Mar 21, 2020
Feb 4, 2020
Sep 24, 2018
by Robert Dean
If there was ever a human who’s been written about ad-nauseam, it’s Paul McCartney. His life story has been told over and over, his every note has been picked apart, his lyrics have inspired college courses, and psychologists alike. He will remain immortal while the rest of us fade into the ether.
What do you write about when a guy has been obsessed over so much? I’m not new to the Beatles game (one of my son’s middle names is Lennon). I’ve been a die-hard for as long as I can remember, and while John has some of the best stand-alone Beatles tracks, and the best Beatles song ever, in “Day In The Life,” Paul pound for pound had more songs that were better.
But, once the Beatles broke up, Paul was left to his own devices; he had to make a career in the ashes of his former band. A band that wasn’t just big, but the band that literally changed the world. That’s a heavy burden to bear for any of the now former Beatles. Suddenly, this dude who wanted to write spinning epics, and operas, but also quirky barbershop tunes was out of his dynamic – he’d started playing within what would become the Beatles at 15 with John Lennon.
What Paul McCartney came up with was light years better than any of the garbage John cranked out. Sorry, while John Lennon gets this cultural pass as this too cool for school autre, it was McCartney writing the solid records. Plastic Ono Band has, maybe a handful of solid tracks, while McCartney has cuts that rival any of the Beatles best work.
Listen to those first two McCartney records, they pre-date a lot Jack White and Dan Auerbach's DNA. Those early solo records were created with one vision, a lot of elbow grease and hustle. There's an elemental funk there, a lapse of polish, which makes them all the more appealing today. McCartney showed loud and clear that the soul of the Beatles wasn't just John and his beard.
I wasn’t always high on Paul McCartney’s solo stuff. Honestly, I find a lot of his solo stuff corny. “Silly Love Songs,” “Lovely Linda,” “Wonderful Christmastime” – I hate all of them with the fire of a thousand suns. “That Would Be Something” is pure Beatles. In fact, those two first McCartney records feature a lot of tracks that reach far past his former bandmates, with no disrespect to George Harrison, because All Things Must Pass is a stellar record.
But, it was an unlikely source that turned me onto Paul McCartney’s solo tunes: Howard Stern. Because I’m a regular Stern listener, I get to hear Howard rant and rave about all kinds of things I love, explicitly explaining how much country music, vinyl, and Halloween suck. But one thing Howard did turn me onto is how much Paul McCartney’s solo stuff is vastly underrated.
Once while lecturing joke writer, and continuously homeless Benjy Bronk, Stern played McCartney’s “Too Many People” a song written about John Lennon and applied to Bronk’s tardiness and taking advantage of the system in place, considering the high pay and three day work week.
It was after hearing that track and then digging deeper into RAM and McCartney that I’d realized I’d not given Paul his proper due. While, I’m not a massive Band on The Run fan, “Let Me Roll It” could be used in any lonely bar scene in a Tarantino flick. That’s an all-time banger, rivaling anything on Let It Be.
I appreciate that Howard is relentless in his adoration of McCartney’s music, it was sweet listening to him interview Paul recently because it was from such a genuine place of love and respect, he also tried to do the same with former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, but Plant was a condescending asshole the whole time.
McCartney, on the other hand, did his best at navigating those waters of Beatles, and personal life talks that he’s done for so long, and with so much class. Paul McCartney knows his place in the history books, but still maintains an aura of cool. Plus, the dude did kill it with a cigar box guitar playing with the surviving members of Nirvana.
I think as Paul McCartney gets older, it’s crucial for us to reflect upon his post-Beatles career with different eyes. He’s one of the last living legends of that era still kicking, and doing it well. I’ve grown to love a lot of his solo stuff, and for that, I have to thank the guy who played FartMan.
Paul's latest album is Egypt Station and is available at Amazon and everywhere else.
