2010: 16. John Lennon: A Life

“John Lennon was born with a gift for music and comedy that would carry him further from his roots than he ever dreamed possible.”

John Lennon: The Life, Philip Norman

      This is a really well written, well researched biography of Lennon - informative and scholarly without being dry, and insightful without being salacious or trashy.  If you are interested in learning about John Lennon’s life, I don’t think you could go wrong with this one. 

      However, even as I couldn’t put it down (and I read it in hardcover! and its pretty long!), I had some minor complaints, which seems sort of petty, but this is my blog, so too bad for you.  First of all, I felt like the Lennon-McCartney relationship wasn’t explored enough in the book - particularly the good times. Paul seemed like a way secondary character - and maybe that reflects the truth of their relationship, but it seems to me that if two men have written perhaps the greatest rock and roll song book of all time, it’s worth it to explore their times when they worked together - not just the nasty aftermath of the break up.  Actually, this is more of my general complaint - there is a lot of digging into Lennon’s psyche, and a lot of explaining his flaws and why he did some of the not so nice things that he did.  And that is interesting, and makes him seem like a complicated real human being.  BUT, as a result, I felt like Norman didn’t quite spend enough time talking about how remarkable John Lennon really was.  It’s as if he assumed we all understood Lennon as a genius, so he didn’t need to talk about that as much, and, as a result, Lennon comes across as kind of a prick, which maybe he was, but we don’t get the counterveiling argument of oh, and “amazing musical genius.”  I mean, I am certain Norman agrees that Lennon was one of the great ones, or why write the book, but I think that the book itself is a bit lacking in that aspect.

   Or maybe he really just was a sort of bastard and that trumped all other of his characteristics.  I don’t know - I am a George girl, myself, but my take away from the biography was that in the eternal John v. Paul question, I was going to have to pick Paul, because John was sort of unpleasant, even if I understood why he was that way, and I’m not sure that that was the message his biographer was trying to get across.  


Date/Place Completed: February 2010; D.C.

Categories:  Non-Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017