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Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles

Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles


Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles

Oh, no—the cry is almost involuntary—not another Beatles book! What more could anyone possibly say? The lads from Liverpool have been by far the most chronicled musical entity of our time.

Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles by Geoff Emerick and Howard Massey
Gotham, 400 pp.
CLR [rating:4]

Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles

Tell Me What You See

Oh, no—the cry is almost involuntary—not another Beatles book! What more could anyone possibly say? The lads from Liverpool have been by far the most chronicled musical entity of our time.

From the first “authorized biography” in 1968 by Hunter Davies (which in a few short years Lennon would label crap) through the meandering account of “house hippy” Richard Dillelo (The Longest Cocktail Party), the richer personal account of Peter Brown (The Love You Make), the first study of the business catastrophe that was their record company (Apple to the Core), the memories of ex-wives (A Twist of Lennon) and more savage biographical attacks (Albert Goldman’s The Lives of John Lennon); not to mention the catalogs of recording sessions, bootlegs, Beatles memorabilia, scholarly musical dissections, and what have you, the list goes on forever.

Over the years, I’ve read many of these accounts, but I’m happy to report there is indeed more to say and learn, beyond the partying, drugs, touring, lawsuits, and seemingly endless musical trivia.

By fantastic luck, Geoff Emerick was in his second day of employment at EMI Studios in London as a 15-year-old “assistant engineer” (hardly more than a go-fer), when an unknown band from Liverpool came in for their very first recording. He got to sit in on many of their early studio sessions, and in a few short years, Emerick would become their sound engineer (at the ripe age of 19!). Though he would quit EMI in the middle of the rancorous White Album sessions, he helped out on later songs and was called back for the boys’ final project together, Abbey Road.

So Emerick is in a unique position to throw light on the band’s creative process as well as their personalities from the beginning to “The End,” so to speak. Apart from George Martin and snippets from the boys themselves, few have been in a position to discuss the Beatles’ studio work from the inside.

Much basic info on recording sessions—dates, who composed and played and sang what, and studio tricks—has long been available from various sources, but the virtue of Here, There and Everywhere is that it places these facts into the human context: the reader learns which constraints, whose brainstorms, and what tensions led to “the act you’ve known for all these years.”

Wisely, the book opens with Emerick’s first day as the head sound engineer for the Beatles: April 6, 1966, when they started work on Revolver with a Lennon composition that would push further musically than they had gone before: “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Emerick had just replaced Norman Smith, the older, more experienced EMI sound engineer who had been a sound engineer on all the Beatles’ previous records. (He aspired to be a musician himself, and indeed as Hurricane Smith would score a hit with “Oh Babe, What Would You Say” in 1973, but he also wanted to be a producer, which the author suggests was a threat to Martin.) “Make me sound like the Dalai Lama chanting from a mountaintop,” Lennon requested. And Emerick proceeded to do just that within the confines of a studio.

The story circles back to make short work of the author’s childhood, his discovery of what he wanted to do by the time he was 15, and his campaign to convince a school counselor who, incredibly, got him an interview at EMI.

Revolver and Sgt Pepper get the most sustained discussion in the book, of course (Emerick devotes 60 pages to the latter, which took 700 hours, across 4-1/2 months, to record; “A Day in the Life” alone gets 16 pages), but before those recordings, he was occasionally able to work closely with the band. For example, he was assistant engineer one Sunday in September 1964 when the boys came into the studio and—get this—did the finishing touches on “Eight Days a Week,” then recorded “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey,” “Mr. Moonlight,” “I Feel Fine” (in which, years before Hendrix, Lennon introduced amp feedback to the world), “I’ll Follow the Sun,” “Everybody’s Trying to be My Baby,” “Rock and Roll Music,” and “Words of Love”—all in one session! Unfortunately, a job promotion took Emerick out of the Beatles’ orbit for 18 months, and he mostly missed the Help! and Rubber Soul sessions.

