From: firstname.lastname@example.org (saki)
Subject: Re: Lives of JL (was: Don't Blame Yoko!)
Date: 1 Dec 1995 16:52:01 GMT
In a previous article, email@example.com (GEOG/W94) wrote:
It is important that I get to you, before *snobs* at RMB fill you with
lies. Because Goldman painted a terrible picture of Lennon, most people
in RMB hate and despise Goldman.
It's not a question of hating or despising Goldman; it's a matter of using
a source which is dependable, trustworthy, and carefully researched. You
cannot hope to form balanced opinions of a man's life and work unless
his biographer is equally balanced.
Goldman failed to interview primary sources, and relied on people
whose views of Lennon's life were colored by ulterior (and questionable)
motives. This is no secret. Goldman's sources were heavily flawed, his
research often laughably inaccurate, and his own motivations for writing
the book quite questionable.
As a professional researcher myself, I would never rely on a sourcebook
like Goldman's, but naturally anyone is free to do as they see fit. You,
Mr. Lowry, have stated that you intend to accept Goldman's hypotheses
as true. Please don't expect the rest of us to feel obligated to do
Allan Kozinn posted an interesting article some time ago about Goldman's
problems and unreliability as a source. I hope he won't mind if I reprint
this here. I know you've made up your mind, and you're welcome to it,
but perhaps others are still curious why Goldman can never be considered
a solid reference:
The best reason I can think of not to believe
what he says is that too many people disputed it.
He seems to take parts of Lennon's life and generalize
them to his entire life.
Well, there's that, but there are more concrete reasons too. One is that
there are certain verifiable facts about a person's life, particularly one
as public as Lennon's. When you have a book by someone who makes great
claims for his "exhaustive" research, yet whose errors on basic facts are
legion, you know that you have a problem. Here are just a few of Goldman's
howlers: that "Love Me Do" was released on a 10" 78rpm disc, that
McCartney was the composer of "Hello Little Girl" (Lennon's first song),
that the Feb '64 Sullivan Shows took place at the Maxine Elliott Theater
in Times Square (!-- as with the Peter Brown errors, all one has to do is
watch the videotape of the show; Sullivan actually gives the address of
the theater, which was not in Times Square); that Pete Best was a far
better and more interesting drummer than Starr (again, all you have to do
is listen to the Decca auditions, the early BBC performances and the
Sheridan recordings); that "Any Time At All" is "the most exciting song in
the Beatles first filmscore," ... and so on. When I read the book I came
up with 10 typed pages of this kind of error, and other writers have found
There are also contradictions all over the place. At one point he says
that all of Yoko's children were born by Caesarian section; later he says
that Tony Cox delivered Kyoko. At one point he describes Yoko as a careful
Oriental cook; elsewhere he says she couldn't cook rice without burning
it. On one page Lennon is described as a semi-comatose drugged out
invalid, and it is claimed that this was how he was all through the
"house-husband" years; elsewhere he has him out on sprees buying furs or
flying off to Cairo with Yoko in search of antiquities. In each of these
cases, and many others, which is it? This is real sloppiness.
His musical analysis is absurd -- he claims that "A Hard Day's Night" is
entirely in the mixolydian mode, which isn't at all true, and he uses
terms like major and minor, modal and tonal as though they are
"opposites," rather than merely different, which is something no musician
would do. At one point he suggests that Lennon was such an incompetent
guitar player that you can't even hear him on the Beatles recordings.
My point is, if you're going to publish an iconoclastic book, the first
thing you have to do is persuade your readers that you 1) actually do
know your subject, and 2) that you have carefully researched your material
and 3) that you have judiciously weighed all the evidence you've
collected before reaching your conclusion. If a reader familiar with the
story runs into errors and weird contradictory assertions on page after
page, the value of the book is diminished accordingly. So, even if Lennon
were the character Goldman describes, Goldman's own slovenliness undercut
his own case.
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