One of the sections I cut from The Beatles and the Historians was this excerpt from “Chapter Four: The Lewisohn Narrative,” where I compared and contrasted two influential books: Peter McCabe’s 1972 Apple to the Core, and Peter Doggett’s 2008 You Never Give Me Your Money, both of which attempted to determine responsibility for the Beatles breakup.
While McCabe’s 1972 work (which was primarily the result of interviews given in the bitter, feuding year of 1971) provides a fascinating, contemporaneous look at the Beatles breakup as it was unfolding, its imbalance and lack of historical distance (as well as its sexual double standards) undermine its credibility. As I noted both in The Beatles and the Historians, You Never Give Me Your Money is, by methodological standards, the vastly superior work. The following excerpt explores some of the reasons why:
The decades separating McCabe’s work from Doggett’s provide a crucial amount of historical distance, allowing for greater authorial impartiality and the viewing of events in a wider context. In addition, Doggett was able to draw from numerous sources that were unavailable to McCabe at the time. Given that Apple to the Core’s publication emerged in the midst of the breakup, at a time when the “Lennon Remembers” narrative was at its greatest strength, this distance proved essential.
McCabe’s work was fundamentally unbalanced both due to the prevailing narrative of the time, and McCartney’s refusal to grant McCabe interviews. Because “Apple to the Core” is almost solely reliant on primary source interviews, rather than documentation, for evidence, this proves fatal. McCartney’s refusal to present his side of the story, particularly when contrasted with the book’s lengthy interviews provided by Lennon, Ono, and Klein, arguing their selective version of events, resulted in a book which incidentally or purposefully presented a pro-Lennon, anti-McCartney version of the band’s split. As is so often the case in history, access, and an imbalance of evidence, led to authorial interpretive imbalance.
By contrast, in Doggett’s work, access did not result in authorial preference. Doggett purposefully did not seek new interviews with McCartney and Starr, the only surviving Beatles, or Ono; instead drawing from already existing interviews and sources. While Doggett’s work certainly owes a debt to McCabe’s interviews, which he used in “You Never Give Me Your Money,” he was able to present a more balanced view.
Additionally, where McCabe’s work demonstrated a double standard by ignoring the extensive sexual histories of the ex-Beatles while emphasizing Linda McCartney’s far smaller number of experiences, Doggett criticized such tactics.
As a work written prior to Klein’s exile and subsequent exchange of lawsuits with Lennon, Harrison and Starr, McCabe’s work had identified McCartney’s difficult personality, class aspirations, and ego as the primary causes of the split. Doggett’s evaluation benefited from the ex post facto knowledge of Klein’s financial machinations and eventual fall from grace, in turn making McCartney’s refusal to accept Klein appear reasonable. While Apple to the Core contributed substantially to the “Lennon Remembers” narrative of its time period, (in particular in its class-conscious interpretation for McCartney’s refusal to accept Klein) its basic assignation of blame for the breakup is now considered incorrect.
Thoughts or Comments on any part of the excerpt, McCabe and/or Doggett are welcomed. Fire Away!
28 thoughts on “Unpublished Excerpts: Comparing “Apple to the Core” and “You Never Give Me Your Money.””
I read Apple to the Core when it was first released, as a young teen. I don’t remember much, other than the fact I didn’t like it. It’s interesting that McCabe wrote an article exposing Klein’s financial indiscretions prior to this book’s publication.
Doggett’s book I also read at the time of publication and also don’t recall. (Reading break-up era books at the time was really depressing.)
It never ceases to amaze me that, even with all the evidence about Klein’s financial dealings and even with the rabidly apparent Lennonono craziness, authors like McCabe vilified McCartney. Surely they could have connected the dots.
I was 18 when the lawsuit was settled in ‘75(?) and I really don’t remember hearing from friends or FM radio the blame for who caused the Beatles break up other than Yoko. That was the consensus among my circle of friends but we didn’t dwell on it. I had Red Rose Speedway (hey, Big Barn Bed is fun) and Band on the Run, mainly because Paul’s music was more melodic.
