John Lennon's untimely death was one of the great tragedies of Paul McCartney's life.
Not only did he lose a former best friend and half of the best songwriting team of all time, but the resultant rush to eulogise Lennon was often done at the expense of McCartney, whose own contribution was often trivialised.
This is McCartney's version of the history of the Beatles and their music. It is hard to imagine McCartney being insecure about anything, but he certainly seems territorial, protective and sensitive of his own legacy.
Perhaps the greatest injustice to McCartney was being inducted to Rock and Roll Hall of fame seven years after Lennon, in spite of being an equal contributor to the Beatles, and having a far more commercially successful solo career.
As far as the Lennon McCartney compositions go, there are a few surprises, for instance, he says he wrote the music to 'In My Life' a song which is obviously very Lennon but this actually makes sense. On many of the other Lennon songs he wrote the middle eight or the words of the last verse and vice versa. At times this seems petty, but to be fair he does give Lennon credit on some songs that are obviously strongly McCartney compositions such as the middle sections of Michelle and She's Leaving Home, and a 50/50 credit on I saw her standing there. On Eleanor Rigby he credits Lennon some of the lyrics to the final verse, although in the Anthology documentary he says the song is 100% his. The key to crediting any Lennon McCartney song is he who sung it wrote it or most of it.
The most interesting portions of this book are the direct quotations by McCartney about his life, his relationship with John and the other Beatles and his relationship with Linda, and his insights into John and the meaning of many of his songs which are the best I've read. He is surprisingly candid and open, compared to tv interviews where he has rarely allowed interviewers to get behind the McCartney persona.
Some of his comments about John are quite touching. The history of how he met Linda, and how their relationship developed is a compelling love story.
For instance we get to hear about the death of Paul's mother when he was 14, the tragic death of John's mother the business relationship with Brian Epstein, the Apple fiasco,the wrangling, the naivety of the Beatles in business matters, the loss of ownership of their songs and so forth.
As for Mr Miles himself, he is not the world's greatest writer, which is why I only give it 3 stars. The chapter on avantgarde London is the most boring thing I have ever read. He could easily have edited 100 pages out of this book without compromising the content.
In addition, he is obviously biased towards McCartney and disses Lennon by act and omission. He zeroes in on McCartney as a painter making him out to be a better artist than Lennon, and making the most pretensious comparisons between McCartney's art and classic painters.
He doesn't seem to understand that by undermining Lennon he is also undermining McCartney's credibility. Fortunately, McCartney's own comments are far more respectful, and seemingly objective.
In Mr Miles favour, I must say there are very few questions about McCartney that are left unanswered, and in spite of all its obvious flaws this is still the best psychological insight into Paul McCartney and John Lennon that I have read, so I would recommend this book. Other books I recommend are the Philip Norman and Hunter Davies books.
Hope this was useful.