PENELOPE ROWLANDS

BIOGRAPHER & JOURNALIST


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REVIEWS AND OTHER PRESS



REVIEWS OF THE BEATLES! ARE HERE!:



From The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), March 13, 2014

Media of all stripes have celebrated the 50th anniversary of “The Ed Sullivan Show” debut of The Beatles and have replayed that revolutionary Fab Four performance to death. Still, Penelope Rowlands’ The Beatles Are Here!: 50 Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers, Musicians, and Other Fans Remember includes fresh perspectives on the phenomenal lads from Liverpool and their music that launched baby boomers and their parents into a brave new world.

Forty-five people who say the Beatles helped shape their personal and professional lives contributed their thoughts to Rowlands’ tribute. In her introduction, the editor articulates her attraction to her subject by stating, “I listen to the band’s songs as I write these words, wondering why they mattered so much then — and do to this day. … I’m struck by the purity of their early musical offerings, the seductive simplicity of the stories they tell.” She adds, “And there it is, in the Beatles’ gentle early songs: ‘Please Please Me,’ ‘All My Loving,’ you name it. Each is a distinct universe, shiny and pristine, each one a haven. You can walk right in, and be safe.

“Which I think,” she adds, “partly explains why these musicians mattered so much then—and still dominate half a century on. Then it changed just as radically as its audience did, moving through violence, protest, drugs, spiritual awakening, and more. It brought us to the next phase, long before some of us even suspected that change was in the air.”

Yet Anne Brown, whom Rowlands terms a “Beatlemaniac,” points out, as do other contributors, that contrary to the lyrics of one of the group’s most popular songs, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr “did not want to hold your hand.” She notes that the band members’ innocent looks belied more delinquent personas. They were, she states, “quite experimental and ingesting everything and they were not what they appeared to be.”

But disc jockey “Cousin Brucie” Morrow’s discussion of how the Beatles and their music evolved suggests that pigeonholing the musicians as naive or wanton is as inaccurate as it is simplistic. He points out that the “band didn’t happen overnight. It was a pretty long process, at least several years. John Lennon and Paul McCartney grew up listening to American rock and roll, blues, rhythm and blues, and jazz. They loved our expression of music.

“At first they were replicating American music, they hadn’t developed their own style. Then they began taking that music, beginning with rock and roll, and refining it, adding a new energy and excitement to it …. They refined it and they went wild.”

Other essayists, such as composer and songwriter Gabriel Kahane, address the group’s talent and musical heritage. He writes, “I think of Paul McCartney as a true craftsman … John Lennon, too. His approach to lyric writing was probably more intuitive than McCartney’s; nevertheless, many of his lyrics have a really satisfying shape and structure.

“ ‘She’s Leaving Home’ comes to mind because the harmonic notes are so beautifully controlled; there’s this kind of Schubertian quality to it. It was a favorite of Leonard Bernstein’s in his quest to draw a connection between the German lied tradition and Lennon-McCartney.”

What’s clear in almost all the essays is the profound way in which the Beatles affected the contributors’ culture and shaped their worldview. Just as those who first saw the band on Feb. 9, 1964 on “The Ed Sullivan Show” benchmark that night as the date of their coming of age, they recognize that just three months on the heels of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Beatles struck a mourning nation as harbingers of hope.

Writer Amanda Vaill summarizes the essayists’ collective assessment in referring to the bell that rang to summon her and her classmates to bed on that evening. She notes, “We certainly didn’t think of it then, but in some ways [that bell] was ringing a funeral knell for one era, our parents’, and ushering in a new one, which for better or worse belonged to us.”

-- Linda Elisabeth Beattie



From "Marketplace Commentary," OnMilwaukee.com, March 1, 2014

The Beatles Are Here! 50 Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers, Musicians and Other Fans Remember, by Penelope Rowlands (Algonquin) – While this compendium of first-person memories and accounts of the Beatles' arrival in America includes contributions by the likes of Billy Joel and Cyndi Lauper, they're nowhere near the most interesting bits. Instead, look at the cover image, and you'll see the author dead center. Her memories of the day the photo was taken, along with those of others in the photo, are the most compelling stories and the most engaging. After all, these were the kids on the front lines of Beatlemania. How fortunate for us that one of the girls in one of those photos grew up to be a writer and anthologist.