I do remember hearing on radio in the later ‘70s about another Lennon jab at McCartney and thinking, “I’ve never heard Paul make a public comment trashing John.” At that moment on gained a lot of respect for Paul.
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That was my memory too, Bill—that Yoko was blamed, rather than Paul. I wonder when the turnaround happened, because it’s certainly Paul’s belief that he was blamed for the breakup.
“It never ceases to amaze me that, even with all the evidence about Klein’s financial dealings and even with the rabidly apparent Lennonono craziness”
But those issues, in 1971/1972, were viewed as part of the greater establishment (Paul and the Eastmans) vs. the anti-establishment (John, Yoko and Klein) theme that infused so much of the breakup-era writing in that time period. Klein’s litigious reputation was simply proof that he was a rebel; being unfairly attacked because he was willing to take on the “straight” record companies to promote the “artists.” It’s an “Alice in Wonderland” logic that permeated a lot of the rock journalism/counterculture in that time period: the same reasoning — “Anyone with a reputation that bad can’t be that bad” — that Paul described in a 1974 interview as “Lennonesque crap.”
I don’t want to give the impression that McCabe vilifies Paul. He’s certainly not on the level of a Wenner/”Lennon Remembers” or Coleman/John bio propagandist. He does attempt, in parts, to maintain some level of impartiality. For example; he acknowledges Klein’s questionable reputation, at least, even if he dismisses it as the reason for Paul’s refusal to accept Klein in favor of the whole class issue.
But he was seriously handicapped by Paul’s refusal to provide him with interviews, esp. when he had extensive interviews coming from John/Yoko/Klein, as well as comments from George and Ringo. You have McCabe asking, in these interviews, about specific events or the breakdown of the Beatles camaraderie, and you have detailed information coming from John/Yoko/Klein regarding their version, (which tends to place the blame for those events on Paul) but nothing from Paul to present his side of the story.
Even if McCabe didn’t generally slant more in the John camp during the breakup — and my reading is that he did — that would have fundamentally imbalanced Apple to the Core. The main interviews promoting Paul’s side come from John Eastman, which is remarkable, in that the amount of interviews given by the Eastman family regarding the breakup (and in Beatles historiography overall) are almost nonexistent. But Eastman primarily deals with business issues, rather than personal ones, so, in a lot of cases, the John/Yoko/Klein versions don’t get any direct rebuttal. And when one side presents a version of events, and the other doesn’t counter with a different version, its easy to see how the sole version becomes accepted wisdom.
Plus, having Eastman present Paul’s side of the story was a mistake for another reason: one of the fundamental planks of the “Lennon Remembers” version of the breakup was that Paul was being manipulated by Linda and the Eastman family; it’s in “Apple the Core” that McCabe makes the accusation that Paul refused to choose Klein because he was “too easily led” by Linda, etc. Having one of the people who was supposedly manipulating and misleading Paul — John Eastman — present Paul’s version of events while Paul himself remained silent only reinforced that perception that Paul was, to an extent, being misled by the Eastman family.
“Doggett’s book I also read at the time of publication and also don’t recall. (Reading break-up era books at the time was really depressing.)”
Agreed: Doggett’s book is depressing; however, I love the quote from Ringo chosen for the book’s back cover, about how “brothers fight worse than anyone.” While that depressing material makes it difficult and depressing to read, though, I think its one of the most important works on the Beatles. (I went through it three times). Methodologically it’s excellent; it officially reset the orthodoxy on who was to blame for the breakup, and Doggett demonstrates source analysis on crucial but hugely flawed sources such as “Lennon Remembers.”
It seems to be conventional wisdom nowadays that, at the time, Paul was considered responsible for the breakup. I don’t know if that’s entirely accurate.
If memory serves, the general consensus at the time was that John, not Paul, was responsible for the band’s demise. John’s lunacy with Yoko, his first solo record where he claimed he “didn’t believe in Beatles” (released the same month as Paul’s lawsuit), his various interviews–it was John, not Paul, who was considered the author of the Beatles’ dissolution.
