I’m aware that my last post was sycophantic. Bordering on obsessive even. Any time I mention a certain Mr Lennon, it seems I’m overcome with effervescent praise and admiration for him. It’s fair enough, though – it’s John fucking Lennon. That said, I like to think I’m not one of these Beatles fans who discounts Paul. You know the type, all “Lennon’s pain and experimentation mattered, Paul was just a pop song writer”. As much as I do believe that Lennon was the more experimental songwriter, it must be said that McCartney was capable of deep, reflective and esoteric songwriting himself along with finely crafted pop.
Lest we forget Paul’s contributions to The White Album, for instance. Not content with inventing heavy metal on ‘Helter Skelter’, McCartney also contributed the lascivious, subversive ‘Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?’ to the 1968 double album. And we must also remember, as I noted how Lennon channelled American poet Sylvia Plath in ‘Mother’ in said last post, that McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’ could be argued to be channelling another American poet in Edgar Allen Poe, specifically his poem ‘The Raven’, with its metaphoric ornithological protagonist. It is also a fine, masterful guitar piece to boot.
The Beatles – Blackbird
I’m sure I do not need to state that Paul McCartney is a great songwriter. I do feel, however, that a lazy argument has developed where he’s concerned, in which he’s seen as a jolly, jumper-wearing bore to Lennon’s tortured genius poet. No doubt, Lennon is worthy of that moniker, but nonetheless, McCartney was just an untortured genius.
There’s a touch of tribalism from certain Beatles fans who feel the need to pick a side between the two front men. I must admit I have, and unfortunately still sometimes do, enter into this sort of nonsense – being such a staunch fan and admirer of John Lennon’s music and words I’ve often gone in for all of the ‘John’s great, Paul’s good’ drivel, but the fact is that they’re both great and that Paul McCartney is often harshly seen as playing second fiddle to John.
Wings – Band on the Run
Whether it be in his cameo on ‘A Day in the Life’, his structural experimentalism on ‘Band on the Run’ or even coming up with the idea of the concept of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Paul McCartney’s quality and capacity to create artistic, avant-garde music is undeniable. Don’t forget that next time you think of saying otherwise. I’ll try to also.