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I don't know why reviewers and critics are slamming this book. I just finished the 30-some hour book and was entertained throughout--mostly. Yes, the Beatles portion is a retread. But a biographer whose subject is one member of the Beatles and not the Beatles is going to gloss over the nitty-gritty of that oft-told tale.
Paul McCartney did not authorize the biography but he gave his tacit consent. So Norman had access to family members, friends and business associates who otherwise might not have spoken to him.
The story, for me, picked up when Paul met Linda. That's where Norman seems to find a thread that leads out of the oft-told tale and into the more nebulous realm of Paul's post-Beatles life. I've listened to Peter Ames Carlin's, Howard Sounes' and Paul du Noyer's McCartney bios and this is my favorite so far. Although du Noyer's book did a wonderful job digging into Paul's music, which the other biographies don't do as well.
Norman presents a likeable Paul who has faults and foibles, and a creative streak and inventiveness that carry him through "I Saw Her Standing There", "Eleanor Rigby" and "Hey Jude" up to Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (2005) and New (2013).
Norman doesn't spend a lot of time on any album or song. But he weaves their stories through the history of Paul's life. I thought Paul's arrest for marijuana possession and subsequent time in a Japanese jail was well-told. Other subjects gone over are the various post-Beatles business blahs, Wings lineup changes, Linda's photography and cookbooks, Give My Regards to Broad Street, Paul's relationships with the Beatles' members and the Beatles' wives/widows, Stella McCartney's fashion career, Linda's death, Paul's messy divorce from Heather Mills, his classical works, his role in the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and his marriage to Nancy Shevell.
Thankfully Norman never forgets that Paul is a musician and songwriter, and the Beatles and McCartney music lies at the heart of this book.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Some biographies are hagiographies, full of little more than a fan's praise. Some reveal a negative bias that turns the reader off. Philip Norman's Paul McCartney is neither of these. Having started with the notion that John was the better song writer and the heart of the Beatles, readers can sense his measure of Paul's life and work growing throughout this book. Thorough, balanced, and committed to rendering as true of a picture as one can gain while the subject is still living, Norman delivers on his promise. Outstanding work and a great book to listen to.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful