Man On The Run: Paul McCartney In The 1970’s, by Tom Doyle
This book was a fascinating one in that it discusses a key decade in the life and career of Paul McCartney. If the author is not quite as sympathetic to Paul as he wants to present himself as, he is still someone who was given a relatively close look at a famously reserved man and wrote a book that manages to balance several different perspectives while never letting the reader lose sight of the fact that he is still a journo. For better or worse, journos gotta journo, and this book is clear evidence of that. Could this book have been better had it been written by someone with a personal stake in writing both kindly and honestly about McCartney and Wings? Possibly, but as Macca himself is not a very emotionally open person, the best that can be done is for someone else to do the task and the book is not entirely unpleasant even if it is somewhat troublingly gossipy about McCartney’s personal life and the drama of Wings and its revolving door lineup which never really gelled together despite the best hopes of the core three members of the band.
This book is a bit more than 200 pages long and it is divided into 15 chapters. The author begins with an introduction that seeks to show himself as being simultaneously close to McCartney while making it plain that McCartney is not a man who appreciates opening up to anyone. After that the author talks about McCartney’s depression in the aftermath of the Beatles’ breakup (1) and his move to America and efforts to get himself away from the management of Klein (2). This is followed by a discussion of his early solo efforts and the genesis of Wings (3), his efforts to get a band together and record some (4) and their first painful tours as a new act (5). After this comes a discussion of the Band on the Run sessions in Lagos (6), Paul McCartney’s experience in Los Angeles (7), and the need to put the band back together again (8) and go on tour to support more music (9). The author discusses the successful Wings Over America tour (10), the personal difficulties and band drama that continued to dog the band (11), the struggles with Back to the Egg (12), and Paul’s time in prison in Japan for his folly in bringing massive amounts of marijuana to the country (13). Finally, the book ends with Paul McCartney getting a wake-up call to change his life (14) and the final breakup of wings (15) as well as an epilogue, acknowledgements, selected discography and gigography, as well as a bibliography and index.
In reading this book, one gets the feeling that McCartney still had a lot of growing up to do after the end of the Beatles. He still needed to sow some wild oats and smoke some weed and make a lot of music and be a part of a band while also trying to remain in charge of how that band operated. There is a lot of self-sabotage here, and that is made all the more difficult because when he wasn’t being mugged or involved in lawsuits or engaging in sniping with his former bandmates he was going on tour with now very well-paid musicians who resented his artistic control and running into trouble with the law because of his open and frequent drug and alcohol abuse even as he struggled with the drug and alcohol use of his bandmates. On top of that, McCartney had to deal with the loss of his father. One gets a sense that after his arrest in Japan and the resulting breakup of Wings that something changed about McCartney and he was no longer so young and carefree and no longer needed to tour so much and prove himself as he entered the third decade of his career as a professional musician. To be sure, a book about the McCartney of the 1980’s would be far less exciting and action-packed than this book was.