Thursday, June 21, 2012
PAUL MCCARTNEY TURNED 70 THE OTHER DAY
GEORGE Harrison was probably my favourite Beatle when I first properly discovered the Beatles when I was in Year 10 at school. It might have been his surname, or the intriguing character that I envisaged. He seemed to be a bit more complicated than the others, with his advanced guitar playing and passion for the sitar.
Then, when I listened to the music with a more concentrated ear, it became John Lennon. The first time I ever wrote a serious diary entry was in December, 1980, when John Lennon was murdered. It happened in Melbourne mid-afternoon on a warm to hot day, a typical summer’s day. I was splashing in a pool with friends at a house about five blocks from where I grew up. I especially liked Linda and I was splashing her the most, when someone came outside to tell me that Lennon had been shot. I crawled out of the pool and sat by the radio, until his death was confirmed ten minutes later. I went home, sorrowfully, and wrote.
Even now I think that Lennon was probably the most talented member of the band. That is, his words and music are, for me, consistently more interesting and creative and more accomplished than the others. But Paul McCartney had his moments- plenty of them- and he only weakens in comparison to Lennon, but gifted in his own right. I guess it is a bit like saying Van Gogh was a better painter than Gauguin- but Gauguin was still an extraordinary painter!
I don’t know much about these things, but I’m told by a bass player friend that McCartney is an extraordinary bassist. We have to remember that all the great Lennon songs in the early days, like ‘Rain’ and ‘Girl’ and‘In My Life’ still had a generous helping hand by Paul which made them even better.
And then there are Paul’s own songs. There are those that are light and whimsical and probably don’t mean much, and would have infuriated John Lennon, and these I can’t be bothered with these days. I am thinking here of Desmond with his barrow in the marketplace, and the one about feeling the need to get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born, and the one where Rose and Valerie are screaming from the gallery and even the one which has Vera, Chuck and Dave sitting on their grandparent’s knee.
But when I think about the greatness in Paul McCartney, these songs are easier to find. And instantly recognizable. During his time with The Beatles, I never tire of 'Mother Nature's Son', 'I've Got A Feeling', 'Let It Be', 'Golden Slumbers', 'Here, There and Everywhere', the list goes on.
So I thank him for these songs and many others, and the joy in many of his solo/ Wings songs- great fun, probably drove John Lennon crazy, but nothing better than in the kitchen or in the car listening to great melodies about uncomplicated fun- see 'Jet', 'The Back Seat of my Car', and 'With a Little Luck' for a few examples.
And like great singers he is enigmatic too- like Jim Morrison, you could look at him all day. Watching 'Hey Jude' from the David Frost show countless times.