Fab: An Intimate Life Of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes (Da Capo)

At over 600 pages, Fab is an exhaustive biography of the first sixty-seven years of Paul McCartney’s life. Luckily “the cute Beatle” is one of a few people who’ve done enough to warrant such a huge biography. Credit author Howard Sounes with this: not once did Fab seem long or boring. In fact, my only complaint is with his bizarre decision to refer to Ringo Starr as “Ritchie”. Besides that annoyance, he does a commendable job of detailing McCartney’s activities in both the public and personal domain. I like that he’s often critical of McCartney’s music (especially his hit-and-miss solo career), which shows that he’s written the book to provide historical insight, and not as a super-fan. More important than what Sounes tells us about McCartney the performer, is what we learn about McCartney the person. Sounes paints a picture that clashes with his happy-go-lucky public persona. He shows that while McCartney could be generous and devoted to the people he cared about, he also wouldn’t hesitate to cut someone down when he thought they might be getting in the way of his career or worse, questioning his judgment. It’s his bad judgment that often gets him into trouble, whether it be a long string of marijuana-related arrests, his brief-yet-costly marriage to Heather Mills, bad business dealings, weak solo albums, or his insistence on using his wife Linda as a band-mate despite her lack of musical talent (search Youtube for “Linda McCartney sings” for proof). It’s a very detailed and very human portrait for both casual fans as devotees.