Made in rockdown: McCartney does it again
January 17, 2021
Sir Paul McCartney: not done yet
Maybe Paul McCartney will only be truly appreciated when he’s dead. His contribution to popular music, culture, and the world is difficult to put into words — but I’ll try.
The man is a machine — a melody machine. For over 60 years, he’s been knocking out genius songs, poetic lyrics, and mind-blowing basslines like we make cups of tea.
Bob Dylan put it perfectly in 2020:
“I mean, I’m in awe of McCartney. He’s about the only one that I am in awe of. But I’m in awe of him. He can do it all, and he’s never let up, you know.
He’s got the gift for melody; he’s got the rhythm. He can play any instrument. He can scream and shout as good as anybody, and he can sing the ballad as good as anybody.
And his melodies are effortless. I’m in awe of him, maybe because he’s just so damn effortless.
I mean, I just wish he’d quit, you know. Just everything and anything that comes out of his mouth is just framed in a melody, you know”.
McCartney III isn’t his third effort since leaving the Beatles, of course. It’s his 26th.
But, McCartney III is the third album on which he plays every instrument — as a follow-up to Scottish farm-made McCartney (1970) and electronically whacky McCartney II (1980).
Yep: electric and acoustic guitars, bass, double bass, piano, harpsichord, mellotron, harmonium, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer, Wurlitzer electric piano, drums, percussion — and even the recorder. He really has no right to do what he does when he can’t even read music.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a McCartney album, either Wings or solo, that isn’t filled with genius. Even his lesser ones are littered with gems. The thing is: most of these gems remain undiscovered and underappreciated by the public at large.
McCartney III is a truly a brilliant piece of work — as is its predecessor, Egypt Station (2018). He’s still inventing stuff and breaking boundaries at 78 years old. I’m amazed he hasn’t run out of ideas or feels he has nothing left to give. He certainly has nothing left to prove.
In McCartney III, he feels comfortable with his older voice. The world-wearier and senior lyrics and songs of the album seem to reflect this.
His voice has to certainly go down as one of the greatest in rock history. It could be soft and rounded (see: I Will, The Beatles [White Album], 1968) or rocking and raucous (see: Figure of Eight, Flowers In The Dirt, 1989).
People will still call for him to retire as his voice isn’t what it once was. But he’s going to be 80 years old next year, he’s smoked a lot of pot, and he’s been continuously performing live since 1957.
His concerts and new music still brings joy to millions worldwide, and he’s said he has no interest in retiring just yet. So good on him.
I’m sure we’d all love to be able to stand there, sing and play through three-hour setlists, remember all the words and guitar parts, without as much as a break or sip of water when we’re knocking on 80. Yet, it’s become fashionable to knock him down.
If you haven’t heard McCartney III, or much else of McCartney’s work since the breakup of the Beatles in 1970, then you’re missing out. Most of his songs since the Fab Four split could happily sit on any Beatles album — there are hundreds — and this is no different with McCartney III.
Lavatory Lil even sounds like a sister song to John Lennon’s Polythene Pam (Abbey Road, 1969). Or maybe it’s about Heather Mills. What else I love about his latest is that just when you think a song is about to end, it retakes flight.
I’m confident that no one will ever match McCartney, in terms of record sales, achievement and talent for as long as the world exists. John Lennon has been canonized — and rightly so. But he’s always received more credit that McCartney, with often a snidey remark about We All Stand Together (1984).
Paul McCartney simply loved Rupert Bear — and so did his kids. It was meant to be a children’s song, and it’s probably the most outstanding children’s song ever written. It’s another example of Macca’s diversity.
And let’s be honest, who on this planet could write a melody as good as that for those adorable frogs to bop along to? Lennon, at 80 years old, would’ve loved McCartney III.
Copyright © 2021 J W Emery Ltd. All rights reserved.
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