Monday, May 19, 2014

Exposing Paul

Paul McCartneyPaul McCartney by Peter Ames Carlin
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Get Back To Where I've Never Gone.
I've read about the Beatles and I've read about Lennon, but I'd never read about McCartney, and I supposed it was about time. You see, because of bios and whatnot that I've read about Lennon, my boyhood idolization of him lost its shine. As a consequence, Paul's star rose subconsciously in my mind, and I knew that wasn't fair. It was time to level the playing field and Peter Ames Carlin's book steamrolled it.

I Should've Let It Be.
Paul McCartney has the reputation of an attention-grabbing, soulless popstar. Sure, the people say, he's written some catchy tunes, but Lennon's the one who pumped heart and soul into the lyrics. I knew the reputations (and I also knew to take some of that with a grain of salt), but what I didn't expect was the level of Paul's desire for fame: Paul to manager Brian Epstein, "If we all make it, that's fine. But if we don't, I'm going to be a star, aren't I Brian?" That sort of bare selfishness coming from a boy talking about his best mates makes it hard to stomach McCartney's attempts to portray the Beatles as all-for-one, four musketeers, blood-brothers for life. Everything's cool! Everything's groovy! We're all in this together! It wasn't and they weren't.

Take A Sad Song And Make It Sadder.
Death, tragedy, yes yes, the man's had it all and it's quite sad, but what really saddened me was Wings-errorera McCartney's attachment to the Beatles and Lennon. On the one hand it feels like puppy-dog, younger brother devotion to big dog/older brother figure John. On the other hand it stinks like a desperate man grasping to put it all back together, like a drunkard who's just realized his damaged marriage is all he's got.

I'm Happy Just To Read Of You
Icky, yes, this book makes me feel icky about Paul McCartney, but Carlin takes his digs at all four members as well as many in their entourage. But no, it's not all bad. I doubt I would've finished the book if it had been a cover to cover slam-fest of the man and all around him. The book just shows him worts and all. It's even-handed, almost journalistic. I hesitate to say it's completely unbiased, because Carlin clearly loves the music. He spends a great deal of time going over almost each song, especially during the Beatle years. Readers will find many pages worth of in-studio stories, as well as what they were thinking and going through while writing chart-toppers and life-alterers, those many three minute moments that have gone straight to the hearts of so many listeners. This isn't "my" music, I was born in '72, but The Beatles and post-Beatles songs were played heavily on the radio in my youth. I remember being about 4 years old sitting on an old area rug in the living room picking at the rubber matting underneath it through the foot-worn holes and thinking the lyrics to the song playing in the background, Band On The Run were actually "band on the rug," as in rubberband, the stuff I was plucking at. Oddly specific song, I thought. Regardless of my confusion (I've got it sorted now, thank you), the Beatles have played a major role in the soundtrack of my life, and I love them for it, even after reading this.

Come Together Ratings: 4.3
I'm struggling with the rating on this one. It was just about 5-star-enjoyable and it gave me everything I'd want out of a Paul McCartney bio, but still, I came away from the reading with a bad taste in my mouth. It's no fault of the author. Blame it on the doe-eyed manchild on the cover.

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