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time almost penniless, unable to pay any rent, and I rarely enjoyed
a full meal. I lived in a room on the King’s Road, near World’s End,
London, in a large !at owned by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. I was, of course, ecstatic about the news and almost as pleased
about the wonderful lunch.
I told James that I wanted to rewrite portions of the manuscript
and that I would need to check all further entries against the Warren
Report and the twenty-six volumes of its evidence. A young American,
Michael Lester, had worked with me both typing the manuscript and
checking out certain references to government documents. James was
not surprised, since the manuscript that I submitted began with this
note: “This is an un-corrected, un-conformed and un-edited original
mimeographed copy of the manuscript. It is intended as a publisher’s
document and is NOT intended for publication or release in its present form.” That page also bore my signature.
I began to write the “nal version of the book. Comparing the
printed work with the earlier manuscript reveals that very few changes
were made. I spent a great deal of time writing to Mike, who was in
New York, and waiting for his reply about a citation I sought. When
I received a small portion of an advance from the publisher I invited
Mike to join me in London and to bring all the relevant documents
and volumes. I asked Lord Russell if Mike could stay at one of the
rooms on King’s Road, and he was more than gracious and welcoming. The team was reunited, and Mike began to type.
Since there were no personal computers, Mike employed a portable typewriter. If he made a single mistake, even at the end of the
page, even placing a period where a comma belonged, he ripped
the page out rather than place a comma over a period, and started
anew. When I submitted the “nal manuscript, the executives at the
Bodley Head were astonished. They agreed that it was likely the
most perfect submission they had ever read. They were referring
to the typing.
While living in London during that time I attended a small party
of about a dozen people. One of them was Paul McCartney.
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He walked up to me, offered his hand, and told me his name. The introduction was hardly necessary as he was one of the most famous people
in the world. He seemed very young and remarkably modest. That
was because he was twenty-two years old, and he was not impressed
with his accomplishments. He said, “I understand you have written
a book about Kennedy’s assassination. I would like to read it.” I told
him that it was still in manuscript form and that there were only two
mimeographed copies, one at the publisher’s of”ce and one at the
!at where I was staying. Paul said, “If I could just borrow your copy
I would keep it safe and get it back to you in a few days.” I agreed.
The next day a man in a chauffeur’s out”t arrived and asked if I had
a package for Mr. McCartney. He took it.
Several days later he returned with the manuscript, neatly
wrapped. I took it to my desk, opened it quickly, and began to search
for the note that would be my “rst review. There was no note; I
was very disappointed and thought that evidently he had not been
impressed or perhaps, I hoped, he had just been too busy to read it.
Early that evening while I was in the throes of editing, the telephone rang. The caller said, “Well he could’na done it, could he?”
I was irritated by the interruption, the obscure message, and the
failure of the caller to identify himself. I said, probably in a less-thangenerous tone, “Who is this? And who could not have done what?”
He replied, “Sorry. Paul, Paul McCartney, we met the other
night. And I meant that Oswald could not have killed President Kennedy.” I may have been one of the very few people on the planet who
would have failed to recognize that most famous voice. Paul seemed
not at all put out. He said, “Could we have dinner together to talk
about it? Maybe tomorrow?”
A few days later he invited me to his home, suggesting that I
drop in at about noon. He opened the door and showed me to a
parlor, asking if I minded waiting a few minutes as he walked into
another room where John Lennon was seated at a piano. Paul called
out, “Mark, this is John. John, this is Mark.” We each said hello, and
the two of them continued working on a song. They hummed, they
164 | CITIZEN LANE
sang, and they played the piano and Paul played the guitar. When
they were satis”ed, they agreed to call their associate who was going
to write it down. Neither Paul nor John could write music. Then
we had lunch prepared by a woman who worked there. It was sliced
white bread toasted and covered with baked beans, apparently a Liverpool favorite. Paul’s very large English sheepdog stayed outside,
guarding the house.
Paul, of course, had a very busy schedule and said he would call
when he could. He did a few days later and suggested a late dinner
at a place I might recommend. I told him about a Polish restaurant
where the food was excellent, and since all the diners and staff were
ancient and spoke primarily Polish, he might not be recognized. The
owner seated us near a window and then returned in a few minutes
and nodded toward a table where an obviously wealthy woman in her
nineties was seated.
