Podcast of the Week: Something About the Beatles

Take a deep dive into Beatles history with Beatles experts and hosts Robert Rodriguez and Richard Buskin

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Sgt Pepper’s return to the top of the album charts 50 years on from its release may have lasted only a week (welcome back, Ed Sheeran) but as far as I am concerned, the final E chord on A Day in the Life is still reverberating.

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So on the basis that appetites might have been whetted by all that discussion of the album that revolutionised pop music, I’ve been rooting around in Beatles podcasts.

The podcast Something About the Beatles was drawn to my attention by someone called Bill Wyman (not THE Bill Wyman), a writer for Vulture.com who recently took it upon himself to rate all 213 Beatles songs from worst to best. I disagreed with much of it, but Wyman knows his stuff and he is right about Something About the Beatles.

The podcast is co-hosted by Richard Buskin and Robert Rodriguez — a Brit and an American respectively, and that combination is important. The Beatles were as much an American story as a British one, and both perspectives are covered in their always educative and entertaining discussions.

Podcast of the Week – previous picks

Strong and Stable/Talking Politics

Soundtracking with Edith Bowman

The National Theatre podcast

A Gay and a NonGay

Short Cuts with Josie Long

Buskin has a string of pop biographies to his name; Rodriguez’s books include no fewer than five about the Beatles. We’re in the realm of profound expertise and considerable scholarship, none of it too heavily worn.

Both men draw on personal recollections, but the podcast — often around an hour and a half long — never feels self-indulgent, in part because guest contributors also feature.

You might think that it’s all been said about the Beatles but there’s still a freshness, indeed a relevance, about Something About the Beatles that I think would commend it both to those of us who were around at the time and to later generations discovering them afresh. 

More than 100 episodes of the podcast have been broadcast so far, the subjects ranging from specific albums (eg the recent one on Sgt Pepper) to moments in history (the Beatles’ 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show) to niche aspects of their output (Our Favourite George Solo Songs) to the counter-factual (Post-Beatles Albums that Never Were), to more academic theses (Beatle Politics) to comparisons with others (the Beatles and the Monkees).

The podcast app PlayerFM has a Beatles section that features Something About the Beatles as well as numerous other podcasts devoted to the band.

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Listen at somethingaboutthebeatles.com