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Every few years, the Beatles become hot again. But is anyone paying attention this time?
ATLANTA (CNN) -- The Beatles did everything short of a group hug to say goodbye to their fans.
They broke up, bitterly. The last album they recorded, "Abbey Road," was considered one of their best, so they went out on top. And their last recorded harmony on that album even included a bit of farewell advice:
"And in the end," they sang, "the love you take is equal to the love you make."
But more than 30 years after their break-up, the love for the band continues.
It seems that every few years, like the sunspot cycle or the sweep of Halley's Comet, we witness what can be called Recurring Beatlemania. It goes like this:
A new Beatles product is released (for instance, the trilogy of "Anthology" CDs that topped music charts in 1995 and 1996). Old fans remember the Beatles, new fans discover the Beatles. And the Beatles are played on the radio, talked about in newspapers and magazines, and hailed once again as artistic geniuses.
"I think every generation since the baby boom has to rediscover the Beatles for themselves," says Bill Romanowski, a pop culture expert who teaches at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "In terms of 20th century music, they were right there at the top."
Not a big seller
For those who haven't been paying attention, Recurring Beatlemania appears to be blooming again. This time it's not spurred by music, but print.
"The Beatles Anthology," the band's coffee-table-size official telling of their own story, was released October 5 to thousands of pre-orders and back orders. At a release party in San Francisco, fans gathered at lunchtime and sang the Beatles hit, "All You Need Is Love."
This version of Recurring Beatlemania, however, seems tame compared to other cycles. Sure, Amazon.com lists "The Beatles Anthology" in its bestsellers' top ten, a place the book has held since its release. But Romanowski, for one, didn't even know why he was being interviewed about the Beatles.
When told about the theory of Recurring Beatlemania and the release of the new book, he responded with a less-than-passionate, "Oh really."
Sales for the book have varied from store to store. At Coliseum Books in Manhattan, the store has sold 50 copies since it went on sale over a week ago. In Atlanta, however, Pat Patrick, a Barnes and Noble media relations coordinator, said his Buckhead store has sold "a few."
"It has not been a big phenomenon," he says.
But Patrick offered a positive forecast for it.
"I think," he said, "this will be a big Christmas gift."
A waning interest?
Christmas gift? There was once a time when Beatlemaniacs couldn't get enough of the Fab Four. As recently as 1995, "Anthology 1" was one of the fastest-selling albums in history and zoomed to Number One without a sweat.
To paraphrase the Clash, has phony Beatlemania bitten the dust?
Judson Knight, who wrote "Abbey Road to Zapple Records: A Beatles Encyclopedia," doesn't think so. Born when the Beatles were first touring the States in 1964, he says John, Paul, George and Ringo will continue to find new audiences.
"It used to be that I was a younger Beatles fan because I couldn't remember them coming to the States," he says. "Now, there are fans that were born after John Lennon was shot (in 1980). It's just going to keep going because there is something really special about their music."
Keith Badman, the author of the soon-to-be-released Beatles book "Off the Record" as well as the 1999 book "The Beatles After the Break-Up: 1970-2000," compares them to a well-known composer.
"We'll look back on their music the same way we look back on Beethoven," he says. "The music is wonderful. Everyone, even if they're not a Beatles fan, can sing the lyrics to 'Yesterday' or 'Michelle.' "
Says Knight: "I feel like there's something about the Beatles that for all of us keys into something about childhood and youthful aspirations."
And this kind of interest in music will lead fans to look deeper into the source, into books like "The Beatles Anthology," according to Andy Colquhoun, a songwriter who wrote "Lennon Song," featured on an E! "True Hollywood Story" about Lennon murderer Mark David Chapman.
"When somebody responds to something like music, which is nonverbal communication that moves them emotionally, people want to know why that moves them emotionally," he says. "And so there is this preoccupation with every detail of the person's life to try and get a little bit closer to them."
If fans miss Beatlemania this month, they'll have another chance in November. Capitol Records is re-packaging some of the band's favorites. "The Beatles 1" hits stores November 14.
'Spooky' lyrics in Lennon's last songs
A Beatles Encyclopedia
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