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Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney par [Sounes, Howard]
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‘They may not look much,’ Paul would say in adult life of his Liverpool family, having been virtually everywhere and seen virtually everything there is to see in this world. ‘They’re just very ordinary people, but by God they’ve got something – common sense, in the truest sense of the word. I’ve met lots of people, [but] I have never met anyone as interesting, or as fascinating, or as wise, as my Liverpool family.’
Liverpool is not only the city in which Paul McCartney was born; it is the place in which he is rooted, the wellspring of the Beatles’ music and everything he has done since that fabulous group disbanded. Originally a small inlet or ‘pool’ on the River Mersey, near its confluence with the Irish Sea, 210 miles north of London, Liverpool was founded in 1207, coming to significance in the seventeenth century as a slave trade port, because Liverpool faces the Americas. After the abolition of slavery, the city continued to thrive due to other, diverse forms of trade, with magnificent new docks constructed along its riverine waterfront, and ocean liners steaming daily to and from the United States. As money poured into Liverpool, its citizens erected a mini-Manhattan by the docks, featuring the Royal Liver Building, an exuberant skyscraper topped by outlandish copper birds that have become emblematic of this confident, slightly eccentric city.
For the best part of three hundred years men and women flocked to Liverpool for work, mostly on and around the docks. Liverpool is and has always been a predominantly white, working-class city, its people made up of and descended in large part from the working poor of surrounding Lancashire, plus Irish, Scots and Welsh incomers. Their regional accents combined in an urban melting pot to create Scouse, the distinctive Liverpool voice, with its singular, rather harsh pronunciation and its own witty argot, Scousers typically living hugger-mugger in the city’s narrow terrace streets built from the local rosy-red sandstone and brick.
Red is the colour of Liverpool – the red of its buildings, its left-wing politics and Liverpool Football Club. As the city has a colour, its citizens have a distinct character: they are friendly, jokey and inquisitive, hugely proud of their city and thin-skinned when it is criticised, as it has been throughout Paul’s life. For Liverpool’s boom years were over before Paul was born, the population reaching a peak of 900,000 in 1931, since when Liverpool has faded, its people, Paul included, leaving to find work elsewhere as their ancestors once came to Merseyside seeking employment, the abandoned city becoming tatty and tired, with mounting social problems.
Paul’s maternal grandfather, Owen Mohin, was a farmer’s son from County Monaghan, south of what is now the border with Northern Ireland, and it’s likely there was Irish blood on the paternal side of the family, too. McCartney is a Scottish name, but four centuries ago many Scots McCartneys settled in Ireland, returning to mainland Britain during the Potato Famine of the mid-1800s. Paul’s paternal ancestors were probably among those who recrossed the Irish Sea at this time in search of food and work. Great-grandfather James McCartney was also most likely born in Ireland, but came to Liverpool to work as a housepainter, making his home with wife Elizabeth in Everton, a workingclass suburb of the city. Their son, Joseph, born in 1866, Paul’s paternal grandfather, worked in the tobacco trade, tobacco being one of the city’s major imports. He married a local girl named Florence Clegg and had ten children, the fifth of whom was Paul’s dad.
Aside from Paul’s parents, his extended Liverpool family, his relatives – what Paul would call ‘the relies’ – have played a significant and ongoing part in his life, so it is worth becoming acquainted with his aunts and uncles. John McCartney was Joe and Flo McCartney’s firstborn, known as Jack. Paul’s Uncle Jack was a big strong man, gassed in the First World War, with the result that after he came home – to work as a rent collector for Liverpool Corporation – he spoke in a small, husky voice. You had to lean in close to hear what Jack was saying, and often he was telling a joke. The McCartneys were wits and raconteurs, deriving endless fun from gags, word games and general silliness, all of which became apparent, for better or worse, when Paul turned to song writing. McCartney family whimsy is in ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ and ‘Rocky Raccoon’, also ‘Rupert and the Frog Song’.
