You can grouse all you want about how Paul McCartney graduated from the Beatles only to become one of the world’s biggest purveyors of pure treacle, but that’s being unfair. Sure, I would gladly dunk my head in a pail of skunk piss to avoid hearing “Let ‘Em In” and “Silly Love Songs,” and that goes double for “Ebony and Ivory” and “Listen to What the Man Said.” You’re free to disagree, but I am of the belief that all four of the aforementioned songs are enough to disprove widely held assumptions about the continuing progress of the human species.
But. But! During the course of his long post-Beatles career the most lachrymose member of the Fab Four has bequeathed us some of the catchiest songs—I’m talking about “Band on the Run,” “Jet,” “Smile Away,” “Rock Show,” “Live and Let Die,” “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” etc.—you’ll ever hear. All of them may be lightweights, but they can knock out just about anything in their class.
Bottom line? I am of the opinion that Sir Paul’ genius resides in his amazing ability to overcome his natural predilection towards producing pure pap for soft rock people. There’s no denying that the old boy has demonstrated an uncanny capacity for recording horseshit, but he’s simply too talented to let his worst instincts completely overwhelm his facility at turning out irresistible melodies. And it could be his love for pot, but he also has a strange but likeable tendency towards the downright surreal.
Take Ram, his 1971 collaboration with wife Linda. True, Ram may not be representative of McCartney’s overall output, as it doesn’t include a single insufferable song, although “Long Haired Lady” comes flirtatiously close. On the other hand, “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is a brilliant pastiche and predecessor to the landmark “Band on the Run,” and while I laugh at it I also love it more than I did my dear old grandma, the insufferable prick. Just listen to it! The falling rain! The sound of thunder! That wonderful megaphone! That posh English accent! The inimitable Marvin Stamm’s magic flugelhorn! The talk of pies! And I could go on! But you get the idea.