NO SUCH THING AS SILLY LOVE SONGS
as Norman Warwick learns from American Songwriter.
I wasn´t sure what to make of Macca at Glasto (left). Granted I only saw his performance on the television, but despite the cleverness of the technology behind the Beatles footage being played on giant screens around the arena and the breaking of all Glastonbury records in the size of the crowd, the gig looked a bit laboured.
The fans looked a middle to old-age sort of crowd, rather than any 18-30 holiday gathering, but Paul seemed to be having to rely on his famous, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, thumbs up means of communication to hold their attention between songs. He was gracious in his acknowledgement of the late John Lennon and George Harrison, two colleagues of course in his Beatle days. although I don´t recall Ringo (Starr) being name-checked at all. Paul McCartney had chosen an eclectic set-list, although it did contain many crowd-pleasers, and the band surrounding him tonight were all fine musicians, with especially excellent electric guitar and percussion, heavily disguised, and nearly concealed, the toll all this took on his voice. The energy of Get Back, the protracted nahna nah nanana naahs were backed by the crowd too, and so, too, were Yesterday, Silly Love Songs and a couple of others that reminded us how long, and well, Macca has endured since,…..Christ, it has been more thasn fifty years.
So, it must have been bitter-sweet to be able to play some of all those Lennon and McCartney, (or was it McCartney and Lennon ?) songs that have aged so well in that half a century. That he could zoom, in film, to George and Ringo, and that he could even, through the modern wonders of technology, create a duet vocal performance with John must have been incredibly moving for him.
There was a nod from the former mop-top. who has recently become an octogenarian. to new kids on the block, as he invited two younger guest stars to the stage to play alongside him
Dave Grohl a founder member of The Foo Fighters is only 53 but was clearly proud and thrilled to be there and he and Bruce Springsteen (right, with McCartney) drove along this segment of the show. I´ve got to be honest and say I like the sound of this kid,…. I think he could be the future of rock and roll,… he is, after all, only 73.
Macca´s show was as good as anything else delivered at Glastonbury 2022, and better than most. It was well received, too, and his band had lent their vast talents and energy to the live performance but the tv cameras, and even the mobile phones, didn´t miss the tears of nostalgia in his eyes and his sheer pride and joy of recalling when he Saw Her Standing There. We and he were reminded by more recent footage of Wings, clearly illustrating that his post-Beatles life and career has been pretty Stella too.
On stage here, though, even with his current great line up of backing musicians. he must have also been aware that he was looking back at what Tom Paxton might have called ´when the wine was better than ever again´ and what The Boss would perhaps have dubbed as the Glory Days.
Post-Beatles, McCartney’s solo, and Wings catalogue started filling up with more loving hits like “Maybe I’m Amazed” and Red Rose Speedway single “My Love.” Eventually, Macca started to get some criticism for his soppier song-writing. “Over the years people have said, ‘Aw, he sings love songs,’” said Paul McCartney. “‘He writes love songs. He’s so soppy at times… Well, I know what they mean, but, people have been doing love songs forever. I like ’em. Other people like ’em, and there’s a lot of people I love. I’m lucky enough to have that in my life. So the idea was that ‘you’ may call them silly, but what’s wrong with that?”
Reportedly , Bran Wilson´s track God Only Knows, left) written for The Beach Boys remains McCartney´s first offering, whenever asked, if his favourite love song.
As a rebuttal to all the love song “haters”—even John Lennon—McCartney wrote “Silly Love Songs” and released it as the lead single off Wings’ fifth album Wings at the Speed of Sound.
You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs
But I look around me
And I see it isn’t so
Some people want to fill the world
With silly love songs
And what’s wrong with that?
I’d like to know
Cos here I go again
Lennon was very outspoken about McCartney’s music, and when he dismissed Paul for writing mostly “silly love songs,” McCartney responded by writing more of them.
“The fact is, deep down, people are very sentimental,” added McCartney. “If they watch a sentimental movie at home, they cry, but in public, they won’t. We don’t like to show our emotions; we tend to sneer at that. And in the same way, people may not admit to liking love songs, but that’s what they seem to crave.”
