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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

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When He's 64
Saturday, June 09, 2007

You'll forgive me the post title; he turns 65 this month and I had so little time left to make the pun...

One of you recently asked where our review was of the new Paul McCartney record. (Yes, we're very hip, but we always have liked, and still like, Paul McCartney. We also have songs by the Archies and Josie and the Pussycats (the new ones, the ones played by Rachel Cook and company) on our various and sundry iPods.)

We've listened to the thing twice, not counting the exposures at Starbucks, who (I kid you not) are Macca's new label.

Providing my general impression requires that I take a step back. To me, his work took a dramatic and apparently irrevocable turn when his wife Linda passed away. Since then all of his records (the popular music; I don't consume the classical or experimental stuff) has sounded distinctly different and of a piece. Compare his last record while Linda was alive (the underrated Flaming Pie) to any of the ones since. He sounds old, weary, vulnerable, brittle, alone. WHen Linda died, something in Paul died too; I feel like his musical voice has been profoundly altered, and I'm still getting used to hearing him through this new voice.

For some artists, the results of such passages-- signs of aging and vulnerability and mortality-- wear extremely well; Lou Reed and Neil Young come immediately to mind (e.g., Young's Prairie Wind.) But on McCartney, whose best work always scored high on the whimsy quotient, who wrote a self-aware #1 hit called "Silly Love Songs," this new, mature voice strikes me as dissonant with his natural talents. He certainly can't get younger or less mortal, and he certainly can't return to his marriage (and ouch, he did try.) So what I hear, four albums on (Run Devil Run, Driving Rain, Chaos and Creation, and now Memory Almost Full) is an artist with a gift for melody and puffery (meant in the best possible way) and always a great player, struggling to adapt his God-given toolkit to a new life stage. And.. it isn't really working.

Not that I hold any of this against him; if all goes well I personally plan to get as old as he is, and older still. But I'm not sure that Peter Pan can ever age gracefully.

All that preamble out of the way, I like this record better than I liked Chaos, and don't think it can touch either Flowers in the Dirt (1989) or Tug of War (1982), the two high points of his post-70s output. As on Chaos, I'm getting a very lonely vibe; this, from a guy whose early recordings were quintessentially band records (I mean the Beatles canon), and which generally thereafter reflected (often to a fault, some would say) his membership in a pretty closely-knit marriage.

McCartney took a lot of heat for "Silly Love Songs" in particular and silly love songs in general, but hell, that's why I listened. I for one don't think the world has had enough of silly love songs. And if Macca is out of the whimsy business, out of the silly love song business, I for one mourn the loss.

Labels:


Posted by: --josh-- @ 11:08 PM  


8 Comments:
At 6/10/2007 1:18 PM, Anonymous Annie said...   

When I saw the pictures in this entry my first reaction was "Cute doesn't age well". Maybe that ireverent comment is some of what you're saying here.

However...a positive experience, even if ends badly (devoted marriage followed by dreadful illness and terrible rebound marriage) has a way of giving a person strength and depth. In the long run, anyway.

Maybe Sir Paul needs more time to grow into his new voice. Got to applaud the man for continuing to create, anyway. It's not like he needs cash flow.


At 6/10/2007 11:53 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

Indeed I selected those two photos to make precisely the point that cute doesn't age well.


At 6/15/2007 12:48 AM, Anonymous OwRa said...   

thankyou for this review. after reading it, i purchased the iTunes+ version of Tug of War.

i love "Here Today" but i love "Take it Away" and "Wanderlust" too. so wtf do i know?

if you are right about his decline, i doubt it's so much about aging as it is about losing. he had John, even after the Beatles were done. he had Linda. now, he's got the Superbowl and hair dye (that's why cute doesn't age well - they think they are fooling us. he'd get more chicks if he just went natural)

as for "memory..." i don't drink coffee. guess i'll wait to hear the songs on the radio. (i keed, i keed)

thanks again for the review,

One who Recently asked


At 6/15/2007 1:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...   

damn, i should have signed that

45One who Recently asked

another missed opportunity.


At 6/15/2007 5:06 AM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

Tuuuuuurns out I like the new one... see Amazon review.


At 6/15/2007 2:58 PM, Anonymous 451 said...   

i just read the amazon review. thanks, much aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapreciated.



http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A1X1S1TUPEYVL/ref=cm_cr_auth/103-7559619-2628630?ie=UTF8&sort%5Fby=MostRecentReview


At 6/22/2007 10:08 PM, Blogger ncghost said...   

Well, I have to completely disagree here. I think that SP (Sir Paul) had for many years turned his back on anything dark and for decades this gave him a frustratingly monochromatic artistic identity. His work in the Beatles gave us mournful songs such as 'For No One", "Eleanor Rigby", "Let It Be", etc, as well as a slew of more emotionally ambiguous songs like "Michelle", "Fixing A Hole", "Long & Winding Road", etc. He
only started trafficking in blatantly 'happy' numbers in his solo career and while they were certainly commercially successful, they never resonated on a deeper level. I think this later period in his career will be seen as his most musically relavent after the Beatles.


At 6/29/2007 5:29 PM, Blogger --josh-- said...   

You make a good point, although I think even some of the dark songs, he really isn't that dark (on a recent tour he told a story about how "Michele" was an attempt to use French in a song because chicks dig French, or something like that; something about liking to play stuff like that at parties).

I don't think its so much that he's made sad songs recently, as that he's sounded sad singing his usual happy piffles. Which just bums me out.

I'm totally divorced from objectivity here; 3 spins in I went from not liking it much to liking it a bunch. Like Mikey on that old Life cereal commercial. But I know you liked Chaos, and I still can't fall into that one.


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