“Madame Slovenskia wondered, Mr. McCartney, if you could sign
her menu, which she would like to present to her granddaughter.”
Paul smiled and wrote, “Happy dinner, Paul McCartney, friend
of Mark Lane.” The owner was bemused, and his customer was
bewildered. Paul smiled and said, “I guess they heard of the Beatles
As our dinner continued past the closing hour it was fortunate
the door was locked. Paul had been spotted. Before long, the crowd
grew to more than two hundred. The owner showed us a seldom used back door, and we ran to Paul’s car. He drove me to my apartment in a rather deserted section near World’s End. No one was on the street. Paul brought out a guitar, and we walked just a few steps before a young couple appeared. She screamed, ran up to Paul, and
ripped a handkerchief from his pocket as we ran to the building. We settled into the den and caught our breath.
During a meeting at my London publishers, James Michie mentioned
that there was an American named Ben Sonnenberg who was eager to
RUSH TO JUDGMENT: THE JOURNEY BEGINS | 175
I met with Paul McCartney at my flat. He asked about the film,
and I described it. He asked if there was going to be music, and I said
that the director and I had not even thought about that yet. “Well,”
he said, “I would like to write a musical score for the film, as a present for you.” I was astonished by that generous offer and speechless
for a moment. I thanked him, but then I cautioned him that the subject matter was very controversial in the United States and that he
might be jeopardizing his future. He added, “One day my children
are going to ask me what I did with my life, and I can’t just answer
that I was a Beatle.” It became clear to me that he had not grasped
the enormous contribution he had made to music and to the lives
of young people everywhere. During that meeting, Paul said he had
just finished composing a song and he wanted me to hear it. “You’ll
be the first,” he added. I told him that I really enjoyed his music but
that I was practically tone deaf and not the person who should give
him the first review, that he should play it for someone else first. He
laughed and took the guitar out of its case.
He played the melody and sang bits of the lyrics he had composed. I didn’t really get it; it had a haunting and sad sound. I said, “I
think this is a little complex for me the first time hearing it.”
“You don’t like it?” he asked.
I said I did, but I would have to give it more thought.
He added as a joke, “I gave you your first review, and it was much
The next morning Mike Lester, who was staying at the !at, asked
what Paul was playing. I didn’t remember the name, but I recalled
that it had a refrain about all the lonely people and that some father
was darning his socks at night. I had apparently been the first person to hear “Eleanor Rigby.” When it became a huge hit, my friends
made sarcastic remarks about my musical ear, suggesting that I might
consider giving up the law for a new career as a music critic.
Paul called and said, “What do I have to do to write the musical
score for the film?” I arranged a meeting at the King’s Road !at for
Paul and D and myself to discuss the subject.
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D asked Paul, “What have you written for us?” Paul politely said
that he wanted to see the film and then compose. D ruled that reasonable suggestion out. Paul then asked D how the film would begin,
and D described a scene where the plane landed and the president
and his wife walked to the tarmac. That had not been discussed as
the opening scene and was not used in the film.
D said, “So play your music for that scene.”
Paul said, “You want me to audition now?”
D said, “Yes, right now.”
There was a long and awkward silence broken when Paul picked
up his guitar and created a bit of music. D, even less musically talented than I was, immediately said, “No good. It’s boring.”
Paul laughed and agreed by saying, “I tried to match the scene
you had described.”
I argued with D about the musical score to no avail. He insisted
that a score by Paul McCartney would not increase the “lm’s popularity or reach and would prevent it from being “stark and didactic,” a phrase that I still did not comprehend and one D could never
The film without a musical score was stark enough and was moderately successful. Its debut was on BBC in 1967. I was there for the
showing of the flm with two Warren Commission lawyers, Arlen
Specter and David Belin. It was then the longest studio-originated
broadcast in the history of BBC.
In the United States the documentary debuted at the Carnegie Hall Cinema and was reviewed by Bosley Crowther, the film critic for the New York Times, who wrote that
if the “purpose of this film is to rouse its viewers into having doubts about Oswald’s total guilt . . . then it eminently succeeds.”