Hi there. I'm new.
The Sinatra connection is merely Gould's theory, and while anyone's interpretation is "valid" (the ear cares about the actual music a lot more than the lyrics anyway), this brings to mind the problem I tend to have with any lone person's "definitive" version of the Beatles' musical story: The new slants are presented as facts, case closed, no argument allowed, whereas they're just good guesses. Gould doesn't seem to realize that "bird" is slang for "girl" in the UK, and he ignores certain words that certainly sound directed to a woman rather than an overrated lounge singer ("Look in my direction/I'll be around").
Here's a long-winded review. I agree that Can't Buy Me Love is, for the most part, outstanding, but it's marred by the usual useless bits of criticism, and Gould places too much importance on the lyrics, ignoring a lot of the melodies, harmonic climates, arrangements, etc. that made the Beatles music appealing. He thinks "Cry Baby Cry" sucks just because of the lyrics, for instance, and doesn't even address its catchy chord progression.
Still, this six-hundred-page surprise is exceptionally insightful and well written. It even startles you with brilliant bits of humor when you're least expecting them. In spite of getting a few lyrics wrong (doesn't he have the songs handy?), he's written a book about the Beatles and their impact for (gasp) intelligent adults who appreciate the watertight application of a wide vocabulary.
Regrettably, as with too many books that center on the work of musical artists, it's tarnished by negative criticism of many songs -- even entire album-sides, written off with incongruent flippancy. Nobody would suggest that every piece of music the group recorded is fantastic, but this berating adds nothing, merely warding off the reader a bit and detracting from the astute bulk of the book.
Why does everyone who writes a Beatles volume feel that he must intermittently assume the musically cynical, aloof and utterly useless role of "music critic"? It's not as if it changes people's tastes, or the way the music sounds coming out of the speakers.
The irrelevant disapproval periodically pulls the book down from its otherwise enlightening and highly erudite bearing into the realm of isolated and quite useless subjectivity. And the charm of the early recordings is, for some reason, utterly lost on the author. We honestly don't care which songs you don't like, Mr. Gould; the title and presented notion of your book, not to mention the majority of its prose (thankfully), don't indicate snide personal opinions, isolated from the substance; rather, a historical and sociological context-painting of the Beatles' music. You do this remarkably well, so you don't need to resort to imitating the hack writers of Rolling Stone and other immensely overrated periodicals.
Speaking of the misquoted lyrics, why not get pedantic about a few other bits while I'm at it, on behalf of like-minded fanatics: In "Paperback Writer," the background vocals are "frere jacques," not "paperbacker" sung merely "to the tune" of that French song. And Paul sings the first line of the "Lucy" chorus, not John - listen carefully. The collage of cut-up tapes in "Mr. Kite" is not heard after John introduces Henry the Horse, but rather at the end of the song, after he sings "topping the bill." Apart from the song citations, the normal slang is "old stamping ground," in keeping with the horse metaphor, not "stomping" (in spite of erroneous popular usage). And a "meteoric rise" doesn't exist, since meteors fall, not rise. Finally, LSD is not an acronym -- just initials. An acronym is a set of initials that actually spell out a word.
Anyway, the author's immaterial tracts of criticism aside, the book is superb, and this is coming from an extremely picky reader/writer whose favorite Beatles books include their own Anthology, Recording the Beatles, the Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, An Oral History and the incredibly good Many Years From Now (the best non-technical books tend to consist mainly of interview sections, rather than merely the author's removed take - for obvious reasons).
If the occasional inaccuracy doesn't annoy the reader too much, this book pleasantly separates itself from the ever-growing stack of "I wasn't there" accounts with a writing style that gloriously refuses to dumb itself down, insight worth its weight in syllables (for once), and a rare capacity for making dyed-in-the-skull music sound fresh. It's unquestionably worth reading - more than once, in fact, given the sheer amount of gossip-free historical and musical perception - to anyone who likes the Beatles' music and is interested in the environmental circumstances under which such revolutionary work buds, blossoms and thrives.
(Damn, I have some nerve.....sharing my Amazon review as my first post! What a dork, huh.)