Fans and trivia buffs will find riches galore to delight. Not only are Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, and Brian Jones in the singalong on “Yellow Submarine,” but that’s Patti Boyd Harrison (Clapton’s Layla herself) screaming in the party under the second verse. Martin wasn’t satisfied with Harrison’s solo guitar work on his song, “Taxman,” so he decreed that McCartney would play it, which he does.

Paul was resistant to strings on “Eleanor Rigby”—he feared it would sound too “Mancini”—so Emerick close-miked them to make them more “biting,” per McCartney’s wishes (and then Martin had to remind the nervous musicians to stop backing off the mikes). Close-miking was an Emerick innovation that was subsequently used on a lot of the Beatles’ studio work.

George was the only other Beatle that participated with John in the recording of “Revolution #9.” After reading about all the fights that went on over “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” (Lennon called it more of McCartney’s “granny music shit”; McCartney shouted at Martin, who raised his voice back for the first time Emerick could ever remember), it’s a wonder the song turned out as fresh as it did.

Audiophiles with high-end equipment will find gems to track down on their albums, if they were not already aware of them: an accidental shoe squeak by Ringo near the end of the long chord fade-out of “A Day in the Life”; Paul cursing “fucking hell” after fluffing a piano chord at the start of the third verse of “Hey Jude,” just between the lines “The minute you let her under your skin/Oh, then you begin”; author Emerick’s voice saying “take two” on “Revolution 1.”

The brass band on “Yellow Submarine” was added late at night as a substitute for a Harrison guitar solo, when “everyone was too knackered—or stoned,” and they couldn’t have gotten live horn players in. Martin had an assistant pull Sousa marches from the EMI library, make a tape copy of a sequence that was in the right key, and then snip it into pieces, toss them in the air, and splice them together in the random order that resulted to avoid copyright issues. “That’s why the solo is so brief, and that’s why it sounds almost musical but not quite,” Emerick writes. “At least it’s unrecognizable enough that EMI was never sued by the original copyright holder of the song.”

The team would do the same William Burroughs-style cut-up with calliope music for “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” on Sgt. Pepper a year later, but Martin evidently has forgotten he first used the idea on Revolver, Emerick says.

The Lennon remark during the “freak-out” ending to “Strawberry Fields Forever” that conspiracy theorists took to be “I buried Paul” is nothing more than “cranberry sauce,” according to the author: the recording was done at Thanksgiving and the crew had been discussing turkey and trimmings just before the take.

The fact that “Strawberry Fields” consists of two different recorded takes that were originally in different keys and at different tempos, and were electronically manipulated and stitched together into a relatively seamless whole, has long been known. Since Emerick had to do the actual hard thinking and dirty work to come up with that solution, he can add detail to the story. Lennon fussed and fretted over the song, insisting on doing it over again after one laborious version had been completed. The team spent more than 30 hours recording the second full take. Then Lennon decided he preferred the beginning of the first version and told the engineers to put them together.

Martin nearly exploded but, Emerick says, “We knew that the word ‘no’ did not exist in the Beatles’ vocabulary.” Today electronic manipulation of sound is a snap with computers. Still, at that time, “all we had at our disposal was a pair of editing scissors, a couple of tape machines, and a varispeed control.” Luckily, though they had been recorded a week apart, the two “Strawberry Fields” takes were close enough in tempo and pitch that Emerick could get them to sound nearly the same by speeding up the first and slowing down the second. For a less-than-obvious place to cut from one to the other and thereby achieve the illusion of a seamless whole, he chose the word “going” at the beginning of the second chorus (“Let me take you down/’Cause I’m going to”), about sixty seconds in. Further to blur the distinctions without ruining the song, he only gradually speeded up the first part with varispeed to the editing point, so as not to lose all the “laconic” mood of Lennon’s vocal. When it was done, the singer/composer couldn’t tell where the jump had been made, so he was well pleased with Emerick’s achievement.

For “A Day in the Life,” the band didn’t know what it would put into the 24-bar break in the middle of the song (it would become the first orchestral climb leading into McCartney’s “Woke up/Fell out of bed”). Fully confident that the dreamy Lennon composition was a masterpiece in the making, and not yet knowing what McCartney would come up with for filler either, they simply recorded the song with a 24-bar rest counted off by Mal Evans and punctuated by an alarm clock that Lennon had brought in for a joke—both of which bled onto the take. Emerick tried in vain to eliminate those intrusions, but the alarm turned out perfectly to fit McCartney’s lyric, chosen and recorded a day later.

