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Beatles' Lyrics on Display at Northwestern University Library

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April 1, 2008 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- High-resolution reproductions of seven original Beatles' manuscripts including "Eleanor Rigby," "Yellow Submarine" and "Good Day Sunshine" are now on display at Northwestern University Library through April 18.

Free and open to the public during regular library hours, the exhibit is on the main floor of Northwestern University Library, 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

Northwestern University Library came into possession of the seven original song lyrics in 1992, when it acquired a collection by American experimental composer John Cage of 400 manuscripts by more than 270 composers musically active in the 1960s.

Of the Beatles' manuscripts on display, only one appears to originally have been intended for the eyes of anyone but the creative foursome. The manuscript of "The Word" -- a song written by John Lennon and appearing on the 1965 album "Rubber Soul" -- is neatly transcribed, backwashed in pink ink and illustrated in color markers with a tree and other doodles by Paul McCartney.

In contrast, the lyrics to "Eleanor Rigby" are scrawled on a torn-out page of lined notebook paper, and "Why Did It Die" -- later titled "For No One" -- is written on a manila envelope. The lyrics to "Yellow Submarine" and "I'm Only Sleeping" also are on display. All songs in the exhibit except "The Word" are from the Beatles' 1966 "Revolver" album.

According to D.J. Hoek, who heads Northwestern's music library, the exhibit facsimiles are true to the original manuscripts, showing every subtle ink smudge and paper crease of the actual documents. The originals -- in mint condition -- are not available for general viewing.

For more information, call (312) 467- 5918. To see the lyric sheets, visit http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2008/01/beatles.html.