Tag Archives: Paul McCartney

Book Review: “Take A Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of ‘Hey Jude'” by James Campion

This review is by Amy Hughes

Take A Sad Song Hey JudeIn the Beatles canon, there is one composition, one performance that stands up and takes notice of the world. Since 1968, that song has been ‘Hey Jude.’

Author James Campion elongates the timeline from then to now with Take A Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of “Hey Jude” (Backbeat Books, 2022). If one questions why this song has come to define how we feel – deeply – about ourselves and globally, each other, he details those passages to great effect and empathy.

Campion brings together several noted musicologists, journalists, and musicians whose love for and knowledge of The Beatles helps to describe the far-flung reasons and reactions that bind ‘Hey Jude’  to our collective DNA and the shared elements of the individual who miraculously brought it all together.

Paul McCartney’s childhood is well documented with the loss of his mother to cancer and the hardships that followed. The ensuing years saw the rise of The Beatles with not only their popularity as a band, but as songwriters, Lennon and McCartney ascended to the top of the charts with their catchy memorable tunes and distinctive sound.

But what really happened went far deeper. While the struggle to maintain a normal life was in fact an everyday occurrence for those involved, McCartney processed his soul into a song. As early-to-mid 1968 has shown, his personal life started to unravel: the trip to Rishikesh proved insightful but fractured his relationship with Lennon, and his longtime girlfriend Jane Asher broke off their engagement. What else could he do but pour all this into an elegy?

Campion’s book is not so much a studious laundry list of how ‘Hey Jude’ came to be and where it went. The uniqueness of the times, as many interviewees noted, demanded to be heard and then have it propelled forward. The mechanics of the composition are unmatchable. McCartney – as has been noted in a previous blog entry – was surrounded and imbibed with music. His mind was constantly spinning, never slowing down in absorbing breath and emotion coming from his environment. Whether he intended to construct what has become an epic, relatable anthem is only up for reflection by McCartney himself.

The frequently told and legendary story surrounding ‘Hey Jude’ is not hard to fathom: as Lennon became involved with Yoko Ono and left behind his wife Cynthia and young son Julian, McCartney traveled out to see them. During the car trip, the germination of the song came to him and while the conversation with Cynthia was lighthearted, he knew immediately the sense of loss and abandonment that was coming soon, especially for a boy whose circumstances mirrored his own.

Instead, the implied autobiographical details infused in ‘Hey Jude’ elicited personal empathy from Lennon. While also losing his mother months after McCartney’s mother’s passing, Lennon refused to live with the scenario that she was gone. Hence his blocked emotion at explicitly revealing this in song… until ‘Hey Jude.’ It was his comment to McCartney about leaving in the placeholder sentence ‘the movement you need is on your shoulder’ that gave his junior partner the confidence that this song was relatable to not only him… but anyone.

Two areas that are especially interesting are the recording of the song and the filming of the video. While noting that the band switched over to the then-new Trident Studios (with the intention of using their 8-track recording system), once completed and taken back to EMI Studios, the dissimilar operational logistics and control settings between the two seemed insurmountable. Campion explains those defeating circumstances and the fixes utilized by the team at EMI (including the brief return of engineer Geoff Emerick) to the great relief of everyone who had believed it was a lost cause.

With humor, the story behind the filming of the video is decidedly more intriguing. In fact, there are two filmings that Campion covers. The first was the rehearsals of the song at EMI. Filmed by the National Music Council of Great Britain for the documentary ‘Music!,’ this footage is notable for the fact of George Harrison’s presence in the control room with George Martin and Ken Scott. McCartney’s specific demands led to a spat and Harrison exited the studio below. The bassist’s attitude toward perfection was an open secret that would lead to further friction in the coming months.

Another surprising revelation (to this reviewer) was the Michael Lindsay-Hogg-directed version of ‘Hey Jude.’ As presented to the UK public, one surmised it was specifically done for exclusivity for David Frost – hence his introduction. However, Campion unearths the hysterical reasons why Frost shouldn’t have been there and then delves into the unspoken visual nuances of the performance, the band’s interaction with the invited audience, and the “cosmic kinship’ as described by Campion between Lennon and McCartney.

But what really drives this narrative along are the numerous observations from Campion’s interviewees and his own personal examination of the crucial four-plus minute coda. Initially, told that ‘it just wasn’t done,’ what does one think if you’re The Beatles? You go ahead – and do it.

Na… na… na… na na na na will in fact, become more than an ending to a long song. At the time, it is a rule-breaking, non-conformist leader that disrupts the leftover hippy-dippy AM sounds of summer and reaches out in a soul-searching, personal call-to-arms as 1968 explodes in domestic and worldwide chaos. Several scholars note that where McCartney succeeded was reaching back from childhood and leaning on the Christian hymn ‘Te Deum.’ And to add: a fourth-century canticle that he subconsciously meshed with The Drifters’ 1962 soulful ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ (a Beatle favorite) is not an unreal possibility.

As Campion notes several times (and with the comments and remarks from his respondents), ‘Hey Jude’ is not just about Paul McCartney inheriting a character (one of his songwriting traits) and offering a manufactured tale. This was a Paul McCartney who passionately cared that this creation succeeds on the ‘everyman’ level: from a TV audience in 1968 to the countless world tours to young non-English speaking musicians such as Korean pop band BTS who when asked what their favorite Beatles song was, jumped up and began Na… na… na… na na na na.

The impact of ‘Hey Jude’ from a song to an event is incalculable. By definition or perhaps default, this milestone in music has come to define the personal and professional attainments one feels – whether it be a comforting lyric in a time of mourning or a place that thousands of artists aspire to reach every time they compose. Campion has fashioned a unique testament to the power of one song to countless individuals.

This book rates 4 out of 4 beetles.

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Shake it up, Beverley” by Suzan Holder

You know that beach book you’ve been looking for this summer? Well, I think I found it thanks to Roag Best and The Liverpool Beatles Museum!

Over the past week or so, Roag has been posting on Facebook about the first ever book to be launched held at the Beatles Museum in Liverpool. I don’t know why it took me a week to look it up on Amazon, but when I finally did, I immediately ordered myself the Kindle version of Shake it up, Beverley by Suzan Holder. It’s only $2.99 and I didn’t feel like waiting for the paperback edition that’s not deliverable until June 10th (not sure why that is).

I know I should be reading more non-fiction Beatles related books for this blog, put for the past week or so, I’ve really needed a distraction…something I could enjoy without having to actually think about it. It was then that the posts started popping up on Facebook about this book. I knew then that it was meant to be reviewed for my site.

What a fun, relaxing read this was! How could I not love a novel where the protagonist, Beverley Wilson, is a fifty-something year old, mother of three, like myself? I think every middle-aged, female Beatles fan will be able to relate to her mild-manner, ordinary, ‘careful’ life that gets turned upside down when she decides to re-enter the dating world after the death of her husband. Her kids are all grown…what could possibly go wrong?

One of the fantastic elements about this book is that the author mixed in so much Beatles history and plenty of the Fab Four’s Liverpool landmarks into the story, including the McCartney’s home in Speke. And no wonder the book launch party was held at The Liverpool Beatles Museum, when the main character not only visits the museum, but also spends an evening at the Casbah Coffee Club!

I read this book in less than 2 days and the only bad part about it was that it had to end. I thoroughly enjoyed Beverley Wilson’s exploits, adventures and mishaps. Just when you thought you figured out one mystery in this book another one pops up to keep you entertained throughout. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music” by David Grohl

The Storyteller tales of life and music david grohlUnfortunately, I didn’t give The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music (Dey St. Publishing, October 2021) by Dave Grohl the respect that it deserves. I actually let it sit HALF READ on the end table next to my couch for a month! Oh…the humanity…I hang my head in shame. But now that my load has been lifted (I work as a temp, but have decided not to take any new jobs this month), I finished it in two days…something that any sane person could have done with the entire book!

Is this book everything you think and expect it to be? Well…yes and no!

Does it contain:

The grungy little details about Kurt Cobain?…no.

When and who Dave lost his virginity too?…no.

Details of his first marriage?…no.

The suggestion that he may have been abducted by aliens?…yes!

The gory details of him falling off the stage and breaking his leg?…yes!

For those of my readers that may are not aware, Dave Grohl was the original drummer for Nirvana and the founder of the Foo Fighters and he is a huge Beatles and Paul McCartney fan. So, if you’re looking for Paul McCartney stories, he doesn’t disappoint. The book is filled with stories of meeting his musical idols and how he himself turns into a ‘fan’ upon coming face to face with them.

As a doting father, Dave also tells of the excitement he feels when he gets to introduce his daughters to rock royalty. Imagine Paul McCartney playing piano with your three year old or Joan Jett reading her a bedtime story! And Dave tells the stories so humbly that (unlike other rocker memoirs) it doesn’t come off as bragging. Along those same lines, you won’t be forced to read through endless tales of his sexual conquests, but you’ll learn how much he loves and respects his mother.

In 375 pages, Grohl covers a lot of ground, but leaves so many things untold. This book will definitely leave you wanting more. And I have a feeling there will be at least one more book to follow this one. After spending much of the book telling stories about being the father of three daughters, the youngest two don’t get their fair share of page worthy stories. Also, in the credits, he thanks his publisher Liate Stehlik, “who allowed me the honor of telling my story (or at least a tenth of it) to the world. Thank you. Someday I’ll have to tell you the rest.” I look forward to hearing them too!

And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “What They Heard: How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened To Each Other and Changed Music Forever” by Luke Meddings

What They Heard: How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened To Each Other and Changed Music Forever Luke Meddings

An astounding thought crosses the mind when even thinking about the title of Luke Meddings’ book. The metaphorical and analytical analysis of these three entities has been decades in the making.

In What They Heard: How The Beatles, Beach Boys and Bob Dylan Listened To Each Other and Changed Music Forever (Weatherglass Books, 2021), Meddings has unfolded a heartfelt dissertation on how the three B’s (and for contextual purposes, he also includes the fourth B – The Byrds), with minute clarity, couched in appreciation with the subjects at hand.

Each set out on their own path, yet within the circumstances of the ‘60s music and art scene, diverged at various points along the way. This isn’t a highbrow, how-the-stars-and-planets -aligned tome. It points to the inevitable for the times: Dylan breaking the barriers of folk and be damned; The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson as the troubled genius who saw beyond the accepted musical norms and finally The Beatles whose presence not only affected the aforementioned but occupied a massive, revered space that neither they nor anyone could have foreseen.

The hindsight for this book proves entirely relevant as Meddings intersects the creative influences of that time with the development of his own understanding of musical composition and theory. Translated: he gets us to the core of why we love those unexpected chord changes, why we hear something different every time we listen to every song. And why getting a handle on a note from ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ to ‘Good Vibrations’  to ‘Paperback Writer’ leaves us more confused than ever.

One overall aspect here are the underdogs in this character study: the members of The Byrds. The scattershot pickings when viewed from afar (covering Dylan, influencing George Harrison, conflicting integrations and genres that were amplified by Wilson) is indeed intriguing. I found entire backstories on the individual members enhanced the merit of their music and needed to be brought forth in the context of this narrative.

But while Meddings sets the needle into the groove of where this all began – the very late 50s to be fair – the crux of this book really centers on Wilson. He is living and breathing music. Not content to play in a band and wear the stereotype facade of the perceived groovy  ‘California lifestyle,’ Wilson reaches for stratospheric goals that as we see moved his mind far beyond what Lennon & Co. were tripping to with recreational drug use.

Wilson and the magnum opus of ‘Pet Sounds’ has of course been acknowledged by McCartney as the trigger for ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ start. Dylan on the other hand – in an oblique way – had already pushed the buttons and pissed off the folk purists with his jump into electric-land. Meddings gives us a view that while there had to be changes coming, the face of folk’s movement didn’t have to be nice or polite or meek. And if Wilson placed his Moog-minded, choral-vocal beauty out there, musicians like McCartney had to step out or be run over.

Meddings does conclude ‘What They Heard’ on what I would consider a downturn. As he ruefully reminisces that the paths of the book’s subjects did not cross over much past their heyday and obviously with the loss of Lennon in 1980, that was put to pasture. He does however lend a bit of spark for Dylan in recent years. While McCartney and Wilson have in varying degrees struggled vocally as they age, Meddings puts forth the fact (and I agree wholeheartedly) that Dylan is the one who has aged the best; growing into his voice – the nasal growl – and his learned historical and extensive references for 2020’s epic 17-minute ‘Murder Most Foul.’ Dylan with all his work is still a hard act to categorize to this day.

Charting the course from 1961-68 gives the reader a concise snapshot of where they all stood – eyeing each other through music, personal connection and as this book notes, how all of those ingredients combined gave us what we have today, most importantly for the better.

I give this book 4 out of 4 beetles.

 

 

 

 

 

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The New Yorker (magazine): October 18 & 25, 2021

The New Yorker magazine October 18 2021

So this is another post/review that is all about me clearing off the end table next to our couch. It’s where all the to-be-read Beatles books gather and collect dust until I get around to giving them their proper due.

