“The Beatles’ Boswell.”
That’s how the late Ray Coleman, long time editor of the British music weekly Melody Maker, once described Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn.
The comparison to 18th Century writer James Boswell, whose biographical work on Samuel Johnson defined the genre, concisely captured Lewisohn’s dedication to deep, thorough research on one subject: The Beatles.
It was appropriate. Most recently Mark Lewisohn spent the better part of a decade researching and writing what will arguably be the definitive Beatles biography (The Beatles – All These Years, three volumes during the next decade, or so).
Yet in its glibness, such a quick thumbnail almost glosses over details of Lewisohn’s entire body of work. That is especially relevant in understanding why a man who was not there in the inner circle of the 1960s, or watching first hand in Liverpool even earlier, has turned out to be the best-suited chronicler of the Fab Four.
The Beatles – All These Years: Volume One: Tune In, his first biographical volume, is immediately striking by its sheer size (400,000 to 700,000 words, depending on the edition). Appropriate to his research style, Lewisohn explained the length in a clear, measured tone. His key point: opportunities for deeper levels of detail.
In that spirit, even as Mark Lewisohn begins to roll out excerpts of volume one, here are deeper levels of detail on Mark Lewisohn himself, and his own research journey. Tune In is not “merely” the result of years of concentrated research.
The book reflects a Boswell-like lifetime of observations.