In the introduction to this book Tom Doyle attempts to reconcile some of the fundamentally contradictory aspects of Paul McCartney. As one of the most famous figures in the world over the last fifty years, it seems like we should known him very well - after all there has been no shortage of interviews with the man over the decades, and this year in particular, with the release of his new album, has seen him crop up on many television and radio programmes.
But as all his previous biographers have found, when you distill the numerous interviews the real McCartney is still a nebulous figure, and understanding the man behind the public facade isn't an easy task.
Man on the Run draws on several interviews conducted in recent years by Tom Doyle with Paul. Do they offer any particular new insights? A few little nuggets, but no, not really, so we still have to rely on eye-witnesses from the period, such as the other members of Wings, to get a real insight into what was happening.
Plenty of other writers have traveled this road, so whilst the events chronicled are fascinating - the break-up and legal wranglings of the Beatles, the fledgling evolution of Wings, the early ad-hoc tours, the bizarre recordings such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, the return to form with Band on the Run, the triumphant 1976 World Tour and McCartney's Japanese imprisonment in 1980 - there isn't a lot here that will be new to anybody who has read a selection of the many books published about McCartney over the last three decades or so.
But for those who come fresh to this period, then Man on the Run manages to capture the era very well, a time when McCartney did exactly what he pleased - both musically and personally - with only the Japanese bust and John Lennon's death bringing this chapter of his story to a sober end.
on 13 January 2014
I have read many Beatles and Beatles solo books in the last 35 years and it takes something to teach me things I didn't know. This book taught me plenty,helped by his access to Paul and several Wings members. I love the bit where Doyle askes McCartney about hypothetical Beatles albums from the 1970s. I once compiled four Beatles double albums from the solo work in the 1970s. The last one,covering 1976-1980 made more difficult by the absence of Lennon material to choose from. Here it is only touched upon, but full marks to Tom Doyle for at least canvassing Paul's opinion (although Jet with Imagine and My Sweet Lord doesn't make sense chronologically. Rather Uncle Albert than Jet me thinks!) The book covers the 1975-6 period especially well and the London Town recording sessions. I personally would have like more assessment of the songs. I didn't agree with his favourites from Red Rose Speedway. I like One More Kiss and the medley the best,and Big Barn Bed mind you! And My Love of course. Seems like Paul has chosen to not even remember the medley. OK it's not Abbey Road but all the segments except Lazy Dynamite work for me. Hands of Love in particular. Get One The Right Thing is my least favourite. Horses for courses I guess. This book is very fair in its assessment of various rumours,unlike Guilliano's Blackbird which is just too sensationalist. I don't trust Jo Jo Laine/Petrie's memories too much. An opportunist if ever there was one. Thanks Tom for writing about 70s Paul,if not forgotten then surely underrated. I'm sure Lennon's comment about The Long And Winding Road being Paul's last gasp was only made comparing his 70s work to his unsurpassable contribution to The Beatles. Fascinating to wonder whether Lennon was watching Paul's interview with US TV on November 27 1980 less than two weeks before he was killed. I hadn't made that connection before. It seems strange that Paul was not asked about Double Fantasy (released 10 days earlier) in that interview,instead being asked about a Lennon derogatory remark. Typical of the press unfortunately. Good book,with a good ending. Denny Laine is given fair coverage but it's interesting that Paul hardly mentions Denny Laine in his interviews,which is a pity in my opinion as he contributed a great deal. Now that is one reunion I'd love to see :-)
In the same way as, after the breakup of the Beatles, Paul McCartney turned away from performing any songs from that era; after the demise of Wings, he often seemed reluctant to discuss his post-Beatles band until recently. In this book, author Tom Doyle, takes an in-depth look at this period - from the first solo album, through to the Japanese drug bust and the murder of John Lennon, which effectively caused the end of Wings.
The book begins with the messy Beatles breakup, including the public feud with Lennon and Paul's decision to legally file to dissolve the Beatles. The legal ramifications led to financial problems, much soul searching over his decision and, if not a total breakdown, certainly depression and a loss of confidence in his abilities. It also led to the birth of Wings. It had been an idea Paul had touted within the Beatles - to go on the road and play small gigs again. Unable to get his former bandmates to agree (probably sensibly), Paul decided to form a new band and do it himself. Of course, one (if not THE) most contentious issue was Linda joining the band, but one thing that does stand out in this book is that, for all the troubles Paul faced during the decade of the 1970's, his problems were not marital ones. While John and Yoko separated, and George and Ringo both got divorced, Paul and Linda were solidly a couple throughout their marriage - no rumour of any breakup or possibility of divorce, or even affairs, being mentioned. Linda seemed determined to keep temptation from Paul's door - banning other Wings members from bringing wives and girlfriends along; but Linda was in the band because Paul wanted her and he appreciated her commitment, when he knew she would rather be at home with the kids.
Although there was little that was actually new to me in this book, it is a good retelling and analysis of Paul's career in the 1970's. It take Wings from a fledgling group doing small university gigs, to the first European tour; through several lineups and onto success with the Wings Over America tour. It also highlights the drugs problems - busts, arrests and substance abuse within members of the band, which plagued them during this time. Every album is mentioned and appraised, including some huge hits, other misguided record choices and a few forgettable singles.
