If I’m at a party of intellectuals, artists and music lovers, there are certain rules I must follow in order to have my opinions on music taken seriously. I must have cursory knowledge of obscure indie pop bands, a forcefully acknowledged passion for diverse and worldly musical offerings and, most importantly, I can never, under no circumstances, admit to loving post-Beatles Paul McCartney. Everyone loves John, of course, but Paul? Wings? Are you serious?
Yes, Paul. Believe me. I’ve had these conversations. Many times. Despite your decades worth of hits minus the Fab Four, too many people need to assert the fact that they think your solo music blows. And that anyone who admits to loving your solo work cannot ever be taken seriously as a lover of arts and culture of any kind.
I’m sure you’re aware of this. And I’m also sure you really don’t give a fuck. I mean, you’re Paul McCartney for God’s sake. Why would you care what some pretentious, scrubby faced, hipster with skinny jeans thinks of your music? Or anyone, for that matter.
You were never going to be able to match what the Beatles did. But then again, neither were other Fab three. That’s what made you so special as a band. When The Beatles broke up in 1970, someone asked you how you were going to follow them and I thought your response was spot on: you just follow it. Seriously, what else could you have done?
But you’re a genius. And you know what? As a solo artist, you’re still a genius. You remained a vibrant and relevant creative artist for decades and continue to produce great music even today. You created Wings, which ultimately was just as commercially successful as the Beatles, which is amazing to consider. You collaborated with Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson. You wrote the best James Bond theme song ever.
You ventured into the new wave scene with the underrated “Back to the Egg” album. And even though the album suffered from a White Album type schizophrenia- with elements of punk to new wave to soft rock to chamber pop to vaudeville mixed with some random “Abbey Road” style medleys and various song fragments for good measure- it’s still shows off your endless creative curiosity.
You recorded 24 albums since the Beatles broke up, as a solo artist or with Wings, plus five classical music albums, and collaborated on another seven albums. Where do you get your energy from and does it come in a pill form or something I can drink? Whatever it is, I need some. Just email me.
I do, however, feel a little like the odd man out as I find myself constantly having to defend you against the McCartney haters of the world, but it’s the least I can do after everything your music has given me.
As a painfully shy, introverted kid growing up, I often felt displaced and alien to just about everyone else in the world. Yet your music was always there to comfort me.
When my friends were off swimming at the town pool without me because I couldn’t swim, I’d be home by myself, sitting in front of the A/C listening to “Wings at the Speed of Sound.” When I needed to escape my crowded and noisy household, I would pop in the “Venus and Mars” cassette into my Sony Walkman, hop on my bike and disappear. “McCartney” and “Ram” provided a warm soundtrack to my family vacations on Cape Cod and “Band on the Run” was always blasting from my radio in the depressing and, sometimes violent, central New Jersey flea market I worked at as a teenager.
So we have history together, you and I. Listening to your music now instantly transports me back to a time when I needed your songs the most. And the next time I’m stuck in a room crowded with stuffy, music snobs, I will wear my McCartney love like a badge of honor and I will tell them, how can you hate someone who has brought so much joy to so many people? I’m living proof of that.
One thought on “Dear Paul,”
It took me a long time to get there, but I recently realized that I do prefer the best of McCartney’s post-Beatles work to the best of Lennon’s post-Beatles work. There is still much of Macca’s work I can’t stand, but there’s also quite a lot that’s just terrific.
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