– Bobby Tanzilo


From The Boston Globe, February 8, 2014

One of the more fascinating new books on the Fab Four’s impact is “The Beatles Are Here!,” a collection of essays and oral accounts curated and edited by Penelope Rowlands and featuring a range of writers (Greil Marcus, Fran Lebowitz) and musicians (Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper).

The book’s cover photo, originally published in The New York Times in 1964, is an iconic image of girls losing their minds over the foursome, holding a sign emblazoned with “Beatles Please Stay Here 4-Ever.” The girl in the middle, the one who appears to be crying, is Rowlands.

“Somebody asked me, ‘What were you girls thinking?’ and I thought that was a curious way to put it, because I’m sure thinking didn’t enter into the situation,” Rowlands says of that photo. “It just seemed to be pure emotion. In doing this book, I began to remember that we heard about the screaming girls in England before we ever heard the Beatles’ music.”

“We were kind of whipped into a frenzy by the really powerful disc jockeys of the era,” she adds. “Murray the K and Cousin Brucie were the two who dominated the airwaves where I grew up in New York.”

A recurring theme in the book is the notion that before the Beatles arrived, pop music was lying fallow, with a nation still plunged in grief over John F. Kennedy’s assassination the year before. The country was hungry for new voices, a splash of Technicolor on an otherwise gray canvas.

-- James Reed


San Antonio Express-News, February 9, 2014

Remembering The Beatles' arrival by Hector Saldana

SAN ANTONIO — Pop culture writer and author Penelope Rowlands knows exactly where she was 50 years ago this weekend. She was among the thousands of screaming teenage girls stalking the Beatles when they arrived in New York in 1964. It was Feb. 9 when the Beatles made their world-changing television debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Even if she couldn't remember, there's a classic photo of Rowlands in a crowd of frenzied girls holding a handmade Beatles banner.

It's the cover of her latest book — Rowlands is right in the center, mouth agape, curly hair. It's an endlessly readable collection of remembrances, mini-essays and oral histories from the likes of writer Gay Talese, satirist Fran Lebowitz, photographer Henry Grossman, musicians Janis Ian, Cyndi Lauper and Billy Joel, rock critic Greil Marcus, deejay “Cousin Brucie” Morrow and others.

The range of the contributions is fresh, fun and often surprising.

“I was amazed at how good they were,” said Rowlands, whose own recollections — she was there when the Beatles hit New York and saw them in concert three times, including at Shea Stadium — add authenticity to the oft-covered moment.

“That photo is really why the book exists,” Rowlands said. “I'm not an expert on the Beatles. The only thing is, I was there, a screaming girl running around Manhattan.”

So were some of the others, and their memories are delicious.

For Talese, who was a reporter at the New York Times in 1964, the Beatles were just another assignment, albeit “a spectacle” and “wondrous event.”

“And I was a specialist in covering spectacles,” Talese recalled. But he noticed something else about “this foppish group of longhairs.”

“The Beatles were different than anything in the entertainment world,” recounted Talese. But the prevailing mood, he admitted, was that the Beatles “were sort of temporary court jesters.”

Joel loved that they “didn't look like Fabian” and picked up on John Lennon's “(expletive) you” attitude.

Lebowitz, a self-described “nonfan,” offers biting commentary of the '64 arrival, trumped only of her recounting of an incident years later when she asked Paul McCartney to quit being so annoying on the piano at a dinner party.

Lebowitz did love that Ringo wore rings in an age when men didn't.

“That was a telephone interview,” explained Rowlands with a laugh. “She did not stop for air.”

Rowlands, on the other hand, was a total fan: “I loved them. I loved every album. I went from point A to point Z of their career. They spoke to us in some amazing way. They were so good and they kept changing and they kind of knew what was coming before we did.”

But she is stumped by one thing: Why was she screaming? She blames “She Loves You.”

“We heard about the screaming girls before we heard the music,” Rowlands said. “We were whipped into this frenzy. I do remember the first moment 'She Loves You' came through my AM radio next to my bed.

