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Author Topic: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?  (Read 1425 times)

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Penny Lane

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Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« on: November 24, 2008, 05:13:44 AM »

Has anyone here read Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney by Geoffrey Giuliano?

I have read reviews that it's heavily biased with inaccuracies, but I managed to obtain a free copy of it and am wondering if it's still worth a read or if it's just rubbish.  How much of this information should I take with a grain of salt?

Thanks in advance for any of your thoughts.
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JimmyMcCullochFan

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2008, 08:40:07 AM »

It sucks not to mention (depending on if you got the original or updated edition) the author put a police photo of a DEAD Jimmy McCulloch's body in the book. The picture itself isn't that bad I mean, he looks like he's sleeping but he's really not so it's ghastly and just grinds my gears.  :'(
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Penny Lane

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2008, 07:36:02 PM »

^  I got my copy straight off a website which posted the entire text of the book.  All I had to do was transfer the text to a Word document, but they must not have posted any photos because I didn't see any...

But anyway, I was horrified to read that your copy has a picture of Jimmy being dead.   ??)  What was the context of the photograph?  Was it at the morgue or the scene of his death?  Maybe I could understand a pic like that if he had an open-casket funeral, but otherwise, it is really in poor taste! :(
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harihead

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2008, 11:38:50 PM »

Quote from: 1620
How much of this information should I take with a grain of salt?
My advice would be, all of it! Giuliano has a terrible reputation among Beatle people. I can't remember which Beatle wives-- Olivia? Cynthia? Anyway, they said he just made stuff up. It's fine to read rubbish as a romp, as long as you know it's rubbish. And you do so much reading, you'll be able to spot the inaccuracies pretty well.

Generally, I look at where I can back up an author's assertion with independent data. If he gets his quotes wrong when they are published for all the world to see (as Giuliano does), or mixes up dates/venues etc that are easily verifiable, I have to consider the rest of his "research" is as shoddy. I especially like when authors go into the head of the person they are writing about. It can be truly amusing, but it is 100% fiction.
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Geoff

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2008, 12:12:35 AM »

Giuliano recycles other people's materials with an emphasis on gossip and muck. As they say on South Park, the guy is a douche. If you got it for nothing, you paid exactly what it's worth.
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Penny Lane

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2008, 09:41:15 PM »

Wow, Hari and Geoff, thanks for the reviews!

It's a little disheartening to read Beatle biographies when you start catching mistakes.  Over this Thanksgiving holiday, I visited my parents' house and found an old Paul biography that I owned (can't remember the author or title).  I browsed through it and found some very basic errors, which annoyed me so I had to put the book down.  Plus, I just finished Cynthia Lennon's John, which was an engaging read, but I noticed that she made some mistakes as well.  Bad editing, I suppose.

I would like to know more about the Beatles but it's hard to trust authors fully.  For instance, it wasn't until after I bought and read the Bob Spitz book that I started hearing negative reviews about his mistakes.  (Still, though, it was entertaining.)  It just seems like some writers can't be bothered with being 100% accurate, and you're left to sniff out things like gossip and biased information.  

But maybe it's too much to expect complete perfection.  After looking at The Beatles Anthology (both the book and film), I had to laugh at how some of the memories from the Beatles and their entourage didn't add up.  Oh, well! ;D
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harihead

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2008, 10:12:15 PM »

That's true. Part of the fun for me is seeing how people remember things differently. As they say, "Everyone is the hero of their own story." Bias is inevitable.

I kept a journal through my teen years and was astonished as an adult how I had misremembered some things-- important things that I knew I would never forget. Well, I changed them! Moved them in time and place, misremembered conversations, etc. If you want a really accurate account, you have to find someone who kept a journal, such as Michael Palin. I adore his accounts of George because they were set down at the time, not remembered.

Paul is particularly bad at remembering his "official" story so well it never occurs to him that it isn't right. He maintains that the Beatles made this condition that they would only go to America after they had a #1 hit, which is nonsense; the trip was set up long before. Yet he tells the story repeatedly, and I'm sure it's how he remembers it (or wants it remembered). (After all this time, would they really be able to remember what "really" happened vs the official story?) So it's fun to read the different views just for what they show about character.

