Friday, May 2, 2014

The Beatles, the Bible, and Bodega Bay - Ken Mansfield


The only book approved by The Beatles

The Beatles, the Bible, and Bodega Bay (http://www.fabwhitebook.com/html/meet_ken.html)
Author: Ken Mansfield
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publishers
Pages: 299

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24 ESV). In The Beatles, the Bible, and Bodega Bay (2000), Ken Mansfield, in writing about another Beatle insider book, said, “My greatest objection was the dark-side approach he (Peter Brown) took to events and the Beatles themselves. I think there must have been two John Lennons—I never met his!” (92). This is indicative of Mansfield’s viewpoint and what makes his book a delight.

His approach becomes even clearer when he describes the forces that eroded the band’s “childlike quality,” which he saw as “a common thread that ran through the very fiber and being of the Fab Four.” Mansfield writes, “My eternal naiveté and potato-bred simplicity saved me. I looked for and only found their goodness and gentle natures. I found them idealistic and still able to dream, vaguely unaware that they were being pulled into an externally induced nightmare” (243-244).

Their musical prowess made Mansfield into an awe-inspired friend. He admits that “he may have even forgotten what I don’t want to remember.” He knew that they liked him and was protective as a result. “I do know that they trusted me, and in order to dig up dirt or caustic observations about these times and these people, I would either have to become a fiction writer or betray that trust,” (245) he explains.

Even in relation to John Lennon, he offers a counter view to his much publicized caustic side. “It is unfortunate, but I fear most people never got to see the casual, lightness-of-being aspect of John Lennon. I am personally offended by the disproportionate amount of negative verbiage written about other areas of his brilliant life” (220).

It’s no wonder that this is the only book ever approved by The Beatles (Yoko One on John Lennon’s behalf). It’s honest and revealing without being critical.

Readers get warm glimpses not found elsewhere: “Life with George in these situations was always comfortable and natural, almost everyday like; he made it that way. He was easy to be with—gentle, kind, and caring. Although I was supposed to be taking care of him, he would always concern himself with how I was doing. He had a bashful, soft-spoken manner with friend and stranger alike, and always appeared to care about others” (137).

Ken Mansfield is the former U.S. manager of Apple Records. That’s him huddling from the cold against the chimney between Yoko and Maureen Starkey when the Beatles gave their final performance on that rooftop. 

Despite the weather and a host of adverse circumstances, it was a triumph that led Mansfield to conclude, “After thirty years in the heart of the record business—offstage, onstage, and backstage with everyone from Roy Orbison to Don Ho—I personally feel that the Beatles were the greatest rock and roll band of all time” (110). Mansfield sees it as the “one event that stood out above all the others during the time” (105) that he worked with the Beatles.

It would be disingenuous to let someone think that the book is merely recollections about The Beatles. Sandwiched in between these wondrous accounts are dispatches, some 20-30 years later, from Bodega Bay, known as the setting for Alfred’s Hitchcock’s The Birds. Far from the dread and fear in that movie are the serene Christian reflections inspired by the natural beauty of the fishing village’s coastline.

These are not lightweight devotionals. It’s a mature Christian seeing God’s hand in all the created wonder that surrounds him. They are much like the Psalms, expressing a full range of human emotions.

At first the transition from one time period to another can be a little jarring, and depending on preference, one can easily want to get through the sections they like least, but that would miss the beauty found each and not see this as a whole. It is a journey from the pinnacles of the music world to the riches of a life lived simply in Christ.

The book features many rare photos and images from Mansfield’s time with the group, along with timelines in the chapters showing significant dates of recordings and other events.

Mansfield also wrote The White Book, The Beatles, the Bands, the Biz: An Insider’s Look at an Era (2007), Between Wyomings: My God and an iPod on the Open Road (2009) and Stumbling on Open Ground: Love, God, Cancer, and Rock 'n' Roll (2013).


Mansfield humanizes The Beatles in a winsome way. This is far removed from the books that disillusion and dissipate hope. These gracious words are sweet to the soul and health to mind and body.
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