REVIEW “Shoulda Been There” by Jude Southerland Kessler

51ePJX-e6cL._SL500_AA240_[1]I’ve been a Beatles fan as long as I can remember. Probably as long as I could speak. It led to me becoming a musician and a lifetime of performing, recording, writing and singing music. I even play in those Beatles tribute shows where we wear the different costumes and have the exact equipment and play and sing Beatles songs note for note for excited audiences far and wide. I’ve met George Harrison in person and many, many musicians and friends who knew, recorded and hung out with The Beatles, individually and as a group. So I guess I’m considered a bit of an expert by some. (I’m really just a fan who has taken it to the extreme)

So in my travels I have read probably every book about the Beatles, their equipment, their pets- you name it, it’s been written. My all time faves have always been “SHOUT” by Philip Norman and “THE BEATLES” by Hunter Davies.

Until now.

I just finished Jude Kessler’s “SHOULDA BEEN THERE” It was an experience. A real eye-opener. If you’re like me, you’ve lived and re-lived special moments in Beatle history in your imagination over and over- the day John & Paul met, on stage in Hamburg, Stu Sutcliffe’s death, etc, etc. Kessler writes this extremely well detailed and researched (perhaps the most thoroughly researched book about Lennon or the Beatles ever attempted) in novel form. So the reader is sharing in all these incredible moments in music history as they happen. And it works. You can smell the damp streets of Liverpool. You stand with a young John in the rain at Julia’s funeral. You share in the excitement as Lennon convinces Sutcliffe to buy his first bass guitar. You check out this stranger called Brian Epstein with four suspicious young rockers in a dank Liverpool club.

Now much of the dialogue that is re-created is guess work on the author’s part, but it certainly strikes me as authentic and right on the money. I’m a musician who was living the same life at that age. I’ve seen my share of crappy backstage rooms in tiny clubs, and Kessler hits it note perfect. The humor. The camaraderie.

“SHOULDA BEEN THERE” is the first in a trilogy the author is completing about Lennon. It’s a must read for any true Beatles fan, who always wished for a time machine to travel back and live through those incredible events that made John Lennon, The Beatles, and a happier, more colorful world for all of us. I, for one, can’t wait for the next two parts.

~ by abernhoft on September 27, 2009.

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