I grew up with the Beatles. We had all their albums, knew every word and even at primary school I could voice-synch She Loves You to Baby You Can Drive My Car. I queued up at the local flicks in Poplar along with all my mates in 1964 to see A Hard Day’s Night. And when Sgt Pepper came out we had it within days and I devoured every second.
So many Beatles songs from Hey Jude to my personal all-time favourite Hello, Goodbye run around my head to this day. Like untold millions around the world, the Fab Four are an indelible imprint on my brain. John, Paul, George and Ringo are in my DNA.
I love the songs, love the memories, love what The Beatles stood for and what they represent today, love what great music, especially in the 70’s, their work encouraged – love it all do!
Except one thing… I‘ve never really loved Paul McCartney.
Got to be clear. I have always revered Paul’s talent and, along with John Lennon, his incredible music canon. His voice was a massive part of the Beatles and his hits, even after the band split, are incredible. I completely respect Paul’s status as one of the most important cultural icons ever.
I just never liked him.
Always a little smug, a bit too cocky in the wrong sort of way, Paul didn’t have the same authentic ring to him as John, George and Ringo. Somehow, they seemed grounded as ordinary guys with extraordinary talent, whereas Paul seemed to never let up wanting you to know how extraordinary he was.
So, fast forward to now when I heard a current series of podcasts on BBC Sounds with Paul talking about his song lyrics – how they came to be, what inspired them and what was going on when he wrote them.
In many ways, it was the first time I had ever listened to Paul speaking for any length of time outside of quick interviews, the films or when the boys were on stage or recording.
I have to admit it was a bit of a revelation, if not a ‘Revolution’. I enjoyed his stories immensely, he spoke very well, he was warm, tender, honest and inciteful. From the amazing impact of recording All My Loving to how he conceived Yesterday was fascinating. A wonderful insight into what is still considered today the greatest pop band ever.
This was it then. I now had a different view of Paul, I saw his other sides. Perhaps not quite now, but he might yet join the exalted ranks of this three other fellow Beatles in my estimation.
Then this week I popped into a bookshop in London to see about buying his lyrics book the BBC podcasts were centred on… and Paul’s new status took a steep and breath-taking nose-dive.
The boxed lyrics package – two hardback books inside a hard binder – was 75 quid!
Help! £75 !!!
I simply couldn’t believe it. How on Earth had he and his publishers come up with that? Oh yes, Paul can tell the world how all those fabulous songs came about… and let’s charge a small fortune in the process.
Like Premier League games, so many concert tickets, motorway service stations, a lot of High Street clothes stores and Boris Johnson’s wallpaper, today the costs are way over the top. Not Johnson’s wallpaper (he has always been an expensive elitist!), but like football and going to gigs, the Beatles were always within reach of everyone’s pocket. They were THE pop band, a band for the populous, the people, and the people have always loved them for it.
Paul’s 75 quid a pop for his lyrics seemed a kick in the teeth for the Beatles I loved – at least the Beatles of yesterday anyway.
Paul McCartney’s The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present (Paul McCartney, author - Paul Muldoon, editor) is published by Penguin