Of much interest to fans, of course, is Paul's relationship with John Lennon. The decade began with John's star in the ascendent - huge albums, such as "Plastic Ono Band" and "Imagine" and vicious verbal attacks on his former bandmate. Interestingly, though, is the way John essentially blew hot and cold throughout this decade - using intermediaries to send letters to Paul, keeping careful track of his career, obsessively watching the news when he was arrested in Japan, both praising and damning him in interviews and, in later years, causing Paul to cut contact for a while after some admittedly 'frightening' phone calls. It was obvious that the press used one against the other and, also obvious, that John had some jealousy of Paul's success - both musically and financially. By the time the pair met up again in 1974, Lennon was living in La La Land with Ringo, Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon (not a great combination for a healthy lifestyle). Having split for a time with Yoko, John was living with May Pang. He was threatened with expulsion from the States, suffering lawsuits and financial problems, his marriage and his career in freefall. Although it looked at the beginning of the decade that Paul had been left behind by his bandmate's solo music, now he had "Band on the Run", "Live and Let Die" a new band and a successful tour behind him. He was successful in his own right and, frankly, shocked when he visited Lennon and Nilsson at the "Pussycats" sessions. For anyone who has heard the jam recorded that day, "A toot and a snore in '74", it is obvious that musically nothing worth listening to came out of John and Paul playing together again. However, as Lennon said later, the others playing were more interested in watching, "me and Paul." To his credit, despite the arguments, Paul had spoken to Yoko and helped reunite John and Yoko; a fact which Yoko has also spoken about in interviews.
Overall, then, this book looks at a little documented era of Paul's life. A time when he reinvented himself; forging a new musical career from the shadow of the Beatles. Although all the former Beatles tired of reunion rumours and questions about each other, they only really came to terms with their legacy,it seems, after the death of John Lennon and the realisation that their Beatles past could never be put behind them. Many people forget that McCartney had a huge solo career - that he had massive World tours without playing more than one or two Beatles songs and that his Wings career would be enough to be proud of, if that was all he had done. Filled with interviews, revealing insights and unbiased analysis of the man and his music, this is a great addition to any fan's bookshelf.
on 10 December 2013
Brilliant book that wrangles with the conundrum of how the once coolest man on the planet (Helter Skelter, ffs) can have spent much of the 70s daring the planet to underrate him as he did whatever the hell he wanted, and just not caring. Sometimes it was great. Often it was pish.
Tom Doyle's book tracks the ups and downs of it all. The courage of standing his ground against the other Beatles and their huckster management as it all dissolved, the honesty of his musical output in the era, the devotion to his family. He was the one Beatle how stayed on the road and had the balls to front up the planet.
TD enjoys enviable access to his subject, but doesn't suck up. No hagiography and beautifully written.
Musical takeaway: With the rotating line-ups and the missus on keyboards Wings emerges as a prototype Fall, without the tunes.
on 26 January 2014
I was born in the early 1970s and my memories of this decade are limited to hearing my late dad play Wings records on Sunday mornings. When I saw this book I was interested to find out more about this man. Everyone seems to know everything about Mr Lennon, but nobody (it seems to me) seems to have taken the time to look a bit more deeply at Mr McCartney.
I really enjoyed reading this book and tore through the easily followable story. Unlike some biographies, it resisted the temptation to get too indepth and bogged down on detail. I do suspect, however, that if you're a McCartney devotee that there will probably be little real new insights into the man - the bibliography for example lists quite a few sources from published books.
While it doesn't detract too much, it's clear that Tom Doyle is writing this from a pro-McCartney perspective. Whilst there are a number of passages that question the worse attributes and actions of the man, it's more than made up for by an obvious sign of respect and praise for McCartney. When he starts with an account of his interviews one gets the impression he wants McCartney to like the book and not see him as another journalist that's ran off and written a "warts and all story" after a few interviews. I'd be interested to know from more well informed reviewers just how one-sided this account has been told.
Overall, however, I think it was a well written, well intended book and would recommend it to anyone who's looking for an airport book. One thing I would have liked to know is what he thinks of the decision to name Liverpool Airport after John Lennon!
on 21 November 2013
There's a high degree of co-operation from Macca here but this is no whitewash. McCartney is quite open about things he wished he never did, as well as taking the opportunity-- in one place-- to set the record straight on some of the claims about him.
For many years, Paul McCartney has been trying to highlight his musical efforts in the 1970s, some of which stand very tall. The music receives a good level of analysis.
Wings had an interesting range of people go through its ranks, including two blokes named Denny, and a McCullough and a McCulloch. Macca addresses his controversial decision to include Linda, and there are some harrowing accounts of what she went through.
But his former band looms large. There are the legal battles, and Macca details the occasions when The Beatles really nearly did get back together. His feelings regarding Lennon's death are laid bare, and there's strong accounting for what he said at the time (check it out on youtube).
I am hoping McCartney does another one of these focusing on the 1980s.
on 23 June 2014
Doyle's book is enjoyable, in as much as it is easily readable, but it suffers from being rather superficial. There is a comment from Denny Laine that after ten years in Wings, he didn't know Paul any better than when he had joined. Thus is the case for this book. You won't know Paul much better after you've read it than before you've read it. This book is mostly a summary, a consolidation of available information, and in that sense it does its job. But Doyle never endeavours to delve any deeper beneath the surface of events, or investigate McCartney's statements beyond their face-value or from other perspectives. The problem is that he suffers from being overly reverential to his subject - a fact outlined by the continued reiteration of his own chummy-ness with Sir Paul. You get the sense he wouldn't want to risk writing anything overly negative that might risk the ire of the knight. In terms of the subject himself, I was actually quite saddened by the implicit erosion of spirit from the break of the Beatles, to the ultimate disappointment of Wings, to the Japan bust, and the denouement which was Lennon's death (notwithstanding Linda's death and second marriage breakdown later on). This man is sadder and more broken on the inside than he will ever admit to anyone more than implicitly.