Paul McCartney: A Life

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Overview

More than a rock star, more than a celebrity, Paul McCartney is a cultural touchstone. As one half of the legendary Lennon-McCartney songwriting duo, he helped transform popular music, moving from the simplistic pop of "Love Me Do" to the avant-garde symphonics of "A Day in the Life" to generation-binding anthems such as "Hey, Jude" and "Let It Be." Along the way the Beatles ascended from the dank basements of working-class Liverpool to heights of fame and wealth no previous ...

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Paul McCartney: A Life

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Overview

More than a rock star, more than a celebrity, Paul McCartney is a cultural touchstone. As one half of the legendary Lennon-McCartney songwriting duo, he helped transform popular music, moving from the simplistic pop of "Love Me Do" to the avant-garde symphonics of "A Day in the Life" to generation-binding anthems such as "Hey, Jude" and "Let It Be." Along the way the Beatles ascended from the dank basements of working-class Liverpool to heights of fame and wealth no previous entertainer could ever have imagined.

McCartney's own ambitions fueled much of the group's progress. But even as he steered himself from childhood tragedy to his meeting with John Lennon to the gestation of the Beatles and their rise to international acclaim, the same appetites that drove the group to its greatest creative and commercial heights also served to tear the band members apart.

Still, McCartney's career didn't end with the Beatles' breakup. Nor, for that matter, did the bonds between the Beatles. And in this definitive biography, Peter Ames Carlin examines McCartney's entire life, casting new light not just on the Beatles era, but also on his years with Wings and his thirty-year relationship with his first wife, Linda McCartney. He takes us on a journey through a tumultuous couple of decades in which Paul struck out on his own as a solo artist, reached the top of the charts with a new band, and once again drew hundreds of thousands of screaming fans to his concerts. Carlin presents McCartney as a musical visionary, capable of crafting pop gems such as "Band on the Run" and "Maybe I'm Amazed." But he also reveals a layered and often conflicted figure, as haunted by his legacy — andparticularly his relationshipwith John Lennon — as he was inspired by it.

Built on years of research and fresh, revealing interviews with friends, bandmates, and collaborators spanning McCartney's entire life, Carlin's lively biography captures the many facets of Paul McCartney and paints a vivid portrait of one of our era's living legends.

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
Library Journal
In this comprehensive and well-balanced biography informed by new, exclusive interviews with friends and insiders, Carlin (Catch a Wave) chronicles pop music legend McCartney's well-known and oft-recounted accomplishments as a Beatle along with his years with Wings and as a solo artist, delving also into his childhood, his marriages, and his mercurial bond with John Lennon. Multiple Audie Award winner John Lee's smooth narration is refreshingly unobtrusive. An intimate and entertaining portrait that should satisfy Macca's many fans; recommended for listeners interested in all aspects of Macca's life and career, not just his Beatles years. [The Touchstone hc was recommended for those wanting "a solid but fast-paced, easy-to-read overview of McCartney's life and career," LJ 9/15/09.—Ed.]—Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
Kirkus Reviews
Thorough portrait of "the Cute Beatle," from his working-class childhood in Liverpool through his raucous years with the Fab Four and his continued musical output. The Beatles are one of the most beloved rock bands of all time, and each member's personal legacy is shaped by adoration, gossip and myth. This is especially true of McCartney, who receives long-overdue fair treatment in this insightful biography based on original interviews and careful research. Former People senior writer and current Oregonian pop-culture contributor Carlin (Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, 2006, etc.) firmly establishes McCartney's role as the Beatles' music director and formal taskmaster. He also exposes the nuances of his brilliant yet highly competitive personal and professional relationship with John Lennon and debunks several myths regarding his role in the band's dissolution and the bitter lawsuits that followed. Along with Yoko Ono, McCartney has often been construed in Beatles lore as the villain, while Lennon is elevated to sainthood. The reality was much more complicated, and Carlin's balanced portrayal of all the Beatles' virtues and flaws is commendable. He not only debunks several unflattering myths about McCartney, but is also just to Ono and shows Lennon at times to be quite cruel. Carlin's metaphor for the band as a family-with McCartney as the hardworking, underappreciated mother, Lennon as the magnetic but ne'er-do-well father, George as the sulky teen and Ringo as the small child with a toy train-feels apt. While the book loses some of its tension and momentum in the later chapters, parts are still emotionally fraught, most notably McCartney'slast moments with his wife Linda, his messy divorce from Heather Mills and his reaction to Harrison's death. Carlin intersperses the narrative with snippets of song lyrics, which are fitting at times but occasionally stall the narrative flow. An excellent pop-culture biography. Agent: Simon Lipskar/Writers House
From the Publisher
"The best thing about Peter Ames Carlin's book is the way he entangles the music and the life, so that we begin to understand them as what they are—-inextricable." —-Dave Marsh, author of Bruce Springsteen on Tour: 1968–2005
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416562092
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 11/3/2009
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Ames Carlin has been a senior writer for People, a TV critic for The Oregonian newspaper, and is the author of Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney: A Life. Carlin lives with his wife and three children in Portland, Oregon. Visit PeterAmesCarlin.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 20, 2010

    Paul McCartney is a very complicated and complex man.

    I have always been more of a John Lennon and George Harrison fan. So I was not really sure that I wanted to read about Paul but since I had access to the book after my son completed a school project, I decided to give it a try.

    At first, the book just helped confirm some of the thoughts and feelings that I had about Paul in terms of his never ending ambition, ego, and difficulty sharing money and credit. However, after I finished this book and compared it to the recent biography of John, I decided that they were both very complex and talented individuals. I really believe that John and Paul needed each other to push them to the top, otherwise a Paul led Beatles band (without John) would have been just another British pop band. John clearly needed Paul to make his music popular but Paul also needed the gritty and rough edges that John had to push their music to the highest level.

    I believe that this book did a good job of showing all of the different sides of Paul, warts and all - it made him human. Clearly a man with a real drive and passion for music. At the same time, very insecure and in some ways self-destructive.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2010

    Review Paul McCartney A Life

    I found the book overall enlightening regarding many aspects of Paul's life.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 2, 2010

    As, a devoted,original,first generation "BEATLE" fan,i am enjoying this book.

    This is a wonderful book on Paul McCartney.It is very interesting & enjoyable for a PAUL McCartney/"BEATLE" fan

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    Great!

    Refreshing read and wonderfully written. Probably one of the better Beatle books out there, especially since there aren't too many on Paul. Worth the buy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2010

    great read

    KICKASS BOOK DAWG

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    MJ10

    WHY ARE HE AND MICHAEL NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Paul, not as Yoko sees him

    A seemingly honest look at things from his point of view. A little image polishing here and there, but still worthy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 10, 2012

    That's kinda BS that the hardcover is on sale for $2.99 but the

    That's kinda BS that the hardcover is on sale for $2.99 but the Nook version is $12.99. How about some love for your eReaders?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    Great Book for a Gift

    This was for my son-in-law who is a Beattles fan and album collector.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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