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John Lennon: The Life [Format Kindle]

Philip Norman

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Before leaving London for the Sweet Toronto Peace Festival in September 1969, John had finally made up his mind to resign from the Beatles. But the whirl of departure had left no time to break it to the other three.

On September 20, Klein called a meeting in Apple’s boardroom for the formal signing of the Capitol contract. For the first time in months that John had all his fellow Beatles on hand to hear his news. But initially he held back, confining himself to a generalized complaint about Paul’s dominance of the band since the Magical Mystery Tour album. “I didn’t write any of that except Walrus . . . ” His tone was more hurt than accusatory. “So I didn’t bother, you know, and I thought I don’t really care whether I was on or not, I convinced myself it didn’t matter, and so for a period if you didn’t invite me to be on an album personally, if you three didn’t say, ‘Write some more songs ’cause we like your work,’ I wasn’t going to fight.”

The insecurity and fatalism revealed in this outburst were surprising enough. But John did not stop there. Warming to his theme – though still wounded rather than angry – he accused Paul of always having overshadowed him, not only by writing more songs but also by inveigling the lion’s share of studio time. It was not a row, more like the airing of mutual grievances before a marriage counselor. Surprised, and not a little hurt himself, Paul conceded that he might have “come out stronger” on recent albums, but pointed out that often when they went into the studio, John would have only a couple of songs ready to record. John agreed his inertia had been a factor: “There was no point in turning ’em out – I didn’t have the energy to turn ’em out and get ’em on as well.”

Paul was all for burying hatchets and pressing forward, convinced all would be well if they could free themselves from balance sheets and office politics. “When we get in a studio, even on the worst day, I’m still playing bass, Ringo’s still drumming, we're still there, you know. . . .”

It was the cue for John’s bombshell. “He hadn’t even told me he was going to do it,” Yoko remembers. “John said, ‘You don’t seem to understand, do you? The group is over. I’m leaving’ “

“I started the band, I disbanded it. It’s as simple as that,” John himself would recollect. “I must say I felt guilty at springing it on them at such short notice. After all, I had Yoko; they only had each other.”

According to music-industry wisdom in 1969, not even the Beatles could split up and expect to continue selling records in significant quantity. It was therefore vital that no word of John’s resignation should leak out until the Abbey Road album had realized its full market potential. “Paul and Klein convinced him to keep quiet,” Yoko remembers. “We went off in the car, and he turned to me and said, ‘That’s it with the Beatles. From now on, it’s just you – okay?’ I thought, ‘My God, those three guys were the ones entertaining him for so long. Now I have to be the one to take the load.’ ”

From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

“[A] haunting, mammoth, terrific piece of work.” (New York Times Book Review)

“It’s this level of detail that makes Norman’s 822 pages such compulsive reading.” (Bloomberg News)

“[Norman] sharpens what we know about Lennon at just about every turn…devotees will relish the new information, while casual readers will find a familiar story told more truly than ever before.” (Rolling Stone)

“[Norman’s] definitive biography draws impressively on exclusive and extensive interviews with Yoko Ono and, for the first time on the record, their son Sean…densely detailed, intricately woven and elegantly told, John Lennon: The Life neither condemns nor condones, nor does it consecrate its subject. (USA Today)

“The bad news is that John Lennon: The Life is so rich and enveloping that it demands to be read…it’s a clear-eyed and compassionate study of a man...Grade: A-.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Powerful and heartfelt.” (Washington Post Book World)

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1354 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 866 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0385661010
  • Editeur : Harper (3 septembre 2009)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B002RI9EZK
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°234.081 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)

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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  321 commentaires
130 internautes sur 135 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Nearly the definitive biography of Lennon 8 novembre 2008
Par Wayne Klein - Publié sur Amazon.com
Do we need another biography on John Lennon? Yes. Why? Because the two most popular ones are the hatchet job that Albert Goldman did and Ray Coleman's fine biography that didn't quite capture the essence of who Lennon was and was hamstrung by trying to undo the damage of Goldman's book. The other question we need to ask is if there are any new facts about Lennon's life that make this worthwhile (and considering that Norman covered part of Lennon's life in his Beatles book SHOUT!). Yes--Norman digs up new facts both good and bad. He doesn't turn these new bits of info salacious or sensational comments or observations providing them with a context to help us understand Lennon as a human being.

Philip Norman has tackled one of the most difficult subjects for a biography because Lennon's life was well covered by the press and fostered a lot of myths himself. With access to Yoko Ono, Freddie Lennon's biography (and unpublished papers), Sean Lennon, Paul McCartney (via email) and others, Norman has prepared a biography that is fair balanced and presents his contradictory character thorughout his life--his bravado as well as his insecurities (of which there were many).

