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Ranking Paul's Studio Albums
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27 March 2014
Royal Command Performance
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meanmistermustard said I may get slaughtered but i don't think a lot of the Wings material says anything of note, it's great to listen to, Paul can write melodies and create great songs, but little of it makes you put down your cocoa and ponder what is being sung. Who sits down and thinks hard about Jet, My Love, Mull Of Kintyre (3 big Macca songs)? Silly Loves Songs is a huge "fuck you" to the critics but nothing else (that intro is up there for me). There must be some that make you, not that i can think of many, Dear Friend, Too Many People, but thats '71, must have been a couple between those and Here Todaya-hard-days-night-paul-7

I agree the Wings years were something of a fallow period for Paul, lyrics-wise. Probably because he was spreading himself too thin (and maybe smoking too much?) and something had to give (similar observations have been made about his bass parts during the '70s).

But there are some gems in there. "Little Lamb Dragonfly" is a stunning portrait of love and regret. "I'm Carrying" is so odd and touching -- what is he "carrying"? Gifts? A ring? A "torch"? Drugs? The lyrics are playful yet melancholy, and in the last refrain when that bass doubles up under the string section it somehow sounds like a vow, given eye-to-eye in absolute solemnity. Sometimes it makes me cry. "London Town" has some intriguing lyrics, sadly undercut by the horrible "toot toot" and lackluster melody. "After the Ball/Million Miles" is a song of my soul (that's probably just me, though). "San Ferry Ann" is another good Lonely People song. Also, and I am usually met with blank stares when I say this, but the "Temporary Secretary" lyrics? BRILLIANT. 

And then of course there's always the Different Strokes thang... to use a George example I've been discussing recently: "Brainwashed." I'm not knocking it for the many fans who dig it, but for me it all amounts to this: "We're all brainwashed by everything. God is the answer." It's not that I disagree with that, necessarily, but... it's just not a particularly nuanced or interesting statement to me? It's like, "Yeah. ...And?" I'm much more stimulated by "Jet"-esque word-salad, by the Angry!Secrets-vibe of "The Note You Never Wrote", by non-sequiturs like "No one even left alive in nineteen-hundred and eighty-five will ever do."

What it comes down to, perhaps: For me, the best and most powerful way to artistically approach Big Issues is through the "back door" -- through imagery, through characters, through implicit rather than explicit meaning, through observation of people and relationships. The old "finding the extraordinary in the ordinary" thing.

All that said, yes, Paul was generally in better nick lyrics-wise pre-Wings ("Amazed," "Junk," "Monkberry," etc.) and post-Wings (starting with McCartney II). 

26 October 2016
William Shears Campbell
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