I don’t subscribe to The New Yorker magazine. Nor would I consider picking it up to just peruse in my spare time, but a couple weeks ago, someone on Facebook mentioned that there was an article written by Paul McCartney about how he came about writing the song Eleanor Rigby. Later that day when I got home from work, there was a copy of the October 18th issue of the magazine. It didn’t match the cover that was posted on Facebook and it was addressed to my darling neighbor Janice. Just as I was about to return it, she dropped by to tell me there was a great Beatles article in it, so she passed it on to me. And subsequently, the next issue with the article by Paul!

**Note: If you click on the magazine covers in this post, it will take you straight to the articles themselves. If you want my opinion (LOL) or want to know how to get yourself actual copies keep reading.

The October 18th article is titled, “Let the Record Show: Paul McCartney’s long and winding road” by David Remnick. It opens with a two page picture of the Beatles planning on the roof of Apple and the article spans 10 pages. I think the most interesting part of the article/interview was hearing about the author going to Paul’s house in the Hamptons for a party he was throwing to preview the new Beatles documentary “Get Back“.

The New Yorker magazine October 25 2021The October 25th article is titled, “Writing Eleanor Rigby: Behind the Beatles’ breakthrough” by Paul McCartney. It’s three page article that spends a lot of time straying from the topic. Not that that is a bad thing when you remember the author is Paul, but it does give the impression that the original story may not have been long enough and they needed filler. Lucky for us…Paul has plenty of great stories for filler.

I poked around the internet looking for places to buy copies of these issues if you’d like to add them to your collection. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that The New Yorker or it’s parent company Conde Naste offer back issues on their website. But it you go to Ebay or Amazon (I did the search for you, just click the links), you can find several people selling their copies. I know that I’ll be stashing my copies away!

Thank you, Janice!

 

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Book Review: “The Most Famous Musician You’ve Never Heard Of” by Andy Cahan

The most famous musician youve never heard of Andy CahanThe title of this book couldn’t be more appropriate! How many of you have actually heard of Andy Cahan? I know he’s been making the rounds on social media this past year promoting his book The Most Famous Musician You’ve Never Hear Of, which he wrote and self-published in 2020, but prior to that…did any fans know him? And does it matter if the fans knew who he was when he was known to everyone in the rock n roll industry in the 60s and 70s?

Andy “Panda” Cahan has worked with everyone…I wouldn’t even know where to start naming names…and he does such a great job of it on his own throughout this 344 page autobiography that reads like a Who’s Who directory of the rock n’ roll industry! Just look at the list on the cover (Hendrix, Ringo, Nilsson, The Turtles, Little Richard, Dr. John, Ray Bolger, Grace Slick) or page through the 10 page index in the back of the book. And the stories…oh, the stories. He tells them with such enthusiasm as if they just happened last week and also provides a pictorial history to go with them It’s as if he had a photographer following him around for 3 decades! If you want to read a more extensive, but still not complete, list of who he’s worked with, go to his Amazon page and click on the book cover to preview the first 10 pages of the book.

This isn’t a deep book. This is a fun book to read. Published in a softcover 8.5″ x 11″ format, it’s large enough to be a coffee table book, but a bit awkward for reading in a bar (yeah, I took it into a cigar bar to read!). This is a book you’ll want to just kick back and read while slouched in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee. The print is rather on the large size, but I believe the book was packaged to help enhance the photos that go along with the short but sweet stories on every page. As the cover says, “A Rock and Roll Scrapbook…”

For those diehard Beatles fans who are wondering why I haven’t listed this book as OT (off-topic), every Beatle gets a nod in Andy’s book and he even had the pleasure of working with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. You’ll even read his tale of spending the evening at May Pang’s apartment. Always the gentleman (well, 90% of the time), Andy doesn’t kiss and tell, so it’s up to us guess what happened. Oh la la…

So, here’s the not so good news about this book: Andy Cahan really should have had a professional editor and formatter go over this book before self-publishing it. Though, I honestly believe he could have gotten an actual publisher behind it. Still, you’re going to come away from this book feeling like you know “Panda” and he’s an old friend that you can’t wait to meet up with again and hear more stories! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beatles!

