Weekend Reads: “Man on the Run”

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Hi, everyone. I went into the wayback machine for this review from 2014. Beatles fans are sure to enjoy this book.

Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s by Tom Doyle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I must state, right at the beginning, that I am an unabashed Beatles and Wings fan. This is the music with which I grew up, and there was a time in my life when I devoured every word that was written about either band, and Paul McCartney in particular. I thought I knew everything there was to know.

Except that I didn’t … and this book proves it.

McCartney speaks quite frankly to Scottish journalist Tom Doyle in this book, as do many of his former bandmates and friends. He opens up about his nervous breakdown and constant battles with depression, largely crediting the late Linda McCartney for helping him get through those dark and difficult times. There is a lot of discussion about his music, of course, and how the (largely press-manufactured) battles between McCartney and John Lennon affected his work … but there is also a lot to learn about his decision to get out of the proverbial rat race and live on a farm in Scotland, and how the isolation had a healing effect on him as well.

McCartney is both jocular and more than a little foul-mouthed (as one might expect from a fellow who grew up in a rough town like Liverpool), and is likewise pretty frank about how he sees some of the mistakes he made over the years.

Some of the things that surprised me the most were learning about how lean the post-Beatles years really were, with so much of the band’s money tied of in litigation. McCartney lived in a house with dirt floors, for example. Wings sideman Denny Laine, the former lead singer for the Moody Blues, was homeless and sleeping on a mattress in his manager’s office when McCartney asked him to come to Scotland to work on a project. No one was rolling in the proverbial dough, and yet the creative impulse was still flowing strong.

This is the kind of book that I recommend not only for Beatles fans, but for those who tend to think of the recording industry as being way more glamorous than it really is. I feel like I gained a great deal of insight into McCartney via this book … as well as an understanding that it is really only the tip of the iceberg.



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