Sara's Reviews > Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music - The Definitive Life

Lennon by Tim Riley
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's review
Feb 10, 13

really liked it
Read from February 03 to 09, 2013

I have always been a fan of The Beatles, but I never got into much biographical info about the band until last year, when I watched the Scorsese film about George Harrison. This book had me adoring John part of the time and hating his guts the rest of the time. He seems like a pretty complex personality, so maybe that is only fitting.

First the adoration. John was obviously an amazing artist. I enjoyed learning about the beginnings of the band, how their image was re-worked to sell records (ditch the pompadour hairstyles and the leather, stop cursing on stage, for God's sake don't move around too much, it's too sexual). The stories about the road and studio sessions were entertaining. When the group fell victim to the promises of an Indian mystic, John was the one to stand up and admit that this guy was clearly NOT all he claimed to be when nobody else had the guts to do so. He was passionate, smart, opinionated and he didn't let people push him around. Mostly.

Now the ugly part. John had a real love/hate relationship with women. He was basically abandoned by his mother as a boy and this resulted in a self-consciousness that he tried to cover up with bravado and rock star bullshit. For most of his life, he used the women around him (including his first wife) without any shame at all. Only Yoko (say what you will about her) seemed to inspire any real feeling in him, but even she could only take so much. John's true love was, well...John.

After finishing the book, I listened to his last interview from 1980. He sounded genuinely happy. He was coming back to music after a 5 year absence and said that he already had half the songs written for his next album. He talked about how much he loved New York and looked forward to whatever came next. It made me feel a little sad, and just like all the women in his life, I had to forgive him for acting like such an ass sometimes.

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