 

 

 

P.S. – If Andy hasn’t friended you on Facebook yet to sell you an autographed copy of his book, you can find him at www.facebook.com/andy.cahan. You just simply send him $60 through FB or PayPal and he’ll mail you a copy. It’s all on the up & up and cheaper than Amazon!

 

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Book Review: “Little Wing: The Jimmy McCulloch Story” by Paul Salley

Little Wing Jimmy McCulloch Paul Salley

Another fine review written by Amy Hughes

Rock guitarists have the unenviable task of comparison, either as mass media idols or underrated geniuses who didn’t get peer recognition during their lifetime. A handful thankfully straddle both hemispheres and if needed, get that extra push by someone who will deep dive into their life & career and emerge with an appreciation that wasn’t there before.

Author (and fan) Paul Salley has brought forth the heart in Little Wing: The Jimmy McCulloch Story (Lotown Publishing, 2021). No one reading this blog should not know McCulloch’s time with Paul McCartney: he was Wings’ lead guitarist from 1974 to 1977 and contributed several defining moments to songs in that time period, most notably the soaring interludes and name-dropped solo in “Junior’s Farm” and the highlight breaks in the live version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” from ‘Wings Over America.’ However, what overshadows all his accomplishments was his sudden death in 1979 at age 26.

As a young child, McCulloch showed himself as a guitar prodigy that belied his stature, literally. Born in Scotland, he was a ‘wee lad’ and many remembrances of him from those much older (including brother Jack) are often laced with warm humor: that he could even hold a guitar are among the repeated stories from his youth.

Coming from a musical family, McCulloch began his vocation with Jack in the local band The Jaygars. Rising in popularity across the UK, they were astonished at the reception and attention that McCulloch (at age 11 in 1964) was receiving. He caught the ear of The Who’s Pete Townshend, which would prove fortuitous in a few short years.

Moving onto another band configuration (One In A Million), the McCulloch brothers were soon on the rise as recording artists with a move to London in 1967. After their band split in early 1968, Jimmy McCulloch the guitarist transformed into Jimmy McCulloch the guitarist with a Number 1 hit. Townshend brought together McCulloch, singer-drummer-songwriter Speedy Keen and pianist Andy Newman to form Thunderclap Newman. The Who’s guitarist wanted to foster a creative environment with musicians he found favor with (Keen had written “Armenia City In The Sky” for ‘The Who Sell Out’) and this quirky ensemble fit the bill. With Townshend as producer, the trio recorded a Keen original “Something In The Air.” The song was released in July 1969 and McCulloch became the youngest person (at 16) to top the UK charts.

While Thunderclap Newman wrestled with the notion of becoming a performing band (and eventually added Jack McCulloch on drums and Jim Avery on bass), the pressures of living up to the newly minted status of rock stars began to take its toll. A 1970 album did emerge (‘Hollywood Dream’), gigs on the road brought notice and television appearances helped elevate McCulloch’s presence, but his commitment to the group began to falter. A summer 1971 US tour with The Who would have brought them high recognition; instead, Thunderclap Newman quietly disbanded.

McCulloch was finding his feet within the world of UK rock, however his next big move – working and touring with John Mayall – had an enormous impact on his post as a guitarist. Within three days of a phone call, McCulloch was on stage in Germany playing the blues next to the legendary statesman, who remarked later that McCulloch “had a lot of potential as an individual stylist.”

A short-lived namesake group was a time-filler for McCulloch’s next spotlight gig: Stone The Crows. Having tragically lost guitarist Les Harvey in a freak on-stage electrocution, the band were seeking out a replacement. McCulloch came to an audition and impressed everyone, especially vocalist Maggie Bell. His debut in May 1972 and his work on their album-in-progress further showcased his ability to interpret a back catalog on tour (the band’s forte) and break out from the cage of ‘teen idol.’ His position ended in 1973… however there were better days ahead.

McCulloch’s tenure in Wings began with a serendipitous invite from McCartney to attend a recording session in Paris to work on solo tracks for Linda McCartney (which were released on her posthumous ‘Wide Prairie’). This friendly venture set off the chain of events that saw McCulloch work with the band on Mike McCartney’s 1974 release ‘McGear’ (now acknowledged as a ‘lost’ Wings album), which morphed into the new lineup that included drummer Geoff Britton, the McCartneys and Denny Laine.

