Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music - The Definitive Life

Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music - The Definitive Life

by Tim Riley
     
 

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In his commanding new book, the eminent NPR critic Tim Riley takes us on the remarkable journey that brought a Liverpool art student from a disastrous childhood to the highest realms of fame.

Riley portrays Lennon's rise from Hamburg's red light district to Britain's Royal Variety Show; from the charmed naiveté of "Love Me Do" to the soaring ambivalence of… See more details below

Overview

In his commanding new book, the eminent NPR critic Tim Riley takes us on the remarkable journey that brought a Liverpool art student from a disastrous childhood to the highest realms of fame.

Riley portrays Lennon's rise from Hamburg's red light district to Britain's Royal Variety Show; from the charmed naiveté of "Love Me Do" to the soaring ambivalence of "Don't Let Me Down"; from his shotgun marriage to Cynthia Powell in 1962 to his epic media romance with Yoko Ono. Written with the critical insight and stylistic mastery readers have come to expect from Riley, this richly textured narrative draws on numerous new and exclusive interviews with Lennon's friends, enemies, confidantes, and associates; lost memoirs written by relatives and friends; as well as previously undiscovered City of Liverpool records. Riley explores Lennon in all of his contradictions: the British art student who universalized an American style, the anarchic rock 'n' roller with the moral spine, the anti-jazz snob who posed naked with his avant-garde lover, and the misogynist who became a househusband. What emerges is the enormous, seductive, and confounding personality that made Lennon a cultural touchstone.

In Lennon, Riley casts Lennon as a modernist hero in a sweeping epic, dramatizing rock history anew as Lennon himself might have experienced it.

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Editorial Reviews

James Parker
About the art, Lennon is potently descriptive…Riley already wrote a useful book about Beatle music, Tell Me Why (1988), but the added biographical dimension in Lennon has deepened his insight considerably. His account of the writing and making of "Strawberry Fields Forever," for example, is a critical tour de force, equally in touch with the song's subterranean sources and the technical midwifery that drew it into the light.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Is there room for another big biography of John Lennon, just a few years from Philip Norman's doorstopper, and four years from Bob Spitz's epic history of the Beatles? Journalist and NPR media critic Tim Riley (the author of previous books on the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Madonna) proves there is with this insightful, page-turning examination of Lennon's roots, his Beatle fame, his art, his manic personality and relationship with Yoko Ono, and the peace he finally seemed to find, only to have his life cut tragically short by a crazed gunman. By now, the broad strokes of Lennon's life have been largely sketched, and Riley doesn't veer far from that script—a volatile early childhood; the groundbreaking success of the Beatles; the crumbling of the group as personal ties frayed, business soured, and artistic paths diverged; and Lennon's erratic, activist post-Beatle life with Yoko Ono in America before he settled down to be the father he never had to son Sean. Riley makes his mark in the details. With an impressive array of sources, he soberly explores Lennon's many contradictions, ably separating myth from reality. The result is a book that at once enriches our appreciation of Lennon's larger-than-life genius and his mortality. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews

After hundreds of books on the former Beatle, is there anything left to say? Surprisingly, yes, and music journalist Riley (Fever: How Rock 'n' Roll Transformed Gender in America, 2004, etc.) delivers intriguing news and commentary in this incisive biography.

The news comes mostly in the form of fresh insights, some closely argued, some merely observed in passing. On the latter score, the author briefly considers Lennon's role in what might be thought of as a virtual British Empire. The Windsors may have lost the real one, but thanks to the Beatles and kindred acts, Britain "lay claim to a new cultural empire, with significance far beyond its borders." Despite recent boneheaded claims that Lennon was a closet Reaganite, Riley shows that Lennon was no deliberate imperialist—Paul McCartney, maybe, who has had to live under the long heroic shadow cast on Lennon after his murder, and who now has to "endorse his sainthood, lest he be disrespectful of the dead." The author finds true significance in the partnership of Lennon and McCartney, which, for all their protestations, was a true two-way street. Moreover, he is quick to observe the little accidents out of which history is made—for instance, the Mellotron keyboard, the toy-loving Lennon's "latest gadget," too big to fit inside his apartment, on which McCartney casually tinkled notes that would shape one of Lennon's best-known songs, "Strawberry Fields Forever." Riley is much more respectful of Yoko Ono than have been many previous biographers, more forgiving of McCartney, more sympathetic even to Lennon, who can't have been easy to live or work with. He is also attentive to others of great but sometimes unsung influence in Lennon's life—not just Mimi and Julia, but also George Harrison, who helped shape the Beatles' sound more profoundly than he's often given credit for. Lennon had what Riley characterizes as "another kind of mind," and his book is a careful exploration of the man's musical genius, as well as his many shortcomings in the realm of personal relations.

Essential for Lennon fans, and one of the most thorough yet accessible rock biographies to appear in recent years.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401303938
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Publication date:
09/20/2011
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
800
Sales rank:
392,603
File size:
26 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
18 Years

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