Tuesday, April 15, 2008

McCartney's sense of "the beautiful"

It's complete and utter bullshit to think of the Lennon/McCartney team working like a yin and yang. Sadly most (ignorant) people do. Lennon is considered to be the surrealist, dark, artist and McCartney is trivialized as some kind of pop-appeal bubblegum-mcgee. This couldn't be further from reality, for their aesthetics and sensibilities while complimentary, were never uniform. They were colossal enough artists to be able to transition into each other's so-called spheres, and beyond.

Nevertheless, my sense of their individuated talents certainly allows for a singularity on McCartney's part. His artistry, unlike the more obviously agonized Lennon, has an easy, God-given quality. McCartney is famous for having written many of his songs full-formed, without revision (very Bach-like). He hears the whole song in his mind, complete and perfect, and just like that it's done. Yesterday, the single most recorded song in popular music history (fact!), was actually written in Paul's sleep! He dreamed it, woke up, shuffled over to his piano with the tune still in his head and ta-da! Music history.

I made a playlist here of a selection of McCartney's music that I'd say fall into the "Yesterday" category. That is, his unique sense of simple beauty gets at an archetype few other artists can access. His songs sound timeless, like you've always had them inscribed in your DNA, and his compositions merely shine a light on what somehow always was. Perhaps this is why he's often artistically diminished. We have this sense that "the artist" should be brooding and in pain in order to create great art. McCartney appears to subvert this notion by tossing off great art with the same ease by which it is received; its effortless genius threatens a coherent notion of what the "great artist" is. This, however, is far from reason enough to cast his works aside.

Like Oscar Wilde writes, "beauty is of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or spring-time, or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. It cannot be questioned. It has its divine right of sovereignty."

In his "Yesterday" songs, we see that McCartney has a so profound a sense of "the beautiful" that he needs little more than a simple melody to spin out something eternal.

I have to misspell the songs so imeem will upload them. The track list is
1. Blackbird
2. Mother Nature's Son
3. Junk
4. Yesterday

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the most frustrating thing about paul mccartney is how often he is trivialized or dismissed. it constantly shocks me how critics can laud songs like hey jude or let it be and write off paul as a melodic shallow crowd pleaser in the same breath