Tag Archives: Paul McCartney

Book Review: “Maharishi and Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru” by Susan Shumsky

On September 3rd, I received an email asking if I’d be interesting in being part of a Blog Tour for a new book. The subject line of the email was “NEW BOOK: The Beatles’ India – sex scandals & mental breakdowns (Inside Story)”. As a publicist who works with authors, a book that was released seven months earlier is not considered a new book…but what the hell. Also, I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Susan Shumsky, last week at the Beatles’ White Album Symposium at Monmouth University in New Jersey. I introduced myself and told her I would be reviewing her book. We had a brief conversation, I attended one of her talks and then said our goodbyes at the end of the seminar.

Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles’ Guru by Susan Shumsky was released on February 13, 2018.  It’s a 300+ page book about the author’s experience with the same Maharishi that the Beatles spent time with in 1968. The book is very well written and an easy read. Of course, you may get tripped up on all the Hindu terminology, but not enough to distract too much from her personal story of following and living at the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and practicing transcendental meditation for over 20 years.

Now for the more personal side of this review…and strictly my opinion: There are many times throughout Susan’s story that the word ‘cult’ would come to my mind. Even the author herself brings up the topic along the way, but easily finds ways of dismissing it at times. It can become almost disturbing to the reader and I still haven’t come to terms with her justification of some of the things that she brings to light about the Maharishi’s organization. Even after being kicked out of the TM organization, she still supports the Maharishi to the very end.

But was John Lennon correct when he called the Maharishi a fraud? Well, this is also left open to interpretation. Ms. Shumsky spends several chapters in the middle of her book discussing the Beatles involvement and visit to India to meet with Maharishi at his ashram. She draws the stories from other sources since she wasn’t there to obtain any first hand knowledge. She also draws upon stories from people she knows who were there. In a court of law, a lot of this would all be considered hearsay. My thought is to take what she says, along with any other sources you may have read and develop your own opinion. Or…maybe not, because in the end, does any of it really matter? I think it’s up to the reader to decide what’s right for them when it comes to their personal religious beliefs and not be influenced by celebrity endorsements…or condemnations. Even Susan says in her book that you have to find the right guru for you, so you’ll either find her story about TM impressive or disturbing.

Susan Shumsky does a great job of opening the readers eyes to the making (and life) of a guru by someone who was actually there to witness it. She tells both the good and bad. The stories of her experiences are heartwarming, funny, disturbing and told with a lot of strength. Yes, I would highly recommend that you read this book if you’re a true Beatles fans or just someone considering TM or just wants a first hand experience of what it’s like inside the ashram. It’s a book that can create a lot of discussions about gurus, religion and God. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

***For more information on Susan Shumsky, go to www.DivineRevelations.org

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Beatles Quotes: He said what?!

After the Beatles became worldwide phenomenons, there is very little of what they said or did that didn’t get recorded in some way. From 1964 until today, whether on film, radio or print media, when a Beatles speaks…people listened! So on August 1, 1966, when Paul McCartney was interviewed on BBC’s David Frost at the Phonograph, the first minute of his interview made the front page of the Sunday Argus-Leader in Sioux Falls, SD on August 7, 1966. Amazingly, the article does a very good job of misquoting McCartney (imagine that!), so here’s a transcript of the fist minute (out of nine minutes) of the interview that this story was pulled from:

Frost: It is alleged by certain people in your organization that you’re very soon off to America. Does that fill you with delight?

McCartney: Yeah. It’s good. I enjoy it in America. I think I like England much better as a place.

Frost: Why?

McCartney: I don’t know. It’s the atitude of the people generally, in America that makes it, um, not as good a place to be as England.

Frost: Whatja mean? Uh…just sort of the intolerant or…

McCartney: Well, I don’t know really. The kind of people we meet in America tend to be…uh…you know, heads of corporations and publicity business things, so I know we don’t get a good feel of American life, but they all seem to believe that, sort of, money is it! Which is true to an extent but not all the time, ya know. They believe in it all the time!

Frost: Yeah, well, they’ve carried it all much further than we have. They’re much more efficient about it and much more frightening about it.

