Paul Bryant's Reviews > The Lives of John Lennon

The Lives of John Lennon by Albert Goldman
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Dec 27, 2010

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bookshelves: verysleazyfun, beatles, lifestyles-of-the-weird-and-famous

If you're going to read this you need to have a sick bag ready. But Lennon fans probably owe it to themselves to chomp through this pile of bile, this ream of spleen, these 700 pages of hate-mail, as a cold turkey shock therapy corrective to the meretricious Saint John vomitoriums usually coughed up by the hacks, half-friends, distant relatives and showbiz bindweed who throng the Beatley shelves. It's entrancing to read a book of such unmediated contempt, for according to Goldman, Beatley John was a paranoid violent junkie who probably murdered Stu Sutcliffe and whose every song was a variation of Three Blind Mice.

That said, the first 200 pages are a great detailed and convincing account of JL's complex upbringing and when it was published 90% of this stuff was new to me. And while I'm on that subject, Beatley John fans should not miss the recent British film "Nowhere Boy" which is about this very period. I went to the movies to see something else, I really didn't wanna see a bloody film about Lennon, but lo! it turned out to be a great little movie.
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Yeah, the St John legend bugs me too, but OMFG that Goldman bio is horrible. I happened to be watching MTV when Goldman died //carbon dates self - and I still remember Kurt Loder saying with relish, "Once again, Albert Goldman, 'biographer' of Elvis and John Lennon, DEAD." You could hear the quote marks. It was hilarious.

Paul Bryant It's an extraordinary book all right. Imagine - heh - spending so much time thinking about someone he clearly detested.

message 3: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Paul wrote: "It's an extraordinary book all right. Imagine - heh - spending so much time thinking about someone he clearly detested."

Clearly Goldman was a tone-deaf wannabe musician, or something. What else would explain his extreme loathing of pop?

Paul Bryant Think of the horror, the horror, if the only writing jobs he could get, then, were all about pop music!

message 5: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Paul wrote: "Think of the horror, the horror, if the only writing jobs he could get, then, were all about pop music!"

You know, I bet a kid wearing an Elvis t-shirt punched him in the face as a child, or something.

Alan I said on my review that Lennon fans should avoid, but you're right they shouldn't.

message 7: by Pete (new)

Pete daPixie Mmm, 'Nowhere Boy'....there was a time when I'd rush out to the local cinema, (they don't exist now), to see this movie. Sign of old age perhaps? However, my mother told me recently how much she enjoyed it. She's 87.

message 8: by Mariel (new)

Mariel You should float this one!

Paul Bryant it's got 8 votes, probably what it deserves. I float when I think it needs a rewrite or if my friend Mariel will like it.

message 10: by Mariel (new)

Mariel I bought a book by an author... damn... I'll look in my pile later... Anyway, he also wrote a book called Nowhere Man. I got this book 'cause he wrote something else called Nowhere Man.

I'll just have to tell my twin to look up this review then so she'll buy me this book. (And it deserves at least 10 votes!)

message 11: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Vinogradus I am as terrified of reading this as you are of reading the Steely Dan bio.
I have such precious memories of 1970 when I was learning about John Lennon the person (Lennon Remembers), getting into Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen, discovering Leon Russell, all in all, broadening out from my obsession with Eric Clapton, Monty Python and cricket (yeh, I know, I didn't move very far away or, if I did, I came back).
If this book was shorter, I would probably devour it immediately like a copy of Hustler.
But it strikes me as long and involved and demanding and dirty, so I'll probably leave it until some weekend when I feel like nobody loves me.
Then, no doubt, I'll discover that I should have read it earlier.

message 12: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Isn't it the middle of the night in Florida? Anyway - I have a request - your current top ten Beatle songs....

message 13: by Mariel (new)

Mariel It IS the middle of the night (er morning) so I have to go back to bed. I'll do your list though! It's starting in my mind. (I wake up seemingly like every two hours. It's awful.)

message 14: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Vinogradus Can I play too?

message 15: by Paul (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant sure!

message 16: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Vinogradus Paul wrote: "Anyway - I have a request - your current top ten Beatle songs...."


Don't read this until you've done your own list!

I had no idea how this was going to turn out.
I have cut off songs that I thought were the equivalent of my right hand.
And I've ordered them in a way that I never thought I would.
But I can live with this.
Until the next attempt.
Paul, like you said, the "current" top ten!

1. All You Need is Love
2. Help
3. Nowhere Man
4. Day Tripper
5. Ticket to Ride
6. Strawberry Fields Forever
7. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
8. Norwegian Wood
9. She Said, She Said
10. Here Comes the Sun

The amazing thing is that the playing time of this ten is 30 minutes.

This No. 9 is dedicated to Mariel.

message 17: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Vinogradus I'm going to bed, so I can read ten pages of Nicole Krauss and fall asleep.
Get your lists in.
Take away the duplicates and triplicates, and I bet our combined list will be 17 songs and 50 minutes long.

message 18: by Velvetink (last edited Mar 04, 2011 04:46AM) (new)

Velvetink Paul wrote;It's an extraordinary book all right. Imagine - heh - spending so much time thinking about someone he clearly detested.

Were we not just saying the same thing about Roger Lewis!

my top ten

1.Back in the USSR
3.Carry that weight
4.Come together
5.Dear Prudence
6.Good day sunshine
7.Lucy in the sky with diamonds
8.Polythene pam
9.She came in through the bathroom window
10.Strawberry fields forever

message 19: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Vinogradus SPOILER ALERT:
Hey, V, what a fascinating, funky, playful list.
When we've finished this, we should also do fave three Beatles albums.
I think I know two of yours!
You're not very Red Album!

message 20: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Vinogradus SPOILER ALERT:
I forgot to mention: an overlap of only two.
There goes that theory!

Here is a list of 12 from my original pool that didn't make the grade, in order:

1. Revolution
2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
3. You've Got to Hide Your Love Away
4. Rain
5. If I Needed Someone
6. In My Life
7. Come Together
8. Paperback Writer
9. Hello Goodbye
10. Penny Lane
11. Two of Us
12. You Never Give Me Your Money

What's happening across the water, V?

message 21: by Paul (last edited Mar 04, 2011 02:49PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul Bryant Here's mine :

1. The Word - what a mighty unacknowledged thing it is
2. The Night Before - live version , made more dynamic by the smashed lowfi transistor radio sound
3. Hey Bulldog - how can a throwaway be this good?
4. Lady Madonna
5. Strawberry Fields - the quiet version on Anthology
6. Happiness is a warm Gun - the Anthology version, can't remember what's different about it but it's better
7. We can work it out
8. Fool on the Hill - the slower slightly heavier Anthology version
9. I'm happy just to dance with you
10. Fixing a Hole

mmmmmm.... popular music .....

message 22: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Vinogradus Velly interestink!
If you rate "The Word" so highly, you are ready for Bob Mason's "Magic Circles".
It is pivotal to his theory of the communication between Dylan and the Beatles (and the Beatles internally) through their lyrics.
"The Word" is supposedly John's retort to Paul's "Michelle".
George's "Think for Yourself" is also in the mix.

message 23: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Vinogradus Where is Mariel's Beatle list?
I think she's out playing sport.

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