There was a son after Jack who died in infancy; then came Edith (Edie) who married ship steward Will Stapleton, the black sheep of the family; another daughter died in infancy; after which Paul’s father, James, was born on 7 July 1902, known to all as Jim. He was followed by three girls: Florence (Flo), Annie and Jane, the latter known as Gin or Ginny, after her middle name Virginia. Ginny, who married carpenter Harry Harris, was Paul’s favourite relative outside his immediate family and close to her younger sister, Mildred (Milly), after whom came the youngest, Joe, known as Our Bloody Joe, a plumber who married Joan, who outlived them all. Looking back, Joan recalls a family that was ‘very clannish’, amiable, witty people who liked company. In appearance the men were slim, smartly dressed and moderately handsome. Paul’s dad possessed delicate eyebrows which arched quizzically over kindly eyes, giving him the enquiring, innocent expression Paul has inherited. The women were of a more robust build, and in many ways the dominant personalities. None more so than the redoubtable Auntie Gin, whom Paul name-checks in his 1976 song ‘Let ’em In’. ‘Ginny was up for anything. She was a wonderful mad character,’ says Mike Robbins, who married into the family, becoming Paul’s Uncle Mike (though he was actually a cousin). ‘It’s a helluva family. Full of fun.’
Music played a large part in family life. Granddad Joe played in brass bands and encouraged his children to take up music. Birthdays, Christmas and New Year were all excuses for family parties, which involved everybody having a drink and a singsong around the piano, purchased from North End Music Stores (NEMS), owned by the Epstein family, and it was Jim McCartney’s fingers on the keys. He taught himself piano by ear (presumably his left, being deaf in his right). He also played trumpet, ‘until his teeth gave out’, as Paul always says. Jim became semi-professional during the First World War, forming a dance band, the Masked Melody Makers, later Jim Mac’s Band, in which his older brother Jack played trombone. Other relatives joined the merriment, giving enthusiastic recitals of ‘You’ve Gone’ and ‘Stairway to Paradise’ at Merseyside dance halls. Jim made up tunes as well, though he was too modest to call himself a songwriter. There were other links to show business. Younger brother Joe Mac sang in a barber-shop choir and Jack had a friend at the Pavilion Theatre who would let the brothers backstage to watch artists such as Max Wall and Tommy Trinder perform. As a young man Jim worked in the theatre briefly, selling programmes and operating lights, while a little later on Ann McCartney’s daughter Bett took as her husband the aforementioned Mike Robbins, a small-time variety artiste whose every other sentence was a gag (‘Variety was dying, and my act was helping to kill it’). There was a whiff of greasepaint about this family.
Jim’s day job was humdrum and poorly paid. He was a salesman with the cotton merchants A. Hannay & Co., working out of an impressive mercantile building on Old Hall Street. One of Jim’s colleagues was a clerk named Albert Kendall, who married Jim’s sister Milly, becoming Paul’s Uncle Albert (part of the inspiration for another of Paul’s Seventies’ hits, ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’). It was perhaps because Jim was having such a grand old time with his band and his extended family that he waited until he was almost forty before he married, by which time Britain was again at war. It was Jim’s luck to have been too young to serve in the First World War, and now he was fortunate to be too old for the Second. He lost his job with Hannay’s, though, working instead in an aircraft factory during the day and fire-watching at night. Liverpool’s docks were a prime German target during the early part of the war, with incendiary shells falling almost nightly. It was during this desperate time, with the Luftwaffe overhead and Adolf Hitler’s armies apparently poised to invade from France, that Jim McCartney met his bride-to-be, Paul’s mother Mary.
Mary Mohin was the daughter of Irishman Owen Mohin, who’d left the old country to work in Glasgow, then moving south to Liverpool, where he married Mary Danher and had four children: a daughter named Agnes who died in childhood, boys Wilfred and Bill, the latter known as Bombhead, and Paul’s mother, Mary, born in the Liverpool suburb of Fazakerley on 29 September 1909. Mary’s mother died when she was ten. Dad went back to Ireland to take a new bride, Rose, whom he brought to Liverpool, having two more children before dying himself in 1933, having drunk and gambled away most of his money. Mary and Rose didn’t get on and Mary left home when still young to train as a nurse, lodging with Harry and Ginny Harris in West Derby. One day Ginny took Mary to meet her widowed mother Florence at her Corporation-owned (‘corpy’) home in Scargreen Avenue, Norris Green, whereby Mary met Gin’s bachelor brother Jim. When the air-raid warning sounded, Jim and M...

