It was never cool to be a fan of Sir Paul McCartney. I always heard it from my hardcore rock geek friends; during the height of the grunge era of the mid-’90s, I would be the one playing Flowers in the Dirt and Off the Ground. But what they never understood was that Paul and The Beatles were the first rock band that I ever loved. Those mocking fools didn’t understand that without McCartney and the Fabs rock music would not be as popular and interesting as it is today.
When I think of Paul and The Beatles, I think of good memories. The first record mis padres ever bought me was the The Beatles’ “blue” compilation, 1967-1970. Those were the times mis hermanos and I pretended to be the Fab Four, lip-synching in front of our record player. I would always want to be Paul. I can’t forget when my Mami would line us up in the bathroom to give us Beatles haircuts with newspaper spread over the bathroom tiles, I would hold my vinyl copy of A Hard Days Night and say, “Make me look like Paul.” Even at that young age, I knew that the majority of those hot women were chasing after him.
My regard for Macca didn’t end in my youth. I stuck with him when his Back in the U.S.S.R. import album, CHOBA B CCCP, came out in Russia. Or 1989’s Tripping the Live Fantastic double live disc was released from his first in America tour since he disbanded Wings. I finally saw him in concert a few years ago in New Orleans, for his Back in the U.S. tour. Paul played my favorite Beatle song, “Let It Be.” It was the same song that I recorded as a gift for my Mami for Mothers Day with some musician and engineer friends of mine, in a studio in the Big Easy. It was memorable experience and one that I will never forget. Especially because it was in New Orleans, with Paul as my inspirational guide, I first learned to play guitar to the cords of “Let It Be.”
This is why I have stood by Macca after all of these years. It kind of like the same reason why Pablo Neruda is my favorite poet; If you want to argue who wrote some of the best love songs in the past forty years Paul’s words will be there nine out of ten of the times. This doesn’t mean that everything Paul writes and records touches gold, for every brilliant Ram and Band on the Run there’s a Back to the Egg and Pipes of Peace. I think Paul said it best when he sings, on the first song on his new album, “there’s a fine line between chaos and creation” Truer words have never been spoken.
Chaos and Creation in the Backyard has some of the best music that Paul has recorded in years. It’s not all perfect but most the best tracks on Chaos rival anything on Flowers in the Dirt and Flaming Pie. What I love about Chaos and what I didn’t like about the over produced Driving Rain is that this new CD has Paul is being Paul; something that we haven’t heard from him in ages. Unlike the Rolling Stones, Paul acts his age on his new record. Listen to the track “English Tea” which Paul sings about a British sophisticate enjoying his daily ritual. For the first time in years, Macca sounds like a man being comfortable about growing old and sings with a sense of vulnerability that is missing from most major artists in music today. It takes guts to show your emotions and let all hang out with such delicate pieces of music. I think Chaos is the ying to Run Devil Run‘s yang which is a good thing. While Run helped Paul grieve Linda’s unfortunate passing as he rocked with such luminaries as Pink Floyd’s David Gilmore, Chaos has Paul in a more introspective mood and showcases his more romantic side with which we are more familiar.
I think that it’s unfortunate that Paul has been battling this legacy of trying to shine in the shadow of John Lennon. Ever since Lennon’s death in 1980, Paul has been trying to prove that he could still rock out with the best of them. We all know he can hold his own with an electric guitar but Paul will always the crooning lover we know and love to hear. He’s the one who has always sung with his heart in the chorus and refrain. Remember this is the solo artist who has written such beautiful ballads as “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
Chaos, sounds like Macca’s coming to terms with his legacy as a neo-romantic artist. Just listen to “How Kind of You,” when Paul sings, “during the final bout…I was counted out/I thought my time was up…I thought I’d never find, someone so kind, as you.” The “you” Paul’s singing about has to be producer Nigel Godrich, who wanted to make a true McCartney album. For the first time in Macca’s career a producer has challenged him to make one of the most introspective and daring albums of his career. And to Nigel’s credit Paul hasn’t sounded this good in years. Just listen to “Too Much Rain,” the acoustic guitar echoes “Hope of Deliverance” from his underrated Off the Ground LP. I love the way that Paul’s voice almost cracks when he sings the high notes when he sings the title refrain.
Then there’s the soft bossa nova beats of “A Little Softness” that sound like a sweet musical cousin to Flowers‘ “Distractions.” Another favorite, “Friends to Go” sounds like the intimate acoustic classic “Every Night” from his first solo album, McCartney. Macca does it all on Chaos: not only does he sing and play his trademark Hofner Bass but also plays 99% of the instruments on the album. Chaos is a 21st Century version of McCartney with elements of Flowers and Flaming mixed in for good measure. His first single “Fine Line” with the riotous bar piano sound and courageous lyrics that make it a catchy and memorable song to add to his already impressive musical canon.
Overall Paul’s latest is an uplifting album that most Macca fans will definitely relish from start of finish. Chaos has Paul singing songs of what he does best, about love and relationships. I think his work suffered during the late ’80s and early ’90s when his songs were a little to cosmically conscious, focusing on his socio-political beliefs. Paul soars when he sings about matters of the heart, as he does with his latest effort. Macca will always be remembered as the artist who wrote “Here, There and Everywhere,” “Let it Be” and “Yesterday.” Today, Paul steps into the future while coming to terms with his past. Chaos never sounded this beautiful. So sit back, relax and let Paul McCartney delight you with the soothing sounds of his elegant musical backyard.
Paul McCartney – McCartney
Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt
Paul McCartney – Flaming Pie