Paul’s decision to sue changed that narrative. There’s nothing like a lawsuit to pivot the focus away from the originating problem to a red herring. I think fans intuitively knew this; I don’t recall anyone blaming Paul for the band’s demise. That blame seems to be laid squarely on John (and Yoko’s) shoulders.
I’m at a disadvantage, in that I wasn’t around during the actual breakup-era. 🙂
I think assigning blame was more balanced in the interim period between the McCartney Press Release and the lawsuit/Lennon Remembers interview, when the narrative resoundingly tilted against Paul, depicting him as the villain of the breakup. And you’re right; the secondary Beatles sources — including Doggett — now argue that the almost universal Paul-blame began with the McCartney Press Release, which is the standard version.
There is a fair amount of credit to that version: You have primary sources from that time period, such as Letters to the Editor of Melody Maker, etc., in which Paul is getting raked over the coals by the fans, and you have the R&R press reaction to the McCartney Press Release, which is to blame Paul and only Paul — as evidenced by Wenner at RS. You also have the Al Aronowitz interviews with George from April/May of 1970 — well before the lawsuit — which declare that Paul is breaking up the Beatles because he’s throwing a tantrum. And George’s interviews almost immediately following the McCartney Press Release, where he says that Paul’s refusal to accept Klein is the only reason for the breakup. So there was a lot of official push in that interim period arguing the “blame Paul” narrative. From my research, the other primary person who was blamed (and I’m excepting Linda here, because she was lumped in with Paul) was Yoko. But again, I wasn’t around then, and don’t have any memories of who was getting blamed. I only know what my research said.
You young`un you. 🙂
And that was kind of my point though–that the official narrative was created by rock biographers, aided and abetted by George’s hissy fits and John’s lunacy. There is such a massive disconnect between the media version of events, and how fans viewed the band’s demise at the time. While I can’t speak for all fans, of course, my sense was that no-one initially blamed Paul–quite the contrary–until the “official versions” were published.
That disconnect is interesting, Karen. Anyone else remember who initially got assigned the blame by the public, in the interim period between the McCartney Press Release and the Lawsuit?
I’ve asked my parents before, who were both around and marginally to deeply invested in the Beatles, and they have different reasons and memories. My Mom always saw Yoko as the reason for the split — and, more specifically, her willingness to cater to John’s psychological needs by playing the “mother” role. (Did I mention my Mom’s a psychologist by training?) My Dad argues that he believed a breakup was inevitable from Revolver onward; there was no way one band could contain two geniuses without them eventually needing to break free.
I love your Mom’s perceptions, particularly since she and I share similar backgrounds and I think her perceptions echo the general consensus of opinion at the time.
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I also read the McCabe book when it was first published and I also didn’t like it. I found it dull and dry. It’s funny that I don’t remember any particular bias against McCartney at the time. I think the reason for that is that, at the time it was accepted wisdom that McCartney was completely to blame. The Lennon Remembers Narrative was already ingrained by the time of McCabe’s book so it was simply recognized as a fact. On the other hand I absolutely loved Doggett’s book. I read it twice and I too consider it one of the most important books ever written regarding the Beatles. I didn’t find it depressing for some reason. Maybe because there is so much distance, I can now view anything breakup related from the perspective of that distance. I just found the book fascinating. I seldom read any book twice unless I’m really enthralled by it. I’m planning to trade in most of my Beatles books because most of them are so forgettable and irrelevant, but Doggett’s book will remain a permanent part of my collection.
McCabe’s book is dry, but I generally prefer dry over hyperbolic and flowery; that’s just my personal taste.
I don’t want to give the impression that I find McCabe’s work is biased. It’s a work that emerged in the midst of a very biased narrative — as you said, “at the time it was accepted wisdom that McCartney was completely to blame” — and its certainly impacted by that; the best way might be to say that it ’tilts’ pro-John (and anti-Linda) to a certain extent. (And McCabe was a rock and roll journalist, with all the political/rockist issues attached to that position in this particular time period).
And its certainly imbalanced, but part of that was simply due to Paul’s refusal to grant McCabe interviews. (Which, along with the serious disparity between the amount of interviews John/Yoko/Klein were granting in this time period (55) to the amount Paul was granting (less than 10) is another demonstration disproving how, despite his reputation, Paul was not the perpetually savvy P.R. guy John described him as).
“Doggett’s book will remain a permanent part of my collection.”
I stumbled on Doggett fairly early on in my Beatles readings, and it was refreshing to read a book that even attempted — let alone succeeded — at achieving basic qualities like impartiality, documentation, and balance. (Especially since I believe I read Doggett immediately after having read Coleman’s John bio, which is hagiography at its worst). The first thing I do with any Beatles book is flip to the back to see if it has a bibliography/and/or citations. If it doesn’t, my expectations regarding accuracy and impartiality drop considerably. Another one of his works, “There’s a Riot Going On,” which covers the political/musical connections of rock music in the 60’s/early 70’s, is also a great read, and well researched, but its another rather bleak topic. The treatment of women, in particular, by these political revolutionary groups and rock stars — at the same time they were condemning the discrimination of African-Americans, or the war in Vietnam — was hypocritical and appalling.
“McCabe’s book is dry, but I generally prefer dry over hyperbolic and flowery; that’s just my personal taste.”
I didn’t mention that I was about 12 when I read McCabe so that might have something to do with my opinion of it.
“the best way might be to say that it ’tilts’ pro-John (and anti-Linda) to a certain extent.”
Oh yes, as did practically everything written during that time period. And I do mean everything. If you were young and impressionable, which at this early time in Beatles fan history most certainly were, you just took it as a given, that John was the best, the anointed one, the talented one and the victim of having been saddled with 10 years of Paul McCartney, and then his ‘trampy’, ‘groupie’ wife. I believed every word and so did most fans. The sad part is the fans no longer young, or impressionable, and now perfectly capable of doing their own research, who still believe this narrative.
“after having read Coleman’s John bio, which is hagiography at its worst).”
Sadly, I believed every word of that book too. 😦 I think it’s because at that point in time as we’ve mentioned, there was nothing available to do your own research and come to your own conclusions. It was all this same narrative over and over.
“The treatment of women, in particular, by these political revolutionary groups and rock stars — at the same time they were condemning the discrimination of African-Americans, or the war in Vietnam — was hypocritical and appalling”.
This is what is the most depressing about that era. They thought of themselves as revolutionaries, but they still regarded women the same way as the “establishment” they were fighting against. They cherry picked their causes. Whatever was more fashionable. Very hypocritical and sad.
“They thought of themselves as revolutionaries, but they still regarded women the same way as the “establishment” they were fighting against.”
Doggett does emphasize how, to his credit, John was one of the main rock/political figures who was openly promoting a feminist approach. However, what Doggett doesn’t mention (what I’ve never seen any Beatles author mention, actually) is that, for all his professed conversion to feminism, John didn’t display any actual concrete changes in his behavior regarding any woman who wasn’t Yoko Ono. His treatment of Cynthia/female employees/May Pang is certainly not the behavior of someone who regarded females as equals.
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I feel a bit silly replying to a comment from four years ago, but I rediscovered The Beatles a year ago and I’m playing catch-up. (Your book is one of several I asked my wife to get me for Christmas). A podcast I have been listening to notices how John still gets kudos for being a househusband in the late ‘70s, taking care of one child, baking bread or whatever – and is complemented for how progressive he was at that time. He and Yoko knew how to create good PR. Meanwhile Paul and Linda, calling much less attention to themselves, began raising a family on a farm in remote Scotland in 1970 while being derided as “straight” by two relapsing heroin users. Because he loves his family, Paul also brings them with him on the tours so they can be together. And of course in the ‘70s Wings becomes one of the largest concert draws in the world and produces several #1 albums and numerous hit songs.
Yet even today that narrative or myth of John as being so progressive (or counterculture while living in luxury) gets repeated much more often than what Paul and Linda did years before and with a larger family. I know it occurred 50-years ago, but it’s irksome to see that imbalance today.