Though Emerick quit during the White Album sessions and went to work for Apple Corps, which ate up most of his energy in the construction of a new, state-of-the-art recording studio (he was not involved in recording “Hey Jude” or just about any of the Let It Be album), he occasionally popped back in for individual projects. “The Ballad of John and Yoko” (all recorded without George or Ringo) was “one of those magic times when everything went right, and nothing went wrong.” The song was recorded in just a few hours on a new 8-track recorder, and the two-person band of John (lead vocal, lead guitar, rhythm guitar) and Paul (bass, piano, percussion, drums, and backup vocals) did the job with rare good humor and speed.

The author is honest about having been closest to McCartney. He does seem to side with and defend Paul much of the time:

Looking back on it now, it’s funny how most people thought of John Lennon—the hook-nosed lead singer on that first song—as the leader of the Beatles. It might have been his band in the beginning, and he might have assumed the leadership role in their press conferences and public appearances, but throughout all the years I would work with them, it always seemed to me that Paul McCartney, the soft-spoken bass player, was the real leader of the group and that nothing got done unless he approved of it.

He is convinced that McCartney’s leadership, however, resented by the others (quite obviously so in the “Let It Be” film), kept the band going longer than it otherwise would have:

…it’s evident that Paul saw a vacancy in leadership after Brian [Epstein] died, and he stepped in. Perhaps that ultimately led to the band’s breakup, but the fact of the matter is that someone had to. Surely Ringo and George Harrison couldn’t, and between his drug use and unfocused mind, John simply wasn’t capable of it at that point in his life. As I see it, Paul saved the band. …Sure, he made mistakes, but he kept the greatest band in the world going at a time when they could have easily crumbled. I reckon he deserves a lot of credit for that.

Emerick does give the strong impression that as a musician, Paul was conscientious, disciplined, and organized, and John more intuitive and experimental—and at times less self-confident and stable. For better or worse, McCartney increasingly managed the band’s creative direction, and one wonders where Lennon’s composing might have gone without the others to guide it (and occasionally, rein him in).

Lennon hated his voice and was forever trying to get Emerick to distort and muffle it. One abortive experiment involved trying to get an “underwater” vocal for “Yellow Submarine,” which included John trying to sing while gargling, then lobbying for a tank to be brought into the studio from which he would try to vocalize, and finally, having a microphone waterproofed with a condom and placed inside a milk bottle and submerged. As Lennon cracked, “we don’t want the microphone getting in the family way, do we?”

Though Emerick successfully achieved the “Dalai Lama from a mountaintop” vocal effect Lennon wanted for “Tomorrow Never Knows” by running his voice through the spinning speakers and amp of a Leslie box (strictly part of the distinctive Hammond organ system at that point), on a later song Lennon still wanted to try his original idea of singing the vocal while swinging past the microphone from a ceiling-hung rope. The crew “forgot” to set up this idea, and his short-term memory conveniently moved on.

In this multi-multi-track age, when sounds can be filtered through and altered by hand (that is, on a keyboard and mouse), it is nearly unfathomable that the Beatles recorded everything up to the White Album on 4-track machines. The work tended to divide up between bass and drums on one track, John and George’s guitars on the second, all vocals on the third (Emerick assures us that the lads’ sweet and sharp vocal harmonies were no studio trick), and catch-all sweeteners on the last. Of course, this did not rule out re-recording to add further layers, though that inevitably degraded the quality. And the studio wasn’t above doing a lot of patching: “Thank You, Girl” consists of six different takes by the band stitched together by the engineers, Emerick reveals.

