The Beatles through a Glass Onion

Reconsidering the White Album
Mark Osteen, Editor
The first scholarly volume devoted to the White Album shines new light—and new appreciation—on the Beatles’ best-selling recording


The Beatles, the 1968 double LP more commonly known as the White Album, has always been viewed as an oddity in the group’s oeuvre. Many have found it to be inconsistent, sprawling, and self-indulgent. The Beatles through a Glass Onion is the first-ever scholarly volume to explore this seminal recording at length, bringing together contributions by some of the most eminent scholars of rock music writing today. It marks a reconsideration of this iconic but under-appreciated recording and reaffirms the White Album’s significance in the Beatles’ career and in rock history.

This volume treats the White Album as a whole, with essays scrutinizing it from a wide range of perspectives. These essays place the album within the social and political context of a turbulent historical moment; locate it within the Beatles’ lives and  careers, taking into consideration the complex personal forces at play during the recording sessions; investigate the musical as well as pharmaceutical influences on the record; reveal how it reflects new developments in the Beatles’ songwriting and arranging; revisit the question of its alleged disunity; and finally, track its legacy and the breadth of its influence on later rock, pop, and hip-hop artists.

The Beatles through a Glass Onion features the scholarship of Adam Bradley, Vincent Benitez, Lori Burns, John Covach, Walter Everett, Michael Frontani, Steve Hamelman, Ian Inglis, John Kimsey, Mark Osteen, Russell Reising, Stephen Valdez, Anthony D. Villa, Kenneth Womack, and Alyssa Woods. John Covach’s Afterword summarizes the White Album’s lasting impact and value. The Beatles through a Glass Onion represents a landmark work of rock music scholarship. It will prove to be an essential and enduring contribution to the field.

Cover design: Heidi Hobde Dailey
Mark Osteen is Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Humanities at Loyola University Maryland.

Praise / Awards

  • "One of the most cohesive multiple-author essay collections I’ve ever read ... Provide[s] an illuminating portrait of an album that has already been very widely discussed."
    --Mike Segretto, Psychobabble
  • "Do we need these essays to appreciate the music? Clearly not. But regardless of your familiarity with the songs, these essays will deepen your appreciation. And it’s a pleasure to spend time with writers who have thought deeply and critically about songs that have seeped into our collective consciousness, songs that already mean something to us."
    --New York Journal of Books

  • "There are excellent essays on the Beatles and the radical Left, the individual contributions of the four Beatles, the influence of their trip to India on the White Album, and the role of Beatles producer George Martin in the making of the record."
    --Choice Reviews

Look Inside

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 334pp.
  • 15 musical examples.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2019
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07408-2

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  • $84.95 U.S.

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