When Joel put the call out for bands to record songs about other artist's albums, my thoughts turned immediately to Paul McCartney. Admittedly, this isn't in and of itself a particularly rare occurrence. When I'm writing a song, when I find myself shaking my head excitedly during a gig, when I use a zebra crossing, when I play the pipes of peace - on these and on many other occasions I think of Paul McCartney, because Paul McCartney is BLOODY BRILLIANT.
What I struggled with was deciding which album to write a song about. As everybody with 1% of a brain knows, Band on the Run is a solid gold bona fide absolute classic of ROCK up there with heavyweights of Sunday Magazine Lists like Pet Sounds, Blonde On Blonde, or his first band's discography. There are good cases for a lot of his lesser known early releases (like Ram, McCartney, McCartney 2, Tug Of War) to be cited as Underappreciated And Revolutionary, and he's currently on a pretty AMAZING streak of Actually Flipping Great Albums stretching back (according to expert critics*) (*me) to the release of Flaming Pie in 1997.
To be honest though, that's not the stuff I love the most. I like the wonderfully daft records like Venus & Mars where he does concept rock just because he CAN, or the Michael Jackson collaborations, or the bits in between the songs on Give My Regards To Broad Street, or the ludicrous and also genius video for Coming Up, or... let's just say it, or the Frog Chorus. I love We All Stand Together very much indeed, because a) it is a glorious tune extolling the virtues of comradeship, b) it is sung by frogs and sundry other pondlife, and c) it really really really really really annoys the kind of pole-arsed dullards who are terrified of the open-hearted, potentially daft, properly experimental, utterly unquantifiable JOY that lies at the heart of all that is pop music and, indeed, THE ARTS IN GENERAL.
And that's why I ended up writing a song about THE LOT. Because Paul McCartney's entire solo career, taken as a whole, is a joyous SKIP through every possibilty that happened to take his interest at the time. Other, lesser songwriters might think, "Oh, I'd better not dabble in waltzes, or songs about drinking tea, or Rupert the Bear, in case some pompous wally at the NME sneers at me". Not Paul McCartney. Paul McCartney thinks, "That looks like FUN, let's have a GO!" and then DOES so.
All right, sometimes it might come out a bit crap and occasionally he will insist on doing 'comedy' accents, but without these headlong lollops down embarrassing lanes, he wouldn't be Paul McCartney. Instead he'd be one of those terribly worthy Elder Statesmen Of Rock who dutifully toddle off to see Rick Rubin and do a 'stripped down' version of some of their old hits so that people in their thirties can reassure themselves that buying 'vinyls' is proper and serious.
Paul McCartney doesn't do that. Paul McCartney and his pals invented pop music and, like any inventor who had massive success early on, he still likes to pop down to his shed and try and invent something new. It doesn't always work, but by heck it's fun to listen to him trying.
Or, to put it another way: he's Paul McCartney. He can do what he likes.
Thanks to Mark for sharing this infectiously exuberant read. You can still download Songs About Albums: Volume 2 for FREE from Bandcamp or SoundCloud.