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Book Review: Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes

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Through the years, Paul McCartney’s career and personal life have been the subject of countless magazine articles and books. The majority of his time on this planet, both with and without the Beatles, has been spent under the proverbial microscope. So what would inspire an author to take on the task of writing yet another Paul McCartney biography?

It’s all in the details. Howard Sounes, the author who also penned the much lauded Bob Dylan bio Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, is a stickler for them. He spent two years interviewing over 200 of McCartney’s friends, colleagues and acquaintances for Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney, and has done an extraordinary amount of research to put together a compelling read.

Fab is not a sensationalist account of McCartney’s life by any means (even though it does go into astounding depth on the whole somewhat tawdry Heather Mills affair). Still, Sounes’ subject is not always presented in the most positive light. Often McCartney comes across as demanding, demeaning, egocentric, and controlling. His romantic affairs during his long relationship with Jane Asher were numerous. Judging by Sounes’ account, McCartney is the type who likes to have his cake and eat it too.

But there are moments McCartney is portrayed as a generous soul – especially when it comes to doing right by his family. And if you are at all interested in McCartney’s relationships with his uncles, aunts and cousins through the years, you will adore this book.

McCartney also enjoys playing the role of the “personable guy.” For example: during the heyday of Apple, Paul went on American television, asking the public to send the company their ideas. Rather than casting the job to an underling, McCartney would actually “make time to listen to at least some of the ideas that came in. Anybody who was personable and persistent had a chance of having a word with the star.” An extraordinary revelation about a Beatle, for sure.

Much of the information presented here will be common knowledge to diehard Beatle/McCartney fans. But since Sounes has dug so deep into McCartney lore, there is bound to be a surprise or two for even for the staunchest admirer. I wasn’t aware of the disrespect McCartney paid George Martin during the White Album sessions. And the details of how Linda Eastman’s persistence and doggedness got her into McCartney’s life is fascinating stuff.

At 634 pages, Fab’s length might at first seem daunting, but I found the book hard to put down. Sounes’ writing style is breezy without being slight. His admiration for his subject is evident, even when he is at his most candid, all of which makes Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney a worthwhile read.

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About Mindy Peterman

  • Johan Cavalli

    Only checking

  • Johan Cavalli

    Lennon composed alone Please Please Me and Bad to Me.
    Lennon composed 10 of the 13 songs in A Hard Day´s Night, he was “largerly responsible for the outstanding standards” in that album. Lennon accepted it doublesigned.

    The same faults in this book as in all Beatle-books.
    It was “McCartney-Lennon” in Love Me Do. OK. But McCartney-Lennon was not OK for Please Please Me. Lennon changed it to Lennon-McCartney in July 1963 because his successes in From Me to You (The A-bit), Do You Want to Know a Secret(mostly his,)Bad to Me and She Loves Yo (60% his).