Sunday, June 7, 2009

Melody Takes Hold

It is with great pleasure that I report that my 8 year-old son has developed a taste for the music of Paul McCartney, and that it was developed by listening to him on vinyl!

1984's Give My Regards to Broad Street was "a big snooze" according to Leonard Maltin, and, after viewing it with my family, I'd have to agree. But we regarded it more kindly due to our two boys' enthusiasm for the music.

Some of the set musical passages are well-done in the film. Most memorable is a simple session in a hangar of some sort, where Paul and Wings perform "Not Such a Bad Boy." The delivery of "Ballroom Dancing" is also strangely fascinating, as dancers cavort and two very different musical audiences intermingle.

The most striking piece of '80s memorabilia is "Silly Love Songs". The number begins with Wings arising on a hydraulic lift, surrounded by smoke. They're all decked out in caked white faces and Mohawk wigs. As the song progresses, out comes a single dancer to perform a Michael Jackson shtick. He's ridiculously tall and thin, and he moves robotically as he glides in front of the band. My boys loved it.

Remembering all the abuse that Paul has taken over the years for being too commercial and unsubstantial lyrically has given me a greater fondness for "Silly Love Songs". It really is a direct response to that criticism, and the song is durable. It's got the elements of his musical virtuosity--the composing and the arranging of harmony, horns, and strings. Its message is undeniable--we will never have enough of "silly" love songs! Rhapsodize on, romantic moptop!

Watching and listening to Give My Regards to Broad Street helps you recall the era when McCartney and Wings were a popular stadium act. It's moving to see Linda, and to think about what a terrific marriage she and Paul had. One is reminded that the film was released only a few years after John's assassination. Perhaps it was an effort to relive the zany movie energy of Help!

It failed to recapture the magic, but it still makes for a great curiosity piece. Listening to my boys sing along to the Beatle songs, I think, "Man, wouldn't Paul be pleased to hear their song? There is no deeper satisfaction."

Like Porter, Gershwin, Berlin, et al, McCartney will be carried on. It's a tribute to someone who always ambitiously pursued his art. Yes, he was/is commercial--he wants the broadest audience, because that's a measure of the power of his melody, and his ability to reach people's heart and minds.

In a way, he has always been traveling "broad" street.


Anonymous said...

I also really love Give my Regards to Broad Street. Especially "Silly Love Songs" and "Ballroom Dancing". Great Album , Great Album.

Anonymous said...