This new outing offers few revelations into the life of Paul McCartney but much personal detail with scant references to his music as if Norman appears afraid to discuss music nor cares to know nothing about it. One must remember he was the author of the best selling Beatle bio, “Shout!” and was savage in his treatment of McCartney showing bias in favor of John Lennon often also at the expense of George and Ringo. In “The Life” Norman appears to redeem himself and puts Paul into a fairer light acknowledging his contributions to The Beatles not only musically but the cultural with McCartney’s immersion into the avant garde and the hippy underground. That foray brought many of the innovations and sounds to The Beatles psychedelic years starting with “Revolver” through “Magical Mystery Tour.” Norman also brings into focus his subject’s work ethnic. It is likely that “Revolver” until the last album, “Abbey Road” would have never happened without his creativity and drive. McCartney was The Beatles’ greatest cheerleader. And as innovative as the Fab Four were in the studio, they got along best during their club and touring years thus, the book covers that well from Liverpool to Hamburg then conquering America and the world. The book also does reveal the often touching relationship Paul had with his father the amateur musician, Jim.
Norman takes us on the all too familiar journey through the Beatles breakup, meeting Linda, forming Wings with the tensions of revolving members, Paul’s complicated relationships with John and George, his business savvy and MPL empire, the philanthropy, his children, the eventual triumph and worldwide success of Wings, the infamous Japanese pot bust, the Wings breakup, Linda’s tragic death and the solo years leading up a return to touring that continues to this day.
The final act spends too many pages on his marriage to Heather Mills but it’s nice to have a bio that takes us up to modern times. As implied earlier, the book helps secure McCartney as a shrewd businessman and PR man who happens to be a musical genius with a still restless, creative soul in his seventies and is surprisingly normal as one of the most famous men on earth can be.
Nik Everett singer/songwriter