You just knew you loved them and you knew you needed to scream. I don't know. It was like mass hypnosis.”



From Los Angeles Magazine (Culture Files blog), 2/​7/​14

It Was 50 Years Ago Today
Half a century ago, the Beatles arrived in America.

A new book talks to the fans, who have loved them the longest

by Julia St. Pierre

I was born in 1963, and for as long as I can remember I have been a huge Beatles fan. I was playing my older siblings’ 45s on a Show N Tell record player instead of the Winnie the Pooh EPs that came with it. While I've seen and read countless rock n roll documentaries and biographies where musicians explain how seeing the four lads from Liverpool on The Ed Sullivan Show that night in 1964 set them on their career path, for me there was never a “Where were you?" moment. The Beatles were always a part of my life. It’s been a revelation to read The Beatles Are Here!, a series of essays edited by Penelope Rowlands (Algonquin Books) in which fans, DJs, photographers, writers, and musicians recount how life changing that moment truly was.

Rowlands was one of those hysterical teenagers who tried to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four outside their hotel in New York, her face clearly visible in the photo on the book's cover (It ran in the New York Times in September of 1964). Gathering stories from Fran Lebowitz, Billy Joel, Renee Fleming, Cyndi Lauper, Joe Queenan, Peter Duchin and many others, she delves into so many aspects of the era that I had never considered, reminding me how different life was in the '60s.

John F. Kennedy’s assassination had occurred just three months prior and the country desperately needed something to smile about. The civil rights movement divided the nation with mainstream radio stations refusing to play “black” music. Instead, they stuck to "safe music": Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Lawrence Welk on television, and Elvis Presley in silly movies. So when American ears heard these songs for the first time, they were ready for something happy and fun. And teenagers were ready for something different—something their parents didn’t listen to.

The lyrics of the first songs you heard were simple and sweet and spoke straight to teenagers: "I want to hold your hand," "She loves you, yeah yeah yeah." The music was fresh and different with a danceable beat, unique chords and strong harmonies.

TV was in its infancy. You got most of your media—news, entertainment and music—from the radio, so there was a good chance you didn't know how John, Paul, Ringo, and George looked. Part of the hysteria surrounding the Beatles, which hadn’t occurred to me, was based on teens starving for the chance to see them.

Through these entertaining anecdotes, even stories that detail how the girls in the photo on the cover of the book all find each other again, The Beatles Are Here! explores how the Fab Four affected people from vastly different walks of life. There was the photographer who shot pictures of them at that first press conference in New York and realized how intelligent they were, the DJ who watched armed guards arrive with their new records, the Catholic school girl who was crestfallen to find out Paul was Church of England and would have to convert to marry her, Cyndi Lauper’s mother screaming at her daughter while pointing to the pictures of the Beatles on the walls, “I want you and all your friends to clean this room up right now.” Ever the contrarian, Fran Lebowitz says it had no affect on her at all.

These personal stories explain how Beatlemania changed everything. Not just music, but hair, clothes, attitudes, media, stardom, and even how people talked. For the subjects of this book, as for many, February 1964 was when their lives truly began.



From USA TODAY February 7, 2014

The Week in Pop: Whit's Faves from the Last Seven Days

3. The Beatles Are Here! Now's a perfect time to read this fun new book about the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four's arrival in America. Author Penelope Rowlands talks to many people who were there to witness the hysteria — the cover shows a photo of herself screaming for the band — along with celebrities like Billy Joel, Fran Lebowitz, Janis Ian and Gay Talese.

-- Whitney Matheson


From Los Angeles magazine's Culture Files Blog, 2/​6/​14

Now Read This: The Week's Best New Books, February 6th Edition

Top titles hitting bookshelves this week

by Daniel Davis-Williams

The Beatles Are Here!: 50 Years after the Band Arrived in America, Writers, Musicians & Other Fans Remember
(Algonquin Books, paperback, $16)
By Penelope Rowlands

This anthology, assembled by one-time California resident and author Penelope Rowlands, chronicles the cultural upheaval and hysteria that followed the 1964 arrival of the most iconic band of the 20th century. (Rowlands herself was entirely swept up by The Beatles in her youth.) Contributors include writer Gay Talese, musician Renée Fleming, and many others.