This is not a tell-all insider’s account. There are only a few passing, casual references to drug use, and virtually no sex. Emerick is mostly kind, fair, and almost gentlemanly in his judgments, but there is enough honesty to generate some sparks. On the band’s first day, he thought Lennon sang “without much enthusiasm,” and Harrison was “somewhat fumble-fingered.” During a discussion of “Only a Northern Song,” he says casually, “the more time we spent on George’s songs, the worse they got” (an exception being “Within You, Without You,” though both Emerick and Martin tried hard but unsuccessfully to talk Harrison out of including the canned, derisive laughter at the end). Though he makes no editorial comment, Emerick notes that despite other forms of camaraderie, none of the Beatles ever shared food or offered any of their crew a ride from the studio. “That bitch!” Harrison exploded when Yoko (who was already in everybody’s face by being lodged permanently in the studio in a bed and tiara) casually reached for one of his McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits.

In the area of his expertise, Emerick is calmly exacting. Though he praises the two lead composers’ singing skills in general, “the singing on some early Beatles recordings (songs like ‘I’ll Get You,’ ‘From Me to You,’ even ‘Please Please Me’) sounds a little shoddy, especially on the CD rereleases, where you can hear the individual words more clearly.”

Among the mild surprises in the book are the criticisms directed at men who, in most previous accounts, could do no wrong. Although he took an instant liking to George Martin, Emerick does find fault at times with the man who, technically, was his boss. Over time, Emerick found that Martin was prone to power games, and embarrassing subordinates in front of others—especially the Beatles—to maintain his position. The author also faults the courtly producer for never having taken a stand against the Beatles’ increasingly erratic behavior and abuse of EMI staff toward the end. The author baldly accuses Martin of lacking adequate leadership skills and says the producer tended to hog all the credit and hide the team from outsiders.

The other surprise is Ringo, who takes a number of hits—not so much for his behavior but for his limitations. “Ringo had a definite talent and style, but little imagination.” Emerick observes that “to describe him as quiet would be an understatement. In all the years we worked together, I honestly don’t remember having one memorable conversation with Ringo.” Starr could be very cutting; the author adds; “I always felt he used sarcasm as a defense mechanism to cover his insecurity. . . .”

Starr gets damned with faint praise for his rendition of Lennon’s “Good Night,” the ballad-lullaby that closes the White Album. Lennon’s original demo of the song has been forever lost, which Emerick keenly regrets: “I really don’t think Ringo did the song justice. Nonetheless, it was one of the best vocals he ever did.” Emerick also praises how hard the drummer worked—a little man who hit hard, to achieve effects that came easier to massive drummers like John Bonham—yet always bounced back the next day, ready for more. Starr also hated drum solos; he would never have done one if the others hadn’t coaxed him to it.

And, humble, courteous Ringo, not George or John and Yoko, was the proximate cause of Emerick’s resignation from Apple. Less than a year after the world-class recording studio in which Emerick was to preside was finished, Ringo had it torn down because he wanted to build a film scoring suite. The demolition occurred, but the new project never was finished, and Emerick jumped ship.

There was a lovely coda to his era with the lads: Emerick got to rejoin his best friend in the band in Lagos, Nigeria to record the Band on the Run album. The project started badly when McCartney was robbed at knifepoint his first week in Africa, and all his demo tapes and notebooks stolen. The local studio manager explained chillingly that if Paul had been black, he would have been killed: Nigerian blacks believe whites can’t tell them apart, and if they had thought he could ever identify them, they would have finished him off. Ever the optimist and professional, McCartney said, “I think I can remember how most of the songs went. And those that I can’t remember . . . well, I guess I’ll have to write some new ones.”

This is a book about Emerick’s work with the Beatles, so he says very little about the many other artists he’s recorded: from Marlene Dietrich and Burt Bacharach in the early 1960s to The Zombies, Robin Trower, Jeff Beck, Elvis Costello, Leiber and Stoller, Stealer’s Wheel, Cheap Trick, Art Garfunkel, the Climax Blues Band, Little River Band, John McLaughlin, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra later on. He expresses strong regrets about the betrayed promise of Badfinger—heavy drinking, two paranoid managers, a string of producers (including Harrison, Emerick, and Todd Rundgren), generally toxic studio politics, and eventually the suicides of its two lead singers. There’s a sweet story of an hour alone with his idol Judy Garland when she sat with teenaged Emerick in the lacquer cutting room and made polite small talk while waiting for the playbacks to get made.

