Reviewer Michelle Kaye Malsbury:
Michelle was born in Champaign, IL. Currently, she resides in Asheville, NC
and is in her second year of doctoral studies at Nova Southeastern
University in Ft. Lauderdale with specialization/concentration in
conflict resolution and peace studies. She has over six hundred
articles published on the web and one book published thus far with
many more in the wings. Hobbies include; reading, writing, music, and
playing with her Australian Cattle Dog, Abu.
Author: John Cherry
Publisher: Peppertree Press
I, like the author, am an avid Beetle’s fan. I found this exploration into the remarkable talents of Paul McCartney and John Lennon a compelling, enjoying, and interesting read
Author: John Cherry
Publisher: Peppertree Press
John Cherry, author of Better Than Lennon: The Music and Talent of Paul McCartney, has spent twenty five years in the athletic department of the University of North Carolina. (2009, p.9) He has written one other book and is a self proclaimed Beetle’s analyst and enthusiast.
Better Than Lennon (2009) is a comparison/contrast of the overall work and career achievements between Paul McCartney and John Lennon. There are numerous interviews from a variety of sources and resources included in this analysis and review that help to support its conclusion. It begins at the beginning of the Beetles and walks through decades of their music and lives to conclude that Paul McCartney was the better lyricist/musician of the two.
The introduction begins with one of the last albums by Paul McCartney titled “The Fireman”. (2009, p.11) John Cherry describes his thoughts and feelings while listening to this CD, which was produced post 9/11, and interestingly enough provided him with the topic for this book. (p.12) Mr. Cherry analyzes McCartney and Lennon based on creativity, song output and ratings, length of time on charts, instrumental abilities, and more.
Chapter one highlights from 1963 thru 1964 and covers the Beetles “Silly Love Songs” era. (2009, pgs.15-22) Cherry said that these early songs were predominantly “about relationships” with femenine appeal as their push or draw for success. Each album created in this time frame is scrutinized as to which of the two, McCartney or Lennon, authored the most songs and what affect that had on the charts/sales.
Chapter two spans from 1965 thru 1966 where Lennon had a slight edge over McCartney until “Yesterday” came out. (2009, pgs. 23-29) Again there was the back and forth of who dominated authorship, but also a note about the quality of Paul’s musical skills and leadership within the band itself has now emerged.
The following chapters span sometimes for a single year or three or four with later chapters adding more years to the mix. These chapters talk about the dynamics within the band and ideas that surfaced for songs and albums and the workability thereof. There are detailed sales numbers for various albums and number of weeks on charts offered as ammunition for which was the better singer/songwriter, etc..
When Yoko Ono comes on the scene and becomes a musical/romantic component for John’s future things begin to fall apart for the band as a whole. Supporting this hypothesis are interviews from various magazines and people closely associated with the Beetles and their members lifestyles on and off the stage, as well as, conversations within the members of the Beetles on this topic. Yoko became such a competing force that the Beetles eventually broke up and went their separate ways much to the chagrin of their adoring fans and perhaps if the Beetle members were quite honest them too.
After the split Mr. Cherry analyzes the solo personas’ of Lennon and McCartney. Again he (Cherry) is comparing/contrasting them based on the items highlighted above. By most accounts and inferences drawn in this book by the author, McCartney was considered the more successful of the two. However, there are times when they run neck in neck, especially after John is tragically shot and killed.
Yoko stumbles singularly in the musical arena and most reviews consider her a bust at best. Prior to John’s death there were some mediocre collaborative efforts conducted between them, but none as successful as John had been with the Beetles. “Just Like Starting Over” went near the top in the US and number one in the UK just post John’s death. Eventually Yoko releases some of John’s older work in efforts to resurrect his musical career, which was cut way short by his untimely and violent death. These are met with mild interest by fans around the world.
Meanwhile, Paul marries twice [the first wife and musical partner Linda died of cancer, the second was to model Heather Mills which ended in divorce] and continues to create exceptional songs and lyrics, even taking his talents on the road in sell out world tours well into his 60’s. Clearly, Paul is the champion in this contest of best singer/songwriter, but John will not be forgotten for his contributions to the music world.
I, like the author, am an avid Beetle’s fan. I found this exploration into the remarkable talents of Paul McCartney and John Lennon a compelling, enjoying, and interesting read. Better Than Lennon is packed with tid-bits of historical data about songs/albums, producers/band members over the years, charts/ranking [both in the US and UK], personal issues affecting the members of this legendary group and that affection as it associates with the music produced during that time frame. For any die-hard Beetle fan this is a must read!