Out: February 4


From Variety, February 6, 2014

"In the book world, Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years (Crown Archetype), the first of a monumental three-volume biography by foremost Beatles scholar Mark Lewisohn, was published in October to great acclaim. Also published that month: The Beatles: The BBC Archives: 1962-1970 (Harper Design) by Kevin Howlett. And The Beatles Are Here! (Algonquin), a series of essays by writers, musicians and fans from author Penelope Rowlands, hit the racks Feb. 4, among many other commemorative works.

-- Steve Chagollan


From The Christian Science Monitor, Chapter & Verse blog, February 5, 2014

'The Beatles Are Here!':
Five Writers Reminisce

Five writers remember the arrival of The Beatles in the US and how it affected – or, in one case, failed to affect – their lives.

By Danny Heitman, Contributor


This month’s 50th anniversary of the first visit of The Beatles to the United States has prompted lots of reflection on how the Fab Four affected American pop music, but the world’s most famous British rock group touched the world of literature, too.

Or so readers have been reminded by a new anthology, The Beatles Are Here! : 50 Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers, Musicians and Other Fans Remember (Algonquin, $15.95, 255 pp.).

Edited by Penelope Rowlands, the essay collection includes remembrances from Beatles admirers and fellow musical artists, but The Beatles Are Here! also throws light on how the band shaped the thinking of a number of people who would eventually become distinguished journalists and people of letters. Even those who professed not to be Beatles fans, such as Fran Lebowitz, still felt compelled to respond to the British Invasion of pop music in some way.

The Beatles arrived in New York for their first visit to America on Feb. 7, 1964. Here, courtesy of “The Beatles Are Here!,” are five quick takes on the event from various writers. For the full version, be sure and check out Rowlands’ anthology:

1. “My father would not let me and my three sisters watch The Beatles when they appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ in February 1964. His official reason for imposing this interdiction was because the Catholic Church had identified The Beatles as tools of Satan. This was strange because even at that very early juncture, The Beatles, with the possible exception of John, seemed quite harmless and cuddly.”

– Joe Queenan, author and newspaper columnist

2. “After I got The Beatles assignment, I spent the whole day watching them as they moved into public recognition. I watched them from afar.... I didn’t talk to them, I just watched. That’s what I specialized in. I don’t really like to talk to people. I’m a watcher, a scene describer. When I’m writing I’m not a civilian, but a kind of performer – a participating, fantasizing performer. I’m like an actor who plays a role and the role I play has to do with the people I’m writing about.”

– Gay Talese, journalist and author

3. “All I wanted when I had finished hearing them was to hear them again. They contain, each in its own way, a feeling I can’t name or describe, the languor of regret, the urgency of despair. But above all they contain the love of music.”

– Verlyn Klinkenbourg, journalist and author

4. “The day The Beatles landed in New York City was the day the United Kingdom could finally see that it wasn’t just yesterday’s power, on the decline, but part of what would form tomorrow’s transatlantic axis. They were flying into the future, really, – our future – and the next thing we knew, Britain would be branding itself as the new America....”

– Pico Iyer, journalist and author

5. “The arrival of The Beatles didn’t affect me at all.... In the long run, they must have influenced my life in some way because they were such an enormous cultural influence. I mean, I know probably a million Beatles songs because you can’t not know a million Beatles songs. But at the time, they barely registered, although I do remember watching them on ‘Ed Sullivan.’”

– Fran Lebowitz, author

(Danny Heitman, a columnist for The Baton Rouge Advocate,is the author of A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House.)



From the Tampa Bay Times, February 4, 2014

by Colette Bancroft, Times Book Editor

Penelope Rowlands has the bona fides to put together a collection of essays called The Beatles Are Here! In the book's cover photo, which ran in 1964 in the New York Times, she's the curly-haired girl in the center of a line of young women screaming over a "Beatles Please Stay" banner.

She's also a journalist who has written or edited several books, and she has culled a great crop of recollections of the first wave of Beatlemania for this one. There are reminiscences by fans from big cities and tiny towns, some sweet, some hilarious, like Mary Norris' account of her determination, starting when she was 12, to not only marry Paul but convert him to Catholicism into the bargain.