The Brian Wilson-penned 1966 Beach Boys’ hit “God Only Knows” is McCartney’s favorite song, and “Silly Love Songs” has subtle references to it, sonically, with the multi-vocal parts and a horn section.
Like many of McCartney’s more love-filled tracks, “Silly Love Songs” had a deeper meaning and the lyrics ultimately reveal a love song from Paul to his wife Linda, who also appears in the video.
“I’m looking at love not from the perspective of ‘boring old love,’” said McCartney, elaborating on the meaning behind his love songs. “I’m looking at it like when you get married and have a baby. That’s pretty strong: it’s something deeper. For me, that’s what always makes me write the next love song– that I love it. I don’t mind being sentimental, I love the old movies. I’ve never been too ashamed of all that stuff.”
Ah, I can’t explain
The feeling’s plain to me
Now can’t you see?
Ah, she gave me more
She gave it all to me
Now can’t you see?
What’s wrong with that?
I need to know
Cos here I go again
“Silly Love Songs” marked McCartney’s 27th number one as a songwriter, a record for the most No. 1 hits by a songwriter. The song peaked at the No. 1 on the Hot 100, where it remained for five weeks, and also made McCartney the first artist with year-end No. 1 hits with two separate acts—The Beatles and Wings.
Wings recorded “Silly Love Songs” live for their triple live album, Wings Over America, and in 1984 Paul McCartney re-recorded “Silly Love Songs” for the soundtrack to the Peter Webb-directed British drama Give My Regards to Broad Street, also starring the McCartney’s and Ringo Starr. Despite the popularity of the song, McCartney has never played it live since Wings ended in 1981.
Love doesn’t come in a minute
Sometimes it doesn’t come at all
I only know that when I’m in it,
It isn’t silly, no, it isn’t silly,
Love isn’t silly at all
“The song was, in a way, to answer people who just accuse me of being soppy,” said McCartney. “The nice payoff now is that a lot of the people I meet who are at the age where they’ve just got a couple of kids and have grown up a bit, settling down, they’ll say to me, ‘I thought you were really soppy for years, but I get it now. I see what you were doing.’”
NME published perhaps the most positive review I saw of McCartney´s Glastonbury gig, saying
Pyro! Fireworks! Dave Grohl! Bruce Springsteen! A virtual duet with John Lennon! Sir Paul McCartney takes no chances with his second-ever Pyramid Stage headline slot, one week after he marked his 80th trip around the sun. People talk about ‘Glastonbury moments’: Macca’s joy bonanza of a set is packed with at least – at least – half a dozen of them, including the audience spontaneously singing him ‘Happy Birthday’ and later taking over the universal ‘Hey Jude’ refrain. “I love that sound,” Paul beams. After all those years, you’re left with little doubt that he really does.
Last night (June 24), 20-year-old Billie Eilish kicked down the door for Gen Z, opening the festival up to a whole new generation of performers capable of topping the bill. Tonight, McCartney, a man six decades her senior – the artist who invented modern pop; whose work in The Beatles, she told NME in our latest cover story, “raised” her – brings things full-circle. It’s the last night of his Got Back tour – its title a nod to Get Back, the 2021 Peter Jackson documentary that reconfirmed his genius – and Macca squeezes magic from every single moment, shouting out the “magnetic ley lines of Glastonbury”.
After opening with ‘Can’t Buy Me Love,’ he promises “some old songs, some new songs, some in-betweeners”, then spends the front portion of the show teasing with Wings tunes – including the Liquorice Pizza-rejuvenated ‘Let Me Roll It’ – and offering a potted history of the Beatles through song. This starts with the Quarrymen’s ‘In Spite Of All The Danger’ and winds up at ‘Here Today’, the song he wrote in the wake of John Lennon’s death. “This is in the form of a letter I never got to write to him,” Paul explains. “If you wanna tell someone you love them… don’t wait.”