The group relocated to Nashville in June of 1974 to begin rehearsals, find their chemistry and jell musically. While there was plenty of time to play and relax, McCulloch did catch some trouble with the law with a bit of arrogance that wasn’t appreciated by the local authorities. Although proving himself worthy of a callout in the hard rocking “Junior’s Farm,” the cracks were already showing. During a brief respite, McCulloch nearly left, tempted by an offer to join The James Gang. His reasoning (no official tour plans akin to a lifestyle he enjoyed) nearly spelled the end of his tenure with McCartney. However, when Linda McCartney stepped in (and the offer of a wage arose), McCulloch felt secure enough to stay aboard for the foreseeable future.

The public’s first viewing of the new line-up in November 1974 with the release of “Junior’s Farm/Sally G” and the ensuing sleeve photoshoot, (with McCulloch dressed as a gambler) garnered strong notices in the rock press. His addition to the group reinforced McCartney’s new direction: take this band seriously and by the way, we’re kicking ass as well. Unfortunately, by the time the group were setting up for the ‘Venus and Mars’ sessions, Britton was out.

His replacement – Joe English – slotted in on a recommendation from Wings’ horn player Tony Dorsey. With the group in formation, they alighted in New Orleans during Mardi Gras for the recordings at Sea Saint Studio. ‘Venus and Mars’ dropped in May 1975, shooting to the top of the charts in both the UK and US on the strength of “Listen To What The Man Said.” McCulloch’s contribution “Medicine Jar” (not autobiographical, but inspired but a close friend’s drug addiction) was a hard-rock number and his understated blues-tinged licks on the closing tracks “Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People” were highlights as was Wings’ reinterpretation of the theme to the popular UK series ‘Crossroads’ with McCulloch’s lone voice signing off: “That’s basically it.”

With a solid line-up in place, Wings started rehearsals in the summer, with the intention of hitting the road. The official launch of what would become ‘Wings Over The World’ started in September and met with fan and critical acclaim, including much McCulloch family love when the band hit his hometown of Glasgow, an indication that life was very good for ‘the boy down the road.’ The break over Christmastime and subsequent reconvening in January 1976 for the next album ‘At The Speed Of Sound,’ with McCulloch’s anti-drug composition ‘Wino Junko’ (with it’s ethereal almost wistful melody) wound its way into and around a concepted ‘showcase’ album for each member. The subsequent European dates came off without a hitch, but the US leg was delayed after McCulloch slipped in his Paris hotel bathroom and broke his hand.

The US audiences that experienced those gigs in 1976 saw a band on fire. However, as was the case with alot of what was going on in the rock world of the ‘70s, McCulloch seemed to have a hard time adjusting. To many, he was the whiz kid from Glasgow that had superstardom thrust upon him. Some close friends acknowledged he was a “complex soul” who had a quiet introverted side that juxtaposed with the stroppy Scotsman who’s drinking brought out a gregarious, immature personality. However the overall sentiment from those who had noticed his immense talent was akin to being a parent. As Pete Townshend said, “I was so proud of him.”

McCulloch’s time with Wings now appears to be pre-ordained to end as quickly as it started. While he never seemed comfortable with downtime, his orbit of musician-friends and family had him in gatherings such as White Line and sessions with Roger Daltrey. While there was rampant speculation he was on the outs with McCartney, the 1976 triple album ‘Wings Over America’ (which showcased McCulloch’s standout work on “Maybe I’m Amazed”) dovetailed into the next scheduled Wings project in February 1977. The recording of ‘London Town’ on boats in the Virgin Islands proved precarious at times and when the sessions moved back to the McCartney farm in Scotland in August, McCulloch’s (and English’s) tenure with Wings would soon be over.

The accounts vary from source to source on why and how the split came, but most agree that McCulloch was growing restless and felt that his position should be one of peer recognition and fair compensation. As there would be no touring in the foreseeable future (due to Linda McCartney’s pregnancy), McCulloch took this as note and while he played on several of the farm sessions (one of which resulted in “Mull of Kintyre”), he and English were not part of the ensuing promotion for ‘London Town’s’ release in March 1978. McCulloch had flown Wings.

He was not without a band for long. McCulloch joined the reunited Small Faces and with Steve Marriott, he slotted in beside the fiery guitarist/vocalist. Alongside drummer Kenney Jones, bassist Rick Wills and keyboardist Ian McLagan, they hopped onto gigs in September 1977 and cranked out ‘78 In The Shade.’ Yet with no real original contributions forthcoming, McCulloch once again bade farewell to a band setting.