So many individuals have either been nominated or puffed themselves as “the Fifth Beatle,” from George Martin to Murray the K, but from a purely creative standpoint, I’d say Emerick has as good a claim as any. He was never an equal of the lads, and he would never claim to be; he was a subordinate, a servant, a glorified studio go-fer, but an incredibly tireless and inventive one, who more than anyone (at least as much as Martin, I think) helped them realize and color their unique sound.

Rating a book of special interest like this one is always tricky. Confirmed Beatles fans (which obviously includes me) will readily award it five stars. For the general reader, I would say the sturdy writing and level of interesting content is probably more likely at the four-star level.

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Native Oregonian David Loftus has lived in Europe and Boston and traveled in Asia and West Africa. He has been a full-time newspaper reporter and has authored three books. Currently, Loftus writes occasional free-lance book reviews for THE OREGONIAN as well as the CALIFORNIA LITERARY REVIEW. He also blogs at After spending much of his adult life as a writer, copyeditor, and proofreader, with only occasional forays on the stage, he started working seriously as an actor in his late 40s, in 2005. For the past seven years, he has read literature aloud to live audiences every month at a coffee shop, an event he calls "Story Time for Grownups." By 2009, Loftus had become a full-time freelance writer and actor and was regularly doing print modeling jobs and acting in commercials, industrial videos, and indie films in 2010. In early 2012 he also launched a political talk radio show which he hosts on Sunday nights but which is also archived for later listening or download at any time on Loftus lives in Portland with his wife Carole and dog Pixie, a seven-pound toy fox terrier.  Wordpress Hacks



  1. Robert Lanzarishi

    January 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    After reading this book I went on a crusade to read the reviews, articles, etc. regarding Mr. Emericks book. I enjoyed it so much that I now want to get anyone involved in anyway with the groups’ book. That is how much I loved it and how well written and sincere I believe it is. One thing that has really changed for me after reading it is my opinion of Paul McCartney. I never really liked him that much personally or musically. I saw their very first Ed Sullivan apperarance on TV (I was aged 9 when the Beatles hit the USA)and was hooked as everyone else. I am very intuitive and consider myself a good judge of character and musicianship. I did however respect Paul musically but was always a John fan (also a very big Stones fan). Now at 55 I really can understand and appreciate Paul and feel badly for all the unfair critism thrown at him. He is basically a very gentle and kindhearted guy from what I gather and Geoff Emerick is not the only one who says this. Someone (very unknown)who was at the ashram with The Beatles who I had met has also said he was the nicest and the most regular of them all. Just a very sweet person who was and probably still is a caring and thoughtful guy who also was a big meditation fan. He even brought his kids to see Maharishi before he left the body in 2008. I also have to say that the last 3 or 4 McCartney albums are truly amazing! Sorry for writing so long, just had to get it out. Also thanks for an awesome review here!!

  2. Peter Caswell

    November 7, 2010 at 7:38 am

    The fact that Geoff remembers conversations with such clarity is beyond me given he was less than 21 years old at the time of Revolver. My view is he’s making good of his time in an incredible position. His view on George’s role in the band defies everything else published on the Beatles, in fact I found his distain for George Harrison and even George Martin replusive.
    Geoff you were just damn lucky to be where were at the time. Don’t you think the Motown producers were doing all the things you claimed to be doing first with bringing the mike closer to the amp. Sit back and be humble it’s far more reassuring…

  3. mrkagey

    July 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    This is very good review of this work. i will say it is hard to get around the Paul bias after a while; i agree with all previous postings that Paul is an amazing musician and was keen to do what he could to keep them together.

    However, the problem i have with Mr. Emerick’s approach here, is that while he glorifies the band for looking for another avenue to express their creativity that ultimately led to their (and subsequently his very own) quite-deserved position atop the mountain with Sgt. Pepper’s; he has a very selective memory as they move past that period and try other ‘changes’ to de-routinize their approach and bring yet other avenues of creativity that HE doesn’t think they pulled off (for example, Magical Mystery Tour).

