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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Do we need another biography on John Lennon? Yes. Why? Because the two most popular ones are the hatchet job that Albert Goldman did and Ray Coleman's fine biography that didn't quite capture the essence of who Lennon was and was hamstrung by trying to undo the damage of Goldman's book. The other question we need to ask is if there are any new facts about Lennon's life that make this worthwhile (and considering that Norman covered part of Lennon's life in his Beatles book SHOUT!). Yes--Norman digs up new facts both good and bad. He doesn't turn these new bits of info salacious or sensational comments or observations providing them with a context to help us understand Lennon as a human being.

Philip Norman has tackled one of the most difficult subjects for a biography because Lennon's life was well covered by the press and fostered a lot of myths himself. With access to Yoko Ono, Freddie Lennon's biography (and unpublished papers), Sean Lennon, Paul McCartney (via email) and others, Norman has prepared a biography that is fair balanced and presents his contradictory character thorughout his life--his bravado as well as his insecurities (of which there were many).

Fans that have read other Beatles books or Lennon biographies should be aware that the bulk of the book covers Lennon's pre-Beatles life and his time in the band throughout most of the 800 plus pages of the book. Norman does revisit familiar ground simply because they are essential events and there are those that haven't read ANY books on Lennon but he also introduces a lot of new information as well.

There are a few flaws because we are, after all, only human. There's no bibliography or discography for Lennon (although fans may be aware of the latter the former is important)although he usually cites his sources in the book. Nevertheless, Norman has written a nearly perfect (there are a few minor flaws that crept past those that reviewed the text)biography on Lennon in terms of the facts and the various opinions that knew him best. The book devotes too little in terms of Lennon's post-Beatles career and "The Lost Weekend" that he experienced when he broke up with Yoko. It also skimps over the recording sessions for "Double Fantasy" (where Yoko reportedly fought so much with Lennon during the sessions that co-producer Jack Douglas often scheduled them to work on their tracks at different times). Norman has his opinions as well and doesn't hesitate to let the reader know them. You may disagree with his opinions(I did on some) but he at least provides us with why he believes them.-amazon.com

Buy John Lennon: The Life

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