By Graeme Denhoff-Ball
Around five years ago, I wished death upon Sir Paul McCartney. This wasn't a personal vendetta. It wasn't pent up rage or resentment that John and George perished before he. I wasn't a deranged Rolling Stones fan bemoaning the injustices of Beatles pre-eminence. And no, I wasn't in the midst of Catcher in the Rye. In fact, it came from a place of compassion.
The Beatles are arguably my favourite band of all-time, and are undoubtedly the greatest. Paul is a hero, an icon, a legend. So why the ill wishes? Well, it was just that, at that point, I thought Paul's death would be merciful. Poor old Paul had outlived his good years. He was caught in a world he seemed to no longer understand. His first wife Linda had been dead for close to a decade, and he was embroiled in a very public, very acrimonious divorce with Heather Mills.
It was time. The train had already left the station and Paul was still on the platform. Quite frankly, Paul was lost, you could see it in his eyes. He'd sought out love in all the wrong places and got smashed to bits. I didn't wish him pain or suffering - he'd had enough of that already.
And so I thought, die, Sir Paul, die. Kick the bucket and join that heavenly choir - they've saved a spot for you. You'll be a God (or more of one anyway). Your legacy will be (nearly) unmatched. Rest assured Paul, all that uncontested revere John is given, you'll have it too, and all the arduousness of the 2000s will be forgotten.
As time passed, like most of my musings, this semi-certifiable tirade got lost in the abyss that is my psyche. However, in the summer of 2012, Macca jumped back into the spotlight, and my long forgotten diatribe came rushing back. In June he closed the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and in July he concluded the opening ceremony to the Olympics. I chose to ignore his return, but I was bombarded with his presence more and more, as friends were raving about his tour performances and posting the pictures on Facebook. Nevertheless, I remained impervious.
Then in mid-December of last year, something happened that I couldn't ignore. Macca was to be joining Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and tour regular Pat Smear in a Nirvana reunion. And not only that, aside from Grohl, Sir Paul didn't even know who they were! This was heresy. Paul had fallen off the rails and was dragging the legacy of pop music's other deities with him.
When the video went up on YouTube, I couldn't resist any longer, I had to see this mockery from the man long past his prime. I wondered what he would open with. Would he even remember the words to Kurt's songs? If it was It Smells Like Teen Spirit, I decided I wouldn't watch. There is no way I could resolve to listen to a 70-year-old man sing the song about teenage angst in the 90s. Even if he was a Beatle.
To my surprise, they didn't play anything from Nevermind, nor nary a title from In Utero. They played their own song, a song that they had jammed out in a studio session just prior. And... it was good, damn good. With my curiosity piqued, I dug a little deeper. It turns out this was a charity gig, not some bombastic farce aimed at procuring a little more of the limelight. I had jumped straight to conclusions about this Nirvana reunion, especially one with Macca at the helm.
And so I watched McCartney's other high profile appearances too. His voice isn't quite the pinnacle of melodic beauty it once was, but I'll be damned if he didn't hit pitch on those falsetto crescendos. And while he did have a bit of a gaffe starting the Olympic set, there are few people around the whole who can inspire three generations of people to recite the lyrics to one of their songs.
Some people had the audacity to ridicule the fact that Hey Jude was 'played out', but should Paul apologise for the world having loved his music so much that they listened to it a few too many times? I think not. Plus, I doubt it was he who insisted on playing the classic tune, more likely the Olympic organisers.
In the end, maybe Macca isn't quite ready to meet his maker. Maybe he's started to figure out this crazy 21st Century world. He's got himself a new wife, one without the high profile and lunacy that plagued his last relationship. The last six months are proof that he's been been resurrected from the desolate despair in which he was languishing just few years ago.
So, here it is Sir Paul, a new lease on life. You have my blessing. Just keep belting out rock and roll music, act naturally, and keep clear of the day trippers. You'll be alright, I'm sure of it.
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