Feb 2, 2018
by Robert Dean
I don’t know at what fork in the road I took, but apparently, I turned left somewhere around "Gimme Shelter." For the longest time, I’ve always packed the Beatles vs. Stones conversation away as a waste of time because both bands are amazing at what they do and to compare them is moot. Both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones changed the face of music. But, the older I get, that comparison, at least for me, starts to have a lot more dimensions than it had in the past.
I’ve always loved the Beatles. For most of my life, the standard, “who’s your favorite band” question was always met with The Beatles and….” Usually, the other band is Nirvana, but others have come and gone. My wife and I like the Beatles so much that our youngest son’s name is Lukas Lennon.
In the realm of pop, The Beatles are the greatest of all time. You cannot move the Rock of Gibraltar that is their catalog. The harmonies are bright and sumptuous. The innovation is unprecedented, and then there’s the sheer genius of the Lennon/McCartney competition of songwriting. But, I’ve heard these songs so many times, there’s no nuance anymore. They’ve been examined to death. For a band who was only around for less than ten years, we’ve microscopically obsessed about them to an infinite degree.
Somewhere though, the Rolling Stones crept up on the Beatles and stole my attention away. There’s something underlying there; there’s chaos to the music that the Beatles cannot compare to. As I get older, I want danger, sex, sacrifice, and mystery – "Penny Lane" doesn’t exactly have that, but "Street Fightin' Man" sure as hell does.
When I hear The Rolling Stones, I continually find a band who did not give a single shit about what was popular and did their own thing without consequence. The albums, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goats Head Soup, etc. – there’s always an off-putting sleaze to them that still adds a sense of danger. But, what the Rolling Stones can anchor emotionally feels greater because of the stripped away bare bones realness vs. the layered studio effects of The Beatles grand orchestral orgasms.
Granted, we could be living in a world where Martin Scorsese movies have altered what a Rolling Stones track felt like and will continue to feel like. But, that’s the thing, The Rolling Stones don’t feel out of place in a dirty garage with bikers puffing on hog legs while wrenching on their Harleys. The White Album wouldn’t fit that scene; it’s too polished, too clean. The Beatles are the soundtrack to every day, the series of moments, while The Rolling Stones amplify scenes of excess and wonderment.
Getting older, I obsess about how my time is spent, about investing worth more than value because they ain’t the same. As the Beatles showcase the brightest and best of humanity with their neon harmonies, I’ve felt more Stones-like as the world has thrust its boot at my crotch more times than I care to count.
This world is hard, and nothing is easy, I guess it’s why sometimes we need a mile marker, something to stab a kitchen knife into and claim it as ours. The Beatles were that for me and, will forever be, but as I evolve as a person, the sense of danger is more valuable than a few ditties about love.
Apr 22, 2016
Seeing these guys (for the first time) in Memphis tomorrow with Lucero, Cory Branan, Young Valley, and Mark Edgar Stuart.
Nov 6, 2013
FTM ponders what these classic rock, R&B and country songs would have sounded like if Dallas Davidson or any of his compadres had written them...
Heartbreaker (Led Zeppelin)
Shake so good got me in a bind, tripping on wallet chains
You're fillin' that bikini top, glistening by the fire
Sugar shaker, your tan lines glow, come take your Levi's off
Love that moneymaker
So hey girl, Miss American Pie
Drove my Raptor to the pasture, drinkin' cherry moonshine
And us good old boys were crankin' Jay-Z on up
Singing this'll be the night I get some, this'll be the night I get some
He Stopped Loving Her Today
She stopped shakin' it today
He took her pic off his dashboard
And soon he'll wreck his Chevrolet
She stopped shakin' it today
When Doves Cry
Touch if you will my tattoo
Sweet-ass new tribal design
You've got the watermelon lipstick
Don't make me beg you
Country boys got pride
Hey Chad, don't spill my beer
Crank a Hank song just like a baller
Remember to find a chick at the bar
Then you can start to give a holler
And the truck door slams, Mary's sundress sways
Like a vision, she scoots across that bench seat
As the radio plays, Toby Keith singing "Who's Your Daddy"
Hey let me rub on your big fatty