Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Paul McCartney: A Life"

It's an unauthorized biography of Paul written by Peter A. Carlin. I've mentioned it on several prior occasions and, if I remember correctly, the reviews were positive. Below are two more takes on it. I had them stored away on Google Docs for months and just yesterday decided to read them. I was pleased to find some pretty penetrating insights about Macca, excerpted below.

From The Boston Globe:

- But he also offers a complex portrait of an artist whose insecurities were fanned when he was in the presence of talented musicians with strong artistic visions, but who did his best work when around them.

- “ ‘Neil Aspinall [original Beatles road manager and ultimate Apple manager] used to explain that it was John’s band,’ says Nat Weiss. ‘And at that point (in the mid-’60s) Paul was very conscious of wanting the approbation of John, in anything he did. I think Paul felt John was the cool one, the avant-garde one, the true artist. Paul is basically a very bourgeois, middle-class person. Extremely talented, for sure. But the rebel was John.’ ’’

(Editorial comment: When I see Paul labeled "bourgeois," I can't help but think of his avid support of President Obama; the shoe fits. I question whether John would've backed a chief executive who possesses such a taste for war-making and civil-liberties violations.)

From The Globe and Mail:

- Perhaps not surprisingly, Carlin pins the disconnect on the Beatles breakup and especially his falling out with Lennon. Without the partner whom he loved and adored and deeply respected, McCartney lacked the “narrative complexity” that he had effortlessly achieved in his earlier songs. As much as it had inspired him, their legendary relationship came to haunt and even stifle him in later years.

When in the late 1980s he teamed up with Elvis Costello (whose misanthropic lyrics and dark, unsettled emotions recalled Lennon at his best), McCartney grew paranoid: “I thought the critics would say, ‘Oh, they're getting Elvis to prop up his ailing career,' you know,” Carlin quotes him as saying. Eventually, McCartney gave Costello the boot, determined to make his own way, no matter what the cost.

But rather than diminishing him, Carlin argues that McCartney's pride, drive and relentless ambition makes him a more nuanced artist than the stark trite of his Ebony and Ivory ditty might otherwise suggest.

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