Friday, May 09, 2008

Roll Up for the Tragical Misery Tour...
Paul McCartney has been voted Most Irritating Music Star...

Usually my posts don't involve a whole lot of research, but in this case, here are the True Facts for you all to see, as featured in an article written by Anne Lu, who is some sort of Celebrity News Service Writer:

London, England (CNS) - Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney is the most irritating music star of all time, according to an online poll by a U.K. music website. Musicmagpie.com's viewers find the 65-year-old music icon to be the most annoying pop celebrity. He beats James Blunt and Lily Allen in the top. The website's spokesperson Craig Dawson explains, "It's easy for musicians to get very irritating very quickly. Macca has driven people up the wall with his 'holier than thou' approach to his divorce, two-fingered peace gesture and penchant for wearing trainers (tennis shoes) with suits." (End of article)
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Look, I like Paul McCartney...but for me, that pretty-much stops at his music. And I find his more recent music is rather difficult to listen to. It's almost as if he's patting himself on the back with songs like "That Was Me" (as if he's telling people today that he was a big star way back when). His recent songs are produced in a sort-of gloomy, deeply-serious sort of manner. (Macca gone 'industrial'?) His music has really changed since he lost his first wife, Linda. Rumor has it Paul's been seeking out young record producers in an effort to make his records sound more trendy, and while that may or may not be working, there is a certain ebullience that just seems to be missing from his music.
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In a lot of his newer music, he seems to hint at a certain despair and disillusionment...sure, I don't blame him for feeling that way; look at the whole Heather fiasco he's undergone the last few years. Yeah, maybe it's just me, not wanting things to change; I realize that. But if you compare any of his last few albums ("Driving Rain", "Chaos and Creation" or "Memory Almost Full" with 1995's "Flaming Pie" (the last album he made before Linda's passing), it's almost as if Paul is a Completely Different Person these days. A certain tenderness and melodic flair just seems to be missing from his music, as if the death of Linda has affected him ever since, no matter how hard he tries to shake it off and keep going.

Something that exasperates me is the ceaseless manner in which McCartney markets himself, as if he's a struggling musician just starting out with All The Forces In The World Against Him. Being a Beatles collector from way back when, of course I'm going to buy anything new he creates. I'm a big fan, after all. That includes finding 7" singles from England and Europe that have B-sides not featured anywhere else. That includes, for instance, the live 4-track album he recorded at a record store in Los Angeles which does feature a 'live' version of "That Was Me", without the dry production of the studio version, and as such, the 'live' version is MUCH better. Fresher. You know, exciting. Like the Beatles used to be.

Along with Paul's constant self-promotion, he continues to issue So Much Product that I can barely keep up with it. Case in Point: When I bought my copy of his latest, "Memory Almost Full"...his first album issued on the label operated by Starbucks'... I waited until I could buy the non-Starbucks version that featured three extra tracks, thinking that I was a True Fan 'cos I waited for 3 songs that maybe that many people haven't heard. The 2nd disc in the package I bought featured 3 extra songs, plus Paul Himself talking about the making of "Memory Almost Full". Cool, huh? After I bought that, then he issued a deluxe-DELUXE version of that album...which brought the three extra tracks back over to disc 1 following all the other songs in that album, plus a DVD of Paul in Live Performance. Out of Principle, I Will NOT buy that. I've ALREADY bought my copy of the album, you see.

Plus, he's now got a big new CD retrospective out, "The McCartney Years"...which I'm not gonna get 'cos I've already had all of those songs for years, and every time he's toured, a DVD of the tour comes out, and I don't bother with those, either. I have a 1990 VHS of him in concert, and most of it consisted of tired-sounding re-hashings of Beatles and Wings stuff. (I got it second-hand for a dollar, and was fairly disappointed with it.) If you want an idea of things that motivate McCartney, I think there's a fair amount of ego involved...for example, remember when he drew the wrath of critics and listeners when he tried to change the writers' credits on some of the Beatles' songs he did in concert from "Lennon-McCartney" to "McCartney-Lennon"? And maybe that's what keeps Paul Going...an Ego that Cannot Be Abated.

But here's the thing that Really Weirds Me Out...I read recently, that NOW that everyone on the planet has bought one version or the other of "Memory Almost Full", HE'S NOW GIVING THE ALBUM AWAY with an upcoming issue of an British Newspaper, "The Mail". And I'm beginning to think one of two things. 1. Paul McCartney is losing his MIND, or, 2. He is doing everything he can to stay waaaay up there in the public's eye. For sure, he wouldn't have done that BEFORE the album's general release...he had to make sufficient funds so he wouldn't have to dip into his multi-million dollar bank account too deeply to finance his divorce from Heather, which will be finalized next week. I think Heather got $47 million...not sure if "Memory Almost Full" sold that much. Maybe, maybe not...

Why I become exasperated with McCartney is because he doesn't have to try that hard anymore. We All Know Who He Is. I firmly believe he is scared to slow down, like some demon waay back there in his subconscious Just Won't Let Him Stop. I almost feel sorry for him; I can't help but think sometimes that Music Stars such as McCartney are not fully appreciated in this modern-day age of selective downloading, where if you don't like a song on an album, you can leave it off...which is sad, 'cos back in the day, if you didn't like a certain song at first, after a few plays, maybe you came to like that song after all. That happens to me all the time. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really listening anymore, and I just don't know. And perhaps stars such as McCartney aren't really taken all that seriously anymore, no matter how hard they try to promote themselves.

