Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Paul Kick

For the past couple of months, I've been on a Beatles-related book kick. Books that I've bought:

Mark Lewisohn's new bio, "The Beatles: All These Years" vol. 1
Hunter Davies official bio from '68 (had only read once from library)
Peter Doggett's 2009 "You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup"
A replacement for my 2nd-ever and all-time favorite Beatles book, Nicholas Schaffner's "The Beatles Forever," which was falling apart
1997 Paul bio by Barry Miles "Many Years From Now"
Fred Seaman's "The Last Days of John Lennon"
A replacement for Albert Goldman's "The Lives of John Lennon," which I once owned but had since sold
Plus another Paul bio that I've forgotten the name of and haven't received yet.

Of these, I've now read Lewisohn's (rather coldly scholarly and in-depth but not "magical" and love-inspiring like Schaffner's), Doggett's (dull, mainly about legal/money wrangling -- will most likely re-sell), Seaman's (lots of info I didn't know, but...highly depressing; despite John's public spin on his last 5 years, I found myself thinking, "Take Paul's calls! Please! Get yourself out of this horrible, mind-numbing rut where you're not interacting creatively with anyone!").

What I'm, by far, enjoying the most is the Paul bio by Miles. It's considered an "official" bio and his interviews with Paul are interspersed throughout -- in fact, probably half of the text is direct and lengthy quotations from Paul, including in-depth details of his composition of his songs, their inspiration, etc. (Similar to what Lennon did before his death in the Playboy interviews, later published as a book.) The Miles bio is over 600 pages and I'm currently only on p. 172, but I've already started underlining and flagging the most interesting passages -- it's THAT good! (If a book is just "mildly interesting" or "blah" to me, I just sit there and read it... If it's GOOD, though, I start getting inspired by stuff and wanting to remember where to re-find passages in the future.)

Here's one thing that I marked:
That creative moment when you come up with an idea is the greatest, it's the best. It's like sex. You're filled with a knowledge that you're right, which, when much of your life is filled with guilt and the knowledge that you're probably not right, is a magic moment. You actually are convinced it's right, and it's a very warm feeling that comes all over you, and for some reason it comes from the spine, through the cranium and out the mouth...
I got goosebumps reading this, remembering especially one evening over 20 years ago when, in the midst of horrible depression over a breakup, I'd managed to finish an incredible poem after messing with it for weeks... When it suddenly clicked into place, I KNEW that I had something... and actually physically got down on my knees and thanked god for it! It really WAS magical. And, though I've read lots about various writers, authors, musicians, I'd never heard the moment described as Paul described it... The "guilt" part was interesting -- Paul McCartney walking around feeling murky and unsure for "much" of his life, a feeling often only assuaged by creation?? Wha? I knew I often felt like that (about both my everyday feelings and about the clarity that art brings), but the surfacely-UNtortured McCartney??

There was another interesting thing I found. Paul mentioned picking up a women's magazine and reading an advice column where a woman asked what to do about her boyfriend, who smoked pot. Paul said:'re hoping the advice will be, 'Well, you know it's not that harmful; if you love him, if you talk to him about it, tell him maybe he should keep it in the garden shed or something'... But of course it was, 'No, no, all drugs are bad... Librium's good, Valium's good, ciggies are good, vodka's good. But cannabis, ooooh!' I hate that unreasoned attitude. I really can't believe it's thirty years since the sixties... It's like the future, the sixties to me, it's like it hasn't happened. I feel the sixties are about to arrive. And we're in some sort of time warp and it's still going to happen.
His "voice" is an interesting, thoughtful one. And the more I learn about him (and re-listen to his solo albums that I'm currently re-buying on CD), the more I'm reminded of Hemingway's "iceberg theory"-- how the best art reveals only 10% or so, but you the viewer/reader/listener SENSE how much more is going on below the surface...

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