Writers weigh in, Carolyn See with her tale of seeing the Beatles' first movie, A Hard Day's Night, two dozen times as a young graduate student; Roy Blount Jr. explaining why a large part of the group's allure was their humor: "One thing the Beatles were, that so few rock gods have been, was droll." Joe Queenan captures the group's transformative quality perfectly: "I was thirteen years old when the Beatles came to the United States and to this day I believe that my life as a sentient human being, and not merely my parents' chattel, began at that moment."

Rowlands also includes the band's galvanizing effect on musicians. You might not expect opera legend Renee Fleming's detailed praise for their songwriting. But it makes sense to read that hearing I Want to Hold Your Hand for the first time made Bruce Springsteen's hair stand on end (and made him buy his first guitar), and that realizing the Beatles were working-class kids who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments made a teenage Billy Joel decide instantly, "That's what I want to do."


From the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography Journal, 1/​31/​14

Reviewed by Karl Wolff

The Beatles. When the Fab Four hit American shores in 1964, everything changed. You can't say that for too many things, especially in our fragmented, hyper-mediated, pop culture saturated culture. The title of the book says it all: The Beatles Are Here!: 50 Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers, Musicians, and Other Fans Remember. What makes this anthology stand out is the quality and variety of its contributors and Ms. Rowlands's own personal history with the band. While hipsters (the current iteration, not the Jazz Age and Beat Generation versions) try to out-obscure each other with their esoteric musical tastes, the Beatles were mainstream and corporate. (They signed to a major record label.) Who liked the Beatles? Everyone. It is a challenge to think of a pop cultural milestone that has universal appeal. The original Star Wars blockbuster phenom from 1977 to 1983 comes pretty close, since it appealed to non-science fiction fans.

When the Beatles played on Ed Sullivan in 1964 and at Shea Stadium, everything changed. Elvis was mere prelude. The opening essay sets the mood. "My sisters and I grew up despising Welk and all those of his ilk, so when the Beatles showed up, we felt the way the French must have felt when the GIs swarmed into Paris in August 1944." The Beatles ushed in the British Invasion. For decades, American music - blues, jazz, rock, etc. - had influenced British musicians. The Beatles reversed the tide. Elvis was a shot across the bow of Frank Sinatra. In the Thirties and Forties, Frankie had been the teen pop icon beloved by screaming teen girls. When the Beatles played Ed Sullivan, Frank was done. Sinatra must have the felt same way the members of Whitesnake felt when Kurt Cobain played the first chords of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Some historicizing is in order. The band didn't just come out of nowhere. Numerous contributors remember the Beatles TV appearance shortly after the Kennedy assassination in late November 1963. With their optimism and energy, they were a means for a nation to heal. And while the anthology is full of warm memories and a not undue amount of nostalgia, the anthology includes some wonderful variations on the Beatles. There are radio Djs from the era recounting the rabid fandom of Beatlemaniacs. But we also get to read travel writer Pico Iyer's take on the Fab Four. The original newspaper feature by Gay Talese is included, along with the original typos and fuddy duddy snark at the young kids with their long hair and skinny ties. "Cut those sideburns, Mattingly!" To be fair, Talese was doing journalism back in the day when type was set manually.

David Thomson, the film critic, interlaces his memories with the Beatles filmography. Biographer David Michaelis recreates his memories of the Beatles but augments it with a deep reading of the lyrics and his academic career in English literature. Michaelis draws the pop culture of the Beatles into the larger tributaries of English literary tradition. There are others. Facebook encounters of long lost friends and the eminent wit of non-fan Fran Lebowitz gives her take.

Where an anthology about the anniversary of the Beatles could have been a love-fest or a tar pit of reactionary nostalgia ("Things were better in the past. Modern life is awful."), Penelope Rowlands gives the reader a varied and enjoyable collection of anecdotes, pop culture analysis, and Sixties history. It is also a wonderful relic of what fandom was. And Beatlemaniacs are sure fanatical about their band. Before Team Edward and Team Jacob in the Sparkly Mormon Vampire Supernatural Romance saga, there was Team Paul and Team John. Sure, there was Team Ringo and Team George too. But Paul was dreamy and John was so totally a poet!

