Saturday, June 18, 2011

Paul McCartney is 69 Today

I seem to be getting into the famous musician birthday thing lately, but, as they do on KCSM, my local all-Jazz FM station, it gives me a chance to focus on a musical great. And Sir Paul means a lot to me--especially as a Beatle. He, along with John, George and Ringo, were my heroes when I was a teenager, and they influence me today.

Paul was my first major bass influence--and that's my instrument now. I wear my two primary basses on my left arm as part of that enthusiasm, and am a member of both my band, Red Paint, and my community orchestra.

Paul, having started as a guitarist and being also a piano player, is a more melodic bassist than someone who plays it as simply part of the rhythm section. His bass parts often take on a second tune--as in, for example, Something, where, if you tune out George, it's a whole different, low-pitched world. I've noticed that when it's one of Paul's songs and he's singing the lead, the bass part is simpler. When John or George (or even Ringo) is singing it, he often gets much more elaborate.

Paul played with a pick much of the time--I don't--but otherwise he's a big inspiration. I loved his Beatles work best. Something in the chemistry of the group--or maybe his youthful energy. I've bought and listened to later albums--even up to recent CDs like Memory Almost Full, but he no longer makes albums you want to play over and over. He has certainly released a lot of material over the years after his relatively brief Beatles career.

There are the great Paul songs, like Yesterday, Hey Jude and Let it Be, of course, and some favorites of mine. I always liked For No-One, from the middle period. When I'm 64 is catchy and he's the only Beatle who could write it. Best post-Beatle song? Maybe I'm Amazed comes to mind.

I saw Paul and his band--not Wings--play a few years ago and he put on a great show. Many of the numbers were Beatles songs--it was the next best thing to seeing the Fab Four in action. I wish him happiness today and for what I hope will be a very long life--and a great new marriage.

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