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Praise for Howard Sounes:
"Howard Sounes' excellent biography, [like Bukowski's] ideal blonde, is short, shapely and full."
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"Dylan comes alive ... Sounes has added a wealth of new information to Dylan studies."
The New York Times

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  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1885 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 658 pages
  • Editeur : HarperCollins (2 septembre 2010)
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  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B0041G691I
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.0 étoiles sur 5 108 commentaires
90 internautes sur 100 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Let Me Get This Straight... 19 novembre 2010
Par That Guy - Publié sur
Format: Relié
It's not that this is a badly written book. It's not that we haven't heard most of this history before (we have). It's more that the author seems to have a distaste for McCartney's songwriting.

Paul could be lazy, particularly on the lyrical end. And his post-73 material is a difficult slog, even for his biggest fans. Having said that, it seems criminal to read page after page dismissing Paul's contribution to music as inferior, especially to Lennon's anger. Some of McCartney's biggest and best loved Beatles' songs even come under attack. The author seems to forget that The Beatles' legacy owes a lot to McCartney's cheerful optimism. In many ways, it's what defines The Beatles.

Beyond that, Paul's work ethic and ambition, without which The Beatles' best work would never have occurred, is endlessly ridiculed. I'm sure Paul is full of himself. I'm sure he could be a real jerk at times. But using this as an excuse to reconsider his place in musical history (and The Beatles) is not only unfair, it's unfortunate. He deserves better.
37 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Out of sync with his subject 23 mars 2011
Par Chicago Bookworm - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
"Fab" is a rather mean-spirited 634-page slog through Paul McCartney's personal life that sheds no light on him as a musician. The book's subtitle, "An intimate life of," apparently indicates Sounes' interest in detailing McCartney's life apart from his music. But music is central to who he is, and without a better account of it, "Fab" reads like the world's longest research paper. There's an endless succession of "Then this happened, then this, and X said Y, but Z said . . . " Sounes deserves some credit for thoroughness, but the pedestrian writing and Sounes'evident disdain for his subject make this book extremely disappointing.

If you're interested in McCartney's music, here are some books that describe and analyze it:

* Tony Bacon and Gareth Morgan, "Paul McCartney: Playing the Great Beatles Basslines"
* Vincent P. Benitez, "The Words and Music of Paul McCartney"
* Howard Elson, "Paul McCartney, Songwriter"

Benitez and Elson are justly critical of some of McCartney's work (Bacon and Morgan only discuss songs they think are great). All three of these books evince an enjoyment of his best music and an ability to illuminate it that Sounes' book does not. And John Blaney's "Lennon and McCartney: Together Alone" is a sensitive, far-ranging analysis of both men's solo work.

How can Sounes say virtually nothing about McCartney's bass playing? It's like writing a biography of Jimi Hendrix without discussing the way he plays guitar, or the life of Janis Joplin without describing how she sings. There's also very little mention of his singing, and the analysis of his songs is shallow.

Sounes seems fundamentally out of sync with McCartney's personality and music. There's no question that Sounes is on target when he dismisses some of McCartney's weaker solo material (I'd chew off my own arm to avoid ever hearing "The Girl Is Mine" or anything from "Pipes of Peace" again). But saying "Maybe I'm Amazed" is no classic? Asserting that "Ram" is "not and never was in the same class as 1970s classic albums" because it lacks "musical and/or intellectual weight"? Only if you disregard the music and don't pay enough attention to the lyrics. Sounes seems to like moderately a handful of McCartney's solo songs, and to dislike actively the rest. He's got a right to his opinion, of course, but I really wish that someone writing a tome about McCartney's life appreciated his best music more.

I think Sounes' dislike of so much of McCartney's music stems from two things: Sounes is much more focused on lyrics than on sound, and he approaches every song with the same level of seriousness. McCartney is more like Brian Wilson than like Bob Dylan, the subject of Sounes' previous biography. For Wilson and McCartney, the music -- the sound, the harmony -- is paramount. Lyrics are important, but they're far from everything, and Sounes writes as if the lyrics are the songs. In addition, the tone and seriousness of McCartney's songs ranges widely, but Sounes writes as if every song should have the weight of "Eleanor Rigby." I laughed out loud when Sounes said "Hi, Hi, Hi" shouldn't have been released because it's so clearly about sex and drugs. Where does this guy think the term "rock and roll" came from?

I was left wondering what motivated Sounes to write "Fab." The closest he comes to talking about this is on pages 420-21, where he describes going to his first McCartney concert, in 1990, and becoming "a convert to Paul McCartney as a live performer." More analysis of McCartney as a performer, and less retailing of seemingly every remark anyone's ever made about him, would make this book vastly more interesting.

