Being John Lennon
I’m a huge fan of The Beatles. While it started with the full collection of albums, I’ve since acquired Beatles Lego, stationery and homewares. I’ve made the pilgrimage to Liverpool to visit the Beatles exhibition and the Cavern Club, walked the Abbey Road crossing in London, and listened to buskers play Beatles songs at Strawberry Fields in Central Park. I’ve even been lucky enough to see Paul McCartney live. I’m a Beatlemaniac fifty years after it was cool.
The music of The Beatles is timeless. Their legacy lives on, and still finds relevance half a century after it was released. It continues to soundtrack moments of joy as well as times of sadness.
British writer Ray Connolly’s new novel is a brilliantly researched biography of one quarter of the legendary band, and one of the most iconic, mythical figures of the twentieth century, John Lennon.
Drawing on interviews with Lennon himself as well as major characters in his life such as Paul McCartney, Cynthia Lennon and Yoko Ono, Connolly’s biography traces the musician’s upbringing in Liverpool. A war baby from a broken home, Lennon was raised by an aunt and uncle who refused to play any popular music, deeming it ‘common sing-song stuff’.
Connolly details every watershed moment in the musician’s life, including his first meeting with Paul McCartney, with whom he developed a ‘mutual competitiveness’, as well as the tragic loss of his mother Julia. While Being John Lennon delves into the band’s formation and the explosion of Beatlemania, it is also an unsparing account of one man’s emotional turmoil. Lennon was at times both a comedian and an insecure, drug-addled millionaire who was ‘lost in a daydream: present but absent’.
For Connolly, Lennon was symbolic of his time and a natural leader. While his desire to be popular meant that he was somewhat of a chameleon, he was ‘absolutely a one-off’.
Being John Lennon is my favourite release from 2018. From Lennon’s formative years in Liverpool to his tragic death at the hands of a crazed fan, Connolly’s insightful, intimate novel covers the tumultuous life of the enigmatic rock star.
Emily Pullen, WHSmith Australia