Each One Believing: On State, Offstage, And Backstage, by Paul McCartney
This book is something that would be of interest to a Macca fan, although given McCartney’s extensive body of work in touring, one wonders how essential this book is, which records the 2002-03 world tour of the artist, which was at that time the most financially successful tour of McCartney’s post-Beatles career. One of the most notable aspects of this book, which deserves high praise, is the photography from Bill Bernstein, who did a good job with his access at pointing out the warmth of the relationship between McCartney and his crack backing band of musicians as well as the odd and compelling nature of the tour itself and its somewhat strange decorations of the pre-show area as well. I am not sure how I would have felt personally having gone to a tour like that, as it does not seem to be the sort of eccentric show whose aesthetics would be all that pleasing to me. It is obvious that McCartney brought the songs, as at this point he had something like 40 years of experience as a recording audience and a massive body of work that led to shows that lasted around two and a half hours apiece of 36 songs or so per performance. While I do not think that the tour decor would have been worth the money, hearing 36 songs from McCartney’s career played well would have been an excellent experience.
This book is a bit more than 200 pages long and it is divided into nearly 30 scenes, in lieu of calling them chapters. This book is large and the pictures in it are also large, and this book has the makings of a coffee table book that would be easy to find, one would think, in the homes of those who consider themselves passionate fans of Paul McCartney. As it happens, the titles of each of the book’s chapters end up being from the lyrics of songs that were sung during the tour, and the effort manages to be chronological in at least two interesting ways. For one, the book is chronologically organized over the course of the touring and shows themselves, beginning with rehearsals as well as the massive amount of logistics work that goes into setting up each individual stop, moving the band’s personnel and tour setup from place to place, and doing the work of warm-ups and press meet and greets and pre-show entertainment, to the performances themselves, and the parties and after-parties. The book is also chronological in terms of the shows and tours themselves, beginning in Los Angeles with the rehearsals and then moving first across the United States and then around the world, exploring many of the shows. So we see the trucks bringing the set to Tampa and also see a party in Stockholm later on, so that the book ends up being doubly chronological by providing snapshots of the whole show itself as well as preparations and logistics as well as of the whole tour itself, an inventive structure.
Although the music was without a doubt a highlight of this particular world tour, there are aspects in which this book has not aged the best. It is, of course, highly ironic to read this book at a time where touring has virtually stopped in some parts of the world, including the part where I happen to live, because of concerns about Covid, but I do not hold such a thing against a book. There are, though, other areas where the book manages to hit a false note, though, and that is the way that the book is so laudatory about Heather Mills, McCartney’s wife at the time. In fact, it seems very likely that the money made in this tour served as a large part of the money that Mills was able to obtain from McCartney in the divorce settlement, meaning that this tour probably did not end up profiting McCartney at all from a financial point of view, even as it might have endangered his ability to use his fame to engage in unofficial acts of diplomacy, as when he urged Putin to sign the anti-landmine treaty in furtherance of a cause that was of particular importance to Mills.