All mockery aside, the Beatles created the zeitgeist of the era and transformed music, pop culture, fashion, cinema, you name it. They also represented a band that was mainstream and part of the monoculture. This monoculture came into being with the transition from radio to television and the dominance of the Big Three (NBC, ABC, CBS) until the retirement of Johnny Carson in the Nineties. (It should be noted, I'm painting the picture in broad strokes and speaking in generalities.)

Before there was Star Wars, before Cheap Trick at Budakon, before all that, there was the Beatles. It was fifty years ago today ...

Out of 10/​9.5 and 10 for Beatlemaniacs




From The Durham (N. Carolina) Herald-Sun, 1/​30/​14

Music That Will ‘Go On and On’

by Cliff Bellamy

“The Beatles Are Here! 50 Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers, Musicians, and Other Fans Remember”

Edited by Penelope Rowlands (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $15.95, paperback)


Penelope Rowlands, then 13, is the young woman in the center of The New York Times photo featured on the cover of her new collection, “The Beatles Are Here!” Rowlands wrote about the photo in an article for Vogue magazine years later, and also reconnected with all but one of the women in the photo.

That reconnection, Rowlands writes in her introduction, became the germ of this collection of interviews, essays, testimonials and snippets from writers, musicians and fans who were influenced by The Beatles and their landing on American shores. Three other women in the photo – Vickie Brenna-Costa, Joann Marie Pugliese Flood, and Linda Belfi Bartel – also have reminiscences in this edition, which Rowlands, borrowing a phrase from John Lennon, calls a “scrapbook of madness.”

Fans who experienced 1964, and younger people influenced by The Beatles’ music, will find something to love in this collection. Like any book about this subject, you will also find points where you will want to argue. Rowlands, for example, expresses some dismay at the quartet’s later songs. “Later their music darkened, became jagged, gothic by comparison. And psychedelia, which the Beatles would soon take up – or was it the other way around? – seemed to lead straight to the apocalypse,” Rowlands writes. I will argue that their later work has helped ensure The Beatles’ continuing influence. (Think of how music history might have changed had this group disbanded, say, in 1966.) Joe Queenan, in his wonderfully hilarious essay “Tools of Satan, Liverpool Division,” writes that the band “swept away” or “marginalized” the likes of Pat Boone, Steve and Eydie, and Kingston Trio. His point about schlocky pop music is well-taken, but The Beatles themselves did not come out of a vacuum. They had wide musical influences, and their music was stylistically eclectic. (They recorded the standard “Till There Was You” on “Meet the Beatles.”)

I don’t mean to pick nits – there’s so much in this collection that will make you nod your head in agreement, or speak to you in some way. In “White Out,” playwright and novelist Judy Juanita writes that “the Beatles helped close the gap between colored and white America, the schism,” with their “convergence of R&B and pop.” Composer and songwriter Gabriel Kahane gives them the ultimate compliment, praising The Beatles’ craftsmanship as songwriters. “It’s satisfying because it’s simultaneously very sophisticated, yet incredibly simple and emotionally direct – and those are qualities that I look for in music,” he writes.

Designer and illustrator Laura Tarrish offers a touching reminiscence of her 8-year-old Beatles fan daughter going to the famous Abbey Road crosswalk to pay tribute to George Harrison after he died. Harrison, Tarrish writes, was her daughter’s favorite Beatle. Tarrish’s story reminds me of my own daughter, who several years ago, watching a video, looked at me and said, “The Beatles rock!,” without any prompting or propaganda from her jazz freak old man. As soprano Renee Fleming says in her essay, their music “is going to go on and on.”


From "The Media Tourist," American Profile magazine, February 2, 2014

Featured Book Pick: The Beatles Are Here!

