Though they split up more than half a century ago, The Beatles have rarely been busier.
Between Disney’s new three-part fly-on-the-studio-wall documentary The Beatles: Get Back, Paul McCartney’s own doc McCartney 3, 2, 1 and an expansive repackage of their last album, Let It Be, there’s been a lot of Beatles about in the last six months.
One of the most remarkable facts of their intensely remarkable story is that The Beatles never really stopped happening in the decades after they broke up. First it was fan conventions, then it was re-releases and TV documentaries. Now it’s the podcasting community that keeps the Beatles conversation going, and one of the best things about this is that they can hurdle the old gatekeepers who tended to tell the band’s story from a strictly blokeish, white perspective.
And there are absolutely loads of Beatles podcasts too. Here you’ll find new perspectives and under-examined angles on the story, which Derek Taylor, the band’s publicist, called “the 20th century’s greatest romance”.
Nothing is Real
The connoisseur’s choice, and a popular podcast in its own right even outside of the Beatles pod pool. Jason Carty and Steven Cockroft are Beatles aficionados – they’ve won the Beatles Brains of Ireland quiz before now – without ever getting anorak-y or losing sight of the fundamental magic of the story. Best of all, they zero in on particular moments and eras to pull out forgotten details, as well as recontextualising the big story beats. They’ve also watched the cinematic oeuvre of Ringo so you don’t have to. Listen elsewhere >>
I am the Eggpod
Host Chris Shaw wanders through a different Beatles or post-split solo work chosen by a guest. It’s a great example of the way that Beatles podcasts have helped to make sure the conversation isn’t just a bunch of middle aged white guys talking over each other – Another Kind of Mind is particularly good on that front. It’s like Desert Island Discs, but everyone always chooses the Beatles, talks about the Beatles, and picks the Beatles for their single luxury item. Listen elsewhere >>
If you were intimidated by the amount of Beatles podcasts out there, don’t look at how big the pile of Beatles books is. Joe Wisbey has read most of them – he’s got a collection of more than 400 – and on this one he talks to authors about their work on the band and fans about the books which brought them into the swirl of different interpretations, agendas and vendettas which the Beatles publishing industry entails. Listen elsewhere >>
Winter of Discontent
Even if you’re a longstanding Beatles fan, there’s always something you’ve not heard. Few are dedicated enough to have listened to all of the audio reels which recorded the band working out songs for the Get Back project in January 1969, known to fans as the Nagra tapes. Fortunately, Nick Anthony has, and he’s chopped out the best bits and provided commentary on a window into the band at a particularly fractured and fascinating time. Listen elsewhere >>
Your Own Personal Beatles
Another guest-led one, but unlike Eggpod this one’s mainly about how the Beatles made them feel as a whole and the role they’ve played in the guest’s life rather than any particular album. The guests have been a mix of comedians, musicians and writers – including the likes of Shaparak Khorsandi, Jon Ronson and Mae Martin, who has a ‘Dig a Pony’ tattoo – and hosts Jack Pelling and Robin Allender bring their own musical insights too. Listen elsewhere >>
Sad as it is, the Beatles’ story is rapidly passing out of living memory. The Liverpool Echo’s podcast series began as an attempt to get interviews with people who remembered the band’s early days on record, from sweaty Cavern Club lunchtime gigs to the very day that John and Paul met. Since then it’s branched out into chats with authors, including Craig Brown about his excellent One, Two, Three, Four – and visits to important Beatle landmarks around Liverpool. Listen elsewhere >>
[ed. Following quite the discussion on Twitter, Tom sent us over some bonus Beatles pods to add to the list!]
Another Kind of Mind
One of the great things about the Beatle-podcasting ecosystem is that it’s coincided with a flowering of radically new perspectives on the band and, particularly, the relationships between the four Fabs. Another Kind of Mind is especially sharp and expansive on that theme. Phoebe Lorde, Daphne Mitchell and Thalia Reynolds bring a literate, empathetic perspective to all aspects of the band’s history – their five-part run picking apart the friendship between Lennon and McCartney was particularly good.
One Sweet Dream
Similarly deeply researched and keen to challenge the received wisdom of Beatles lore, Diana Erickson and AKOM’s Phoebe Lorde’s podcast is another must. Anyone on a post-Get Back jag for intel about the band’s last years and break-up should dig into the dissection of the story about Lennon’s demand for a “divorce” in September 1969. Like Another Kind of Mind, it’s attentive to the subtleties of the band’s emotional states and relationships that feels very fresh.
All About the Girl
From the very beginning in Liverpool, at the Cavern and the Casbah, women and girls were integral to the Beatles story. From the very prominent (Yoko Ono, Linda McCartney) to the quietly pivotal (Bettina Derlien, the Hamburg barmaid who did so much to ), hosts Chloe and Daisy find new angles on the story through unsung women who’ve been there all along.
Producing the Beatles
This one’s been on hiatus for a long while, which is understandable given the amount of work involved, but it’s the one that plays most with the podcast form with its in-studio soundscapes and exploratory sessions with musicians who get the music up on the jacks and have a good root around inside. Using studio tapes, outtakes and bootlegs, Producing the Beatles shows how their songs developed from embryonic doodles to fully fledged masterpieces.