"Everything is under the sun, but nothing is for keeps..."
"However Absurd," by Paul McCartney
THE GREAT PAUL McCARTNEY AT 70
By Steve Ludwig
Even if the Beatles had done nothing musically for the rest of their lives after their split in 1970, their legacy in music would have remained untouchable.
But in somewhat of an ironic twist, their ever-increasing talents and desire to move forward led to their breakup. Each of our beloved Fab Four - John, Paul, George, and Ringo - had much more to offer us.
For the Beatles (even though each new album opened new windows in our minds), the confinement of a group was surely stifling the four of them. So they moved on, with each one providing us with so much more memorable music.
Our Paulie turned seventy on June 18, and I'm reminded of a line from a song by two other favorite 60's icons, Simon and Garfunkel: "How terribly strange to be seventy..." ("Old Friends").
How terribly incredible that Macca has released at least FORTY-SIX (I may have miscounted one or two) albums since the demise of the Beatles!!
To the casual fan, Paul is probably thought of as a writer of melodic, sometimes sappy love songs. Yup, Paul has recorded more than a few of those in his post-Beatles career. But he has also written and sung some of the finest, most eclectic lyrics any music lover has ever heard:
When a rattle of rats had awoken
The sinews, the nerves, and the veins
My piano was boldly outspoken
In attempts to repeat its refrain...
("Monkberry Moon Delight")
Off to the flicks with a piddle in her mix
To the fair with her hair in curlers
Her cousin couldn't get down to the pleasure dome
Her cousin had to spend the night in an aircraft hangar, memories...
("Spin It On")
Here's one of my favorite quotes by Paul: "I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is people that call others weird that are weird..."
The Big Mac has given us five of the most experimental albums that anyone, any age, has produced. His TWIN FREAKS remixes twelve of his lesser-known solo tracks in an ambient, electronic dream. Some of these tracks are played before Paul's concerts, as the crowd is "...waiting for the show to begin."
And while McC, early on in his solo career, shunned Beatles' music, he has now wholeheartedly embraced this part of his legacy. In the extremely (some might say, weird...but if so, in the best creative sense of the word) experimental LIVERPOOL SOUND COLLAGE, four out of the five tracks include studio banter, played in loops, of the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios.
Paul's electronica alter-ego, "The Fireman," has given us "strawberries oceans ships forest"; "Rushes" (Yup. "The Fireman 'Rushes,' as in "...the fireman rushes in from the pouring rain, very strange...Penny Lane [c'mon, sing it with me!!]), and his most recent Fireman album, "Electric Arguments." It's from this album that I chose the music for my recent YouTube video that I put together in honor of Paul's 70th birthday. The song I used is called "Universal Here, Everlasting Now," and I titled my video "MACCA THE MAGNIFICENT" (for obvious reasons).
It's 5 1/2 minutes long. If you'd like to check it out, here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmSc6jJWLZs
If you're able to watch and listen, you'll get a good idea of the imaginative music Paul is producing these days.
Paul's rule of thumb is, "If it has a face, I won't eat it." A legendary animal activist, Paul chose a vegetarian lifestyle more out of his love of animals than for health reasons, although he says there's no denying this lifestyle's health benefits.
As would be expected, he has more than a couple musical references to animal rights in his music.
Way back in 1971, on his WILD LIFE album, our favorite MacMan sang:
There's animals everywhere
And man is the top, an animal too
And, man, you just gotta care
What's gonna happen to wild life?
The animals in the zoo...
During one of his world tours, before he came out on stage, Paul presented a video of sometimes disturbing images of animal cruelty. After seeing this presentation, my brother Bill was so moved, that he adopted a vegetarian lifestyle. My other brother, Tom, is also a vegetarian. (As for me, um, I'm still working to get there. But I digress...)
In "Looking For Changes," Mr. Bassman writes some of his strongest anti-cruelty lyrics:
I saw a cat with a machine in his brain
The man who fed him said he didn't feel any pain
I'd like to see that man take out that machine
And stick it in his own brain
I saw a rabbit with its eyes full of tears
The lab that owned her had been doing it for years
Why don't we make them pay for every last eye
That couldn't cry its own tears
I saw a monkey that was learning to choke
A guy beside him gave him cigarettes to smoke
And every time that monkey started to cough
The bastard laughed his head off
We'll all be looking for changes
In the way we treat our fellow creatures...
("Looking For Changes")
As Paul says, "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian."
He wears faux-leather, because we all know where the real thing comes from.
Here's some clever storytelling by Paul in his song "Long Leather Coat." At the outset, we're led to believe a woman has a crush on a guy. She even writes him a note, inviting him over for a late-night rendezvous. Ah, but if I may borrow a line from a George Harrison song, "...the answer's at the end..."
"I'm all alone," said she.
"No one to phone, no one to touch me."
"I'm on my way," said the man in the long leather coat.
"I'm glad you came," said she.
"You got my note, you understood it."
He smiled as he hung up his long leather coat
On the back of the door.
She said, "You go on ahead."
She took out the key and locked him in the bedroom.
"Now I am alone," said she.
She took a can of really red paint
And she sprayed up and down on the long leather coat.
"So long, baby, I took you in just to show that
Your long leather coat is really nothing
But a handful of skin...
Let the party begin!
("Long Leather Coat")
There's so much more to Paul's post-Beatles musical life that I'm wondering if next blog's Part Two will be enough!
We'll see then, when Paul answers the musical question: "What the hell gives you the right to tell me what to do with my life?"
IF YOU ENJOYED READING MY BLOG WOULD YOU BE SO KIND AS TO CONSIDER READING MY FIRST BOOK ABOUT MY QUINTUPLE OPEN-HEART BYPASS SURGERY?
WOULDYA?? COULDYA? THE BOOK IS CALLED SEE YOU IN CCU: A LIGHTHEARTED TALE OF MY OPEN-HEART SURGERY. YOU'LL FIND ORDERING INFO AT www.ccubook.com .
Music-lovers unite! Check out my brother Bill's music blog at www.360sounds.wordpress.com.
His latest blog talks about the pre-disco BeeGees (that's when they were the REAL BeeGees!).
As always, thanks for everything! Steve