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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars McCartney doesn't like it, 1 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Paperback)
It's become a self-enforcing myth that Ian McDonald offers deep insight into the world of The Beatles. This is what Paul McCartney commented on this book in a Pitchfork interview:

"McCartney: ....But I've seen some of the books, particularly about the Beatles, where they'll say, "This was McCartney's answer to Lennon's barb"-- and so on and so on. Like hell it was!

Pitchfork: Like Ian MacDonald's book [Revolution in the Head].

McCartney: Yeah, exactly. You got it in one, exactly. And you know, unfortunately [MacDonald] is no longer with us. He died, and so I don't want to put him down. But while he was around I must say, I would dip into that book and think, "See now, what's he got to say about this song?" And he'd go, "This is McCartney's answer to-- " and I'd go, "No, it wasn't!" It was just, I just wrote a song."

Dismiss the reviews that tell you that this is the definitive book of Beatles lore. Most of it is contrived and imposes meanings and contexts on to the Beatles' music even in the cases when there wasn't any. A far more reliable and readable Beatles expert is Mark Lewisohn.

The interview I quoted from can be found here: [...]
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Nov 2013 17:45:08 GMT
S Riaz says:
Interesting point. Mind you, both Lennon and McCartney tend to be quite unreliable themselves about events. There are interviews in which Lennon stated McCartney wrote a song by himself, when Paul says it was a joint effort and vice versa. He has a point though, in that nobody really knows what meant what apart from them and, as memory is unreliable, much of even what Paul recalls is probably not completely accurate.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Nov 2013 22:46:51 GMT
Batuta says:
Thanks for commenting. And I do agree to your point. However, I think that the disagreements between Lennon and McCartney can be narrowed down to a couple of songs, In my Life and Two of Us. Besides, I reckon statements from the horse's mouth counts more than from a reviewer who has only relied upon secondary sources. Especially when McCartney seems to imply that this is a general problem with the book.

I guess that this discussion - like most discussions about the Beatles - could be a never-ending one. :o)

Posted on 2 Sep 2014 14:16:19 BDT
philip says:
"McCartney doesn't like it." So what? Artists have axes to grind and, more importantly, are unreliable critics of their own work. Ringo once complained about contemporaneous commentators "seeing things in our songs we never put there". That's naive. Most creative effort is subconscious, with artists seldom aware of their own processes or the fact they draw on social myths, shared understandings and collective matrices of meaning. We have critics precisely because of that. They are not "less than" artists: simply doing a different job. Some are great at it, others terrible, but the artists they critique should never be invoked as judges of their merit.

I do agree with Batuta's comment that the song by song dissections are often "contrived". In MacDonald's defence, though, the opening essay - insightful, cogent and situating the Beatles in the sociohistoric context of an extraordinary decade - is alone worth the price.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2014 12:54:49 BDT
Batuta says:
I agree the artists are not aware of the subconscious creative proces but neither are the critics. We can obviously not trust the artists' view of the quality of their work, but in want of better sources, we would have to rely on what they express about their intention and motives with their work.

Posted on 13 Feb 2016 15:40:30 GMT
I agree with you, Philip; critics are as vital to a full appreciation of the arts as the artists themselves, and because they are one step removed from the creative process they can take a broader view of its results, as the best ones do. Without wanting to sound too precious, the creations of the artists are like their children - and, like the real thing, they have to let them go and make their own way in the world.
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