I am not a massive photographic book kinda guy. I really should have Graham Nash's A Life in Focus but I haven't yet. Not enough words!
Which tells me that I need to spend more time in images than in words, more time in the mood than the information.
Anyway, It was Paul McCartney's 80th birthday and I thought he played a blinder at Glastonbury. There were no books of information. Even if there had been I would probably have already read it all. There was though this photographic book. I wouldn't normally but hey I want some McCartney!
It is very good and is a faster read than a Mark Lewisohn tome, not that I don't like huge dollops of Lewisohn.
The photos are from a few events in McCartney's six decades at the top of rock music. The first and only Beatles section is the 1964 concerts in Paris where Benson meets McCartney for the first time.
Then it is a few different phases post Beatles - a phase living in California in 1975, the launch party for the Venus and Mars album on the Queen Mary yacht also in 1975, the Wings Over America Tour in 1976 and then an idyllic 1992 session on the McCartney farm in East Sussex.
There are a few things that caught my eye. How close Benson had gotten to McCartney is obvious from the intimate backstage snaps. John and Paul writing together in the George V Hotel. Having watched the Get Back film these shots are more powerful. What are they writing I ask myself and how many songs in those three years did they write like this?
I am a big fan of the classic Wings line up of 75-78 so I love the Wings shots. Again the back stage close ups are a marvel but that launch in the Queen Mary is amazing. Bob and Sara Dylan as well as George and Olivia Harrison are there but maybe my favourite photo in the entire book is Linda's daughter Heather dancing with Michael Jackson.
I often wonder how Heather dealt with and still deals with the life that was thrown at her when her mum hooked up with a Beatle and she had to join the circus. I wonder what she thinks of that photo now. I'd love to read her memoir but of course her story is no business of mine.
And then seeing Paul and Linda up close is always a romantic treat. What a couple. What love. The 1992 shots are particularly poignant knowing now what lay ahead. Linda on her horse and Paul by her side. That was what they loved most and it is a privilege that Harry Benson gives us those shots as well as others throughout the book.
If you are a McCartney fan this is probably a necessity for Santa's list if you haven't a birthday first. It is not the quality of the photograph but what the photographer captures. The good ones get the rare shots that no one else sees or is pointing at at the time and Harry Benson is good!