    I think the authoring team (and the editor) would have been better served to point out each subsequent seismic ‘change’ the lads were seeking, by coincidence (Sgt Peppers) or by design (The White Album).

    Instead, they call out one move as brilliant and don’t fully appreciate the risks associated with the others that, again, he personalizes and they come across as either failures or ‘what might have beens;’ i think Geoff wanted them to keep repeating Sgt Peppers, but that is how they ended up there in the first place!

    this is the difference between being an artist (in this case, incredibly effective ones) searching for your next muse, and, being on the other side of the wall, wondering what the others are eating and pouting they aren’t sharing with you.

    a fantastic read; i teared up a few times and it is by the far mandatory reading/listening with the Sgt Pepper recordings.

  4. Bryan Johnson

    February 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I spend many hours on the road in the Western U.S.A. as a Federal marketing Representative and have listened to books on CD for years now. I am a lifelong Beatle fan who has completed alot of my own research over the years. My mother was born and raised in Liverpool Englnd and was 10 years old the evening John Lennon was born during a heavy bombing raid on Liverpool. It was the evening of October 9th, 1940.

    My mothers home was on Edge lane in Liverpool which was in a direct line with Oxford Maternity Hospital where the newly born John Lennon laid in a nursery, and the Albert Docks.

    I discovered that the same bomb run on the Albert Docks in Liverpool, was the same raid which almost hit the nursery where new born John Lennon laid sleeping, and narrowly missed my mothers home causing significant damage, were one and the same.

    Anyway, I listened to Geoff Emerick’s book on a 480 mile trip between Reno and Las Vegas. As a Beatle fan I can tell you I completely enjoyed this book and learned much from it that I did not know.

    Bryan Johnson
    Reno, Nevada

  5. William S. Hears

    January 3, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Mr. Loftus, may I say this was an excellent review and it has motivated me to buy a copy. If not for anything else but to find out why on earth would english folks celebrate or care about Thanksgiving. I would think that it would be a sore spot between US and UK relations :-). Well…I love Thanksgiving and I love the Beatles. Thanks

  6. JivedTurkey

    October 31, 2009 at 8:48 am

    I just don’t get how anyone could possibly tell a story of the Beatles celebrating Thanksgiving in Britain in 1966!!! Which one of these guys would be going out of their way to celebrate an American holiday that anyone else would be joining in on while they’re beginning work on the first album they’d make since their tour ended. I can see that perhaps they might be referring to a holiday being celebrated in America.. but british engineers and studio personnel getting a “turkey with trimmings” and CRANBERRY SAUCE as if the name CRANBERRY doesn’t have British attachments in British culture and minds? I loved Emerick’s book… he had few revelations but his general story was new and novel.. but wow did he have to create some whoppers to fill that book just as Ken Scott pointed out and this is a GLARING example. Only Geoff Emerick living and working in America so often would associate late November with Thanksgiving.

  7. Greg DeMaio

    August 29, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    David, many thanks for your review. I will definitely be purchasing the book soon. I recently read the story of The Beatles’ break-up in the current edition of Rolling Stone magazine and it was so sad to read about all the forces that tore the greatest band in the world apart.

  8. J. Lennon

    May 16, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Read it twice…good book….But it seem Geoff was a bit of a square as was Paul….This is why he didn’t like Lennon…….Lennon was the Beatles and I’m sure if he wasn’t around little Geoffrey would be talking so much crap

  9. Emily Katz

    November 25, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I’m currently reading this book and it’s amazing :)

  10. David Loftus

    May 30, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    I’m sorry you feel that way, Mr. Penfield. But really, nobody held a gun to your head and made you read my review. And trust me, I didn’t reveal everything that happens in the book. If your reading pleasure consists solely of aborption of factual details — as opposed, say, to author’s voice, writing style, your own panoply of thoughts and ideas that are inspired by the encounter with same, or some of the manifold other pleasures of reading — then I would suggest you’ve kept your reading skills at a fairly primitive level. If you were to read my reviews of fictional films or books (see, for example, my summaries on and, I think you’d find I’m assiduous about not revealing important plot details or the ending.