I think one has to look at the issue this way: Paul's Beatles fame began over 45 YEARS ago. He managed to put Wings together in the '70s and had a fantastic run with that band. Even in the 80s, he had some fame (No matter how much I hear "Ebony and Ivory", I never get tired of it), but in the mid-80s, all of a sudden he seemed to disappear from the map. Later on, I found out he'd issued albums such as "Press To Play" (not a very good album) and "Flowers In The Dirt" (not a bad record) and "Off The Ground" (which is also a decent disc). And I went out and bought those. Finally, his "Flaming Pie" album, from 1995, just flat out blew me away...that is one good record! And then Linda died, and you know the rest...I can't help but think to myself that Time Is Finally Passing Paul McCartney by. Sure, he still has talent; sure, he can still sing and compose, but changing times are at long last leaving him in the dust, as it does all of us, and there's nothing he can do about it...and it's kinda painful watching him try to turn back the clock.

And now Paul's gonna be going out on an exhausting World Tour soon. I wonder what goes thru his mind as he sings "I Saw Her Standing There" for the 87 millionth time...personally, I think he just wants to be Out There Doing It...and sure, he's doing what he loves (either that or it's that 'ego thing' that drives him, ; but he doesn't have to try so hard, and watching him trying to stay current really raises a lot of mixed emotions within me. Were I in Paul's position, I'd just kinda gracefully cut back; appear at the odd benefit here and there, sort of be a gracious musical benefactor to up and coming talent (if they wanted to have anything to do with me at all...one current faceless English rock artiste actually turned DOWN an offer to work with McCartney)...but more than anything, I'd just slow down and enjoy life as much as I can, something that Paul just has never seemed to do all that much.

As much as I hate to say it, I can't help but think it...Paul, you're largely Yesterday's News. And as part of the generation that grew up with the Beatles, I am yesterday's news, too, as are all of us baby-boomers, who are Younger Than You. And Paul, every time you put out new music, I'll buy it. No problem there. You're a great musician and still a good singer, but Paul...You Are A Senior Citizen Now. I admire you for being young at heart and Still Wanting To Play. I'm a musician, and musicians Always Want To Play. But Paul...you've gotta realize that it's just not the same world anymore. And you're beginning to look kinda desperate as you Continually Try To Market Yourself. Get back to producing your own records, Paul...and be yourself, not some image to be manipulated by current tastes (as the following photo demonstrates)...


A recent publicity photo...Paul, you don't really have to keep on doing this to yourself any more...this isn't you...
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I'm glad the Beatles came along, and they still sound great. And after the Beatles, Paul's recorded a lots of great stuff. But the ceaseless marching of time rends us all irrevelant after a while, and it's getting to the point where the Magical Mystery Tour is approaching its last few scheduled runs. Too bad Strawberry Fields aren't Forever...

2 Comments:

Blogger Brett said...

Well, you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I have to disagree. I think McCartney has made some of the best music of his solo career since Linda's death. He has lost none of his "melodic flair" as you describe it (Jenny Wren? Vintage Clothes? Feet in the Clouds?). And yes, his music has become more ruminative and melancholy, but I think that only adds more depth to his work which wasn't there before. And I don't see where you're getting the idea that he's marketing himself to be hip. I haven't seen him on MTV shilling for the TRL crowd, nor have I seen him on big national shows such as Oprah or the Today Show. He also had an opportunity last year to promote Memory Almost Full on American Idol, but he turned it down (unlike other aging stars such as Neil Diamond, Prince, and Bon Jovi). It seems to me his marketing has been pretty modest compared to the standards of contemporary, "hip" artists. Oh well, I guess we just see things differently.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

I don't like the PRODUCTION of McCartney's newest music...it's all flat...McCartney's trying his best to sound like one of the so-called angst-filled performers of today, and I can't help it if I hear him trying to be a totally different-sounding musician these days. I also don't like the way he MASS-markets himself...albums, deluxe versions of albums, and then deluxe-deluxe versions of albums, and what does he expect? Someone to drool over what he does so much that they'll buy every single thing he puts out on the market, no matter how much it duplicates what he's issued before? I firmly believe he can't let himself stop; he can't assume his place in history; he can't be a gracious benefactor of music; I fully expect to see him on Austin City Limits along with the current musical nobodies who seem to fill up that program...Paul has lost a certain 'ebullience' in his approach, which fits right in with the mechanical, gloomy, wan, detached sort-of sound that seems to be so commonplace these days. We not only see things differently, we obvious hear them differently as well. Paul doesn't need to appear on Oprah or 'Today'; but He Has appeared on Oprah before (in 1996)...and he's certainly not above that. He's trying to sound current; why else would he hire young producers who seem to specialize in a sub-U2 dark gloomy sound that seems to be encroaching on his music? "Oh, McCartney's now being produced by so-and-so, so I'll bet he now sounds as good as 9 inch nails!!!", today's young music buyers must be thinking to themselves. In a way, I kinda think Paul is selling out.

8:29 PM  

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