Jeff Sobul Interview
(Co-author of The Colour of Your Dreams, The Beatles' Psychedelic
Attention all Beatles Fans!!! Writers Stuart Madow and Jeff Sobul have put
together a new book on the group you may be interested in. Titled The Colour
of Your Dreams, The Beatles' Psychedelic Music (Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc.
701 Smithfield Street Suite 301 Pittsburgh, PA 15222). It features a detailed
breakdown of each psychedelic song The Beatles wrote from 1966 through 1968.
We talked with Jeff Sobul about the book.
Q: Jeff, you are 29 years old. Is that correct?
Q: So, that means you were born in 1964, the same year The
Beatles came to America. You never experienced "Beatlemania". How did you get
so caught up with The Beatles?
A: Actually, I was born in 1963, pretty much when it started getting big in
England. The first time I was really, truly exposed to The Beatles was, I believe,
I was about 8 years old and I saw "Yellow Submarine" for the first time. Being
a kid and seeing the animation, you're kind of drawn to it. I've basically
been a Beatles fan since about then. Stuart has been a Beatles fan since he
was about four. For the most part, this project was his idea. He'd been wanting
to do something like this for a long time. He didn't have a whole lot of skills
as a writer, so we got together. It was a very good match. Since we're such
close friends, even though we were about 800 miles apart doing the project,
we have a very similar thought process. So, it was a very easy collaboration
in that respect.
Q: Why did you focus on The Beatles Revolver, Sgt. Pepper
A: Well, we wanted to do something that focused on their music specifically.
If you look at how many books are out on The Beatles, none of 'em really takes
the music and looks at it. It's all about Paul's shoe size or something generally
irrelevant, unless you care about gossip. We aren't into that sensationalistic
type of thing. We wanted to talk about the music, because we thought without
their music they would be nothing. We took this period specifically, because
it represented their greatest creative growth. There was a tremendous evolution
in songwriting for these four guys. I don't think there's ever been another
group that's gone through such transition and at the same time produced work
throughout that was at times ground breaking and astounding. What we wanted
to accomplish with the book is, we wanted to take this highly creative period
which in reality lost some of their fans, not from the group itself, but some
of the music didn't get through to them, because it was very complex and different.
We wanted to take this period and kind of break it down, and simplify a little
more, so your average Beatle fan could say, O.K., there really is a normalcy
to the whole thing. There's a purpose and a point. It's not just bizarre, psychedelic
Q: In this book, you attempt to dissect, or explain song by
song, what each of The Beatles songs means. How would you know what the real
meaning is of each song? Only the writer would really know.
A: Well, you're right to a degree. Unless, you literally crawl inside somebody's
head you can't figure out what they're thinking. But, at the same time, you
can try and look at the lyrics and you can try and interpret the lyrics. We
state in the book, a lot of what we have in there is our opinion, and our interpretation.
I don't think it differs from a lot of other people's opinions and interpretations
of their music either.
Q: What kink of reaction are you getting from readers of this
A: Everybody who reads it for the most part finds it informative. The point
we want to get across is, even though this is being referred to as a detailed
analysis of the music, it is not like a college textbook. It's very easy to
read. What we wanted to do is simplify the whole thing. Everybody who read
it said they enjoyed the reading. It's been informative in a lot of respects,
some of it, in the trivia surrounding some of the songs. I think another one
of the goals of the book was to kind of change the way you approach music in
general, along with Beatles music, and the way you listen to music. Instead
of just hearing it, you listen to the song.
Q: Have any of The Beatles reacted to the Book?
A: Ringo Starr got a copy of it when he was in Charlotte where Stuart lives.
There was a book left backstage for him. Ringo is in a phase where he doesn't
want to talk about The Beatles anymore. I guess be picked it up, looked at
it, and said, "Oh, it's nice. I don't want to talk about The Beatles anymore" and
put it down. Apparently one of his road managers picked it up and read it,
and really enjoyed it. I'm hoping to get a copy to Paul McCartney when he
come to Kansas City in a few months. I should be able to get a copy into
his dressing room.
Q: Of the Beatles success, you write, "As much as anything,
they were a product of timing." Explain what that means.
A: You had kind of an interesting time period, coming out of the 50's, where
I think there was a lot of suppressed emotion among the youth. Some of it started
breaking out with Elvis and the widespread attention Band and rock n' roll
was starting to get. In the early 60's, the sociological forces both in Europe
and America had youth looking for something else, especially with music. The
death of John Kennedy had a little bit to do with it, because people especially
in America, had a piece of them cut out, a piece of their heart, their soul
cut out. The Beatles came on the scene, somewhat filled that void. They were
good looking, charismatic, and the music was very easy to dance to, and very
listener friendly. So, it wasn't that much of a surprise that someone came
along to fill that void. It just happened to be The Beatles.
Q: Brian Epstein, The Beatles manager played a very important
role in their success, didn't he?
Q: You write, "Brian Epstein packaged The Beatles in a way
that would appeal to the world. He is as much responsible for their rise
as any one person." You go on to say, "Brian Epstein's vision in recognizing
their talent and charm and finding a way to sell it to the world, helped
make them a success." Yet, John Lennon didn't see it that way. He once remarked
if Brian Epstein was so smart, why didn't the other acts he managed enjoy
the same success as The Beatles? And you would say what to that?
A: I want to qualify one thing about our statement. I think we do mention that
while Brian Epstein played a very important role in breaking them into the
world, I think The Beatles had a great deal of talent, and far more than any
of the other groups he managed. At some point in time, Stuart and I believed,
The Beatles would have gained some form of success. I don't think it would
have ever been to the degree that it happened. The sheer talent of Lennon,
and McCartney and eventually Harrison and even Ringo as a songwriter, their
talents, were gonna come out, one way or another. Brian Epstein recognized
the talent that they had and their charm and charisma, but cleaned them up
to the degree, that they could immediately invade mainstream society, as a
musical force. I still think they would have gotten some success, I agree with
Lennon in that point. I don't know how big they would've become, but I don't
think they would have achieved the success they did without Brian Epstein opening
up or finding a way to open the world for them.
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