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Did Linda help or hurt McCartney's career?
2 October 2012
4.16am
Into the Sky with Diamonds
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This discussion began on the "Best post-Beatle something or other" and I'm pasting here.

Von Bontee

Wonder if Linda was allowed to perform "Cook Of The House" on that tour?

GeorgeTSimpson

I think linda only sang cook of the house on their final uk tour. She sang seaside woman on all but their two final tours. I wonder why she didn't sing a song solo on the world tour but maybe she did in some concerts

Into the Sky with Diamonds

Linda, may she rest in peace, was a HUGE liability, at least in the U.S. (and perhaps in the rest of the world outside of GB?).

She was really a running joke, which is really a shame considering that she was a classy lady without pretensions (in contradistinction to another Beatle wife.)

Common wisdom had it that her keyboard wasn't connected to anything; probably not true, but quite believable.

She could sing on key, but could hardly be considered "a voice."

Had she sung anything solo in the US, she'd have been booed; really.

As much as I can appreciate McCartney wanting to get his wife involved, and as much as that might have been great for his family life, that was probably his single greatest professional mistake.

paulsbass

Have to strongly disagree here!!

I always loved her voice in combination with Paul (and Denny), and she did very fine on stage!

And she already gave "Let it be" a great edge with the very high harmony.

Wings without Linda??? Inconceivable!!

I'm sure though, that it often was hell for Linda and I have GREAT respect for her cause she went through all that.

It wasn't nice for the rest of the band, either, I think, having to play with a total amateur which happens to be the leader's wife…

But after all they were one if the biggest live acts in the world in 75/76, WITH Linda, so I can't see anything wrong about it in the long run. Even if she wasn't a lot more than a mascot, for some time.

Of course she (almost?) never did a solo vocal. Paul needed her at his side, but he wasn't stupid.

Greatest mistakes:

Pot in suitcase, ending Wings

Give my regards to Broad Street, completely killing off his chart appeal (although the album did fine, but after that he was considered an "oldie" act).

meanmistermustard

Certainly in the beginning she wasnt any good on keyboards (i think she froze the first few times) but as time went on she improved and whilst not being amazing was certainly a decent player. She knew she wasnt great.

However Linda did sing some great songs eg Cook of the House, B-side to Sea Side, Seaside Woman, Oriental Nightfish, and her duet with Paul, I Am Your Singer, is a real highlight of Wild Life.

Give me Linda over Yoko any day.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

If you're listening to McCartney's '70s songs for the first time, and it's the 21st century, I suppose this falls into the "who cares?" category. You either like a given song or you don't; you don't really care who the woman singing is.

But if you're wondering why McCartney's reputation and popularity took a major nosedive from which it's never recovered, then it becomes a relevant issue.(Yes, fortunately for McCartney there are still millions of people who love him, buy his music, and go to his concerts, including yours truly.)

When McCartney chose to put Linda in his band, he was essentially saying, "I'm not even going to try to compete with my former band; and to prove it, I'm not bringing my A game to the table. My photographer wife is going to be the female voice on my records."

For many of his former fans, the reaction was, "well screw you too; see if we ever listen to any of your albums again." Then he writes "My Love," "Silly Love Songs" .... And a zillion Beatle fans have never given McCartney a chance since.

If you contrast that with Lennon, well yes, I'll take Linda over Yoko every day of the year, but as far as Lennon was concerned he WAS trying to bring his A game to the table in the form of Yoko..

And George was definitely bringing his A game - and was smart enough to leave his wife at home; which is why in the immediate aftermath of the break-up, George was the clear winner.

 

 

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
2 October 2012
4.51am
linkjws
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Hm, I was not alive to know the reaction at the time of Linda being in Wings, but even today it seems to be a gag to people.  I like Linda, I don't think she has a great voice but she was good for Paul.  Truthfully, after the nosedive that was The Beatles break-up, Linda was the most helpful thing to happen to Paul's career.  Her voice can be a little abrasive to me (Long Haired Lady makes me grit my teeth) and maybe her piano wasn't plugged in who knows. But, without her would we have some of the beautiful music Paul made after The Beatles?  So really, she helped in my opinion.

 John and Yoko is a whole different conversation that could easily pull this topic off subject, and George brought his A-game but also lost Pattie Boyd....haha. but he did make some amazing music and grew spiritually.