On another note, as John kept regular tabs on the McCartney family and their success during the ‘70s, it probably exacerbated his insecurities whenever Paul was in town. After all, during the Get Back sessions John told Paul he had to “swallow his pride and smother his ego” just to be in the studio with him. Photos of John in the late 70s and 1980 sadly give me the impression he wasn’t a happy or healthy person.
Bill, don’t worry about replying to an older post. Personally, I’ve browsed other forums and seen intriguing conversations on old posts that I wish I had been able to contribute to, so Karen and I try to make a point to respond to new posters on old posts. (And, let’s be honest; we’re not posting much new content here, so this gives us a chance to get a little back and forth going). And I’m honored you asked your wife for my book for a Christmas gift. (OT: When it comes to spouses, I use the “this is what I want for Christmas” approach, rather than the “surprise me” approach. Sound like you do, too, at least when it comes to books).
Your post reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a podcast host, (the interview hasn’t gone up yet) where we were discussing the disproportionate amount of press coverage devoted to John and Yoko’s relationship and marriage, as opposed to Paul and Linda’s. I would argue that at least some of that can be attributed to Paul and Linda’s lesser amount of fervent self-promotion, both in the breakup period and beyond, as well as their at times strained relations with the press. (Paul and Linda, notably, didn’t have a Wenner-owned magazine with a circulation of over 100K in their propaganda corner the way John and Yoko did; Lewisohn has noted how Paul’s relations with the “New Musical Express” were strained in the early to mid-80’s, and Joan Goodman’s Playboy interview with Paul includes her musings on how other journalists had warned her against liking Paul because it would seemingly indicate a diminishment of her intelligence). I also would argue that Paul and Linda were far less interested in seemingly performing their marriage for an international and press audience than John and Yoko. They certainly caught flak for it in some quarters, but their marriage as performance art absolutely drew press coverage and attention, and that contemporaneous press coverage is crucial, because current writers and bloggers/podcasters/fans, etc., can go back to those 70’s/80 interviews in a way that they can’t with Paul and Linda, because the quality of the access and the amount of interviews simply doesn’t compete.
One of the interviews I recall that does at least mention Paul and Linda’s marriage in the mid-70s is Time’s cover story from ’76 — McCartney Comes Back — but I don’t recall it making too much of Paul and Linda’s marriage and or child-centric lifestyle. (Caveat: I haven’t read that interview in at least four years). Its a memorable interview in that it includes quotes from John Eastman but it also seems to imply that Paul clung to Linda in the breakup/post-breakup period out of some desperate need for an emotional cornerstone. Something about him “hymning her endlessly,” but for rather self-serving reasons: I can’t recall the exact quote.
You’ve all whetted my appetite–now I want to re-read Doggett’s book. 🙂
It would be interesting to see if and when he would come out with an updated edition: say, after the death of one of the remaining key figures, and tracing the continuing saga of Apple and the Beatles from approximately 2006 or so, when I believe he left off, to the present day. Of course, the most contentious legal and personal spats seem to be receding, but there would certainly still be material to cover from the last ten years.
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Very interesting, what type of material would you like to see covered and included in an updated edition? What type do you think would be included?
Good questions, Linda. Any takers?
Given Doggett’s (IMO, accurate) description of Anthology as a rose-colored, incomplete portrait, I’d be interested to see his thoughts on “Eight Days A Week” — which I still haven’t seen. I’d imagine there’s more legal issues regarding use of Beatles songs, and the ongoing relationships between Paul and Ringo and Paul and Yoko. I’d be interested to know how involved the 2nd generation is in Beatles decisions: I know Paul said that Dhani was the one who floated the idea of Beatles Rock Band; I wonder how involved Stella and/or Mary are in Paul’s Beatles work.
Of course, there’s also the death of George Martin. I think there’s a lot of material to be mined there, both concerning his depiction in Beatles historiography overall, his relationships with each of the Beatles, and his influence on the music. While I regard Martin as a very accurate and credible source overall, I do think there was a version of Beatles history which he preferred to promote.
Hello! Came across this very insightful review and comparison between McCabe’s “Apple to the Core” and Doggett’s “You Never Give Me Your Money”. I’ve never read the former but I did just finish Doggett’s book, and at the risk of this comment being lost in the internet void (as I realised your review was written months ago welp), could perhaps a wandering and kind soul help me understand the book’s mostly favourable reputation among Beatles fans?
