Monday, November 3, 2014

New book details "Making of John Lennon"

From the publisher's press release, here are details on this new book by Liverpool author Francis Kenny. I hope to eventually publish a review, too:
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles ‘cracking’ America. What better way to celebrate than to go back to where it all began?
No true fan could deny the influence of Liverpool on the music and success of the Beatles, especially when examining arguably the most talented – and definitely the most tragic – John Lennon.

"The Making of John Lennon" is the first biography by an author who fully understands and has first-hand experience of the culture and history of the city which created the musical genius which was John Lennon.

The book is an exploration of working-class life in fifties and sixties Liverpool as well as a biography of John Lennon that charts the events of Lennon’s childhood and adolescence, mapping out his environment, the important people and important places. The book chronicles the locations that shaped John Lennon’s life – from Abbey Road to Wandsworth Jail to New York City.

The book is an investigative biography which explores Lennon’s childhood and his life until the end of The Beatles. Francis Kenny documents Lennon’s less saintly side, looking to the roots of his brilliant but conflicted nature and tracing how. He looks at how Lennon’s childhood pain is expressed in his lyrics, sometimes overtly, sometimes as a disguised coda. The result is a controversial new take on one of the most influential figures of the past 100 years.

Arguably this biography – by a lifelong Liverpudlian – gets closer than any other to the real John Lennon.

"This isn’t a roller-coaster ride, skipping through John’s life, but a carefully prepared examination of his early years, slowly examining the general picture that surrounded John’s life, rather than focusing on one specific aspect, wrapping the surroundings of the city, the family, the friends, the music and the events which forged the young man who became a 20th century icon, into a whole. Some of the conclusions in John’s personal story might prove controversial..."
—from the Foreword by BILL HARRY, founder of Mersey Beat magazine

John’s life is too often airbrushed. Some accounts have been distorted with a view to making the Lennon ‘story’ acceptable to the reader, presenting a saintly, refined version of John at which he would have baulked.

The book challenges the ‘Beatle version’ of John that has become mainstream.
It seems a perverse twist of fate that John should have begun his life and then have it ended in a port city: Liverpool and New York, sailor towns indifferent to norms, celebrators of change, conduits of the radical.

The complexities of John’s life were dictated by his attempts to find strength as an outsider while at the same time harbouring a desperate need to be wanted and loved, although his attitude to others could be inconsiderate in the extreme. His childhood dealt him a ‘bum hand’ but how he survived and coped with the emotional fallout is what gave us The Beatles and John Lennon’s musical brilliance.

Francis Kenny throws light on:
  • How John’s aunt Mimi gained custody of him, and the trauma that reverberated through his life as a result.
  • The intense personal turmoil, John’s constant struggle to resolve it, and the degree to which it is reflected in his creative output.
  • Mimi’s influence is shown too be the key to John’s path in life and his creative output.
  • John’s poor self-esteem and periods of suicidal depression, which had their roots in Mendips – John’s childhood home.
  • John’s relationship with his father, Freddie and the lengths Mimi went to to keep him out of John’s life.
  • John’s complex attitude to working class people and the influence of his aunt’s extreme conservatism.
  • How the sacking of drummer Pete Best links both to John’s relationship with Brian Epstein and to his need to be boss of the band.
  • Why John beat up Cavern DJ Bob Wooler at Paul’s 21st birthday party – not because of a snide comment by Wooler over John’s Barcelona trip.
  • John’s fear of being outed as a working-class phoney with a plastic Scouse accent when A Hard Day’s Night was released, and hence the way he rubbished the film.
  • The true background of Strawberry Field – not, as is often stated, about an orphanage for girls but about a remand home for boys which John could see from his bedroom window at Mendips.
  • The real meaning behind the lyrics of Working-Class Hero.
FRANCIS KENNY worked on building sites in Liverpool for around ten years before embarking on degrees in Economics, Sociology and Social Policy. He has lectured at university level on arts, culture and music and now works as a teacher in Liverpool. Kenny is the only author to write on John Lennon who was born and still lives in John’s home town. He met his wife in the (original) Cavern Club and was one of the hundreds of thousands of fans who cheered The Beatles as they drove through Liverpool to attend the Northern Premiere of A Hard Day’s Night.
With the emphasis on the importance and formative influence of place, "The Making of John Lennon" is illustrated with photographs of selected places of interest; these are linked to two maps, of inner and outer Liverpool.

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