2 October 2012
12.59pm
GeorgeTSimpson
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I think linda helped paul's career wings are definitely one of my favourite bands (next to the beatles). I don't think her voice was great but she sings her parts in silly love songs awesomely. I don't think she was very useful on paul's 90's tour, except on some songs

Once there was a way to get back homewards. Once there was a way to get back home; sleep pretty darling do not cry. And I will sing a lullaby
2 October 2012
2.53pm
Von Bontee
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Like Paulsbass stated, the moral support that Linda provided was immeasurable - just like John in his early solo days, it seems that Paul wouldn't have wanted to make music without his wife by his side. Musically, I don't think Linda made enough of a contribution in total to do any harm. It's not as though she was taking away half the solo spotlight as on the John & Yoko albums. Commercially, you can't argue with the many millions of albums that Wings sold. And any critical backlash that Paul may have received in the early years was probably compounded by the fact that the first couple of Wings albums and singles were such weak efforts. (And of course "Ram" was considered the same way, although it wasn't a Wings album.) I don't think there's any question that his Paul's credibility took a hit at first, but it really didn't matter in the long run. Maybe "Band on the Run" would've sold 11 million copies instead of only 10 million if Linda wasn't part of the band?

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
2 October 2012
3.50pm
meanmistermustard
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To me Paul was saying "i love my wife and kids and want, and need, to be with them all the time". The time of wives not being part of the music was long gone after John brought Yoko into the beatles sessions. After the split Paul took it his way and it was to hell with the critics.

In the beginning it looked a bad decision that put many peoples noses out of joint (reportedly including some in Wings) but in the beginning Wings were a very loose band anyway. Paul took them on the tours of student halls and far away European countries so they could work out their sound, far enough away from the UK and US media so they wouldnt be ripped to death before Wings had even began (begun?). Its not Linda that ruins the songs i dont like.

As i wrote elsewhere to me Wings and Paul werent any less because of Linda, i like Man We Was Lonely from Macca 1 and think Linda's voice works well on it and the same with many of the other tracks she is on. Her piano parts where always simple and its not like Paul made her out to be some incredible musician or she thought she was - if anything most of the time she was wondering what the heck she was doing on stage.

 

So to answer the question 'Did Linda help or hurt McCartney's career?' - she helped by giving him the balls and confidence to quit drinking, get back in the studio, make some music (not always great music admittedly), and get on the road. (To take one of Johns themes towards Yoko and use it here) If we're going to knock Linda for being in the band can we give her the credit for there being a band in the first place?

 

As for Yoko, John loved her and believed that her sound was something new and amazing. To me he was wrong and at times came across as patronising in his stance that we didnt like it because we didnt get it and werent big enough to get past that. No John, I dont like it because im listening to a woman who cant sing and usually resorted to yelping, shrieking and wailing whilst guitars played out of tune. Or even bloody worse did it whilst you were singing.

At least Linda was in the background more times than not and wasnt quoting recipes over Paul singing Jet; scrap that i dont like Jet.

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2 October 2012
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SatanHimself
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I agree completely.  While Linda was a muse and helped ground Paul, Yoko (in my opinion at least) sucked away a lot of John's creativity by involving him with her endless output of music between 1970-1974.  Two albums released (and one shelved) and two of them were massive double-albums, both clocking in at over 90 minutes each.

 

You can't tell me that all the time John devoted to the recording, playing and producing of these (admittedly interesting) monstrosities wouldn't have been better spent crafting his own music.  In the midst of her seemingly endless output, John released 'Mind Games' which, while it does have a few great songs on it, is mostly weak.

 

And let us not forget that 3 weeks before his death, 'Double Fantasy' was released to ho-hum reviews.  Instead of one strong Lennon album, we got 7 strong Lennon tracks and 7 pieces of filler from Yoko.  After his death is when the reviews began glowing, but the fact remains that most people who enjoy DF probably skip Yoko's cuts for the most part. 

E is for 'Ergent'.
2 October 2012
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Von Bontee
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Well, not me

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
2 October 2012
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SatanHimself
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I said "most".  It's understandable that a good chunk of us here listen to the whole thing, warts and all.  Hell, I actually own a good chunk of Yoko's albums, like the masochist I am.

E is for 'Ergent'.
2 October 2012
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The Walrus
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She wasn't a strong vocalist, but she wasn't involved enough to make or break Paul's career- or at least, it doesn't sound like that on the records, I imagine she was constantly in the studio but when it comes down to it we can't hear that.

The support she gave Paul probably balances out any negative direct effects on the music.

Yoko is getting way too much hate- I usually skip most of her contributions to DF/M&H, and I'm not inclined to seek out her solo output, but could Linda have written and sang a song as good as "We're All Water"?

And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time
2 October 2012
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SatanHimself
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It's incredibly easy to armchair-quarterback when it comes to Yoko.  She really is such an easy target, but to be fair she did bring most of it on herself.  Not just with her music, but with a lot of the ways she conducted herself over the years.

