Monday, September 19, 2005

Macca's Back

Some of you may have noticed that I took a 3-day weekend from blogging. I posted my thought of the day because I know there are some of you out there who can’t go on if you don’t get my imparting of other people’s wisdom. But today, I am back.

A few weeks ago I posted something about an upcoming music album: Chaos and Creation in the Backyard by Sir James Paul McCartney.

It is out. In fact, it came out last week.

Now, while I have not had a chance to buy the album itself yet, I did listen to the entire album streamlined on McCartney’s website (, and all I can say is ‘Wow.’

The album is great, but as others have written, it needs several replays before you begin to pick up on the subtle "old Paul" peculiarities that sometimes lay between the lines. The lyrics are much more introspective than we usually hear from Paul and with a more somber tone.

Spend some time with the album and it becomes crystal clear that Sir Paul is far from spent as either a songwriter or a record-maker. This is the intimate McCartney in the vein of his 1970 solo debut “McCartney” or his 1978 release "London Town," and the comfort allowed him to be as unguarded as he's ever been.

The unmistakable, rockin’ pounding of Paul at the keyboard hasn't changed in over 40 years. It is clear that he is restraining himself from sounding over-ebullient, and the result is good, very good.

I have a personal synopsis of some of the album’s songs. Take it as you will and as it was intended; one person’s opinion. Granted, the opinion of a person who has a vast knowledge of McCartney. (Actually, I have a vast encyclopedia of useless knowledge in my head – that’s why no one will play Trivial Pursuit with me anymore or why my wife won’t watch Jeopardy with me anymore – I’m just too damn smart...all of you who know me can insert your own smart-ass comment here)

The album opens with four of his best songs in ages (and certainly better than anything from Driving Rain. Now don’t get me wrong, I thought Driving Rain was a good album, this one is just better in every musical aspect)

“Fine Line” (my personal favorite song from the album. Has a message deep down, but not as preachy as some of his other solo songs from the past 10 years. And has some stellar piano and bass work from Macca himself)

“How Kind of You” (a tad vague as to whom the song’s subject is [John? George? Linda? His mother?] but still a haunting tune)

“Jenny Wren” (immediately takes the listener back to the beautiful Beatles’ ballad “Blackbird”)

“At the Mercy” (which, in my humble opinion, is a 21st century version, in quiet tones, of “A Hard Days Night”)

"English Tea" (with a lovely and sad beginning that is, ultimately, fun. May remind some of you of The Beatles’ "Savoy Truffle.”)

"A Certain Softness" (a sensuous love song with a rumba-like beat underneath)

"Riding to Vanity Fair" (perhaps the biggest departure for Paul on the entire album. He takes a giant leap and tries a totally different sound and, in my opinion, succeeds. It lingers in the mind long afterward. )

“Promise to You Girl” (quite possibly the best track on the album where we hear some of the old, jaunty Paul, and we can forgive the "Queen-like" background vocals thanks to a rockin' backdrop. Best of all: Paul seemingly channels George in a fantastic guitar solo)

"Anyway" (one can hear some of the driving beat of "Why Don't We Do it in the Road," along with echoes of "Strawberry Fields," just enough to tease the listener’s memory of the past)

Overall, the album is phenomenal and awe-inspiring. If you are a Paul McCartney fan, you will absolutely love it. If you are a casual Beatles or McCartney fan, you will like it as well. Hell, if you are a fan of good music, you will like it. If you are a Britney Spears fan…you have my sympathies.

Thought of the Day

“Don't let one cloud obliterate the whole sky.”
- Anaïs Nin