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The Lives of John Lennon
28 May 2010
10.01pm
skye
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Marcelo said:

Come on, let's face it: John was a f**king murderer. First a sailor, later Stu.blue-meanie

 

What a jackass, that Goldman…


 

Haha, tell me about it. I'm sure it killed Goldman to cash that check.

Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!
26 June 2010
9.10pm
skye
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I'm still reading this book. I almost gave up on this book earlier when Goldman said that John couldn't play guitar. I was surprised by how badly that pissed me off. And again when he accused John of rape – which was used to illustrate how nervous he would be before a show. He didn't even say what year or what country this happened in or how they managed to keep the poor woman quiet. I guess that's not important?

I've reached the point in the book where May Peng has been introduced. It's been awfully quiet up to this point. I wonder what shocking "truth" awaits me.

Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!
3 July 2010
6.10pm
skye
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I finally finished this book, and you were right Joe. Parts of it were fascinating. I mean that sincerely. ("Yoko in Love" gave me a lot to think about.)

Unfortunately, those parts were at best filler, usually used to cover up the cracks in what ever story he was telling at the time. The big revelations were poorly utilized. Rather than using them to build on his thesis that Lennon was an angry, cowardly bully, he used them to highlight stupid things like stage fright.

The evidence he does give usually contradicts whatever point he was trying to make.Here are some examples. John Lennon was enraged that Paul wanted to do another Sgt. Pepper with Magical Mystery Tour. Furious, John diligently works on the movie and writes I Am The Walrus, which as we all know is dripping with rage.

John Lennon supposedly suffered from multiple personalities, and he showed signs of this during his first trip to Japan. The only solid evidence he gives are John's journal entries. These entries, according to Goldman, show a man who easily jumps from topic to topic and is a little bit blue. You can read about Dissociative Identity Disorders here.

Yoko is an arrogant, manipulative, Oriental* bitch who drives everyone away and is extremely suspicious of anyone who stays. She'll do anything to protect the Lennon fortune and keep it for herself. Unless you're fortune-telling con man, or a cash-strapped neighbor who occasioning brings her kid over to play with Sean. Then she'll trust you with John's deepest, most damaging secrets.

For a book that took six years to research and write, it's very sloppy work.

 

*He doesn't let you forget for one moment that she isn't white. Don't even get me started on "The Lennons Buy a Lenoir".

Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!
14 July 2010
3.19am
RufusWild
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God, I read that book maybe eighteen years ago, when first in the full flush of John-idolatory – and the amazing thing is, the book did NOTHING to dissuade me from my love of John and his music.  I kind of accepted most of the book as truth (gullible young man that I was), but now, looking back, I'm astonished that the man was able to publish it.  I see Yoko's point in not pursuing it -

 

But is the Norman biography good?  What about this Ray Coleman one?  I'm not sure I *need* to read a biography of John, though.  "In My Life" is enough autobiography for anyone.  Not to mention "God,""I Am The Walrus," "A Day In The Life", etc etc…

"We were just a band, who made it very very big, that's all."
14 July 2010
3.29am
skye
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Exactly. I was prepared to accepted his findings but nothing holds together. Even the parts I thought were ok.

PeterWeatherby likes Norman's book, and has written about it on his blog. I plan to read it, but after Goldman's book, I'm a bit Lennon'd out.

Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!
14 July 2010
12.52pm
Joe
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I really need to write a full article on why I hated Philip Norman's Shout!. Some of the writing is dismal (I've got the reissue where, in the introduction, he bangs on about Princess Diana and Osama Bin Laden, and at one point elsewhere shoehorned in a really irrelevant mention of Mark Lewisohn which would have been mystifying for most readers), and a lot of his research doesn't stand up. Wait for the Lewisohn books if you're thinking of reading Shout!, as they'll be much more reliable.

I picked up a cheap copy of Norman's Lennon book too. Some of the stuff I've dipped into about the Primal Therapy era is pretty bad. He seems to presume quite a bit, glosses over the music (or just doesn't know how to write about it) and gets some key details wrong. Honestly, if he hadn't made a reputation by coming out with one of the first Beatles biogs I doubt a publisher would have given him an advance for this. I simply don't think he's a good biographer.

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14 July 2010
1.31pm
RufusWild
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Interesting about Shout.  I'd love to hear more.  I read it when it came out in the States, probably 1984 or so, and some of it has stuck with me pretty well.  But at that point, I had nothing to compare it to.

"We were just a band, who made it very very big, that's all."
14 July 2010
1.32pm
RufusWild
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And Joe -- maybe you've answered this elsewhere, but what did you think of the Spitz biography?

"We were just a band, who made it very very big, that's all."
14 July 2010
2.24pm
Joe
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Haven't read it. I've heard enough bad things to make me not want to bother. There are enough Beatles books out there so I try to be selective!

Anyone wanting a good Beatles biog, read Can't Buy Me Love by Jonathan Gould rather than Shout!. It's very well written and researched.

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14 July 2010
8.37pm
skye
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Oh good. I was wondering if there were any decent bios around – apart from Lewisohn.

Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!
14 July 2010
9.44pm
MeanMrsMustard
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I don't know. All I know about the "house-husband" years is:

1. The first time he tried to bake bread, it bent the knife. 

2. See #1. That's all I know. And it might not even be true. 

But yeah. I know he's not a saint, but he's not a monster either. What's that word I'm looking for?

Oh, yeah! "Human." He was "human." 

If I seem to act unkind, it's only me, it's not my mind that is confusing things.

10 October 2010
1.14am
mr. Sun king coming together
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Joe what do you make of the Love You Make By Peter Brown
I have it and thinks it's okay but I want a second opinion

I tried to think of something powerful and moving… and failed.  "You were given a choice between war and dishonor - you chose dishonor, and you shall have war" - Winston Churchill
10 October 2010
10.28am
Joe
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I haven't read it. I know McCartney hated it (but then I don't think he even finished it before burning it). Let me know whether it's worth buying.

LINDA: (pauses) "He was a friend. He was the one who introduced Paul and me… A man I trusted. When I was going to the hospital to have Stella, I handed him my baby, Mary, to hold. I wouldn't trust my baby to anyone but a friend. Now it's like he doesn't exist. And his book… well, it doesn't matter what he wrote, because he betrayed a trust. We decided not to read it, but we heard things. We put the copy he sent us in the fire and I photographed it as it burned, page by page. As to what he wrote about Paul or about John's experiences, ask Paul himself. He's coming back."

(Paul rejoins the conversation)

PLAYBOY: "We were talking about what Peter Brown wrote in his book."

PAUL: "Yeah, he told us he was going to write about the music of the Sixties, not a book about the Beatles. I took him into my house, something we don't do; we had lunch, showed him the kids, showed him around our village. I actually thought he was a friend. so to find out that he isn't is no big deal. But I mean, I hear he said John Lennon had a gay thing with Brian Epstein when they went to Spain together once. That's been rumored for years. I mean, was he in the room with them? It's probably just wishful thinking on his part. But I'll tell you what's naughty about it-- that John's not here to answer it, and neither is Brian. All that stuff that's written about us, I just hope that people who've sort of heard of our music, vaguely, know what the Beatles, or the ex-Beatles, were… and it wasn't what's been written. I mean, John's time and effort were, in the main, spent on pretty honorable stuff. As for the other side, well, nobody's perfect, nobody's Jesus. And look what they did to him."

http://beatlesnumber9.com/mcca…..tney2.html

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10 October 2010
3.41pm
mr. Sun king coming together
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Brown Reveals lots of Finacial and Brian Epstein related topics but I think Enough is out to not justify hunting the book down
However if you find a used Copy buy it
Don't really know why Paul hated it

I tried to think of something powerful and moving… and failed.  "You were given a choice between war and dishonor - you chose dishonor, and you shall have war" - Winston Churchill
28 October 2010
1.47am
Nicholaevna Romanov
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I like the writing style of "The Lives of John Lennon" but I do remember my jaw dropping when I heard him say that he caused Stu's death during a fight or some other things he did. I believe the book started with John losing his temper Sean and doing something to hurt him; apparently Sean himself has talked about incidences like this himself. I'm thinking of buying Goldman's book but I will always remember that its more fiction than fact.

21 November 2010
4.27am
JET!
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I've never read a book on John before, and I can tell you now that he is not my favourite Beatle, but I've never really known his whole story. My dad came home with this book for me awhile ago, and I was busy reading Magical Mystery Tours and a McCartney bio at the time. It's sat on my shelf, it's a little intimidating and I wanted to read about my favourite Beatle first.

Anyway, if it's the first one on him that I'm reading, should I? it definitely sounds silly and I don't want to waste my time.

Just to check, I flipped to a random page, and the first thing I see is a few paragraphs trashing Ringo.

To read, or not to read?

The sunshine bores the daylights outta me
21 November 2010
1.21pm
mr. Sun king coming together
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I would get another one, maybe Phil Norman's bio first and then read Lives of John Lennon.
Believe me, you want lots of background when reading about Lennon

I tried to think of something powerful and moving… and failed.  "You were given a choice between war and dishonor - you chose dishonor, and you shall have war" - Winston Churchill
21 November 2010
6.16pm
skye
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I wouldn't make Lives a priority. I keep coming across things that seem to contradict Goldman's narrative. But I won't say,  "don't read it". Just don't take it as gospel.

Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!
25 November 2010
9.54pm
Nicholaevna Romanov
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JET! said:

I've never read a book on John before, and I can tell you now that he is not my favourite Beatle, but I've never really known his whole story. My dad came home with this book for me awhile ago, and I was busy reading Magical Mystery Tours and a McCartney bio at the time. It's sat on my shelf, it's a little intimidating and I wanted to read about my favourite Beatle first.

Anyway, if it's the first one on him that I'm reading, should I? it definitely sounds silly and I don't want to waste my time.

Just to check, I flipped to a random page, and the first thing I see is a few paragraphs trashing Ringo.

To read, or not to read?


I'd be happy to take it off your hands. Norman's book has some crazy stuff in it as well. What I remember is that John was sexually attracted to Julia and I believe somebody said he says that John had fantasies about Paul. So both of them have outlandish things in there. I am almost done with Norman's and it is pretty good but I want to re-read Goldman's because I still might prefer that one. Again if you read it, just know almost anyone who knows John hates the book and criticizes it.
5 December 2010
2.21am
parco63
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The book is trash and that's a fact from the first to the last page.

Critical biographies of public figures are valuable and necessary--that's especially true with someone of John Lennon's stature.  But such books must have credibility in their methods and sources.  Goldman's is lacking on both counts and that is an understatement.

It is fine for biographers to have a point of view, a bias, an agenda--every storyteller has those, especially those who pretend not to have them. But when these get in the way of an evenhanded appraisal of the subject, the story and the storyteller lose credibility.

Most people know how much AG's book insults JL and YO, no surprise there.  Even worse, in some ways, is that the book insults the intelligence of any reader with even the slightest expectation of ethics and integrity on the author's part.

What I get on each and every page from TLOJL is an image in my mind of its author, laughing in contempt at his readers, shaking his head in disbelief that people will line up to buy this swill (I checked it out of the public library and I want that part of my tax money back).

AG was a snake oil salesman, a con man, and an affront to the art of nonfiction prose.  The book has no style, only venom and melodrama. Episode after episode is like something out of a bad horror movie.  The editing is sloppy as shit, full of misspellings and factual errors.  These call the whole project into question, and I'm just scratching the surface.  Then there are the anonymous sources, unattributed quotations, unfounded conclusions, and yes, undiluted racism and sexism aimed at YO, which is offensive and unacceptable no matter what anyone thinks of her real or imagined effects on JL and his legacy.

No question about it--Mark David Chapman wasn't the only guy making a killing.  AG was laughing all the way to the bank and all the way back home after passing off this skid-marked toilet bowl stain of a book.

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