McCartney: Mm yeah, much more frightening!

Just to bring you all up to date, Paul McCartney currently owns no less than four properties in the U.S., including Beverly Hills, Manhattan, the Hamptons, and Arizona. And as of today (June 2018), his net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion making him the 2nd richest musician in the world behind Andrew Lloyd Weber! And let’s not forget that he’s currently married to a Jersey girl, Nancy Shevell…his second American wife.

Whaddya think of us now, Macca? Not so scary….huh?

 

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Book Review: “Baby’s In Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles” by Arne Bellstorf

Baby's In Black Arne BellstorfBaby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles a black and white graphic novel by German cartoonits Arne BellstorfThis hardcover book measures approximately 6″ x 9″ and is 195 pages long. It was originally published in Germany in 2010 under the title Baby’s In Black: The Story of Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe, and later translated into English in 2011 and released in the U.S. in 2012 with its new title.

This is the latest graphic novel in my quest to find the ultimate Beatles graphic novel. I bought a used ex-library copy off of Amazon.com, so I can really comment on the cover since mine has plastic covering it. I will say that even though this book is in black & white, I enjoyed the artwork much more than the book I read last week in which I had a hard time telling the individual Beatles apart from the artist’s renditions. I believe the author of Baby’s In Black, Arne Bellstorf, was much better at pulling off the emotion of the characters much better than some other cartoonists who used more color and detailed drawings.

This book is the love story of Astrid Kirchherr and Beatles’ bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, from the moment they set eyes on each other at the Kaiserkeller club in Hamburg, Germany, until the day Astrid broke the news to John and Paul that Stu had died. George, Paul and John also play a big part in the story with barely a mention of Pete Best. Klaus Voormann also figures prominently in the story, as does Astrid’s mother. You have to give the author a lot of credit for getting the real Astrid Kirchherr to help in making the story as true as possible. It made it a real delight to read knowing that it came from source. And though I’m weary to label this as the ultimate Beatles graphic novel (since it’s really about Astrid and Stu), I really believe that any Beatle fan would truly enjoy this book. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Once Upon A Time In Liverpool” by Judith Kristen and illustrated by Eric Cash

Once Upon A Time In Liverpool Judith Kristen Eric CashA book I should have read long ago when I bought it after it was first released, Once Upon a Time in Liverpool by Judith Kristen and illustrated by Eric Cash was published November 16, 2012. According to the copyright page, the printing of this book was limited to 1000 copies. You can still find new copies on Amazon and on Eric Cash’s website, so I sent a couple emails last week to find out if the book did go into a second printing, but I never got an answer.

Once Upon A Time In Liverpool is a 40 page children’s book that is as wonderful to look at as it is to read. After spending the past several weeks reading a lot of different children’s books about The Beatles, I believe this one is the must have for any parent introducing their children to the Beatles for the first time, or for any Beatles book collector. Between Eric’s amazing retro styled paintings & long history of painting the Beatles, matched with Judith’s skills at writing children’s books, these two seem to have found the right combination to tell the story properly! Each Beatle is introduced to the reader with their birth date, parents, where in Liverpool they were born and what schools they attended. The readers is then lead through each of their lives as they came together to be the Fab Four that we know today. They even include Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliff in their little book. Just Fab! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Giveaway: “Once There Was a Way: What if The Beatles Stayed Together?” by Bryce Zabel

Once There Was A Way Bryce ZabelHappy holidays readers! While surfing my way through Facebook this week, I came across a post about this book – Once There Was a Way: What If The Beatles Stayed Together?  by Bryce Zabel. Since it was just released on December 5, 2017, I decided request a review copy from the publisher, Diversion Books. After offering to send me a review copy, they wrote back to me and asked if I would like to have a contest on my site and give away three copies. “Absolutely!”, I replied.

The book is a 308 page, fictional tale of what might have happened had the Beatles remained friends and never broke up their band.  I can’t wait to read and review it for everyone, but in the meantime, here is an excerpt from the book. I choose this one because it includes one of my favorite Beatles ladies…May Pang!