Fans that have read other Beatles books or Lennon biographies should be aware that the bulk of the book covers Lennon's pre-Beatles life and his time in the band throughout most of the 800 plus pages of the book. Norman does revisit familiar ground simply because they are essential events and there are those that haven't read ANY books on Lennon but he also introduces a lot of new information as well.

There are a few flaws because we are, after all, only human. There's no bibliography or discography for Lennon (although fans may be aware of the latter the former is important)although he usually cites his sources in the book. Nevertheless, Norman has written a nearly perfect (there are a few minor flaws that crept past those that reviewed the text)biography on Lennon in terms of the facts and the various opinions that knew him best. The book devotes too little in terms of Lennon's post-Beatles career and "The Lost Weekend" that he experienced when he broke up with Yoko. It also skimps over the recording sessions for "Double Fantasy" (where Yoko reportedly fought so much with Lennon during the sessions that co-producer Jack Douglas often scheduled them to work on their tracks at different times). Norman has his opinions as well and doesn't hesitate to let the reader know them. You may disagree with his opinions(I did on some) but he at least provides us with why be believes them.

79 internautes sur 81 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Life of a Beatle 17 novembre 2008
Par EA Solinas - Publié sur Amazon.com
Most beloved public figures have many facets -- some of them nasty, some of them pleasant and admirable. Most biographies either focus on the good, or the bad.

But fortunately, Philip Norman is making a valiant effort to show, if not all of John Lennon's facets, then as many of them as possible. Having explored the Beatles and their impact on a generation, Norman narrows his focus down to "John Lennon: The Life" -- and he does a superb job unearthing the many details, relationships and differing faces of this much-lamented rock star. We'll never get a John Lennon autobiography, but Norman does a pretty good job of getting inside his shaggy head.

John Lennon was born into an incredibly stormy marriage (which broke up soon after) and raised by his loving, strict Aunt Mimi, though he was something of a hellraising trickster as a child. The one blot: the tragic, shocking death of his mother Julia.

Of course, everyone knows what happened later -- after a brief stint at art school, Lennon became part of a band with an ever-shifting name, and started working on pop songs alongside Paul McCartney. Though briefly devastated by the death of a bandmate, Lennon quickly rose to fame and fortune when the renamed Beatles became not just a hit band, but a new way of life for the youth of Britain, and then the entire world. Hit album after hit album poured from the Beatles, along with the usual rock-star intake of drugs, sex and occasional PR disasters.

But Lennon's interests began to stray in more spiritual directions, and as his marriage to the sweet-natured Cynthia fell apart, he met and fell in love with eccentric Japanese artist Yoko Ono. Suddenly he was devoting himself not to pop hits, but to experimental numbers, "bed-ins" and sitting in bags, and using his world-wide celebrity for the furtherance of peace. While this lifestyle didn't quite tame Lennon's wild side, it led to new focuses in his life -- until it was tragically cut short.

You have to hand it to Philip Norman. While most biographers tend to portray Lennon as a hippie saint or a hopeless jerk, he tries very hard to find a happy medium that encompasses all of Lennon's personality: a flawed man who had a boatload of issues and could be both cruel and kind. While he gets a bit worshipy in the latter parts of Lennon's life, Norman does a pretty good portraying both the musician and those around him in a realistic, compelling light.

Additionally, Norman gives as much careful attention to Lennon's youth as he does to the Beatlemania and John/Yoko years -- in particular, his relationships to his mother, Aunt Mimi, Paul McCartney and the delicate artist Stu, as well as the months and years as a struggling young musician. There's lots of pop psychology, but it works.

In he meantime, Lennon's life is carefully framed in the political and social climes of the time -- the post-war fifties, colourful psychedelic chaos of the 1960s, and the later, grimmer times of the Vietnam War. Politicians, pop art, Liverpudlian slang and changing societies are all explored in detail, and Norman has the perspectives of a lot of people who actually lived in the time and knew Lennon -- his wives, his sons, his bandmates, and even his Aunt Mimi (and she gets a LOT of words in).

He also injects a wry sense of humour into the story (Lennon's aunts turning up at a Beatles performance) as well as a steady, sometimes evocative writing style ("The room reeked of stale beer and wine, and was lined in dusty velvet drapes..."). At the same time, there's some pretty shocking allegations here, such as the claim that Lennon may have been inadvertently involved in the death of his bandmate, but Norman avoids tabloid journalism by explaining why he doubts Lennon actually did any of that.

