on 23 August 2007
Look...to all the naysayer reviewers here and ones who wanted a gossipy account or rehash of the "conquest of America," you can find that in plenty of other books (Brown's/Gaines' "Love You Make" or Norman's "Shout!" et. al). Here, you're getting a memoir, of a life lived as a famous pop star during a tumultuous decade - - the 1960s. So you're mostly going to get what McCartney was most moved by, and influenced by, personal coverage of things those other books don't provide. His childhood influences, musical influences, artistic influences, his most important personal relationships, etc. So it is not a surprise he lets us in on things you never knew about, that most "scholars" ignore about McCartney. And so of course, the Avante Garde London scene in mid-1960's will get a lot of prominence. McCartney does so to clear up matters about everyone's perception of himself and John Lennon, and to point out how the scene influenced him in creating his songs on the Rubber Soul, Revolver and (especially) Sgt. Pepper's albums. Also, the influence of the Asher family upon his musical and artistic direction and maturation is finally explored for the first time candidly and in depth here. And I don't care if certain other reviewers here find this boring - - I found it interesting! It's quite a different take than what we usually get from the banal industry of Beatles books. He gives much weight to the creation of these albums, the songs, Apple, the breakup (Klein's negative impact implied) and early solo period (with Linda prominent). These are the most important matters of the man's life during the most important period of his overall career. Again, as honest as he can possibly be. So, in a memoir, of course that is what will be emphasized. And, yes, he does touch on other aspects (64' ed sullivan, Hamburg, Brian Epstein, etc.), but they don't take precedence over the more important matters, for McCartney's purposes. As such, though partly ghosted by Miles, "Many Years From Now" cleverly evokes good, important memories, and as a biography/social history of the era is quite good. As for Beatles fans, I say its excellent and highly recommend it!
on 19 December 2009
As a semi-autobiography, this about the closest you can get (other than The Beatles Anthology) to hear from Paul himself.
About 75% is direct long quotes from Paul. He goes into many fascinating areas such as his songwriting with and without John during The Beatles. An area which is actually often overlooked (which I found even after watching and reading Anthology), and I still managed to learn many new things.
In the book, often Paul talked in a way quite different to how he has in Anthology and the media - much more open and honest. Which is great to be able to have access too. Learning more about his childhood, the start of The Beatles right through. Unfortunately, the 1970s and 80s isn't really touched on (other than the changing relationship with the other 3 Beatles). It was great to hear a much more personal and detailed account of his relationship with John from when they met to his untimely death. Thus, it was very emotive at many points - I did get tearful!
In the first half of the book, there is a bit of juggling with names - there's about 3 Peter's, 3 John's, 2 Robert's and another Paul talked about!
Even if you think you've read it all on The Beatles, don't be so sure - I still discovered things from this book I didn't know before.
on 8 November 2003
How nice to read a book about Paul McCartney by someone who actually knows him and, what's more, actually likes him!!! So often in books about the Beatles, Paul is criticised in a way which just wouldn't have happened had John not so sadly been killed and saintified in a way which would undoubtedly have horrified him had he known about it. This presents a far more balanced picture of Paul's 'Beatle' days. The Beatles would never have been as great as they were without Paul McCartney. His songwriting abilities, his musicianship, his artistry, his enthusiasm and, let's be honest, his ambition, made them the success they became. If you are interested in this book, you will also like Miles "In The Sixties", which is a great read and which also has lots of Paul content. Thank you Miles from a very happy Macca maniac!!!
on 22 March 2000
Oh, the joy of reading a book about a Beatle by someone who understands myth, but can function without it. The contrast with far too many Beatles sagas and Beatle biographies is startling. Miles finds it possible tell the Beatles' story without reference to John Lennon's paranoid period, which in itself is a giant step forward. Miles knew many of the actors in avant garde London besides McCartney, and many years from now, when the cultural passions of the age have moderated, this book will be an invaluable resource to scholars and historians. For them, it will provide a first-hand glimpse of that incandescent and chaotic decade. It also provides balanced accounts of two of its most important talents, Lennon and McCartney. The portrait of Lennon that emerges from Miles's narrative and McCartney's reminiscences is fair, understanding, and affectionate. McCartney's professed love of the man with whom he rose to the top of the musical world rings true. His gratitude that he did not take up the gauntlet Lennon flung down in 1970 also rings true. So, the historical background and the portait of Lennon given in this book make it worth buying by themselves. The icing on the cake is the self-portrait of McCartney that emerges from his memories of the decade and his reflections on his memories. What he reveals is a personality dominated by the traits of the artist: curiosity, a taste for new experience, for discovery, and enough industry and perseverance to transform inspiration into reality in the studio. Lennon's quicksilver mind got bored quickly; McCartney pressed on, finding adventure in the creative process. It was an extraordinary collaboration, and this book demytholigizes it without caricaturing either partner.
on 4 January 2009
I enjoyed reading it immensely - I grew up when the Beatles were starting out. By now the book is like reading a sort of detective about all the things you wanted to know at the time but couldn't comprehend. Some 45 years on you can understand in what respect they were rather young themselves to cope with all the pressures and understand why things developed as they did. By now you can also understand where there genius lay and just admire the things they achieved.