While it offered an incredible insight into the Beatles entanglement with legal issues (which I read with an almost morbid fascination on how far things could go when money is involved), drugs, internal disputes etc., I can’t help but wince at certain points in the book when the author showed his bias towards the Beatles members. It’s admirable how Doggett attempted to humanise them through their flaws and pitfalls, and even generously offered his debatable psychoanalysis on their behaviours and actions, but to me it just came across as hypocritical when he demurred from doing the same to his idol Harrison.
It’s like, “Well, George did this really petty shit but we’re not gonna talk about that. Moving on to Paul/Lennon though, now that is some SERIOUS PETTY SHIT –“. The author was also more than willing to dissect the qualities of the other members’ works post break-up, but once again shied away from applying the same criticism toward Harrison’s less than favourable works.
Perhaps I am speaking from the point of view of someone who is completely removed from the drama surrounding the Beatles’ breakups (I am a 90’er) and no one sane nowadays would rehash the narrative where Ono/McCartney/Lennon/Klein is the ultimate villain while the rest are saints. But for the first and second generation fans, maybe this book was the first to offer a refreshing look on the events leading to the breakup and its consequences in a much more balanced manner compared to its predecessors, hence its reputation among fans? And maybe I am simply nitpicking at small aspects of the book instead of looking at the bigger picture and what the book has achieved in overhauling the accepted narratives on what caused the breakup, but personally after having to wade through some of Doggett’s favouritism, I just find it difficult to treat this book as a “balanced” piece of work even if it contained a wealth of information regarding the Beatles’ later years.
Welcome, Ken! It’s always nice to have a new poster, especially one offering a fresh take on an old post. Don’t worry about your comments getting lost in the ether: Karen and I see all the new comments on old posts, and if this resumption prompts new discussion, maybe Karen could link back to it from the top of the page. (I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea how: Karen enables my pseudo-luddite tendencies).
“I’ve never read the former but I did just finish Doggett’s book … could perhaps a wandering and kind soul help me understand the book’s mostly favourable reputation among Beatles fans?”
That’s a great discussion prompt: one I hope we get some other poster’s feedback on. It also makes me curious – and I’m not in any way trying to be snarky – how many Beatles’ books have you read, other than Doggett’s? Because your post made me consider if one of the reasons Doggett made such an impression on me was the juxtaposition of reading “YNGMYM” immediately after finishing Ray Coleman’s “Lennon: The Definitive Life.” And that book is biased, hagiographic, notoriously unbalanced, enormously methodologically flawed, with no citations/bibliography and demonstrates ridiculously selective source analysis. After reading Coleman, Doggett came across as a breath of fresh air: a bibliography! Citations! Attempts to look at both sides of a contested event! It was similar to eating nothing but bread and water for weeks, and then getting presented with an entirely new menu. Which is my roundabout way of saying that perhaps part of the reason Doggett’s work has such a favorable reputation is because so many other works in Beatles historiography have set the bar so low in terms of basic standards that YNGMYM shines disproportionately brighter. (Please forgive my flights of fancy rhetoric: I’ve been grading research papers all day, and my brain is slightly benumbed).
In addition, I’d argue that Doggett’s work has such a great reputation because of all the issues you acknowledged: the business/legal issues he clarifies; the attempt at examining the impact of drugs – which, not to beat a dead horse, is a topic which I believe deserves far more attention than it has received, and I applaud Doggett for addressing it – and the reality that it was the first major work to attempt to explain, in depth, the breakup since 1972. That’s over a thirty-year gap, and so much had changed in those three decades. Sometimes – this isn’t ubiquitous in history, but you can certainly see it as a pattern – the moment and/or timing a work is published impacts its reputation just as much as the material it contains. (Exhibit A in Beatles historiography would be Shout!, the 1981 edition). People had been wading through so many conflicting versions of the breakup for decades: Doggett’s work was able to provide clarity, which is a not-so-insubstantial accomplishment.
