Tag Archive | Paul McCartney

U is for Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

U is for Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.  I understand that I must justify the Beatles connection.  First, I have to admit that I’ve loved this song for a very long time for a couple of different reasons,  both of which directly relate to the Beatles catalog and are a part of the reason why I love their music so much.

  1. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is really two songs or more, in one, connected by a bridge.  The Beatles used this to great effect in both on both “A Day In The Life” and “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.”  Paul McCartney discusses this technique in his recent interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.  I discussed the interview here.  I’m fascinated by this technique.  I’m not sure whether it was Paul McCartney or John Lennon who first decided to try and combine songs, I’m just happy it worked.  The Beatles used a slightly different version of this technique on Abbey Road.  The entire second half of the album is a medley of snippets of songs.  It all blends together well.
  2. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” also makes extensive use of sound effects, such as a thunderstorm and an answering machine.  The Beatles did this well – and to great effect – on Sgt. Pepper, the song “Piggies,” among others.  This seemingly small point really does help the lyrics tell a true story.  It is the fact that most of the Beatles’ music tells a story that fascinates me as a writer.

Released on 1971’s Ram, “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1971.  Although not technically a Wings’ release, it is featured on several later Wings compilation albums.  It was the first #1 hit for Paul McCartney as a solo artist in the 1970s/1980s.  It is very easy to imagine Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey as a Beatles song.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

T is for Taxman

T is for Taxman.  It is one of my favorite Beatles songs for the guitar work alone.  It is one protest song I can get behind whole heartedly.  Originally released on Revolver (1966), “Taxman” is one of three songs written by George Harrison on the album.  While I knew George sang lead on “Taxman,” I did not know Paul McCartney played guitar on the song.  That guitar riff is one of the reasons why I love “Taxman” so much.  Madness.

Paul McCartney and George Harrison Deutsch: Pa...

Paul McCartney and George Harrison Deutsch: Paul McCartney und George Harrison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

S is for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/Strawberry Fields Forever

S is for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/Strawberry Fields Forever.  Well, where do I even begin?  Sgt. Pepper is the Beatles album, the album period.  Today it is recognized as one of the most influential popular music albums ever made.  While I am not normally a fan of psychedelic rock, Sgt. Pepper is something else altogether.  It is widely considered one of the first examples of the concept album.  I do not know how a true music fan can listen to just parts of the album.  You have to listen to the entire thing.  Included below is the album in its entirety.

Released 1 June 1967 on Parlophone, it quickly influenced everything – and I mean everything – that came after it on both sides of the Atlantic.  To date it has sold 32 million copies worldwide.  Within days of the album’s release, Jimi Hendrix learned the title track and performed it live in front of an audience that included Paul McCartney, who was both flattered and impressed.

There is so more I could say about Sgt. Pepper.  It is already a huge part of my memories, both childhood and otherwise.  I don’t know where the inspiration comes from to write a song like “A Day In The Life.”  I’m just glad that it exists in this world.

As much as I could say about Sgt. Pepper, I felt I had to include “Strawberry Fields Forever” too.  Released with “Penny Lane” as a single February 1967, it one of John Lennon’s most autobiographical songs with the Beatles.  Strawberry Fields refers to a Salvation Army home for children around the corner from John Lennon’s childhood home in Woolton, a suburb of Liverpool.  Both “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” were originally to be included on Sgt. Pepper.

Front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Clu...

Front cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “probably the most famous album cover in popular musical history”Ashplant Smyth 2001, p. 185. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

R is for Ringo Starr

R is for Ringo, Ringo Starr.  Of all the Beatles, Ringo is the hardest to pin down.  He is a seemingly reluctant goof-ball who contributed much more to the Beatles than most people realize.  What John, Paul, and George called “Ringoisms,” slight twists of speech, later became titles of hits – and even a famous movie.  It was Ringo who coined the phrases A Hard Day’s Night and “Eight Days A Week.”  Of all the Beatles, it was Ringo who went on to a work in movies and television.  For a generation of kids, he will always be the original Mr. Conductor from Shining Time Station.

