Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd

The Beatles fact for Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd (with Penny Junor) is that, while it does give us further details and insights into the lives of the Beatles (especially Harrison), it is a poorly organized memoir, one that is at times contradictory.

Boyd does provide interesting insights into the Beatles as a group, such as when she says that even in the group's early days, Lennon and McCartney were separated by Brian Epstein, who sent them on separate vacations because if they were around each other for too long (and not composing together) they could get on each other's nerves quickly.

The portraits of Harrison and Clapton are very unflattering despite Boyd's declarations of strong love for each. Clapton is shown to be an arrogant, possessive, and sloppy man when on drugs and alcohol (which was for the better part of three decades). When sober and straight, he was quiet and withdrawn.

Harrison returns from Rishikesh, India, according to Boyd, feeling as if he, like Hindu gods, is entitled to concubines, and begins a string of many infidelities which Boyd ignores for reasons not fully explored. According to Boyd, Harrison grew aloof, either chanting and meditating, or drinking and using drugs. The result is a confused description of Harrison's fabled spirituality.

The book's organization is a chronological nightmare as Boyd and her collaborator begin to tell certain anecdotes, only to fast forward months or even years to tell other anecdotes before returning to the subject at hand. This is done dozens of times in the narrative.

Boyd also contradicts herself many times, and a fact check by the editors would have been in order. She says George gave up LSD shortly after his trip to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in 1967. When she and George purchase Friar Park a few years later, she says George wanted an estate where he could take his acid trips outdoors.

The author berates the use of drugs constantly, but she says that she herself was constantly using drugs to keep up with her husbands and their circle of friends--and the drug use was rampant even by rock and roll standards. At other times, she says the drugs of the sixties were benign since they allegedly fostered peace and love. Which is it, Ms. Boyd? Your opinion changes from page to page, chapter to chapter.

While this book will be of interest to Beatles fans looking for greater clarifications on certain aspects of their lives, Boyd's narrative becomes tedious and boring as she talks incessantly about her vacations and shopping trips. Her passages on her family are, quite frankly, not that interesting.

This book, properly organized, could have included far more compelling insights and details. Ultimately, it fails to deliver either in any depth. There's no meat on the bone.

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