Beatles, Friends & Family: Photos by Linda McCartney

In 1967, a young Linda Eastman went to London to photograph the "Swinging Sixties" and snagged exclusive photos of The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. In the midst of it all, she met Paul McCartney, and when the two married in 1969, she had a fixed place within rock 'n roll's inner circle.

During the coming decades, she took over 200,000 images. Yes, that means many more photographs of rock stars and artists. But the emphasis also shifted inward, to a new domestic life with Paul and their children - Heather, Mary, Stella, and James. Years later, as Paul prepares to marry again, the photographic work of Linda McCartney (1941-1998) has been published in a 288-page retrospective volume called Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs. It features a forward by Paul and some commentary by Annie Leibovitz. An impressive sampling of Linda McCartney's work can be previewed on this web site.

Fantastic BBC Footage of J.R.R. Tolkien in 1968

The high points of this documentary on the great J.R.R. Tolkien, from the BBC Series In Their Own Words: British Novelists, are the moments that fulfill the promise of the series' title. Skip over the distracting "man on the street" interviews and long pans of the landscape, meant perhaps to invoke Middle Earth. In fact, you can skip over every scene that isn't just the author's magnificent talking head.

Start at minute 2:49, where he describes first writing the immortal words "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." The anecdote should inspire beleaguered graduate students and teachers everywhere: He came up with the line while grading exams.

We also loved Tolkien's confession about trees, starting at the 7:00 minute mark: "I should have liked to make contact with a tree and find out how it feels about things."

You can watch the documentary on YouTube in two parts. The first part is above, the second here. The material also appears in our collection of 250 Cultural Icons.

via Biblioklept

Related Content:

Talking Literature with Great British Novelists

Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.

Google App Enhances Museum Visits; Launched at the Getty

Earlier this year, Google rolled out “Art Project,” a tool that lets you access 1,000 works of art appearing in 17 great museums across the world, from the Met in New York City to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. (More on that here.) Now, as part of a broader effort to put art in your hands, the company has produced a new smartphone app (available in Android and iPhone) that enriches the museum-going experience, and it's being demoed at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The concept is pretty simple. You're wandering through the Getty. You spot a painting that deeply touches you. To find out more about it, you open the Google Goggles app on your phone, snap a photo, and instantly download commentary from artists, curators, and conservators, or even a small image of the work itself. Sample this, and you'll see what we mean. And, for more on the story, turn to Jori Finkel, the ace arts reporter for the LA Times.

Related Content:

Art in “Augmented Reality” at The Getty Museum

A Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel

MoMA Puts Pollock, Rothko & de Kooning on Your iPad

Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” for Eight Pianos

This fantastic rendition of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" was recorded at the tenth anniversary celebration of the prestigious Verbier Festival, and features eight of the world's most respected pianists -- Evgeny Kissin, Lang Lang, Emanuel Ax, Leif Ove Andsnes, Claude FrankMikhail Pletnev, Staffan Scheja, and James Levine. It's just one of many stellar performances available on this very well-regarded concert dvd.

Give the piece a listen, especially if you've ever considered "Valkyries" too overbearing. The all-piano arrangement does full justice to the music's power, while also relieving some of its bombast. A definite winner. H/T @brainpicker

Related Content:

Classical Music: A History According to YouTube

How a Bach Canon Works. Brilliant!

Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.

Buddy Holly at Age 12: His First Recording

If you're looking forward to this week's release of the Buddy Holly cover album Rave On (and you should be, if only for John Doe's awesome take on Peggy Sue Got Married), then you'll definitely get a kick out of the crooner's first ever known recording. The song is from 1949, and the sound quality isn't great, but no amount of static can block out the kid's familiar warble. His voice may not have changed yet, but he's already Buddy Holly.

We have added this Buddy Holly clip to our collection of 250 Cultural Icons. There you'll find great writers, dazzling filmmakers and musicians, brilliant philosophers and scientists presented in video and audio.

via Flavorwire

Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.

The 25 Best Non-Fiction Books Ever: Readers’ Picks

Last week, we asked Open Culture readers to write in with your favorite non-fiction titles of all time, and you didn't disappoint. We had a hard time culling from the more than 100 suggestions, but we did have a few criteria to guide us:

1. Priority went to repeat nominees (Bill Bryson, Hunter S. Thompson, and Richard Dawkins, to name a few).

2. We leaned toward books that are available for free online.

3. When all else failed, we relied on our own preferences -- or prejudices.

Thanks again for all of your recommendations, and may we congratulate you on your excellent taste in non-fiction, equalled by only your excellent taste in websites.

The List

Hunter S. Thompson - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Friedrich Nietzsche - The Gay Science

Richard Dawkins - The Selfish Gene

Wendell Berry - The Way of Ignorance

Joseph Mitchell - Up in the Old Hotel

Brian Greene - The Elegant Universe

Norman Lewis - Voices of the Old Sea

Joan Didion - The White Album

Benjamin Franklin - The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Tony Judt - Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

Henry David Thoreau - Walden

Marcus Aurelius - Meditations

Bill Bryson - A Walk in the Woods

George Orwell - Homage to Catalonia

Hannah Arendt - Eichmann in Jerusalem

Booker T. Washington - Up From Slavery

Jorge Luis Borges - Other Inquisitions (1937-1952)

Marcus Rediker - Villains of all Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell, trans. Tao Te Ching

Victor Klemperer - I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years (1933-1941)

Greil Marcus - Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century

Philip Gourevitch - We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families

Winston Churchill - A History of the English Speaking Peoples

Lastly, and only in part because we've been warned that we would be roundly scolded for the omission: The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White

Thanks again, and happy reading!

Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.

8,000 Chinese Lanterns over Poland

Last Tuesday, the residents of Poznan, Poland set a world record when they released 8,000 Chinese lanterns into the sky to mark the shortest night of the year -- or what's otherwise called Midsummer Night. The video above lets you see the lanterns in full flight. The image below offers a close-up view of a lantern before heading into the night sky...

via @pourmecoffee

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