“The John Lennon Letters” by John Lennon and Hunter Davies (Little, Brown and Company, $29.99)
LONDON — John Lennon never minced his words.
Paul McCartney should “get off his gold disc,” he once wrote. On another occasion, he was irked by producer George Martin’s boasts about being the brains behind the Beatles: “For the cameraman to take credit from the director is a bit too much.”
To one critic, Lennon wrote: “People like you still exist, of course, in small towns across the world.” To another, he messaged, “Yoko’s been an artist before you were even a groupie.”
Lennon was bitter about some admirers too: “I was reading your letter and wondering what middle aged cranky Beatle fan wrote it,” he replied to correspondence from McCartney.
These waspish barbs come in “The John Lennon Letters,” the first compilation of his postcards, notes and telegrams, some with “JohnandYoko” doodles. Heaven knows how big the volume would be had Lennon lived long enough to use email. He’d have just turned 72: The first Beatles single came out 50 years ago.
The detective work in sourcing the material was carried out by Beatles biographer Hunter Davies. As Yoko Ono writes in a foreword, he has done well. When Lennon had a brainwave, or felt happy or sad, he tended to jot it down and often enough shared it with others, Davies writes.
Fans will lap it up. Everyone else will go, “Too much information.”