I actually found it a compelling read - all 617 pages. It is well written and an insight in Paul's mind. In that respect it is not the account of the Beatles but only one of the insider-accounts. But it gives a truly good idea about the rather down-to-earth attitude and the drivng forces of Paul Mc Cartney - which in the end proved to be the showstopper for me.
on 2 December 2011
For a Beatles fan like me (not reading EVERYTHING but having read Fab Lit like the Anthology, Revolution in the head and The Beatles Recording Sessions) "Many years from now" includes some interesting and new information. For instance about the circumstances that led John, George and Ringo to live outside of London and Paul smack in the centre of it. The book is, logically, mostly about Paul. I never knew much about him lodging for years at the family house of his fiancee Jane Asher, but thanks to this book I do now. The inside look, from Paul's and the author's perspective, of London during the famous Swinging Sixties reads like a culture study and is therefore quite interesting.
A main object of the book seems to be to establish how big the respective contributions of John and Paul were to the Lennon-McCartney compositions. Since ofcourse John is sadly no longer with us, this is by definition a one sided perspective from Paul. Interesting, surely, but one cannot help but wonder how John would have remembered things. Fortunately the author recites from interviews with John, if available.
All in all an interestering read for a B-category Beatles fan like myself.
on 19 April 1999
Whilst some of the facts may not be accurate, the book is worth it's weight for the one to one interviews. In these, Paul McCartney endears himself to the reader and gives a great insight into the Beatles songwriting process. The book also paints a great picture of the sixties 'Swinging London' scene. It would have been nice if the timescale could have been extended to cover Paul's work with Wings and as a solo artist. The final chapters do not do justice to the post Beatles years. For this reason, it loses a point.
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.
on 8 November 1999
Being a life-long Beatles fan I was always aware that Paul McCartney was not just the cute second lieutenant to band leader Lennon. As most Beatles fans know, McCartney held the band together in the last 4 years of their career and much of the direction and innovation displayed in their later albums were due to his influence. However McCartney goes to such pains to put straight the preconception that he was behind Lennon in terms of artistic genius, that at times the book made me cringe.
He freely admits his drug taking, but is quick to emphasise that he never overdid it, the way Lennon did. He talks about womanising, but always counters that with talk of his famous relationship with Jane Asher. Infact, he is always keen to tell you that he did all the roguish things which were rife at the time, but never to such an extent that might tarnish his image or make him appear truly bad. Film director, record producer, art fanatic, McCartney's done it all, and bigger, better and with more modesty than Lennon ever did - it says here. I would suggest that a lot of this be taken with a huge pinch of salt. It is an well-written biography and much of it is clearly true, but as Sir Paul says himself, his memory is not 100% reliable and he never intended to upset anyone with his words.
The fact that the author, Barry Miles was former gallery owner is revealed in a painfully long chapter regarding McCartney's involvement in the avant garde art movement. This chapter is overly-detailed and stinks of self-indulgence by the author, however lovers of the Beatles' music will be pleased to hear that Miles shows as much attention to detail with regard to their compositions. McCartney does tend to claim a hand in any piece of note, unless of course it was a throwaway album filler in which case he is happy to attribute it to Lennon or Harrison. I would suggest that even on the pieces that were predominantly McCartney's, the influence of his partner was crucial. Why else was his post-Beatles' work so cloying and sentimental without the assistance of Lennon.
Don't get me wrong though, this is an excellent book and the best insight into what it was like to be a Beatle you'll ever read. There will never be anything like them ever again.
on 12 October 2015
I always rated John Lennon to be the most influential and interesting Beatle and I appreciate this book is coming from Paul McCartney's point of view but I have to say my opinion has changed somewhat. This is a riveting read - in so many areas McCartney appears to have been the driving-force - his life with the Asher Household is fascinating as is his early life as a Beatle in London. He has often been described as the 'pushy' Beatle, but like he says (especially after Epstein's death and hence guidance) no other band member seemed bothered to do anything (not his exact words which contain expletives!) This isn't a true autobiography but the next best thing, it has copious amounts of input by McCartney and this together with the author's contribution really works and adds up to a great and informative read. This book has definitely changed my opinion and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone even with just a passing interest in one of the true icons of the 20th century.