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John Lennon

Tekijä: Philip Norman

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JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
7131031,801 (3.95)12
A biography of the controversial, outspoken member of the Beatles whose extraordinary songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney changed the world of rock music forever. Norman also wrote Shout!, one of the first and still one of the best Beatles histories.
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 10) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Philip Norman's JOHN LENNON: THE LIFE (2009), at over 800 pages, could be - and is - a major undertaking, but if you read it in smaller bites over a week or two, It's actually kinda fun, especially if you were a Beatles fan from the very beginning, as I was. I first heard of the Beatles when they traveled to New York for their first American tour in 1963. News of the Beatles landing at La Guardia came across the teletype in our Operations building in northern Turkey where I was stationed with the Army. We all scratched our heads, wondering, What are Beatles? But our questions were answered soon after when the Beatles' first two British albums (on the Parlophone label) showed up in the base PX. I bought both of them. My roommates and I were at first kinda mystified by their raw sound, but, after a few plays, they kinda grew on us, and soon we were all singing or humming along. So yeah, been a fan ever since. And since then I've also read a couple Beatles biographies - Hunter Davies' early one, and, much later, the one by Bob Spitz, both of them very interesting. So a lot of stuff here in Norman's book I already knew about, at least vaguely, but much of the info on Lennon's life post-Beatles was new to me. For example, his so-called "lost weekend" - the fourteen month period when he separated from Yoko and cohabited (on both coasts) with May Pang, their 'personal assistant,' and apparently with Yono's approval. This was a time of much drinking, drugging and hanging out with Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon - both very bad influences. I also had several of John's post-group LPs, a couple of them products, I learned, of his Primal Scream therapy. Because it seems John Lennon was a bucket of fears, insecurities abd unresolved issues regarding his mostly absent parents. I also was very interested in learning more about the important role that producer George Martin played in the lives and musical successes of the group. And Lennon's shoddy treatment of his long-suffering first wife, Cynthia, and their son, Julian, is brought painfully to light here too - behavior he tried hard to rectify in his meticulous caring for Sean, his son with Yoko. It's all very complicated, and so was John Lennon, a confused and tortured soul, despite all of his wealth and success. And of course there is no happy ending, which we knew from the start.

But this is a damn good book, full of facts, myths and misunderstandings about Lennon - who was, after all, just a guy from Liverpool, very human - from before, during and after the Beatles. Philip Norman also wrote another, earlier book about the Beatles phenomenon called SHOUT. And now he has a new book, all about George Harrison. I enjoyed making my way through this massive tome, remembering the songs, the albums, those wonderful, strange and turbulent times. Thank you, Phil. Very highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Nov 21, 2023 |
This 12.5 hour long unabridged audio book is good for long drives. Interesting, but with frustrating gaps in narrative, skipping over large portions of history. I was irritated when it jumped from the release party of Magical Mystery Tour to John & Yoko's miscarriage, skipping over much of the development of the last three albums, etc. Did the author assume everyone knew what happened in every moment of Beatle history? With as much detail as he belabored about the development of Rubber Soul and Revolver, I wanted to hear the same about the White Album or Abbey Road. Totally skipped--and no, I didn't seem to be missing any CDs in the set.

( )
  SESchend | Sep 6, 2017 |
Boy howdy! That took a while - but was worth every page. I'm not a fully fledged Beatlemaniac, but I do enjoy a good biography and Philip Norman's authorised in all but name study of the former Beatle definitely qualifies. True to his acknowledgements, Norman 'reconstructs his life completely afresh, writing for a hypothetical reader who has never heard of him or listened to a note of his music, ignoring all preconceptions, including [Norman's] own'. He is fair to both Lennon and Yoko, who I actually admire now, and although he seems to indulge in a fair bit of Paul bashing, the other Beatles too. I now want to read more about Brian Epstein, the Beatles' tragic manager, and buy John's albums, which is the mark of a good bio - inspiring the reader to learn more about the subject. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jul 7, 2017 |
I fell asleep reading this several times. I don't think I ever wanted to know about John Lennon masturbating in a circle with his friends. ( )
  TheInvernessie | Nov 26, 2013 |
I hate to say this, but this book was disappointing on a number of levels: it compared poorly with Keith Richards' autobiography LIFE, which I read just previously, both in content and style; there were a number of mistakes in the text (on the copy-editing level); and it turns out that John was, simply put, kind of a jerk, especially when he was younger.

However, it was perhaps unfair of me to read it right after LIFE; if I could jump back in time two weeks, I'd read them in the opposite order. Keith's book had the immediacy of a first-person narrative, whereas John's was, necessarily, an autobiography. There were other factors going in as well: The Beatles' image as a smiley boy band, in suits and ties (despite their later long hair and other late-'60s/early-'70s trappings) raises the bar of audience expectation of the individual Beatles, whereas the Stones' bad-boy rock 'n' roll image lowers the bar. One expects all kinds of bad behavior from the Stones, but is more surprised to learn about the Beatles' very early years playing (and misbehaving) in the red light district in Hamburg.

