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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
The Inner Light: How India Influenced The Beatles by Susan Shumsky explores the profound impact of Indian philosophy and spirituality on the members of The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr – during the 1960s. Drawing on her own experiences from spending two decades in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashrams and serving on his staff, Shumsky delves into how meditation, Eastern philosophy, and the hippie movement influenced the band's music and personal growth. The book takes readers on a journey through the transformation of The Beatles' artistic expression, highlighting specific songs and their connections to inner exploration. Additionally, it uncovers the lesser-known contributions of Indian musicians and the hidden role of Eastern wisdom in shaping the popular music of that era. This comprehensive account provides a unique perspective on The Beatles' creative evolution.
By the time I was born, the Beatles were a band whose songs happened to come up occasionally on an 'oldies' station and so I went into The Inner Light: How India Influenced The Beatles by Susan Shumsky with little knowledge and a lot of interest, particularly in the promise of a crossroads between mid-20th-century culture, music, and links to a subcontinent that I married into. The photography was a wonderful surprise and it genuinely gave a sense of what Shumsky is conveying. They're crisp and authentic and beautifully depicted. Most fascinating to me was everything that Shumsky provides on Maharishi, the guru who was the cornerstone to almost everything that influenced not just Harrison and The Beatles, but legions of followers across the globe and a cache of other celebrities. I chuckled a little when Shumsky tells us that John Lennon wrote the song I'm So Tired during five days of deep silence, a dichotomy in that he made his living by making noise. Overall, this is an exhaustively researched and engaging book that is enlightening, educational, and totally entertaining. Very highly recommended.