This doesn't excuse bad writing or sloppy research. But I love first-person interviews or accounts. One of my favorite books was a hefty collection of news articles and interviews of the Beatles in the post break-up years: Keith Badman.  The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After The Break-Up 1970-2001 Again, it was stories and interviews made at the time. So you can find out how easy-going George was immediately after the break-up, and which Beatle really didn't want to get back together when for what reason, on and on. In some cases, this is not the story they tell today. I don't think they're being dishonest; they just forgot. Heaven knows I don't have my life documented. But for accuracy, you really need to verify someone's assertion against the surviving record, before you can decide how much to trust them.
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All you've got to do is choose love.  That's how I live it now.  I learned a long time ago, I can feed the birds in my garden.  I can't feed them all. -- Ringo Starr, Rolling Stone magazine, May 2007<br />

JimmyMcCullochFan

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2008, 03:27:51 AM »

Quote from: 1620
^  I got my copy straight off a website which posted the entire text of the book.  All I had to do was transfer the text to a Word document, but they must not have posted any photos because I didn't see any...

But anyway, I was horrified to read that your copy has a picture of Jimmy being dead.   ??)  What was the context of the photograph?  Was it at the morgue or the scene of his death?  Maybe I could understand a pic like that if he had an open-casket funeral, but otherwise, it is really in poor taste! :(

At his flat so the scene of his death.
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Geoff

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2008, 04:38:10 AM »

Quote from: 551
I love first-person interviews or accounts.

But for accuracy, you really need to verify someone's assertion against the surviving record, before you can decide how much to trust them.

Yeah, you need to do the interviews (or review as many as you can find), and compare them with the documentary record and other surviving accounts. Most rock writers never do this because what they're engaging in is mere celebrity exploitation: regurgitating other people's work (often hackwork itself) and counting on the famous name and a lot of photographs- also recycled- to sell the book. There are exceptions, of course (quite a few, in fact), but they're hard to find amid the dross, especially if you're new to the subject and don't know what to look for.
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JimmyMcCullochFan

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2008, 09:53:55 PM »

Quote from: 551
That's true. Part of the fun for me is seeing how people remember things differently. As they say, "Everyone is the hero of their own story." Bias is inevitable.

I kept a journal through my teen years and was astonished as an adult how I had misremembered some things-- important things that I knew I would never forget. Well, I changed them! Moved them in time and place, misremembered conversations, etc. If you want a really accurate account, you have to find someone who kept a journal, such as Michael Palin. I adore his accounts of George because they were set down at the time, not remembered.

Paul is particularly bad at remembering his "official" story so well it never occurs to him that it isn't right. He maintains that the Beatles made this condition that they would only go to America after they had a #1 hit, which is nonsense; the trip was set up long before. Yet he tells the story repeatedly, and I'm sure it's how he remembers it (or wants it remembered). (After all this time, would they really be able to remember what "really" happened vs the official story?) So it's fun to read the different views just for what they show about character.

This doesn't excuse bad writing or sloppy research. But I love first-person interviews or accounts. One of my favorite books was a hefty collection of news articles and interviews of the Beatles in the post break-up years: Keith Badman.  The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After The Break-Up 1970-2001 Again, it was stories and interviews made at the time. So you can find out how easy-going George was immediately after the break-up, and which Beatle really didn't want to get back together when for what reason, on and on. In some cases, this is not the story they tell today. I don't think they're being dishonest; they just forgot. Heaven knows I don't have my life documented. But for accuracy, you really need to verify someone's assertion against the surviving record, before you can decide how much to trust them.

I have The Beatles Diary Volume 2 and it's great  :)
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mr vandebilt

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Re: Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney?
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2008, 01:38:40 PM »

Ive read it and thought it was great. I especially love his Pauls man about town in the swinging sixties chapter.

Its available online if you look hard enough and are a super russian Wingsfan.  I know the writer is known to have done a hatchet job on  some of his biographies but the Paul one is quite entertaining and paints him as quite the hep cat.
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