“ It’s like, “Well, George did this really petty shit but we’re not gonna talk about that. Moving on to Paul/Lennon though, now that is some SERIOUS PETTY SHIT –“. The author was also more than willing to dissect the qualities of the other members’ works post break-up, but once again shied away from applying the same criticism toward Harrison’s less than favourable works.”
I’d love to hear more from you on this pro-George perspective: in all honesty, I don’t recall a pro-George slant. Do you have any specific examples? It’s been years since I read YNGMYM, and I don’t have a copy – I checked out almost all of my stuff from the library – so I can’t look for myself. I do recall that Doggett argues that Paul’s claims regarding the Spector tapes are disproven by John and George’s court testimony, and that made me raise an eyebrow, considering we know John and George lied about other things in their court testimony – such as the existence of the unanimity rule – and their testimony alone doesn’t disprove Paul’s claims, although Doggett seemed to declare that it did. Although, now that you mention it, Doggett doesn’t dwell too much on George’s affair with Maureen, which would seem to be a serious betrayal of both his friend and Pattie. And he did praise George’s 1970 interviews for their objectivity without noting that George lied in them about the Eastman/Klein conflict being the only cause for the breakup.
Perhaps (and this is just speculation) Doggett dwelled more on Paul and John’s flaws/catalogs because they were and are, all apologies to George and Ringo, the biggest draws in the book. Which is to say, if Doggett had to cut in order to make his word count, I’d imagine the editor would suggest cutting George and Ringo stuff before cutting John and Paul stuff.
“(I am a 90’er) and no one sane nowadays would rehash the narrative where Ono/McCartney/Lennon/Klein is the ultimate villain while the rest are saints. But for the first and second generation fans, maybe this book was the first to offer a refreshing look on the events leading to the breakup and its consequences in a much more balanced manner compared to its predecessors, hence its reputation among fans?”
Oh, another Generation Y’er? (Karen calls me a whippersnapper sometimes). And you’re right that no one sane nowadays would push the saint/villain trope for the Beatles breakup. But Wenner was still pushing that version as recently as 2000, with the re-issue of “Lennon Remembers,” – so was the Rock and Roll of Hall of fame, with the aid of Yoko Ono and Wenner – and so, to an extent, were the extended editions of Shout!, in 2002 and 2005, respectively. (And some journalists, such as Larry Kane, still plug it). I think you’re right: you can’t look at YNGMYM out of this crucial historiographical context: for first and second generation fans, it exposed the flaws in the earlier narratives and provided a far more balanced, researched, and objective version of the Beatles’ breakup than any they had ever seen before. I do think that younger generation fans have a different perspective on/expectations of what they expect from Beatles historiography.
The Doggett book was great. What I found interesting was how much Harrison really did not want to do Anthology, but needed money. Man, he really did not want to work with Paul again. You can see this in clips in Anthology, especially the DVD bonus features…. but the book makes it clear: Harrison did not enjoy making music with Paul anymore. I guess that explains why he never did collaborate with Paul post-Beatles (except for overdubs on All Those Years Ago), while he worked a lot with Lennon and Ringo. When I read those sections, I just think of the Blue Moon of Kentucky bit on the Anthology DVD. Harrison looks like he would rather be thrown in a volcano than be playing music there. And the Doggett book finally explains why. Harrison’s snarky insults to Macca when they are at the boards at Abbey Road listening to Tomorrow Never Knows and (especially) Golden Slumbers. (“He was KEEN.”) are painful to watch, but “You Never Give Me Your Money” finally gives me the context. Great book for that alone.
“What I found interesting was how much Harrison really did not want to do Anthology, but needed money. Man, he really did not want to work with Paul again.”
I think that issue of money between George and Paul is a crucial one: I see it as a topic which would really provoke lots of resentment from George towards Paul. I would guess that it must have been galling for George, the reluctant participant in Anthology, to find himself more or less pushed into participation due to financial issues. Meanwhile Paul, the most enthusiastic participant, was worth far more money than George — which George undoubtedly knew.