E is for 'Ergent'.
2 October 2012
8.28pm
Zig
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Whether or not Linda ever sang or played one note, I say she helped Paul's career. He was already an amazing musician/songwriter, so that is not the type of help I am referring to. A few upthread have mentioned she was his muse (perhaps not strong enough a word) and she inspired many great songs.

I did not know a whole lot about her as a person, but was very sad when she passed. The more I read/hear about her, the more I like her.

The Walrus said
could Linda have written and sang a song as good as "We're All Water"?

Great song - I grow tired of the shrieking at the end quickly, but the lyrics are very clever. Whenever I sit down to listen to that album, this song is one that I really look forward to.

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

Every Little Thing you buy from Amazon or iTunes will help the Beatles Bible if you use these links: Amazon | iTunes

3 October 2012
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Into the Sky with Diamonds
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Good points.

I suppose that in my desire to be concise I didn't quite express myself well.

Linda was clearly a big help in the post-breakup days. She was his rock, she was his muse, she was his companion, she put him in the right frame of mind, and she got him to do what he's always done best: write and perform.

So yes, in that sense she was definitely a plus for his career.

And yes, I completely understand his successes through the 70s - I contributed to them as much as any fan could!

My question really is "Did Linda's presence in Paul's band help or hurt his career?"

And my feeling is that it harmed it.

She could have done all those great things without being pushed to fore as lead female singer and performance keyboardist.

It was embarrassing; in the days after the breakup, Paul's fan base largely evaporated. (To his credit, he created a new one.) What you see at the concerts are the remaining 5% of his original fans (+all the new ones).

It would be like the world's most famous basketball coach deciding that his wife will be the assistant coach when her only experience is a little basketball in high school. Many people just aren't going to take him seriously any more and will cease to follow him on Twitter. In time, of course, if he keeps winning no one will remember or care that for a few years his wife - now deceased - was the Assistant Coach.

As a teenager growing up in NY in the '60s, everyone around me was a Beatles fan. By the time I was in college in the early '70s there wasn't a single McCartney fan around me - and I kinda had to keep it to myself or explain "that he's really not that bad!"  To this day, among all my relatives, friends, acquaintances and co-workers I only know one single unabashed McCartney fan. (This of course is why I enjoy being on this site, though ironically, here I think I come off as being just a so-so fan.) But it's really a shame, because this all started when it became apparent that Linda would be an integral part of his band. People were willing to give peace a chance, but once Linda was on board no one was willing to give Macca a chance. To me that explains in part the horrid responses to Ram and other excellent releases.

So regardless of how many hits he had or how many records he sold, yes I think he could have been an even bigger presence through the '70s, '80s. When people talk of the big stars of the '70s, how often does the name McCartney come up. Never in any paper or magazine (maybe in Great Britain?). So he got the numbers but he rarely got the respect.

In short, Linda was a classy lady who was an enormous help at a difficult time. But I don't think she or Paul benefited from her having such a visible role in his band.

I'm guessing a number of you will disagree.

"Into the Sky with Diamonds" (the Beatles and the Race to the Moon – a history)
3 October 2012
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linkjws
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I wish I was alive to see the shift in perception that occurred.  I am gathering that as far as public relations go, he lost a lot of fans by involving Linda to such a degree, but I don't know what her contributions truly were.  I remember learning somewhere that McCartney said she wrote the bridge to "Live and Let Die", and helped on a bit of his work.  Also, that early on the publishing companies thought they were claiming she was "writing" to collect a higher royalty.  I need to source this though...so in those ways you could say she helped maybe?  Not that he probably needed too much help on the song writing end of things.  

In the live setting, I have no idea if she helped or not.  Its always been the "Paul Show", even with Wings, so ultimately as I said her keyboard could be unplugged but it doesn't matter.  He already took the dive of her being there, why unplug it?  

In the end, I think she hurt his image, but he figured "I'm Paul McCartney". a-hard-days-night-paul-11  That would end just about any argument in my mind 

3 October 2012
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meanmistermustard
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Fanbase at the time i would say yes, i remember reading the same kind of thing elsewhere, but now i dont thing people are that bothered. If anything Ram, which Linda was given co-composer on many of the tracks, is now one of the fans favourites and critics have warmed to despite the initial backlash and lambasting. (How much she actually contributed is open to debate: equal co-writes (personally i doubt it), more in line with Ringo's contribution to What Goes On; nothing at all and it was for the royalties, or for all i know she was like Columbo's wife who would talk on endlessly whilst Paul was doodling and somewhere in there would be the crucial key).

Musically i'd need to listen to the bootlegs of live recordings from the early shows to hear what Wings were producing on stage. Its far more difficult with the official records as they are ingrained in my brain. Hearing new material might help in that. Based on the music Paul released in Wings, well he had that habit of indulgence and under produced before Linda came along. Being in the Beatles and having John, the George's and Ringo helped keep it more balanced, be it sharpening up the lyrics, giving tunes a kick (or rejecting them outright), and simply by their own tracks being on the albums.