At the end of the book Sounes says he wasn't looking to find fault with McCartney, but to study him under a microscope. Yet he consistently inclines toward a negative view of McCartney when the facts would support more than one opinion. One of the grating aspects of "Fab" is Sounes' use of familiar nicknames for the people he's writing about -- Linda McCartney is "Lin," Ringo Starr is "Ritchie," etc. This kind of faux intimacy is especially nauseating when it's paired with the snarkiness that much of Sounes' writing displays.

"Fab" is a case study in what happens when a biographer writes about someone he or she just doesn't connect with -- far from getting an objective look at the subject, you get a profound lack of insight.
99 internautes sur 112 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Tone Deaf Biographer 30 octobre 2010
Par PoetPriest - Publié sur
Format: Relié
It is never good, in any genre, for a critic to review a work that is contrary to his natural abilities nor outside the area of his comprehension. That author/subject disconnect is the situation with this work.

The book is annotated professionally, but easily 90% of the material in the book up to the Mills trainwreck/divorce can be found elsewhere, and is sometimes taken from elsewhere. If you are one that sees McCartney no longer as a creative force, but simply a world class performer of (his own) cover tunes, then his personal life isn't of great significance. Paul, post Linda, is a bit of a shadow. Personally, I don't want to know any more about Ms. Mills. I know too much already. So the one strength of this book is not appealing to this reviewer, though in fairness I note it.

As for this book's shortcomings, these are really shortcomings of Mr. Sounces, and are vividly demonstratable. McCartney has unique talents. At one time he used them to dominate and reshape the pop music genre. After that domination, his composing talents still remained vibrant and constructive for a good 20 years. The problem with this book is that Mr. Sounces, at his core, does not like, nor can he appreciate, Mr. McCartney's great talents in general, nor their particular flavor and uniqueness in particular. Sounces denounces (a frequent habit) one of McCartney's post-Beatle songs called "Magneto and Titanium Man" (from the "Venus and Mars" album). He dares the reader to try to listen to that song now, as if it would be painful for anyone to do so. But the facts about Magneto are 1)it is a very pleasant, light pop song that only Paul could write, 2)it is inventive in that it contains "rap" prior to rap even getting its foothold, 3)it contains some endlessly inspired bass playing that is sustainable for multiple listenings (and whose brilliance is obvious over 25 years later) and 4)it contains a uniquely Paul vocal performance where he gives you three - actually four, including the rap -- four different vocal timbres (or styles) IN ONE SONG. These last two bits - bass playing and singing - are things Mr. McCartney does like nobody else in rock. Nobody. If you do not know this you should not be writing a book about McCartney. If you can not see the bass virtuosity and vocal cunning Paul casually throws at you via "Magneto", then you should not be writing about McCartney, because you are tone deaf to his gifts and brilliance.

There are lots of McCartney biographies out there. This one is detailed, but it is certainly in the bottom half in terms of quality. And because it is written by a man who can not appreciate McCartney's truly unique gifts, it is a book that should never ever be first on your list. Anyone giving this book as a gift does Mr. McCartney in particular, and rock music history in general, a disservice. Better would be to gift "Venus and Mars" and point out to the benefactor "sometime checkout 'Magneto and Titanium Man' - it's amazing." Because it is, even after all this time.
59 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A FINE LOOK AT MCCARTNEY, THE BEATLES, AND THE ERA 23 octobre 2010
Par Stuart Jefferson - Publié sur
Format: Relié
562 pages of text, 4 pages of Acknowledgements, and an Index.There are 16 pages of b&w and color photographs (from boyhood through his later solo tours) grouped together in the book.

Yes, this is another book about Paul McCartney/THE BEATLES. But what makes this particular book even more interesting, is that the author, Howard Sounes (who has written fine biographies on Bob Dylan and Charles Bukowski), writes about McCartney in conjunction with the era when THE BEATLES were forming and went on to change music forever. Sounes also delves into McCartney's life after THE BEATLES, which, taken altogether, paint a fuller picture of McCartney's life in and out of music, including new information concerning his marriage and subsequent divorce from Heather Mills. For this biography Sounes has interviewed more than 200 people, which is obvious from the details found in this straight forward reading book.