Mop Top Mania
Remembering the Beatles’ invasion, 50 years ago this month

The author (pictured on the cover, in the middle, just above the ‘A’ and the ‘T’ of the sign), corralled essays from more than 40 musicians, fellow writers and fans to commemorate Beatlemania’s arrival on American shores 50 years ago. Singer-songwriters Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper and Janis Ian; journalists Gay Talese, Griel Marcus, Roy Blount Jr.; and radio personality “Cousin Brucie” Morrow are among the contributors who recall and reflect on the emotional joy, musical shockwaves and sheer hysteria that greeted John, Paul, George and Ringo on their first trip to the United States on Feb. 7, 1963. “How quickly the Beatles changed…everything,” writes Rowlands, noting that “She Loves You” was “two minutes and nineteen seconds that seemed to render almost everything, musically, that came before it obsolete.”

—Neil Pond



From Vanity Fair, February, 2014

"The Beatles’ royal unveiling on The Ed Sullivan Show of February 9, 1964, was the most successful rollout since Cleopatra got spun from the carpet. It was also, as Penelope Rowlands suggests in her introduction to The Beatles Are Here!(Algonquin)—a goody bag of tributes and recollections of that hallowed time—the christening party for the New Journalism, with Tom Wolfe and Nora Ephron among the journalists covering the band’s arrival and Gay Talese later that year reporting the hormonal eruption outside the Paramount Theater, where the Beatles were playing a benefit concert. Well-dressed swells in furs and pearls promenaded past a wailing wall of beseeching adolescents. (“It was an incongruous sight last night,” Talese wrote in The New York Times, “one that brought together the chic and shriek sets.”) The New Journalism and the Beatles were part of the same voltage surge that gave the 60s their exclamation mark of now! The Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan was ear-battering and plane-shattering, a national convocation of what media philosopher Marshall McLuhan would call the “all-at-once-ness” of the television revolution. There they were, beamed into our Leave It to Beaver living rooms to an astounding audience of 73 million..."

-- James Wolcott



From Publishers Weekly 12/​9/​2013

The Beatles Are Here!: 50 Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers, Musicians, and Other Fans Remember

Penelope Rowlands. Algonquin, $15.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61620-350-4

As a teenager, journalist Rowlands greeted the Beatles 50 years ago by holding a sign begging “Beatles Please Stay Here” with five fellow screaming Beatles fans outside the CBS studios where the group was performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. In this compulsively readable personal history, Rowlands gathers the recollections of fans, writers, musicians, and artists about the deep ways that the Beatles and their music affected them. For Joe Queenan, “She Loves You” is “the greatest song ever written… it is and always will be the song that changed the world.” “Cousin Brucie” Morrow reflects on the power of the Beatles’ music to bring change to the American music industry. Writer Verlyn Klinkenborg recalls upon listening to “Ticket to Ride” and “Help” that the songs “contain… a feeling I can’t name or describe, the language of regret, the urgency of despair. But above all they contain the love of music.” Finally, fan Linda Belfi Bartel (one of the women in the book’s cover photo) concludes that, “The era of the Beatles is so special…their music talked to you.” (Feb.)



From Library Journal 12/​01/​2013

The Beatles Are Here! 50 Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers, Musicians & Other Fans Remember
By Penelope Rowlands

Rowlands (Paris Was Ours: 32 Writers Reflect On the City of Light) gained fame as one of a group of teenage girls photographed outside New York's Delmonico Hotel in 1964, holding up a handmade sign entreating the Beatles to "please stay here 4-ever." Fifty years later, she has compiled essays from authors, journalists, critics, and musicians (Billy Joel and Janis Ian are among the more well-known contributors), as well as several other women depicted in the iconic image, reflecting on the group. Clearly a labor of love, this work is an examination of the strong emotions the band engendered, and a streak of uninhibited girlish glee runs through many of the pieces. From these endearing personal accounts, a portrait also emerges of the often staid world of 1960s suburbia, providing a richer sense of just why young people were so receptive to Beatlemania. Some writers bring a more sophisticated perspective (for instance, playwright Judy Juanita discusses the group within the context of race), but generally this winsome book is overwhelmingly infused with affection both for the Beatles and for the opportunity to revisit childhood and adolescent memories. VERDICT While this title isn't for those looking for serious sociocultural or music criticism, readers seeking a nostalgia-tinged picture of the Beatles are in for a treat.

—Mahnaz Dar