  11. Adrian Martin

    May 29, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    I had the great fortune of working at Borders when Geoff Emerick’s book came out last year. I bought it immediately and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. It’s more or less the book I have been waiting for.

    Having been born in the early 1980s, I missed all of the Beatles career and sadly missed all of John Lennon’s incredible 40 years on this planet. However, I don’t think that lessens the impact that the group has had on me. I’ve been a devoted fan since my father first introduced them to me when I was a toddler, and I can say without a doubt that they are the best band of all time.

    Needless to say I’ve been studying the Beatles my entire life and have read limitless accounts of their lives both inside and outside of the music industry. I think that I’ve been most enamored by their work and progression inside the studio. They stretched the limitations of the time to the absolute highest level to create some of the most innovative music of the 1960s. I had long been searching for an account to satisfy my curiosity of just what it was like to create that music in the studio and the thought processes that went with it. For the most part, Emerick has answered all of the burning questions I’d been carrying around for so long. He was much more than a fly on the wall and his candid words brought the Beatles to life like never before and they also final brought to light just how integral he was to the recording process. Sure, he won two grammy awards for egineering the two best Beatles albums in my opinion, but I still think George Martin gets too much credit.

    To comment on the bias toward Paul, I wasn’t surprised by it in the least. It was already well known that Paul worked the closest with George Martin, so the same is almost a given with Emerick. As partial as I am to Lennon and Harrison (may they rest in peace), McCartney was without a doubt the best musician in the band. Her understood the subtleties of music on a much higher plane than the others and his incessant perfections just showed how serious and dedicated he was to his craft. Emerick helps to bring that to light even more.

    All in all, a triumph for Emerick and though he is not a professional writer, any Beatle fan will enjoy his experience recording the Beatles in the studio. No doubt his take on it could only be eclipsed by the Beatles themselves. Well done.

  12. David Loftus

    May 29, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Mr. Frank Rippey: I haven’t been back to visit this page in many moons, so my apologies for not answering your question sooner. I’m currently based in Portland, though born several hours south of here. I came of age in Coos Bay and had a 10-year layover in Boston; also spent several years writing for the Roseburg newspaper.

    Though I’ve long been, and primarily am, a writer, in the last 2 years I’ve gotten heavily into stage acting as well as reading aloud. For instance, I’m currently in the cast of a production of Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia” at Lakewood Theatre in Lake Oswego. Also doing a reading of Ray Bradbury stories set in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day next week . . . .

  13. Cristina

    May 29, 2007 at 3:54 pm


    Great review, I certainly would like reading the book. About the bias, the book is Geoff EMerick’s personnal recolection of events, so if that is the way it was for him, then he has the right of talking about it. After all, there must be tens of books that have a pro-John bias.

  14. Frank Rippey

    May 29, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Dear Mr. Loftus,

    I’m currently reading Mr. Emerick’s book and I think it is great. I’m 54 years old and I have been “with the Beatles” from their American beginnings. They have always been the best in my opinion on every level from their songwriting to their studio inovations. I hold the truth to be self evident and the truth is that their work will always stand up. I’ve read pretty much every book written about them, including George Martin’s. Take it from an old Beatle fan (who by the way, once even played in a Beatles tribute band called The Meatles–I’m not kidding….our slogan was “you can’t beat The Beatles because you can’t meet The Beatles)your excellent–and excellently written–review shows you know what you are talking about and should send people to their local Borders store for a copy. If they don’t get it..your review OR the book..then they are losing out. By the way, I’m a writer from Oregon too. What part of the state are you from?

  15. wilder penfield

    May 29, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    I’m glad you reviewed this book, Dave. However, do you think in the future you could not just tell as all the details in the book. We care about what you think, but some of us would actually like to go read this book instead of just hearing you drone about every possibly interesting detail. Thanks for ruining a potentially fine read!