He’s fond of story time, is Paul: he spends the first 40 minute of the set punctuating the songs with endearingly aimless-seeming anecdotes that he drifts in and out of; you worry that the tale of his friendship with Jimi Hendrix could outlast the festival. You can’t argue with the tunes, though: ‘Blackbird’, ‘Lady Madonna’ and under-appreciated randy banger ‘Fuh You’. The helter-skelter-style sense of a steady climb that’s about to lead to a dizzying rush is halted only when a dubious music video of Johnny Depp accompanies ‘My Valentine’ – a song Paul wrote for his wife Nancy, released in 2011 – and cools the atmosphere somewhat. Yet this is soon followed by solo classic ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’; as effective a recovery as you could imagine.
From then on it’s an absolutely bonkers race through ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’, a slip of George Harrison’s ‘Something’ – played on a ukulele gifted to him by George, no less – and Paul’s promise that “I’ve got a little surprise here for you”. This leads him to introduce “My friend; your hero – from the West Coast of America… Dave Grohl!” And so you find yourself watching Dave Grohl grinning through ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, in the place where John Lennon once stood, just months after he lost his own musical soulmate, Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins. When Grohl tells Macca that he “would never miss being right here with you” and The Beatle replies, “Love you”, it’s a real heart-in-throat moment.
That would have done, to be honest. But just in case there was a sense that McCartney hasn’t quite risen to the occasion, he promises “another surprise for ya – from the East Coast of America; New Jersey” and Bruce Springsteen casually strolls onstage to roll through his own ‘Glory Days’ and The Beatles’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’. Springsteen meanders back offstage and Macca shrugs, “There ya go – a couple of little surprises for ya,” before settling down at the piano for ‘Let It Be’, an all-in fireworks and flames display for ‘Live and Let Die’ and the ‘Hey Jude’ that literally everyone in this field has been waiting for since at least Thursday.
‘Hey Jude’ continues to ring out from the audience after he’s left the stage, before Paul returns for one last Glastonbury moment: a tech-enabled duet with rooftop-era John, who appears in the form of Get Back clips on the screens either side of the stage and – thanks to strings pulled by Peter Jackson – helps to deliver a heart-bursting rendition of ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ via the magic of isolated vocals. Maybe there’s something in those Glastonbury ley lines after all.
“That is so special for me, man,” Paul says of the duet. “I know it’s virtual, but come on – it’s John. We’re back together.” Bowing out after a Grohl and Springsteen-assisted ‘Abbey Road’ medley, the 80-year-old goes over his billed time by a good 30 mins, having thrown absolutely everything he has – which is saying something for an actual Beatle – at Glastonbury 2022, sounding like a man who, frankly, knows he might not do this again. Macca was preceded on the line-up by Noel Gallagher, who famously told the audience at Oasis’ seminal Knebworth Park show in 1996: “This is history.” So was this.
Paul McCartney played:
‘Can’t Buy Me Love’
‘Got to Get You Into My Life’
‘Let Me Roll It’
‘Let ‘Em In’
‘Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five’
‘Maybe I’m Amazed’
‘I’ve Just Seen a Face’
‘In Spite of All the Danger’
Love Me Do
‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’
‘You Never Give Me Your Money’
‘She Came in Through the Bathroom Window’
‘I Saw Her Standing There’
‘Band on the Run’
‘I Wanna Be Your Man’
‘Let It Be’
‘Live and Let Die’
‘I’ve Got a Feeling’
‘Carry That Weight’
please note logo The prime source for this article was a review published in the NME,
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photo npw This article was collated by Norman Warwick, a weekly columnist with Lanzarote Information and owner and editor of this daily blog at Sidetracks And Detours.
Norman (right) has also been a long serving broadcaster, co-presenting the weekly all across the arts programme on Crescent Community Radio for many years with Steve Bewick, and his own show on Sherwood Community Radio. He has been a regular guest on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio Four.
As a published author and poet Norman was a founder member of Lendanear Music, with Colin Lever and Just Poets with Pam McKee, Touchstones Creative Writing Group (for which he was creative writing facilitator for a number of years) with Val Chadwick and all across the arts with Robin Parker.
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