 

As for did Paul give two hoots? A massive no.

The decison might have cost him his original fan base and resulted in press contempt but concerts were selling out in '73, the albums did improve, the press turned with the release of Band on the Run, and new fans found the music. Plus he can always say the band werent that hot anyway in the beginning. By the time of Silly Love Songs (seemily a gripe among folks tho i dont get why) Wings were the one of the hottest bands around and selling out us arena's. Thats what Paul will look at.

It got to the point where in 1977 EMI altered the Beatles Love Songs cover to bring Paul's image to the front due to the success he was having with Wings.

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
3 October 2012
8.43pm
Zig
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Into the Sky with Diamonds said
Good points.

I suppose that in my desire to be concise I didn't quite express myself well.

Actually, I thought you expressed yourself very well. I too am old enough to remember the crap heaved Paul's way when he included Linda in the band. I also understand that his rep (for lack of a better term) took a hit.

For my bit, I did not find Linda's presence to be a hindrance. To this day I never understood why people had such a hard time with it. If he just wanted her to sit on stage and knit sweaters, that is his business. Being a gazillion-bazillionaire already certainly helped his cause, but kudos to Paul for caring more about his wife than how the public viewed his decision.

I am proud to be part of the "5%" that hung in there with Paul. a-hard-days-night-paul-8

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

Every Little Thing you buy from Amazon or iTunes will help the Beatles Bible if you use these links: Amazon | iTunes

3 October 2012
9.29pm
Von Bontee
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I dunno...I still say that, musically, Paul did himself no favours in the early '70s. Surely he could've chosen better singles than "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb"! (But hey: Maybe it was LINDA who advised him to release those two! That makes it her fault after all.)

But there's so many factors and niggling little questions involved here. Are we talking about his career being damaged critically or commercially? Or both? Did Linda's minimal musical contributions make the music better, worse, or have no noticeable effect? Would somebody refuse to buy a Wings album on principle just because of Paul's nepotism? Maybe some of them felt that Paul was forcing Linda to perform against her will, just like Charles Foster Kane ("I don't propose to have myself made ridiculous!") and hated him for THAT? So many variables!

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
3 October 2012
9.31pm
meanmistermustard
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Zig. Do you include the knitting reference as a tap and a wink towards John having Yoko sitting knitting on a Top of the Pops broadcast of Instant Karma? If so kudos for the reference. If not well just ignore this.

 

Mary Had A Little Lamb was more a screw you to all the critics moaning about Give Ireland Back To The Irish (and not Give My Regards To Broad Street as i initially wrote) and it getting banned by the radio stations - "you dont want that well then have some extra bland pop cheese of the highest order based on a crappy kiddies nursery rhyme".  Strangely i'd rather listen to Mary (you can go "la la la la la la la la la" with the rest of Wings) but if examined both are embarrassing smears on his recording legacy. Maybe if he added new lyrics to the backing track of Irish that was released at the time it might be slightly better 

I wouldnt blame Linda however, Yoko rediculously gets hit with everything so why not here as well.

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3 October 2012
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I still find it funny that Perfectionist Paulie (which he was, much to John and George's distain) was willing to anchor basically his whole band with (let's face facts) someone who was, until 1970, a car road trip, belt em out singer. He could have gotten anyone (he's Paul fucking McCartney - anyone would have agreed to join, but he chose Linda. She's a great person, and I don't deny she was a great muse for Paul, but you can't tell me he picked the best available female singer. He didn't care about doing everything as awesomely as possible anymore - which I get. But he make the wrong decision for the sake of his music.

I tried to think of something powerful and moving… and failed.  "You were given a choice between war and dishonor - you chose dishonor, and you shall have war" - Winston Churchill
3 October 2012
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Von Bontee
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Yeah, I agree that looking at "Mary..." in that light makes it a pretty funny screw-you in retrospect (just like "Silly Love Songs"), maybe as much to the BBC as to critics. And if Paul truly didn't care about trying to get the biggest hit singles he could by releasing the most commercial things at his disposal, more power to him.

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
4 October 2012
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kedame
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My thinking, at this point, is who cares?

I think people were ready to bash Paul no matter what he did in the early 70s because he "broke up the Beatles."

If they hadn't harked on him for having Linda in the band, they'd have harked on him for something else. I don't think Linda, overall, hurt Paul's career. He seems to have done just fine for himself, and I think the image of he and Linda on stage together now actually helps his career in the present. It's a good story.

I really like Linda's voice with Paul's. I don't really like Cook of the House, but Seaside Woman is awesome!

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