Have you heard the one about how the Beatles are dying in order of coolness, and Ringo's next? Yeah, not funny. But on December 8

"/>

On the Anniversary of John's Death, It's Open Season on Paul

Have you heard the one about how the Beatles are dying in order of coolness, and Ringo's next? Yeah, not funny. But on December 8 every year, the canonization of John seems to be accompanied by glib sneers at Paul. Yes, there's the knighthood, the White House performance, the Kennedy Center Honors, etc. But as for artistic reputation, Paul cannot catch a break. Never has any human who's brought so much pleasure to the world been so widely reviled.

Leading the charge this year is Salon's Allen Barra, who turns his review of a new McCartney biography into a nastygram about the man himself. It's not that the book sucks, says Barra, it's that Paul sucks:

Another problem is how one can be a genuine biographer and, at the same time, an honest critic and pretend that virtually all of McCartney's music after splitting with the Beatles isn't sheer dreck.
Sure, maybe an honest and DEAF critic.

Is it absurd to argue about John and Paul? No, arguing about John and Paul is like arguing about good and evil, Isaac and Abraham, eggs and bacon, or any other basic elements of the universe. So on the anniversary of John's death, please consider just a few Paul facts that may contradict your received notions of who the cool Beatle really was:

  • Paul, not John, was the avant Beatle. It was Paul, with his interest in modern art, who lead the charge on the Sgt Pepper's cover and John Cage-inspired experimentation, and who first experimented with tape loops (though he's rarely credited for providing them for John's "Tomorrow Never Knows").
  • That's Paul, not George, uncorking that crazy, Indian-inflected guitar solo on "Taxman."
  • Though singing hippie platitudes may make for a better public image, John in person was more often than not an asshole, while Paul has privately behaved with great decency and generosity. "Hey Jude" was written while he was en route to cheer up John's discarded wife and son, Cynthia and Julian.
  • Yes, he's recorded a lot of bad music, but that's because he's recorded a lot of music. His rate of output continues to be remarkable--especially for a man in his sixties--his voice remains strong, and his melodic gifts very much intact.

For Mr. Barra, here's a small sampling of the greatness:

 
comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow