Monday, June 18, 2007

Paul McCartney: Backwards Traveler

And where do I start about Paul McCartney, the cute Beatle that turns 65 today? Probably at the same place where everybody starts with him: disappointment.
There was a time when I didn’t know any better. It was around the time of “Uncle Albert,” the three lp set called Wings Over America, “Listen To What The Man Said,” “With A Little Luck,” and Venus And Mars. There were some stickers included in that album, and I promptly placed them on the wall of my closet rather than save them. What did you expect; I was eleven years old.
Interesting (or probably not) sidenote: I used to work with an older woman who knew the entire words to McCartney’s “Magneto And Titanium Man” and she would break into it whenever provoked.
The point is: with all of these albums and singles I was transfixed with Paul McCartney, perhaps more so than the other Beatles. After all, Lennon was (at that time) a house-husband, Ringo released some fairly shitty albums, and Harrison always put that weird blue dude in the gatefolds of his albums.
So I was stuck with the melodic perfection of Paul McCartney and, I suppose, that’s not a bad place to be when you’re a kid.
“Listen To What The Man Said” always reminds me of Okoboji; it was a hit on the drive up to the lake and was on the jukebox to in the club house.
“With A Little Luck” reminds me of Meister Music, the hometown music store where I bought it. They had a bunch of 45s in between the sheet music and lubricating oils.
McCartney II reminds me of Bedford, Iowa, at the electronics store where I bought it while visiting my Grandparents.
Back To The Egg reminds me of why I stopped spending my allowance money on Paul McCartney albums.
It’s been over a quarter-century since that realization and I’m strangely finding myself drawn to McCartney’s latest album Memory Almost Full. It’s got the offbeat sensibilities that McCartney II had but with better songs.
Maybe Paul has finally given up on trying to compete with the sales totals of other peer superstars like Rod Stewart and…well….I think Rod’s probably the only other peer that consistently seems to unload a gold or platinum album on each release.
Which is a shame, because Stewart’s always been notorious for wasting his talents while McCartney seems to have finally noticed that he needs to be paying closer attention to his.
He’s completed a fairly strange label move over to Starbuck’s label and is utilizing their marketing plan to better reach his core audience: latte drinking crackers who like the tunes being cranked out of the store’s PA while their waiting on their caffeine.
I don’t fault him for trying this approach and there’s nothing on Memory Almost Full that screams “hit record” and Paul doesn’t sound too concerned about it either. Which may explain why I like it so much, and am able to see how much my own tastes in music has changed since I last remember liking a Paul McCartney album
Paul’s 65 now. So you can stop with all the “When I’m Sixty Four” references now.

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