Combine that with the fact that George had been swindled by two managers — Allen Klein and Denis O’Brien — while a large part of what had helped Paul become so much wealthier than George was the Eastman’s financial management — the same managers George had rejected — and George’s reputation, dating back to the band’s earliest days, of being the Beatles most interested in finances/money. (You have Paul in a ’66 interview saying “If I want to know how much money I’m making, I ask George.”) Regardless of every other stressor in that relationship — and there were many — George’s considerably inferior financial situation to Paul, at the time of Anthology, would hardly have helped endear him to Paul during the filming of the documentary.
I read Doggett recently and have only a few mostly minor quibbles. The main one is that he says the Eastmans advised Paul to buy Northern Songs shares to “boost his negotiating power,” which makes it sound like he bought a lot. Doggett never gives the numbers, but Paul bought a relatively negligible 1,000 shares – 0.133% of the 750,000 he had to begin with. He also may have bought them before the Eastman’s were around. Doggett also says John gave 2% of his shares to his ex-wife wife and son, but it was more like 14%.
Regarding The Northern Song shares. That’s significant considering the hissy fit John seemingly had over it, because Paul’s 1000 shares don’t matter in the face of John using I think 100,000 shares to fund his divorce. John had fewer shares anyway, by his own choice, he wanted to get divorced quickly, so why does it matter if Paul bought 1000 shares? And 751,000 vs 750,000(John’s original amount) in no way gives Paul more power, together they only held about 26% the shares. 1000 doesn’t change that.
That’s a moment I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to witness: when Klein (because evidence indicates it was Klein who discovered the discrepancy between the amount of shares Paul owned and the amount John owned) presented that discrepancy to John. I don’t think John’s general ignorance of business dealings is really a debatable issue: business/finance generally bored him, and so he left it in the hands of other people. That’s all well and good, assuming the trustworthiness of those people managing your finances.
The current thought is that the 101,000 share discrepancy was primarily the result of John’s sale of stock, rather than Paul’s accumulation (because, as you mentioned, 1,000 shares is negligible in terms of negotiating power). But what I’d love to know is how Klein presented the information to John One thing everyone says regarding Klein (multiple people who knew him attest to this in the Goodman bio) is that within ten minutes of meeting you, he could tell your biggest desire and deepest fear. He knew how to approach and appeal to people.
It’s almost absurd to believe that Allen Klein spent more than an hour or two around John Lennon without realizing how much of Lennon’s issues were tied up with his power struggle/relationship with Paul McCartney. (We have evidence that that was how he made his initial pitch to John; appealing to John’s ego and urge to be perceived as the dominant partner). Given that evidence, there is reason to believe that Klein, already irritated with Paul’s refusal to develop a personal relationship with him (we have Klein’s words on the frustration that caused); willingness to flee to the Eastman’s protection every time it suited him; and general obduracy regarding Klein’s position (refusing to sign the managerial contract) would have presented this information to John (again, generally ignorant of business affairs) in the most inflammatory way possible.
Given the options, what seems more plausible? That Klein would downplay the amount of shares Paul had purchased? “Hey, John, Paul purchased more shares without telling you. But its only 1000 shares, and doesn’t change your percentages; the larger discrepancy is because of your divorce settlement. Let me get Lee Eastman on the phone so we can talk about this like rational adults, because I thought you two had an agreement where you both owned the same amount and didn’t buy without telling the other.” Or that Klein would present this to John as stone cold proof that Paul (the thorn in Klein’s side) and the Eastman’s (the NY attorneys looking over his own financial shoulder) were out to betray John? That Paul was deliberately taking advantage of John’s business ignorance and negligence to enrich himself without informing John? That he was literally and figuratively in bed with the Eastman’s? And who is the only person who can protect John, business-wise, in this scenario? Allen Klein. “I uncovered the malevolent financial maneuverings of the Eastman’s and Paul of which you were completely unaware. You need me. You can trust me The one you can’t trust is the guy who won’t sign my managerial contract and keeps complaining about me.” That’s why I’d love to have been a fly on the wall to see this moment. It’s not even so much about the numbers as how Klein presented it to John.