Lennon himself is a colourful mosaic of seemingly contradictory qualities -- he could be mean-spirited (mocking the disabled), wild, kindly, romantic, neglectful, vibrant, brilliantly unconventional and craving a spirituality that's hard to get when you're filthy rich. As seen by Norman, much of his personality seems to be based on the fear of loved ones dying and leaving him, but we get glimpses of dozens of different sides to his psyche.

"John Lennon: The Life" attempts to accurately portray one of the twentieth century's most unconventional and beloved pop stars, and for the most part, Philip Norman does a brilliant job.
86 internautes sur 94 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Less about the myth, more about the man 29 octobre 2008
Par Wesley Mullins - Publié sur Amazon.com
Forever romanticized by his tragic and puzzling murder, John Lennon has ascended to almost god-like status in pop culture. Remembered as the visionary and dreamer who soundtracked a generation, Lennon's legacy has largely been sculpted by those who loved and admired him, as his strengths, accomplishments and inspirations shine for all to see, while his flaws and failures have been forgotten. Philip Norman believes twenty-eight years of mourning-inspired deification seems about right, and with this book, he attempts to paint a more accurate picture of the man.

The artist Norman depicts has a lot in common with the popular description of a rockstar. The poet who sang about love never missed a chance to cheat on his women, and the man who championed brotherhood and neighborly living often strong-armed and bullied his friends. Norman shows us that he never let people forget that he was John Lennon and they weren't.

His book, however, is not a hatchet-job. Intertwined with his attempts to revise the pedestalized legacy of Lennon is a thorough, faithful account of the intimate and defining moments of a life that led to a canon of music unequaled in artistic merit and inspiration. Norman's intent was to show his readers both the sour and the sweet.

He achieves his goal in part with impressive, exclusive interaction with Yoko One, Paul McCartney, Producer George Martin and others. To those interviews, Norman adds research and his own conjecture and formulates theories about Lennon's mother's death and (what is sure to be the focus of much of this book's publicity) questions about whether Lennon harbored any homosexual tendencies/curiosities.

Norman's success is creating an account of an irresistible human being who has less in common with an Olympian figure than he does with the people who will be flipping through the book's pages. With that achievement, he has probably created the first genuine biography of the man who history has transformed into a mythic figure lacking authenticity and humanity.
80 internautes sur 89 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 In The Shadow Of Mummy 9 décembre 2008
Par Isis - Publié sur Amazon.com
It's not until the very end of this very long book that the reader discovers an interesting fact: Yoko Ono does not endorse Philip Norman's book. Why? Because, the author writes, his book is seen by Ono as being "mean to John". How odd! It's certainly well understood by many fans that John Lennon was Not a saint. He had many dark elements to his personality, as well as the lighter ones: humor, intelligence, talent and compassion. Philip Norman does a fair job presenting Lennon's flaws, as well as his many gifts. (For me, the best part of the book is when Paul McCartney explains how he and John were more alike, than not. At last, a rather stupid myth: John being the "genius" and Paul being the "light one", can receive a much more complex - and satifying - analysis. John's "genius" received a ton of help from McCartney and the other Beatles - and also from George Martin's musical genius and ability, as well).
In this book, it's really Yoko Ono, herself, who Norman paints as one-sided - in the positive sense, mainly. One can, of course, sympathize with Ono's trials by fire. It's through this book that I learned the concrete details of the anti-Yoko sentiment rabidly at play in the late 60's, (such as fans mean-spiritly thrusting yellow roses - thorn side out - into Ono's hands - the color of the Roses a racist comment on Ono's backround). Such disgraceful and hateful cruelty is not something that Ono deserved then, or now. That's not even a question to consider.
At this point, any fair-minded person can easily detect how Ono truly helped Lennon. Yet, it's also glaringly obvious how overly dependent Lennon was upon her. John Lennon was a damaged, wounded, very insecure man. The irony of John throwing barbs at Paul for McCartney's sappy "muzack" truly loses much of the intended sting when one considers all the love-sick songs that Lennon wrote (and/or Preached) about Ono. The better ones are, in fact, really quite beautiful. Yet, a vast many of them show how Lennon worshipped Yoko Ono's views as THE TRUTH, bar None. This over-heated dependency came from a man who was forced to learn, quite early, that he could never have "Mummy". This area of crucial loss which Lennon went through is one that Norman writes about with depth and honesty. He shows, in great detail, the devastation to Lennon's psyche, from age four onwards, over the crucial, cruel Double-loss of his mother. Unfortunately, Norman is far too respectful (and careful) around Ono, later on, when it's time to tie in this early loss to Lennon's later neediness of Yoko Ono as his one true center and (alternate) religion. Perhaps Norman needed to be timid around Ono, to get her cooperation.
Yoko Ono has gone from being a figure that everyone hates into a woman that No one must ever dare to view with anything short of John's complete awe. One cannot blame John Lennon for falling in love with Yoko Ono, but we do not need to join in this deifying of Ono that he espoused, during his life. In the Playboy Interviews, given shortly before his tragic death, Lennon speaks of Ono as this flawless Goddess of Truth & Reality. Lennon's view of Ono is part of the Grand Mythology he fostered in his lifetime. It's time to take a more unsparing look at this myth, without hating Yoko.
May Pang, in her book, Loving John, presents a far more complex picture of Lennon and Ono, as does Cynthia Lennon, in her two books. Philip Norman neglects to give either Pang or Cynthia Lennon much credit, though. He dismisses both of them far too easily than their importance in Lennon's life merits. He even writes off poor Julian. Sean's memories of his Dad, at the book's end, are interesting and important. Still, when Sean Taro ("firstborn" in Japanese, we learn - yet, one more way for John to try to deny Julian) Lennon starts talking about the "intensity" of his father, and this intensity making the Beatles a group that were more than just "sugary", this reader knows that Sean, too, has fallen sway to the Great Ono Myth: that She, Yoko - and Not the Beatles, nor even John Lennon, himself - was/is the True Artistic Genius. Regrettably, Philip Norman's book gives deference to this crazy bit of nonsense a bit too much, as well.
19 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A long and winding read 18 avril 2011
Par John D. Muir - Publié sur Amazon.com
(Yes, I know Paul wrote 'The Long And Winding Road').