Most of 1978 and 1979 saw McCulloch moving between projects he either contributed to (charity gigs, testing new guitar technology) or joining up with old colleagues in the hopes of moving on from the shadow of Wings. With The Dukes, that prospect seemed positive and after a spate of gigs in the summer and an album release, the fall of ‘79 was a time to look forward with a Dukes tour.

But that was not to be. McCulloch was found motionless in his London apartment by his brother Jack on September 27. He was 26 years old. Although he had been prescribed medications for various issues, the official cause of death was morphine poisoning. While Jack and close friends believe it was accidental, the circumstances up to and surrounding his death have and will remain a tragedy that can’t be fully explained.

For a large majority of this biography, Salley has remained focused on McCulloch’s brief, but enormous contributions as a guitarist, bandmate, friend and brother. He has included dozens of unseen photos, memorabilia, clippings, interviews, discography, gear gallery and tributes exclusive to this book and with the addition of editor/designer Mark Cunningham, they have put together a visual and tonal layout that elevates this above the run-of-the-mill term ‘self-published.’

For the hard work and details that show throughout and lovingly dedicated to ‘Jimmy Mac,’…

I give this biography 4 out 4 beetles.

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “My Private Lennon” by Sibbie O’Sullivan

I need to be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much when I bought a copy of My Private Lennon: Explorations from a Fan Who Never Screamed by Sibbie O’Sullivan. I believe the book came up as a recommendation on Amazon while I was perusing other books. “Another fan book…”, I thought. But, it was only 165 pages long and was published February 17, 2020, making it current. Why not…I need to start reading and reviewing more books.

Reading this wasn’t like reading just another fan book. Yes, she and her friends talked endlessly about the Beatles. Yes, she had teen magazines about the Fab Four. And yes, she did see the Beatles during a dress rehearsal at the Ed Sullivan theater in August 1965, an event she has barely any memory of except for the photo she took of John Lennon on stage. And YES, this book is so much more than just another fan book.

Sibbie O’Sullivan weaves her personal life in with the stories of the Beatles, their wives and their own personal life choices. And she does it in a brutally honest way. She tells stories of the innocence of being a teenager to becoming sexually promiscuous, a shotgun wedding, divorce, friends, family, etc. She ties her stories in with the feelings of Cynthia, John & Yoko, but in a way to show how she can relate to what they must have been feeling at the time. Her stories are told so much deeper, more emotional and grown-up than other Beatle fan books that’s I’ve read. Honestly, and maybe it’s the voyeur in me, but I couldn’t put this books down. I even believe that if she had left the Beatles out of it, it still would be a great read. By the time I finish, I thought, “I hope she feels better now”. It’s a beautifully written memoir. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Lennon vs. McCartney: The Beatles, inter-band relationships and the hidden messages to each other in their song lyrics” by Adam Thomas

Lennon vs McCartney The Beatles, inter-band relationships and the hidden messages to each other in their song lyrics Adam ThomasI guess I was browsing around Facebook (or maybe it was on Twitter) a couple weeks ago when I saw the author, Adam Thomas, of Lennon vs. McCartney: The Beatles, inter-band relationships and the hidden messages to each other in their song lyrics post about his book being half price on the publishers website, so I thought I’d give it a go since it seemed like a topic that I hadn’t fully delved into where the Fab Four are concerned.

This book was self-published in November 2014 but is able to withstand the test of time since it starts back at the very beginning of the Beatles career and because there are now only two original Beatles who are still with us here on earth. Paul and Ringo still may write songs about their heydays as Beatles, but most of it is reflective and nostalgic with very little, if any, controversy.

This book is only about 200 pages, but does a great job of pointing out the songs that Lennon and McCartney wrote about each other (both good and bad), both during their time as a writing team and after the split up of the band. The one problem that I found with Adam Thomas’ presentation of this material was that he very rarely quoted the lyrics of the songs and instead would just give his interpretation of what was contained in it. I can only guess that he did to avoid dealing with any copyright issues, but unless you know the words to every Lennon and McCartney song ever written, it can be a little trying. Still, he does do a great job explaining the meaning behind the songs. And…not only does he analyze John and Paul’s hidden messages, he also takes on Ringo and George’s work as well.

The first hundred pages of this book are about the songs in question and the second half of this book is a charted “Relationship Timeline”. I’ll admit that I haven’t read through the time-line yet, but I’ll get to it in the very near future. After reading the first half, I think it’s obvious that Adam Thomas did his homework for this book. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beatles!

 

 

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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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