First published in 1972, now with an excellent introductory essay by Jon Savage, Derek Taylor’s As Time Goes By was the first, and remains the sharpest, memoir written by one of the Beatles’ inner circle ... Taylor was an elegant man, and an elegant writer, who knew when to deploy swearwords for maximum impact. Among the best chapters is one that describes a day in the life of the Apple office, which sounds relentless and miserable ... As Time Goes By works as an industry insider companion to Nik Cohn’s Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom, which saw the 60s’ pop explosion from a fan’s perspective. Both Taylor and Cohn started as journalists, but explain how the edges blurred—everyone involved in the scene was a fan, everyone had ideas, things moved forward fast on a diet of brandy breakfasts, boozy record launch lunches, acid-inspired shows and spliffs at home.
'Well,' he writes, 'being as how I brought Klein to Apple, by making sure the way was clear, I owe someone, somewhere something, that’s for sure.' That sentence gives a good idea of Taylor’s slightly tripped out, conversational and—it must be said—quintessentially 1960s style, in which judgment comes by way of situational incongruity and the humor is by turns wry, impressionistic, tongue-in-cheek, buried and laconic ... Taylor also specializes in jaw-dropping bathos ... All this is intensely, if not quite always intentionally, amusing ... I was transported back...to the moment in the Beatles Anthology series in which Harrison, viewing some ancient footage of milling fans, declares that he would like U2 to see this. That way they could understand what it was like to be really famous.
Unlike most of the hotshots who were then establishing what we now know as the global PR industry, Taylor had one big advantage: he could write. And in the late 60s and early 70s, he snatched time to record opinions that would not quite cohere into a memoir, but still evoke his dazzling working life and the era in which it happened. In his sparse, lyrical prose style, there are echoes of Joan Didion, another writer born before the so-called Love Generation, but who wrote about its rise and fall with authority ... such fun would not last ... but somehow Taylor maintained the hopeful, open disposition that defined everything he wrote.