Since my review is not going to be an all-out endorsement of this book, it's perhaps necessary for me to point out that I have been a Beatles fan since I first heard 'Love Me Do' in 1962, with the short-wave radio broadcast on Radio Luxembourg hissing and fading in and out as I listened. I was a member of their fan club and 'Please Please Me' was the first record I ever bought (I didn't have a record player before that). I saw their Christmas Show at the Finsbury Park Astoria, I have everything they ever released and some informal (read dodgy) versions of stuff they didn't release. I've always loved their music and now, in my sixties, still do. So, I'm a Beatles fan.

I have Philip Norman's earlier book about the Beatles ('Shout') and it's a creditable effort, considering that he had very little first-hand material to draw on, since the Beatles themselves refused his requests for interviews. He now sets out to write a biography of Lennon and has produced over 800 pages- a long read, indeed. It's by no means a bad book; he's a good writer and tells the story well. So why the lukewarm review?

What Norman has produced here is a massive exploration of Lennon's life and, as far as is possible given that his sources, while better than for 'Shout', don't include the subject himself, a great deal about what Lennon said and did. The trouble is, a lot of it is merely filler. Is it really all that helpful, for example, to have Aunt Mimi's correspondence with a young girl fan reproduced verbatim? Not to mention the search for a house for Mimi to live in. There's so much about Mimi, at one point I thought it was her biography I was reading. How much does it expand our understanding of Lennon to know what furniture and carpets he had in his house, or which firm of accountants Brian Epstein used? I'm not going to go through endless examples, but it's enough to say that there is way too much of this stuff. If Norman had omitted the meaningless minutiae from the book, it would have cut the size of it in half and not diminished our understanding of the essential Lennon at all.

The other problem is that there is an assumption, inherent in all biographies, that the subject was interesting apart from the particular talent for which he/she was famous. For many people, but particularly sports stars, actors and musicians, this really isn't the case. They have a special gift, but other than that they are depressingly ordinary and sometimes not even that. While Lennon's activities garnered a good deal of publicity, in fact, when analyzed, he really didn't have much profound to say apart from his musical talent. His books were derivative (basically, he wrote in the style of, but without the originality of, Spike Milligan) and when he'd done two books in Milligan's style, he had no more ideas. His later stunts, the bed-ins and peace rallies, were inspired by Yoko, who was the stronger character of the two. Lennon himself had no real stance on political or social issues and his songs confirm that.

Lennon's talent as a singer and songwriter was among the greatest ever seen in popular music. The story of The Beatles is fascinating; how 4 very young men from undistinguished backgrounds turned the world on its head. The story of John Lennon the man only shows that having a special talent doesn't make that person very interesting in the other aspects of his life.

Norman's book is OK, but there's way too much of it for the subject matter. It's simply a long and winding read.
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