Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Albert Goldman - The appeal hearing, 1 Aug 2002
This review is from: The Lives of John Lennon (Paperback)
It is with some irony that this biography of John Lennon, when it was published in 1988, created such unease, it led to death threats to the author and its ritual burning at Beatles conventions. The book's subject, had he still been living may have sympathised. He had provoked similar displays of hatred from Christian groups after his comments to an American journalist in 1966, that the Beatles were now more popular than Jesus Christ.
Such was the hatred for Goldman following its publication that he was virtually excommunicated from the music and publishing world...
Fourteen years on, maybe it is time for a reappraisal of this Satanic Verses of rock biography. Criticisms of the book have been well documented and are not without substance. It is often factually incorrect, the authoratorial tone appears excessively one-sided in his portrayal of both John and Yoko. Sometimes it is not clear if it is supposed to be read as a black comedy (although if it is, it succeeds; some of the passages are hilarious) and it is hard to imagine two living people that are alternatively, so twisted and so Maciavellian as the John and Yoko that are portrayed here.
However, there are many reasons why this book should be read. Unlike, say Ray Coleman s semi-official biography of Lennon, Goldman did not just take what John and Yoko said in public at face value. Nor did he rely on the co-operation and support of those who had a vested in keeping the Lennon image in the saintly realms (partly because he was denied access by those people). Instead, he drew on 1,200 interviews of various friends, helpers, musicians and aids who had known Lennon at certain stages of his life. Most of what is said in the book is attributed to one of these sources.
The book deals with huge chunks of Lennon s life that have otherwise been left uninvestigated (or conveniently ignored, as they deal with the less than godlike side of Lennon and Ono ) by biographers; the attempts to retrieve Kyoko, his meetings with Jerry Rubin, the lost weekend and Yoko s growing infatuation with numerology and acquisition of wealth.
On the music, Goldman is keen to give Lennon his praise where he feels it is due. For example, of Working Class Hero he writes, "What makes the song so radical is not its politics but rather the singer's determination to smash through politics in order to come to grips with the unchanging human condition".

Elsewhere he is sometimes rather too intent on dissecting in order to make a point. Nevertheless he is also often poignantly accurate. Goldman wrote of the pre-video film sequence to Imagine;
"..there is one momentary gaffe when John, seated in his lavish mansion, sings the joy of owning nothing, but as the room grows brighter and brighter, the effect of emergence from the gloom of the present into the light of a utopian future is gracefully conveyed".
By far the most exploratory (and entertaining) work on Lennon, The Lives Of John Lennon is a devils advocate of a book. John was not around to defend himself over its allegations and neither is Goldman here to answer any more of his hate-mail. Before his death he replied to a damning review in the New York Times and its assertion that he had deliberately set out to give Lennon a literary second assignation.
He fiercely condemned this, stressing that when he started he was a Lennon fan but when he started delving, he became appalled by what he was finding.
After Goldman filed his prosecution papers he was soon to be the one to stand on trial in the defence box. Now it is time for the case to be reopened. Let the debate continue.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

3.3 out of 5 stars (15 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
16.50
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,660,503