Born 7 July 1940 in Liverpool, England, Richard Starkey, MBE, also known as Ringo Starr, is the oldest of the four Beatles and the last to join the band.  Before replacing Pete Best on drums and joining the Beatles, Ringo Starr performed with Rory Storm and the HurricanesJohn Lennon once referred to Ringo as the seasoned professional of the group.  While he somewhat meant that as a joke, during their formative years, it was Ringo who had the most experience.

While much has been made of Ringo’s supposed lack of technical skill as a drummer, he is now widely acknowledged as an innovative drummer who inspired many others, including Phil Collins of Genesis.  Since 1989, Ringo has toured extensively with various incarnations of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.  He is still touring and just released his latest album, Ringo 2012.  He and Paul McCartney are now the sole surviving members of the Beatles.

Ringo’s career can largely be summed up in a September 1980 quote by John Lennon:

“Ringo was a star in his own right in Liverpool before we even met.  He was a professional drummer who sang and performed and had Ringo Starr-time and he was in one of the top groups in Britain but especially in Liverpool before we even had a drummer.  So Ringo’s talent would have come out one way or the other as something or other.  I don’t know what he would have ended up as, but whatever that spark is in Ringo that we all know but can’t put our finger on — whether it is acting, drumming or singing I don’t know — there is something in him that is projectable and he would have surfaced with or without the Beatles.  Ringo is a damn good drummer.” 

And so he is.

O is for Oh! Darling

Publicity photo of the Beatles with producer G...

Publicity photo of the Beatles with producer George Martin in the studio at Abbey Road. Only John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney are pictured. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh! Darling, off of 1969’s Abbey Road is one of my favorite Beatles songs.  Primarily sung and written by Paul McCartney, I’d have to say that I have to agree with John Lennon when he stated that the song was more suited for his (John’s) voice.  Paul ended up with the lead vocals simply because it was primarily his song.  McCartney was not originally happy with his vocals.  He thought they were too clear.  In the end, he tried recording the song each day for a week.  He wanted his vocals to sound as though he’d been singing the song all week long.

Heavily influenced by Louisiana R & B and swamp blues, some in Louisiana thought the song originally recorded by local musicians.  While at first glance the song does appear more suited for John Lennon vocally, Paul McCartney did revisit this type of vocal throughout his solo career – and in the Wings (band) era.

N is for Nowhere Man

I chose Nowhere Man for N simply because it is one of my favorite Beatles songs.  Heck, it is one of my favorite songs – ever.  Check out the video.

I also included the video for I Feel FineRingo is going nowhere in the video.  I wonder what the thought was behind the exercise equipment.  Really?  By the way, what is George playing guitar into?  Not quite sure.  Thank you Anchoress for bringing this video to my attention.  I’d even forgotten about the song.

M is for McCartney, The Album

Ok, here’s the bottom line:  McCartney, the 1970 solo album by Paul McCartney, with a few vocal contributions from Linda McCartney, is the album that broke up the Beatles.  Period.  No, it wasn’t Yoko, at least not entirely.  While Paul McCartney may not be solely responsible for the break-up of the Beatles, he is the one who finally pulled the plug by breeching contract.  There are a few interviews in which John Lennon admitted that Paul just did the inevitable.  Each of the four were going their own ways artistically and otherwise at that point.

If you want to get into the Beatles solo work, McCartney, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass (1970), and Imagine by John Lennon (1971) is where you’d want to start.  In particular McCartney and All Things Must Pass contain a lot of material left over from the Beatles.  A few songs on McCartney were snippets of songs created during the Beatles years that Paul decided to flesh out himself.

McCartney in particular fascinates me for two reasons:  1.) Paul McCartney played every sing instrument on the album himself.  His wife Linda contributed only a few vocals on the album.  2.)  If you have yet to discover Wings, McCartney helps bridge the gap between the two bands.  In essence, Wings became Paul and Linda in the end, with an ever-changing line-up.  This is where it began.

