As you probably know, Sir James Paul McCartney turned 73 a couple of days ago, on June 18th! Happy birthday, Paul! I did mean to post on the day, but I’ve been quite busy with end-of-term assessments, so sorry ’bout that. I haven’t really written all that much about Paul, so today is my chance to muse on all things McCartney…
I’m not much of a Paul person. John has always been my favourite Beatle, and George a close second. And everyone likes Ringo. When it comes to songs, I’ve always found the songs that John and George wrote more appealing to my ears than Paul’s. I’ve always found a majority of his songs to be a little too much on the poppy side for me.
But regardless of the fact that I’m more of a John-and-George gal, I think that Paul is an extremely talented guy! There is no doubt that he is one of the best songwriters ever. Not only is he one half of Lennon/McCartney, a number of his post-Beatles songs are also certified-classics for very good reason.
Most of my favourite McCartney-penned compositions stem from The Beatles era. Especially from Rubber Soul onwards, Paul was an amazing songwriter. Penning everything from screaming proto-metal rockers to the softest of folky ballads, he was something of a songwriting genius! He definitely deserves the many accolades he receives for his work.
(‘Helter Skelter’) ‘Helter Skelter’ is recognised by most music fans to be one of the first heavy metal songs ever. And whilst I’m not really a fan of the genre in its modern state, I absolutely love this song! The song incorporates Ringo’s thrashing drums, completely awesome guitar performances from Paul and George, a rockin’ bass from John and a screaming vocal performance from Paul! There has been more than a few interpretations of the song over the years; John claimed it was about a, well, helter skelter (an essential part of English fairgrounds), Paul said the helter skelter symbolised “the fall”, and we all know what Charles Manson thought… The song has since become a pioneer of all things hard rock, and is also one of my very favourite Beatles songs!
(‘Blackbird’) And now to the complete opposite… In my opinion, ‘Blackbird’ is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Paul’s solo voice accompanying his fingerpicked guitar and his tapping foot (and later, some blackbird sounds) is perfection, in my opinion. Paul’s lyrics in this song are some of his best, I think; they are supposedly about the Civil Rights Movement in America. My favourite bit about this song, though, is the guitar. It’s gorgeous. And even after months of trying to play it, I still can’t play it properly… 😉
(‘I’m Looking Through You’) Paul’s songs on Rubber Soul are all super-cool, and this is one of my favourites. Ever since I first listened to the album, ‘I’m Looking Through You’ has always stood out. Whether it be Paul’s great vocal performance, John’s rhythm guitar part, George’s lead guitar part or Ringo’s organ (!) or the folk-rock feel, this song is just all-round great. I particularly like the mono version of this song, as the outro is a little longer, and I especially love the outro…
(‘Here, There and Everywhere’) For me, it’s easy to see why this song was one of both John’s and Paul’s favourite Beatles songs – for it’s one of my favourite Beatles songs, too! This song is simply beautiful. Paul’s vocals are sung gorgeously, and the backing vocals are simply hypnotic! I also love Ringo’s bass-y drums, and the rhythm guitar is great. An all-round perfect song…
(The Abbey Road Medley) This is what I like to refer to as Paul’s masterpiece. Taking up most of Side 2 of Abbey Road, the Abbey Road Medley is nothing short of a masterpiece. Beginning with the epic 4-part ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’, and ending with the philosophical musings of ‘The End’ or brief ‘Her Majesty’ (depending on who you ask), you’ll hear about everything from a few rpgue “Apple Scruffs” climbing through Paul’s bathroom window to a grouchy old guy who sleeps in a hole in the road. Each song is carefully merged into each other by Paul and George Martin, and stylistically, it ranges from raw rock’n’roll to delicate orchestral pop. A perfect final note that will be remembered as one of the most innovative things ever released.
And now for Paul post-Beatles… I’m not a huge fan of Paul’s solo career. However, I’ve since found that there are a whole heap of great songs that Paul wrote after the breakup of The Fab Four, too! Last post, I mentioned my penchant for both ‘Call Me Back Again’ and ‘Dear Friend’. And I think I’ve mentioned my like of ‘Another Day’ and ‘Mrs Vandebilt’ before, too. So here are a couple of songs from Paul’s solo career that I particularly enjoy…
(‘Too Many People’) Despite the fact that the whole song basically denounces John and Yoko, this is one of my favourite Paul songs. Musically. I particularly dig that killer lead guitar, and Paul’s vocals are also great! The acoustic guitar is also awesome. In fact, this is an all-round awesome song, apart from the lyrics.
(‘Band On The Run’) And I’ve always loved this song! I love how it has three parts, and each of them are contrast each other so much. My favourite is the middle part — the rockiest part. I also really love the guitar riff that runs through parts 1 + 2, and it’s one of my favourite things to play. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this pop up in the middle of 2014 film Boyhood, which is my favourite movie at the moment.
(‘Maybe I’m Amazed’) This song is amazing. Pun intended. Paul’s vocals are raw and emotional and just wonderful! And I’ve always been a fan of his piano work in this song. It’s one of Paul’s best known songs, and for very good reason.
And of course, Paul is an amazing musician. It’s a well-known fact that he is one of the best bassists ever. Many Beatles songs featured extremely inventive bass lines due to his genius. My favourites include ‘Dear Prudence‘, ‘The Word‘, ‘Hey Bulldog‘, and ‘Drive My Car‘. Paul is my favourite bassist, along with John Entwistle of The Who.
Other examples of Paul’s musical prowess can be found within some of his lead guitar lines. The solo in ‘Taxman‘ is one of the best examples, and as a guitarist, I find it truly amazing! Paul also played some great breaks on ‘Another Girl‘, ‘The Night Before‘ and (along with John and George) ‘The End’. Paul was also the first Beatle to play an Epiphone Casino guitar, and as the proud player of such a model, I’m very thankful for that. I also very much like Paul’s piano skills, which can be heard on songs such as ‘Let It Be‘, ‘Hey Jude’ and parts of ‘A Day In The Life‘.
And so, happy birthday Paul! As a musician, I find your musical skills absolutely amazing. Thanks for all the wonderful songs! tangerinetrees99 🙂
And now for one more tune…