Monday, August 15, 2011

Badfinger and Beyond Credibility

Well, it almost happened ... kind of. One of the five authors I listed here four years ago as a potential Badfinger biographer, Michael Cimino, has come forth with a biography of Joey Molland ... sort of. It really comes across as an extended magazine interview with Joey, with small contributions from a few others. If the reader is the sort who likes a fireside chat with a yarn spinner, he should be happy. Joey talks about what inspired some of his music and lyrics and adds memories of recording sessions. OK, some of this is interesting.

But, as predicted, beyond the musical anecdotes the book falls flat. One simply cannot write a Badfinger book around Joey's storytelling and expect it to make much sense. None of Joey's "facts" are verified, and there are no opposing voices contesting his memories. A perfect example is Joey being quoted here (again) saying Bill Collins suggested Pete and Tom's respective song parts be put together to form "Without You." On the contrary, Tom Evans said it was Pete's suggestion to combine the parts, and Bill Collins never laid claim to such an event (and Collins would have laid claim to that if it was true). All one reads here is Joey blowing smoke in an attempt to obscure the songwriting origins.

Another example is Joey's muddled and confusing description of events in 1974. As usual, he gets his timelines all out of whack and claims to have talked to WB Publishing President Ed Silvers about a breach-of-contract lawsuit before a lawsuit even existed, and then in the same breath claims his wife called WB and they said "everything is fine" with the contracts. And of course Joey touts how he worked out a deal with the devil, Stan Polley, because Joey (who admits he is no sort of businessman) offered Polley a deal he couldn't refuse. C'mon! I am reminded of Chamberlain proudly waving the peace treaty he signed with Hitler. Joey simply was never in Polley's league when it comes to deceit, manipulation and theft. Any deal Polley made with Joey was equivalent to snake oil. And in many, many places, Joey admits he really doesn't know certain details and makes clumsy guesses about facts that are clearly described and evidenced in Matovina's book.

If this isn't bad enough, and Joey's memories always are, the author manages to muddle things as well. Cimino apparently decided to change his questions to Joey's interview answers. Joey's quoted answers also change slightly, though not as much. One example:

From Cimino's 2002 interview
Michael: There is a story floating around that you used to tease Pete about him getting him to do the solo spot with George during the concert for Bangladesh on “Here Comes The Sun." Did the band tease him about that?

Joey: No. No, that’s a figment of somebody’s imagination, that is.

Michael: The rumored story claims that that was a wedge between the two of you. That Pete got to go up front stage and you didn’t.

Joey: That’s absolute bullshit. I swear to God, see if you could find anybody around us, anybody that recalls Pete and I arguing about that, anybody.

From Cimino's 2011 publication ...
MC: This is the song that started speculation over you and Pete arguing at Bangladesh over "Here Comes The Sun."

Joey: No. No, that’s a figment of somebody’s imagination. That’s absolute bullshit. I swear to God, see if you could find anybody around us, anybody that recalls Pete and I arguing about that. (Here it sounds like Joey is refuting that they argued at Bangladesh, versus them arguing at all. And to the best of my knowledge, there is no rumor that they "argued" but only that Joey and Kathie teased Pete after the concert)

This brings into question the integrity of the author and the accuracy of even Joey's unreliable meanderings. And in order to cut off the criticism before it begins, Cimino claims he has been verbally assaulted through the years by "fowl" mouthed ne'er-do-wells who threatened him about his book, although he himself has risen above the negativity. If he'd really risen above negativity he wouldn't be mentioning it. Instead he probably hopes to label anyone who criticizes this book as one of those bad guys. I'm sorry but that bird won't fly. Cimino's book will rise or fall on its own merits. And for a guy who was delightedly critical of "Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger", he'd better get used to some criticism himself because he has several weaknesses with this effort.

I predicted this book would be nonsensical mulch if it was ever published. I stand by that.


ßill said...

Absolutely nothing happening out there regarding this Cimino book ... and I mean nothing. The only review I can find through Google is about a month old from a reader on Barnes & Noble's site who says this is "not what I was expecting," and gives it a weak rating. Nothing on Amazon at all. Even his fan club page on Yahoo is quite silent, except for the host saying the book reveals Joey's cheery nature (which is not saying anything about its accuracy). Cimino hasn't published any book reviews on his site, although he comically interviews himself about writing it.

I was hoping there would be a little bit of a buzz about this thing so I could tear into it some more but apparently nobody is interested in it - or perhaps nobody is reading it? I'd be interested to see the sales figures. Perhaps someday, some year, someone will read it and drop by here and make a comment. So far it is eerily quiet.

Ron. said...

There is only one book on Badfinger worth reading (for the history of the band). That book is " Without you - the tragic story of Badfinger" At least that chronicles the story from the band's beginning. The author of 'The Badfinger Book' wasn't interested in contributing to that publication.. or indeed many other potted histories - be they T.V. documentaries or radio interviews.

ßill said...

Ah, I suspect we've had a visit from Mr. Griffiths with the above comment. Thanks for checking in!

Two reviews have since popped up on the U.S. Amazon site. The first is short on both comments and on vision, from someone in Iowa. But I would like to direct people to the second review written by Jace Lee Dakota. Well presented and detailed, Dakota highlights the book's deficiencies and rates it as below average. Well said, sir (or ma'am).