(Ringo Starr’s wonderful book, Postcards from the Boys, published in 2004 by Chronicle Books, is no longer in print. It is available, however, from various marketplace sellers on Amazon.)
Ringo Starr | Postcards from the Boys | Chronicle Books (2004)
It’s hard, these days, to get excited about a new Beatles book. I mean, really…what can possibly be said about the world’s greatest band that hasn’t already been said? Nevertheless, every so often, someone comes up with a new approach. Take, for example, Andy Babuik, whose fab 2002 tome, “Beatles Gear,” is wholly original, and Bruce Spizer, whose scholarly looks at the Fabs’ Vee-Jay, Capitol and Apple releases, and in-depth breakdown of the group’s arrival in America, are must-haves.
For another example, take Ringo Starr’s delightful slice of life, Postcards from the Boys, just published by Chronicle Books in a gorgeous, affordable hardcover edition (a limited-edition, much more expensive version was published earlier this year by the venerable Genesis Publications in England). Postcards depicts the fronts and backs of 51 postcards sent over the years to Richard Starkey, M.B.E. by John, Paul, and George. It is wholly unlike any other Beatles book ever published, in that it focuses not on the music, but on the music of life.
Each postcard is accompanied by a caption from Ringo that either directly comments on the inscription or the picture, or recounts an anecdote that was suggested by them. Take a card sent by John, the front of which shows a hairy flute player that resembles Lennon, and a woman, who looks like Yoko, nestled in a tree. “I’ll name that flute player in two notes,” writes Starr. Or take a card, sent by Paul and Linda McCartney and family, from the Caribbean, on the back of which Paul has drawn a boat sailing the seas. “Love from the Macs,” says the inscription. Ringo writes, “I like tropical islands. I love the Caribbean. I’m not excited when you have to put a big overcoat on.” Warm, funny and wonderful.
Then there is the lovely card sent to Ringo by Paul after the White Album, after Ringo had left the group because he couldn’t take the fighting. The story about Ringo coming back to find the studio dressed to the nines in flowers, flowers, flowers is legendary and cool, but the message scrawled by McCartney on the back of the card is even better: “You are the greatest drummer in the world. Really.” (The front of the card shows a guardsman at Windsor Castle, wearing a military drum around his neck.)
You won’t find any recording secrets here, and there’s no dirt to be had, no Jerry Springer moments at all. What you will find are 112 pages that provide a window into the heart of one of the world’s most famous drummers, who just happened to be in a band called the Beatles. A splendid time is guaranteed for all (and dig that holographic thingee on the cover!). This is really fab.
September 19, 2004