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In anticipation of the Modern Language Association Annual Convention this January 9-12 2020 in Seattle, we asked Kenneth Womack, author of Solid State: The Story of “Abbey Road” and the End of the Beatles, three questions about his research.

1. What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book? 

The Beatles’ story is a powerful narrative, indeed. But one of the most revelatory aspects of writing about them involves the experience of learning about their activities in real-time, as they churned out one great song after another under intense pressure. 

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now? 

The significance of the famous “tape” and how it has captured the attention of the blogosphere. I am delighted that I included material about this explosive story in Solid State, but I would have done more if I had a crystal ball about its increasing importance in Beatles lore.

3. How do you wish you could change the field of literary studies?

I think that books like Solid State, and so many more, benefit from narrative-driven storytelling. Like so many readers, I enjoy histories that take on the guise of novels and energize us with narrative. I am hoping that Solid State is a harbinger of similar things to come.

Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-volume biography of the life and work of Beatles producer George Martin. Womack is Dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University. His latest book, Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles, was published by Cornell University Press this week in celebration of the album’s 50th anniversary. You can learn more about his work at

Access the full 2020 Modern Language Association Annual Convention program, or follow the meeting on social with hashtag #MLA20 and @MLAnews 

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