Thursday, 15 September 2011

Meet The Wife

The More4 TV channel in the UK (and Showtime in the USA) just showed a new Paul McCartney film: The Love You Make, documenting the run-up to the Concert For New York City ten years ago. (There's a Rolling Stone news story about the film, accompanied by a picture of Paul with the least flattering haircut he's ever sported, here. Keep it short and dignified, Paul.)

So far I've only had time to watch 20 minutes of it, which was enough to enjoy a sparkling romp through 'I'm Down' and watch in close detail the ways in which Paul diverts his own nervousness into a winning sense of bonhomie. It puts everyone around him at ease, and I hope it does the same for him, as it's positively charming - exactly the adjective that people have been applying to Paul since 1962.

Anyway: those 20 minutes sent me back to Paul's 2001 album Driving Rain, which has never been a favourite of mine (and don't get me started on the 'Freedom' single, which I know came out of the best possible motives). Ten years on, without the burden of being The New Paul McCartney Album, it sounds ... well, it sounds OK. It's still on as I write, and it's perfect blogging music; it doesn't grab me enough to distract me from what I'm thinking about, or annoy me enough to make me turn it off.

It has some very definite pleasures, though, on almost every song, and there are some real keepers - the Indian-flavoured 'Riding Into Jaipur' for one, and (easily the most enjoyable track to my ears) 'Heather'. Driving Rain is an album littered with references to Paul's trepidation about entering a new relationship, and we all know how this one turned out. But forget all the tabloid stories about the McCartney/Mills fiasco, and listen to the glowing joy at the heart of 'Heather'. It's basically an instrumental track, with a touch of wordless vocalising, and then one simple verse - and it cries freedom, relief, happiness, hope, everything that the Beatles promised us in the 1960s.

Whatever was wrong with that relationship, and marriage, and no matter how much Paul came to regret it, 'Heather' is proof that at the beginning, at least, he was in love, and he wanted it to last forever. It didn't, but that's a risk all of us have to take. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and we can't let the possibility of failure stop us from trying.

So I'm hoping that Paul's next album turns out to include a song called 'Nancy'; that the song is as joyful as 'Heather'; and that the marriage, if that is what it proves to be, is as happy as his first.


  1. As long as he keeps dyeing his hair and sucking in his cheeks, Paulie's going to continue to resemble my grandmother. This is NOT growing old gracefully.

    But I agree -- "Heather" is a great little tune. My favorite part where the drummer forgets to slow down to half-time, and works his way back to the correct rhythm. Love those first takes.

  2. Thanks - I'd never actually heard this track before but I was just wondering the other day whether it was still on the album. It is, BTW.

  3. It's a bit trying to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, It's never going to work. Too much to live up to.