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Abracadabra! by Ray Newman (Entertainment)

Abracadabra! by Ray Newman

     I wrote this for fun. I'm not a music journalist, or a professional writer. The idea emerged from a few nagging questions I had about Revolver, which the band and their biographers seemed rather too happy to gloss over. Where did Paul McCartney really get the idea for Eleanor Rigby? Who taught George Harrison to play the sitar? And who did give John Lennon LSD for the first time?
     Almost every morning for two years, I sat on the tube ploughing through one interminable Beatles memoir or another with highlighter and notebook in hand; I spent my lunch-breaks visiting libraries to read books on Hinduism; I spent weekends hammering away at a keyboard, trying to make all the new information make sense; I lay awake at night worrying about rumours of a Sunday Times journalist interviewing all of the same people as I was trying to get hold of.
     And it has been fun. If no-one ever reads this, at least I know I'll never lose another pub argument about the Beatles. Or, for that matter, have to listen to Revolver ever again.
     Thanks for interviews to Daniel and Shankara Angadi, Tony Aspler, Andre Barreau, Ian Hamer, Barry M. Jones, Klaus Voorman.
     Revolver is one of the greatest albums of all time, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Revolver has appeared in the top 10 of lists of “the greatest albums of all time” in Rolling Stone magazine (2003), NME (1975, 2003), The Guardian (1997), The Times (1993), Channel 4 television (2005) and on many other occasions1. The company it keeps varies – Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones was voted the 5th best album of all time by NME readers in 1985, but hasn't featured since – and its position on the list changes: sometimes it's below Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but in recent years it has more often been above, creeping towards (and occasionally achieving) the top spot.

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