Preconceptions aside, the Beatles did start out more rock 'n' roll before Brian Epstein cleaned up their act, and one gets the sense that John may have been happier with a grittier image, like the Stones. One clear point of contrast between the two is that Keith's love for music and for playing live shows shines through his whole book, but John came to hate playing to live audiences. No one was prepared for the unprecedented phenomenon of Beatlemania, and so "the boys" were not well guarded against it - not hidden behind a wall of security as they would be today. Additionally, it's easy to see how fans claiming to love the music and then screaming so loudly during the concert that the music was rendered inaudible could be extraordinarily aggravating.

The wonderful thing about Keith's book was his happiness, his enthusiasm about life and music and other people, and his sense of humor. If John had lived to write an autobiography, it might well have been a more enjoyable read than Philip Norman's biography of him. John's story as told by Norman is drier and more scholarly (Keith certainly couldn't be accused of either). And Keith has the perspective and distance of several extra decades; the flaws that stood out in John's youth and Beatles years were beginning to mellow before his premature death, but - if both accounts are to be taken at face value - John was far more insecure and had a much worse temper anyone who hears "I Want to Hold Your Hand" would suspect.

Not that I expect musicians (or writers or artists) to be paragons of virtue or shining examples of character, but it was a bit disillusioning reading about John in detail. I had a positive impression of his before I read the book, less so now. (Keith, on the other hand, was surprising in the opposite direction, as it were: despite all the drugs and trashed hotel rooms, he seems to have a relatively sunny outlook and peaceful personality. If I could hang out with one of these two, on the basis of these two books alone, I'd pick Keith, and not just because John's dead.)

Another difference between John and Keith is that Keith is primarily a musician: he goes into great detail about various chords and open tuning and riffs. Though it goes without saying that John was a brilliant musician as well, it seems he was primarily a writer; he wrote and drew from a young age. This difference is reflected in their respective songwriting processes as well as in their music. (When Keith and Mick wrote together, Keith usually came up with with central riff and a few words, usually the chorus - "it goes like this" - and Mick would fill in the verses.) In John and Paul's songs, there is often a strong story element; the lyrics are just as important as the music. In fact, the Beatles began printing the lyrics of their songs on their album covers, starting with Sgt. Pepper. Think of "A Day in the Life" - it tells a whole story in itself.

On a personal level, having been brought up to loathe Yoko Ono, there's really no way to do that after reading Norman's book, and that's a bit of a letdown. One does certainly feel for Cynthia and, especially, Julian, when one considers the radically different treatment of the first wife and son compared to the second; but, at least as presented in this book, it seems as if John did much better as a husband and a father the second time around.

Overall, John simply wasn't a person who could be constrained by one image or even one medium. He was undoubtedly creative and brilliant, but after nearly a decade, he didn't love being a Beatle the way Keith loved being in the Stones (or the way Paul loved being a Beatle; maybe I'll read a book of his next). Though the Beatles broke up fifteen years before I was born, I've always been sad about it (and also always blamed it on Yoko), but I don't know if I am anymore.

A final note: there were numerous typos and other small errors that ought to have been corrected in the copy-editing process. True, 850 pages is quite a long book, and this was a first edition, so some errors may have been corrected in subsequent editions. However, it makes this thoroughly researched book seem sloppy.

And it was thoroughly researched, and the writing was competent, if not lyrical or inspiring. There were certainly good tidbits about the origins of many of the songs, about who wrote what and why. There is solid primary source material, letters to and from John, quotes from many who knew and worked with him. But John Lennon: The Life just doesn't blaze off the page the way Keith Richards' LIFE does.


Re. Help!: "I remember, I got very emotional at the time, singing the lyrics. Whatever I'm singing, I really mean it. I don't mess around." (398)

Re. the MBEs: "Then it all just seemed part of the game we'd agreed to play. We'd nothing to lose, except that part of you which said you didn't believe in it." (400)

"God is a concept by which we measure our pain." (641)

"Perhaps the revelations in my life story may bring you a clearer picture of how fate and circumstance control so much of our lives and therefore must be considered in our judgment of one another." (Last letter John's father sent to him before Lennon Sr. died) (755)

On the Beatles and Apple Corps: So great was the volume of brilliant work they had left, and so ineradicable their effect on the pop psyche, they could be said never to have broken up at all - simply changed from a band into a brand. (757) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 10) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä (11 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Norman, PhilipTekijäensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Paringaux, PhilippeTraductionmuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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John Lennon was born with a gift for music and comedy that would carry him further from his roots than he ever dreamed possible.
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A biography of the controversial, outspoken member of the Beatles whose extraordinary songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney changed the world of rock music forever. Norman also wrote Shout!, one of the first and still one of the best Beatles histories.

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