There is a song or two in particular I’ll be discussing further in a future non-Beatles-related post.  The album is that important.  People ate it up too.  It went double platinum.  You can listen to the entire thing below.  Oh, and by the way, Linda McCartney took the album cover photo – along with the album liner photo of Paul and their daughter Mary.

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Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney (Photo credit: darioferrini)

L is for La, La, La Lovely Linda

L is for La, La, La Lovely Linda.  Born Linda Louise Eastman on 24 September 1941 in New York, Linda Eastman married Paul McCartney on 12 March 1969 in the midst of the beginning of the end of the Beatles.  She met him in 1967 in London while on assignment to photograph popular musicians of the era.  While she and McCartney unofficially met at the Bag O’Nails club in London, she later became one of the few photographers allowed access to the Beatles during the launch party of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  The photo below is one she took during that engagement.  It is one of my favorites.

I’m including her as part of the Beatles A to Z because I believe her influence on Paul McCartney helped to ensure the endurance of the Beatles music, especially in the aftermath of John Lennon’s murder in 1980.  After their marriage in 1969, Paul adopted Linda’s daughter Heather.  After Linda and Heather settled into life in London with Paul, things began to become even more contentious with the Beatles.

According to various accounts, their business dealings became much more complex – and a mess – after the formation of Apple Corps  in 1968 and the untimely death of their longtime manager Brian Epstein in 1967.  It was the additional burden of the business aspect of the Beatles, along with desires on all sides to head in different directions artistically, that lead to the infamous breakup of the Beatles in April 1970.  Linda McCartney unwittingly found herself in the middle of it all.

On 10 April 1970 Paul McCartney formally announced the breakup of the Beatles, releasing his first solo album McCartney.  The first song, of course, is “Lovely Linda,” which is the shortest song in the extensive McCartney catalog at 42 sec.  The entire album sets the stage for things to come.  Paul McCartney did all vocals and instruments himself, with the exception of a few vocals provided by Linda.  By this time, the McCartneys, which now included daughter Mary and would soon include daughter Stella, had moved to Scotland in order to get away from the legal nightmare that was the Beatles.

It was during this time in Scotland that Paul and Linda McCartney began to form the idea of putting together a new band.  I don’t know how, but somehow Paul McCartney persuaded his wife, who had no musical training at all, to form a band with him.  I can’t imagine the amount of courage it would’ve taken to get on stage for the first time with her very famous husband.  While it took a few years to get things right, the band the two ultimately formed, Wings, went on to be hugely successful during its ten year run, 1971-1981.  That band deserves a series of posts in and of itself.

In later years, Linda created a line of vegetarian food and published a book of her photography called Linda McCartney’s Sixties: Portrait of an Era in 1993.  She and Paul eventually had three children, Mary (1969), Stella (1971), and James (1977).  In 1995 Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Unfortunately she lost that battle on 17 April 1998 in Tuscon, AZ.  There is so much more to say about Linda McCartney that I do plan an additional post focused on her photography, which is amazing, and the documentary Wingspan: Hits and History, which focuses on the McCartney’s band Wings.

Linda McCartney

Linda McCartney (Photo credit: Antoon’s Foobar)

Paul_McCartney and Linda McCartney - Wings

Paul_McCartney and Linda McCartney – Wings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yet Another Sunday

I won’t be around until this evening.  I’m hoping to then finally get caught up on the April 2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge.  The posts centered around the Beatles themselves, along with those who were closest to them, are the most difficult to write and put together.  There is just so much to say.

I ended up getting sucked into watching the Wingspan documentary on YouTube last night, all 1 hour, 45 minutes of it.  I left with a much greater appreciation of what Paul and Linda McCartney did with Wings, and I was already a fan.  More on that later.  Happy Sunday everyone.  I’ll leave you with one of the most beautiful voices ever in pop music.