  16. ellen

    May 29, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    I’m in the process of reading this book, and I’m also enjoying it thoroughly. Yes, there is a pro-Paul bias, but that’s evident in Bob Spitz’s wonderful biography as well. And Emerick admits that part of the reason why he grew friendliest with Paul is that Paul actually chatted with him and went out of his way to be friendly to him. (George was sullen; Ringo, quiet; John could be witty, but he was also moody, unpredictable, mercurial. Emerick even admits at one point that he regrets not having known more of John’s miserable childhood.) I’m enjoying the detailed accounts of the technical innovations that Emerick stumbled upon while trying to accommodate the Beatles. He comes across as a humble, fair-minded, sober chap who stumbled serendipitously upon this ideal occupation and dream gig and then developed an extraordinary competence as a sound engineer and a realization that to excel as one required not just technical skill but social skills (restraint, forbearance) as well.

  17. Charlie in Cleveland

    May 29, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Attended a Rock Hall of Fame “lecture” featuring Geoff. Real gentle soul made the Beatles come alive (all of them). Transported us all (sold out crowd of 300+ mostly 50 to 60 somes) to back then. In his presence you could still feel the magic. And, BTW, the book is amazing.

  18. anonymous

    May 29, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    I’m in process of reading the book now and there is a definite Paul bias. However, as I was not in the studio with the Beatles, I cannot comment on whether the bias is justified. The fact is that Mr. Emerick has provided his memories and view point of what took place in the recording studio and to a degree, what was happening within the group. I do believe his assessment of the in house politics taking place among the studio players, such as George Martin as this sounds typical of organizational behavior. The bottom line is that Mr. Emerick provides a personal insight into the creative aspects and group dynamics during recording sessions of a band that influenced a generation.

  19. homie

    May 29, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    the book has a definite “Paul” bias – almost hard to read about wonderful ol Paul was – not always, but the other three – definitely weren’t Geoff’s faves…

  20. shelly in Los Angeles

    May 29, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Great article, well written. I want to go out and buy this book now. Thank you!

  21. Candy in Pennsylvania

    May 29, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    I saw The Beatles in Detroit on their first US tour and in NYC in’66 in one of their last US concerts. This was a great review of the book. I agree that Paul was the real guiding force of the group. I had a fabtastic teen life as a Beatles fan. It’s always fun to learn more about the Lads from Liverpool. Thanks!

  22. Stuart

    May 29, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Just finished reading the book. It does seem Geoff enjoyed Paul’s company more, and it seems rightly so. It is a great read, insightful, and unbiased. Worth every moment.I love the technical votes, who did what, the revelations and the turmoil. I do think Geoff comes off as a bit of a curmudgeon since he quits several times, but I don’t know the enormous pressure he was under and it may well have been justified. Thanks Mr. Emerick!

  23. Francisco R

    May 29, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Even though John Lennon was the most adventurous beatle, thus making him highly creative, Paul Mc Cartney is just a genius. As a singer he can outperform Little Richard, Chuck Berry and even Elvis. (just listen to the AMAZING Run Devil Run) And on top of that he has his own amazing style. As a composer he has done everything- Pop Rock, Classical,and even techno. Yeah, he has written silly poppy songs but … the thing is that these guys composed better together than by themselves. Even George´s songs were better because of the input. Four heads work better than one, (add to that Martin and Emerick) even if that one head is Lennon OR Mccartney

  24. loren

    May 29, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I came to realize that following his assassination, critics and fans alike transformed Lennon into a musical martyr. His role as a Beatle often elevated to sole leader and chief innovative force. To raise Lennon’s profile, McCartney’s role was often conversly devalued as merely the cute, sentimentalist. For the past twenty-five years, I believe this impression more-or-less became the standard, accepted belief. I’m glad to read that Emerick, who was present during the group’s most creative and innovative period, is able to shed some new light and evidence on the McCartney & Lennon roles. Perhaps it’s high time – for both fans and detractors of the “cute” Beatle alike – to finally recognize his true impact and to give him his just due.

    Loren F.

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