PAUL McCARTNEY by Ross Benson


Behind the Myth
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 ``Will you still love me when I'm 64?'' wrote Beatle Paul on the Sgt Pepper album (1967). ``Perhaps not,'' readers of this thoughtful biography may reply, especially if the McCartney (now 51) whom British journalist Benson presents doesn't soon loosen up a bit. Benson is no icon-smasher like Albert Goldman, but neither is he a hagiographer like McCartney's other recent biographer, Geoffrey Giuliano (Blackbird, 1991). Instead, he offers a well- informed (myriad interviews, including with McCartney), balanced portrait of the artist as a control-freak, though one with the courage of his convictions. The author traces McCartney's career from his working-class Liverpool upbringing through the Beatles and Wings years and into the present; given the publicity that's always surrounded McCartney, much of this is necessarily familiar fare-- but Benson's psychological insights aren't: ``Paul McCartney's relationship with his father lies at the core of his personality and he has never perceived himself as anything less than a dutiful son.'' Benson's discussion of McCartney's recent life as a re- creation of his childhood backs up that statement: Though fabulously wealthy, the musician takes a public train and bus to his London office each day, then returns home to his children and wife Linda--who, upon his insistence, does all the family's cooking, laundering, and ironing. But the same ``need to control'' that's allowed McCartney to carve out a relatively normal life in the midst of pop-stardom has also, Benson says, led to his recent musical failures: ``McCartney shows no...willingness to surrender himself to outside musical direction....But without Lennon's cynicism on hand to define the parameters, his songs all too often drift into slushy sentimentality.'' Solid Beatleiana, to be set on the shelf alongside Alan Clayson's Ringo Starr (p. 823). (Forty b&w photographs.)

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-575-05200-7
Page count: 289pp
Publisher: Gollancz/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1992


NonfictionFAB by Howard Sounes
by Howard Sounes