 

ONCE THERE WAS A WAY – EXCERPT

Lennon Kidnapping (1974)

Once Julian was safely back to the care of his mother, Cynthia, John returned to his party life in Malibu. The Weathermen followed him constantly. Ironically, even though Lennon spotted them several times, he dismissed them as junior FBI agents and ignored them.

The nightclubs they followed him into included the famed Troubadour in Hollywood. Wearing disguises, the Weathermen observed Lennon and Nilsson throwing back Brandy Alexanders like men who had been lost in the desert for a week. One night, an inebriated Lennon came from the restrooms wearing a sanitary napkin attached to his forehead. Dohrn and Ayers watched as a waitress questioned him as to whether he was leaving a tip on the way out.

“Do you know who I am?” Lennon asked.

“Yes,” the waitress shot back. “You’re the asshole with a Kotex on your head.”

The plan had been for Dohrn and Ayers to pick up Lennon after he left the Troubadour, but now there were too many people around, from bouncers to club owners to fans gathered to watch the stumbling Lennon. If anything, the scene convinced Dohrn and Ayers that Lennon was a worthy target who would benefit from some re-education—they’d just have to wait a little longer to implement their plans.

As it turned out, they didn’t have to wait as long as they thought. The evening of March 12, 1974, had been a dark one for John Lennon, now almost a year into his banishment by Yoko Ono. Lennon and Nilsson began throwing down more cocktails and decided to heckle the Smothers Brothers, the controversial political satirists.

“The comments got so ugly and personal that we were about to get pulled off the stage,” Tommy Smothers said. “We loved the Beatles and it blew our minds that one of them would try to ruin our show.”

As the situation escalated, club security attempted to remove the drunken and enraged rock stars in the audience. The struggle turned physical, and Lennon lost his memorable glasses in the scuffle.

All of this, of course, attracted just as much attention as the Kotex incident, but this time, the Weather Underground was prepared—they had a spotter in the crowd who used a nearby payphone to call Bernardine Dohrn, stationed at another payphone near Lennon’s rental house on the beach.

As a taxi dropped off Lennon, Nilsson, and Pang at Lennon’s, a coordinated team of five members of the Weather Underground made their move to grab Lennon. Nilsson tried to hold on to his friend but was punched out cold for his bravery, suffering a concussion when his head hit the stone driveway. A car appeared, driven by Ayers, with Dohrn in the passenger seat.

Pang screamed, terrified she might be raped, and was gagged, blindfolded, and thrown into the back seat. The Weather Underground radicals overpowered Lennon as well, tied his hands with duct tape, and threw him in the trunk of the vehicle. Within less than a minute of exiting the taxi, John Lennon, inebriated and vomiting, found himself locked in a dark car trunk without his eyeglasses.

The car sped off, going north on Pacific Coast Highway. Twenty miles away, on a dark, deserted stretch of beach highway outside of Trancas, a member of the rebel group threw May Pang from the car.

It took her over two hours to find her way to an all-night liquor store with a phone. The manager, a volunteer member of the Malibu Sheriff’s Department, took care of the frantic Pang and helped her remember the physical descriptions of the assailants as best as possible.

With Pang’s assistance, deputies found Harry Nilsson shortly before daylight, still unconscious, in the driveway of the beach house. Within another hour, AP had broken the story.

***

Breaking News

APB107

-BULLETIN- (AP)

(LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA)—THE RADICAL WEATHER UNDERGROUND TERRORIST ORGANIZATION SAYS THAT MUSICIAN JOHN LENNON IS IN ITS CUSTODY. LENNON, A MEMBER OF THE POPULAR MUSICAL GROUP THE BEATLES, HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE TUESDAY.

05:18gAPD  03-15-74

APB108

LENNON-BULLETIN-TAKE 2

FBI DIRECTOR CLARENCE M. KELLEY CONFIRMS THAT BUREAU AGENTS BELIEVE THE COMMUNICATION FROM WEATHER UNDERGROUND LEADER BERNARDINE DOHRN IS AUTHENTIC.

 

Thrilling…huh?

