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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Review of Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles 15 of X: Voting for McCartney, Again

It's been a while - too long - since I posted a review of a chapter or more of Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles.  Lots of reasons, including end of summer, but the most significant is I want this wonderful book to last as long as possible - or reading the book, to be more precise.  With the Beatles channel on Sirius XM, that I listen to daily, every time I'm alone in the car, I'm almost believing that the Beatles are still with is - as indeed they are, or at least their timeless music.

Also, my wife and I are seeing Paul in his final performance in New York this week - at the Nassau Coliseum.  We've wanted to do this for years, but being inveterate cheapskates held us back.  We didn't way to pay enough for decent seats.  But we finally did (and I'll be back here with a full review later this week).  And I credit Rob Sheffield's book and the Beatles Channel - not just the music there, but Peter Asher's show "From Me To You," Dennis Elsas's "Fab Fourum," and Laura Cantrell's "Dark Horse Radio" (even though it's mostly about George) as mostly to blame.  Thanks :)

So I decided to read the next chapter in Sheffield's book, and, lo and behold, it's about Paul.  Not only that, it's a George vs. Paul chapter - "Something" vs. "My Love" - and the part about Paul is a full-court put-down of "My Love" ("the worst song any of the Beatles had anything to with").  Sheffield acknowledges that there are worse songs lurking on some of the solo albums, but scores "My Love" because it got so much trumpeted attention.

So here I am defending Paul again (like he needs my or anyone's defense), like I did all those years ago in my first published article, A Vote McCartney, that appeared in the Village Voice in 1971 after I'd sent in a letter responding to a particularly nasty attack on McCartney's solo album by dyspeptic critic Robert Christgau.  (The editors took my letter, published it as an article, and paid me for it - teaching me something that guides me to this very day - writing is the easiest most enjoyable way for me to earn money.)  To be clear, I don't think "My Love" is in the first, second, or even third tier of great McCartney compositions and performances.  I think "Hope for Deliverance," for example, is vastly better.

But nor is "My Love" anywhere near as atrocious as Sheffield indicates.  "Till There Was You" from the Beatles is garbage in comparison to "My Love," a complete waste of a track on a Beatles album. Even "Hi, Hi, Hi" from McCartney's Wings era is worse than "My Love".   And "Silly Love Songs" is probably a little worse, too.   "My Love," despite its excesses, has a passion.  You can hear Paul singing about Linda in that song, and that makes it real.

But what is it that engenders such anger at Paul McCartney?  Sheffield has already said that he admires Christgau, but, in my view, Sheffield's a far better and more sensitive critic than Christgau. But what is it that evokes such dislike of a below-average, but certainly not so horrendous, Paul song?

Who knows?  I'm looking forward to more fresh evidence to hurl against McCartney's critics at his concert this week.

Note added a few days later: And here indeed is my review of McCartney's splendid three-hour concert.

See also Review of Rob Sheffield's Dreaming the Beatles 1 of X: The Love Affair ... 2 of X: The Heroine with a Thousand Faces ... 3 of X: Dear Beatles ... 4 of X: Paradox George ... 5 of X: The Power of Yeah ... 6 of X: The Case for Ringo ... 7 of X: Anatomy of a Ride ... 8 of X: Rubber Soul on July 4 ... 9 of X: Covers ... 10 of X: I. A. Richards ... 11 of X: Underrated Revolver ... 12 of X: Sgt. Pepper ... 13 of X: Beatles vs. Stones ... 14 of X: Unending 60s ... 16 of X: "I'm A Loser" ... 17 of X: The Split ... 18 of X: "Absolute Elsewhere... 19 of X: (Unnecessary but Brilliant) Defense of McCartney ... 20 of X: "All Things Must Pass" ... 21 of X: Resistance ... 22: The 70s Till the End ... 23: Near the Science Fiction Shop ... 24 of 24: The Last Two

lots of Beatles in this time travel
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