This book is informative and entertaining, not only through Sounes writing, but various comments and anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book. There are chapters devoted to McCartney's boyhood, the forming of THE BEATLES, their time spent in Hamburg, Germany honing their musical skills, coming to America as popular artists, and McCartney's wedding to Linda Eastman. there's also much information on THE BEATLES differences and their subsequent breakup. From that point McCartney goes on to form his band WINGS, which the book goes into in some detail. After that the chapter concerning the reformation of THE BEATLES as a "threesome" is delved into along with the release of the three CD volumes and book ("The Anthology") which took an in depth look at the groups career. Linda McCartney's death is given much weight in the book and how it affected McCartney. From there the book goes into some depth about Heather Mills meeting with McCartney, and their life together through their divorce. For those interested in new details concerning the McCartney's divorce, there's much new information which gives a better picture of just what went on during and after their marriage. The book ends with McCartney, now single, recording and releasing albums under the name Fireman, and his subsequent solo tours back where THE BEATLES came together musically, in Hamburg, Germany.

All through this well researched and written book the effort the author puts into anchoring McCartney to specific times and places really gives this book an interesting slant on everything. The feel for the era is very nicely portrayed and helps give a better picture of McCartney, THE BEATLES, and that long ago era. Taken together this is a very interesting, at times highly informative, and personal look at Paul McCartney's life, both in and out of music. Sounes has written a good book, and his feel for his subject is apparent. If you want to know about McCartney's life past the surface, this would be a good place to start. If you've already read other books about McCartney, this book is still worthwhile for the new information, and the author's way with combining both the man and the times.
18 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Beatles Fans please beware as this book does not fit the title adequately 6 mars 2011
Par J. Lavoie - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
What a shocker that so many people gave this book so much more credit than it's due!

When you hear a Paul McCartney song, you think of him as a man of many voices; the Beatle with the most potential...the one who demonstrated the hardest work ethic for the group; a man who plays countless instruments; one of the best rock bass players of our time; a writer and a composer of music; and/or a living Beatle who we want to know more about, as fans.

From the title of this book, and what I thought to be above average favorable reviews, I decided to buy this book yielding over 600 pages and I read every single word with the exception of the Notes and the Index in the back of the book.

I am an avid reader of true stories/biographies, etc. I am not apt to Review a book which I did not like, and I must say I don't think I've written a Review giving it only two stars, but I have to this time for other Beatle Fans, and for Paul McCartney. (No, I am not a love-sick teen of the sixties, but I do know when someone is trying to destroy another person's reputation by writing about them in a consistant critical form, chapter after chapter.)
The ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS are at the end of the book. The author states as part of a sentence, "I did not have an agenda to find fault with Sir Paul..." And he continues to tell us that he tried to tell the epic story of his life as fairly and as truthfully as he found his facts from studying Paul "as an entomologist might put another kind of beetle under the microscope."
Look, I have problems with the entire book as it was written in a critical way. I found the author looking for petty views of this man he was writing about. For instance, in the research that he did, it appears that he probed to get a tense angle on Paul, no matter what the setting, who the person interviewed, whatever a situation 'looked like', without knowing for certain. In a nutshell? This author tries to show us that Paul McCartney is a difficult person, and no matter what, he wound up each situation with that conclusion, as a
Beatle, then as a post Beatle.

I wish the author would have pointed out how successful Paul's 30 year marriage was to Linda. Though the author did a lot of coverage of her, again, he was was quite critical of her as a person and as a singer (which everyone probably does agree that Linda was in the Wings Band for Paul's confidence and could not sing.) The author plugged at her, yet never touched on the subject of how the couple handled her battle with know...all the intimate stuff which he had on so many other lovers...yet not upon their cancer ride.

If you are not an avid reader, you might find this book too long for you. I read it all but sputtered to my husband for the three weeks of reading it that I was so disappointed in this author's style of writing...his demeanor of writing about P.M. throughout the entire book, but I was bound and determined to finish it, due to my devotion to reading the book in it's entirety, before I decided to add it to my personal home library or to sell it at my summer yard sale.

And if the Beatle's truths be told, as a band or post Beatles, you can get that information from their Anthology interviews.

Paul McCartney is the most influentual and most successful entertainer, songwriter, singer, musician and writing partner with John Lennon. History (has) will hold this proof in it's pudding! PEACE
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