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Paul McCartney: A Life Hardcover – November 3, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the famous rumors of his death in 1969, Paul is alive and well in Carlin's hagiographic portrait of the creative genius behind the Beatles, the lead man of Wings and the brilliant though sometimes insecure solo artist still filling stadiums. Drawing on recent interviews with friends and McCartney's former band mates from Wings as well as on fresh research on the Liverpool lad, Carlin chronicles McCartney's life from his childhood love of music and his youthful entry into rock and roll with John Lennon in the Quarrymen to his meteoric rise to fame as one of the Beatles, his breakup with the band, his marriage to Linda Eastman and her death, and his recent marriage to and divorce from Heather Mills. Carlin rehearses the well-known story of the Beatles' breakup and Paul's disenchantment with Yoko Ono's role in leading the musical directions of the band. Feeling lost after the band dissolved, McCartney channeled his grief into his music, much as he did when his mother died when he was only 12, though critics both panned and praised his solo records. Since Barry Miles's definitive biography, Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now), goes only up to Linda's death in 1998, Carlin's study brings the musician's life to his most recent solo album, Electric Arguments (2008). McCartney emerges from Carlin's admiring biography as a brilliant musician who provided the creative direction for the Beatles, who taught John Lennon how to play the guitar and who continues to create new musical challenges for himself even now, when he's moving past 64. What's missing are interviews with McCartney himself. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

More than half of Carlin’s McCartney biography overlaps the Beatles’ story. Carlin recounts the highs and lows most Beatle fans know, including McCartney’s Liverpool childhood, his mother’s tragic death, meeting John Lennon, the Beatles’ rowdy Hamburg days, the first U.S. tour, the chaotic glory years in the 1960s, and abandoning touring for the security of the recording studio. He chronicles the lawsuits, the personal rivalries, and the various couplings, successful and failed. On beyond the Fab Four days, he discusses McCartney’s solo career up to the 2007 release of his latest album, Memory Almost Full, and examines McCartney’s complicated personal life, including his marriage to Linda Eastman, her subsequent death, and the short, ill-fated marriage to Heather Mills. Written in a conversational style that becomes almost novelistic in tone, Carlin’s book breaks no new ground. Yet Beatles aficionados, especially the completists among them, will want to read it anyhow. --June Sawyers

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416562095
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416562092
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stuart Jefferson TOP 100 REVIEWER on November 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Hardcover,340 pages of text,not including title page,contents,notes,etc. The paper stock and type face make this an easy to read book. There are eight pages of black and white photographs,which include THE BEATLES in Germany and elsewhere,WINGS,and even a shot of McCartney and Heather Mills showing their mutual affection for each other.

Yes,this is yet another biography of Paul McCartney. However,this book,thanks to author Peter Ames Carlin,takes the reader in a slightly different direction. This author was able to weave and juxtapose McCartney's life,with his human foibles,into his music making to a degree that hasn't been done previously. The author interviewed a number of McCartney's friends,associates,and bandmates,throughout McCartney's (now) long life,and has collected his findings into a crisp,clean,well written book.

Starting with McCartney's early life,which has been written about extensively (yet somewhat academically),we begin to catch a glimmer of how McCartney,the person,came to view both work and music (which eventually became one and the same),and life (especially with his late wife Linda),giving room especially to his later years when he was a "solo" (sans BEATLES) artist. This approach is both very refreshing and makes for rewarding reading. The writing style is crisp and on target. Along the way there are insights into the human side of McCartney and his view of the world,business and music-making. The author's writing style is fresh and invigorating-this isn't just another dull rehash of facts we've all read before. This book gives insight into why McCartney still matters to many listeners today. While there are no real startling observations,the reader will come away with a newer,perhaps better understanding of Paul McCartney the man,and the musician-and how the man and the music are inseparable.
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Format: Hardcover
This little masterwork is a great introduction to and portrait of "the cute Beatle". In the book, the image of McCartney veers between hardworking genius driven by a desire for fame and fortune and slacking bon vivant given to superficial efforts and some fairly predictable human weaknesses. The ample notes section at the back reveals that Carlin has done his homework. As someone who has read a fair share of Beatles' history, I found the book tells old tales well, mines some new territory (particularly in the area of Paul's business sense), and does real justice to the Paul vs. John debate. While clearly somewhat enamored of his subject, Carlin isn't afraid to call McCartney for slip ups on or off the stage. Best of all, Carlin has built off his previous success with the Brian Wilson biography by writing with great style about music. The specific chords, lyrics and riffs you've heard your whole life are put instantly into context under Carlin's hand. The descriptions of various concerts and studio sessions give you a real sense of being there.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's been so much written about this band I really thought this guy would labor to bring his post beatle career to life. And I certainly thought--because the beatle's recording engineer wrote a great book a couple of years back, Geoff Emerick, "Here, There, and Everywhere"--I certainly thought because of important revelations in that book that this guy would go to some lengths to give McCartney his real due, which is that from Rubber Soul through Mystery Tour he was basically the Beatles arranger/producer and George Martin just dropped in occasionally to see if Paul needed anything.

You see, the thing a lot of people don't really consciously register about the Beatles is that--well,of course they had the fantastic song writing team. The Beatles had two songwriting geniuses, people who say it was just one or the other are ridiculous because if they'd only had one they would have looked much more like the Beach Boys, who had one. The Beatles had two, which is why we're still talking about them.

But they had something else, too. If you'll indulge me a short anecdote to illustrate.

In about 1982 I was lying alone in my apartment in the dark listening to a radio interview with Nelson Riddle, the music arranger who was a legend in the music business--he worked with nat king cole, with Frank Sinatra (for crying out loud), etc. At the end of the interview they asked him if there were any MUSIC ARRANGING GENIUSES working in the music business at that moment. He had a one-word answer: "Wings."

My point is that not only did the fabs have the writing team, they had a genius arranger/producer in paul McCartney.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is pretty Anti-Paul if you ask me. The author paints McCartney in a pretty bad light through much of it and it seems to really get a lot of input from former associates of Paul's, some of them with an obvious axe to grind. As an example, first Wings guitarist- Henry McCullough (sp).

According to the author, Henry really hated the fact that McCartney wanted Henry to play things the same each time in the studio by the numbers, but Henry wanted to improvise more. This might be the case, but if you're recording and the music is written by a writer with Paul's reputation, the writer has a right to get what he wants out of the recorded performance. It's HIS vision, not Henry's that's being realized. Also, ANYONE that's listened to the early bootlegs of Wings college shows knows that Henry was not great at improvisation, at least with those early shows. There were times when you could tell that alcohol was the 6th Wings member and Henry's solos would go extremely out of key and out of the pocket. To listen to "Henry's Blues" from those boots is an exercise in patience. As an author, it's good to note that this bugged Henry. But man, listen to the performances and maybe you can see where Paul was coming from by wanting Henry to stick to the format. Of COURSE he'd want things to be the same. Bless Henry, he's a great player for sure, but during that period, things were not tight and Paul, as a band leader had the job of reigning it in. Seems that rather than just take Henry's word on it, the author might've wanted to research what was coming out of Henry's amp at the time.

There were similar quotes from Dave Spinoza. Hey Dave, it's Paul's music, he's paying for the studio, and the musicians. He SHOULD be able to say "Yo Dave, please play it like this. I know what I'm after.".
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