What do you do after you’ve done everything? What can you accomplish after you’ve (seemingly) accomplished it all? What do you become after you’ve been…gulp….a Beatle? That’s the overarching question traced in Tom Doyle’s new book Man On The Run: Paul McCartney In The Seventies.
Macca hit the bottle hard after the breakup of the Beatles and the book makes clear that Linda nursed his psyche, soul and muse back to health — so much so that Paul famously decided that he wanted, and likely needed, her in his band. And while that hire brought McCartney the most heat, it’s interesting to see his ramshackle approach to putting together bands after co-leading the most famous group in history.
But give McCartney credit for the unorthodox hippie gusto way in which he tackles his solo and Wings career(s); it is miles away from the Beatles “bubble.” The homemade approach of McCartney can directly be attributed to the stress of the ongoing lawsuits and dissolution of The Beatles, according to Paul. “(It was) very necessary at that time, ‘cause otherwise, I wouldn’t have anywhere to go to get away from the turmoil.” I love the first solo album and think it’s a mini masterpiece.
Perhaps best known is the tale of Wings’ recording their greatest work Band On The Run during the monsoon season in Nigeria. Stories of those sessions are legendary —and rightfully so — but the accounting of the bands trips to visit Fela Kuti and his club The Shrine are gold. Likewise, the recording sessions aboard a yacht for an aborted project (to be called Water Wings) are as haphazard and problematic as the endeavor sounds. Throughout the book, McCartney never shies away from his love for marijuana and the argument could be made that some of these ideas may sound better when under the influence, rather than stone cold sober.
There’s some good Beatles stuff in here as well; the bitter arguments about Allen Klein and the dissolution of the "partnership" are good reading. The hopeful reunions with Lennon make you long for what could have been and the last couple of conversations between the former bandmates are heartbreaking.
McCartney earned the right to do whatever he wanted to do post-Beatles and that’s by and large exactly what he did. Some of it was great, some just good and, in my opinion some completely inconsequential but Doyle’s book fills in many of the how’s and why’s of McCartney’s second act and is worth a look.
Follow me on Twitter: @stevejreviews