To enter the contest to win one of three copies of Once There Was A Way, just leave a comment below and tell me what you believe may have happened (or wished had happened) if the Beatles had stayed together. One entry per person. Contest ends and winners will be announce at 9 a.m. on Sunday, December 24, 2017.

Good luck and happy holidays….and thank you to Christine at Diversion Books for giving my readers a spectacular holiday!

 

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Book Review: “High In The Clouds” by Paul McCartney

High In The Clouds Paul McCartneyHigh in the Clouds by Paul McCartney (and children’s author Philip Ardagh) is a 96 page children’s book originally released on October 3, 2005. The artwork is by award winning animator Geoff Dunbar who is the artist behind Paul McCartney’s Rupert and the Frog Chorus video and the song “We All Stand Together” (see video below).

This book is being made into a movie and is currently in pre-production according to IMDb.

From Wikipedia:

In 2013, it was reported that an animated feature film adaptation of the book was in development by producers Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye through their Unique Features banner and RGH Entertainment. Tony Bancroft was set to direct the film, written by Josh Klausner, with Paul McCartney set to compose several original songs. The film was optioned by Gaumont.

This story is about a squirrel named Wirral (yeah, just like the town across the River Mersey where Cynthia Lennon grew up), who, after his forest home of Woodland is destroyed and his mother is killed by bulldozers, is in search of the island paradise of Animalia where all the animals live free and in peace. A few other notes of interest:

  • The word FREEDOM appears in all caps which I took as a tribute to Sir Paul’s song “Freedom” that he released after the 9/11 attacks.
  • The words “We all stand together” also appears in the text. I would assume another homage. This time to the song of the same name that McCartney wrote for The Frog Chorus (video below)
  • The bad guy in this book (actually a woman) is named Gretsch! Well, that won’t win him any points with the guitar company now, will it? LOL
  • There are animals of all sizes living on Animalia.  From very large elephants and rhinos to very small….beetles!

This book is absolutely beautifully illustrated. So much so that I had wished there were more pictures to go along with the story. The story itself is good and one can imagine a child of 6 to 9 years of age (recommended age) reading this book to them self. I think my only concern would be the title “High in the Clouds”. Though there is a character in the book named Froggo who travels by hot air balloon, most of the story is on the ground, making me wonder if this is just another one of Sir Paul’s marijuana references. I mean this is the guy that wrote the love song “Gotta to Get You into My Life” about weed! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “David Bowie: A Life” by Dylan Jones

David Bowie A Life Dylan JonesI’d love to say I’ve been loving this book and speeding through it’s pages, but that would just be an outright lie because I’ve been laboring to read it for over a month! I choose this book free as part of the Blogging for Books program because I was a (late to the game) fan of Bowie’s music in the 80’s. I couldn’t get enough of Jazzin’ for Blue Jean.

David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones is a 521 page biography of…well…David Bowie. But it’s not your typical biography. Dylan Jones interviewed over 180 friends, family, colleagues, lovers and rivals of David Bowie. The list of contributors appears at the end of the book as the ultimate who’s who list of the rock and music industry, including Angie Bowie, Tony Visconti, Ricky Gervais, Paul McCartney and even Bowie himself. All the interviews were then broken down and placed in chronological order and presented as an oral history of the life and death of the man born as David Jones on January 8, 1947 in Brixton, U.K..

Though I started out enthusiastically reading this book, about a third of the way through it I got the feeling that a lot of the people interviewed for this book were the ultimate Bowie fans. The praising of everything he wore, sang, said or designed became overwhelming. Occasionally, the author throws in a quote from someone that pretty much amounts to, “David Bowie was a self-centered asshole!” and then the praise would start all over again. For me, it got to be too much.

At the same time, I can’t completely knock this book. This is one of the most complete and informative biographies that I’ve ever read and it really gets at the heart and soul of who David Bowie was and you will learn a lot about him in between the constant adulation of his genius and his sexual prowess.

I haven’t given up on this book yet and I will continue to read it until the end. I’m especially anxious to get to the part about his association with John Lennon and the writing of the song, “Fame“. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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