Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Review (Audio): Linda McCartney: A Portrait, by Danny Fields

Linda McCartney: A Portrait, by Danny Fields

A few weeks ago, Boo and I had my satellite radio in the car tuned to his favorite station, 40s on 4. It's all music from the 40s, and Boo cannot get enough of jazz and swing. It relaxes him, he says.

He is 8.

So it was that we were listening to the sounds of the 40s when the 1946 song "Linda" by Buddy Clark came on. I wonder if Linda McCartney was named for this song, I thought.

I hadn't yet started listening to Danny Fields' biography of his longtime friend, Linda Eastman McCartney, so imagine my surprise when I learned from his book that Linda was indeed the inspiration for the songwriter Jack Lawrence's tune, which he wrote for her in 1944.

When she was all of 7.

That's just one of the fun stories that Danny Fields shares. As a friend of Linda's for more than 30 years, he also debunks several myths, including the one that Linda was part of the Eastman - as in Kodak-Eastman - clan, and that she pursued Paul McCartney when it was, according to Fields' account from Sir Paul himself, the other way around.

For those who are die-hard Beatles fanatics or those enamored with the rock-and-roll scene of the '60s, this could be an entertaining book. (At times, Fields does gets a little carried away with waxing nostalgic for the bygone era, peppering his prose with phrases such as "Let's come off of that cloud for a minute ..." and "through the purple haze.") But mostly, it's a satisfying glimpse into all things Linda Eastman McCartney - how she got her start as a photographer, her career pre-Paul in the world of rock stars, the courtship of Paul and Linda, their marriage, the breakup of the Beatles, the formation of Wings, her passion for animal rights, the launch of her vegetarian line of foods and cookbooks.

I am no expert on the Beatles' history nor of the individuals members, so there was much I didn't know about Linda and Paul. At times, Fields' narrative delves into a few sordid tidbits that I felt like I didn't need to know. There's some raunchiness involved in this book (particularly in regards to John) and it kind of left me a little unsettled. I don't doubt that the incidents happened - I believe they did - but I'm wondering how necessary they were to the book.

Fields' was obviously a very close friend of Linda's for 30 years (he spoke at her memorial service in June 1998), and as such, thinks very highly of her. On more than one occasion, the prose practically oozes saccharine; the effusive praise and "she can do no wrong" aura that Fields' presents can be a little much to take. (He compares Linda and Paul to the Royal Family, which I guess they were.)

If you're a hard-core Beatles fan (especially of Paul's) or are interested in learning more about Linda's life, or perhaps have a passion for 60s era rock-n-roll, then this would likely be an enjoyable read (or listen, as it is not a bad audiobook at all). But if you're more like me - an appreciative Beatles fan, yes, but not a connoisseur of all things Fab Four - this could leave you lukewarm, as it did me.


JoAnn said...

This doesn't sound like my cup of tea, but I did enjoy reading your review.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Why thank you, JoAnn! :) The book left me a little lukewarm, too ... one of those where I was hoping it would get a little better as it went on, but that wasn't to be the case. Oh well!

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

You're probably not going to be surprised when I say that I would probably LOVE this book! I'm kind of a 60s chick still...leftover flower child, etc. (But I am fond of the modern day technology, like computers and the web, LOL).

Intriguing review. I would probably want to read the book, though. The only "audio" I enjoy is music, so unless there's some of that...

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Laurel-Rain, I think I would recommend the print version over the audio. There isn't any music, alas ... so curling up with this and your favorite Beatles/Wings/Paul/Linda CD on your laptop would be perfect! Would love to hear what you think about it.