The Black Album: Solo Beatles According to Ethan Hawke

By |2014-07-21T21:18:24-07:00July 21, 2014|Beatles lists, solo|

Filmed over the course of 12 years, Richard Linklater's movie "Boyhood" is getting raves. Beatlefans will take particular note of the scene where a father (Ethan Hawke) gives his son (Ellar Coltrane) a mix of solo Beatles tracks, which he dubs "The Black Album." (Please note: this is not the stupendously lo-fi Let It Be-era bootleg, which managed to bring me down within seconds of loading the video.) The fictional collection's fictional liner notes begin, "I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom. This [...]

Beatles solo albums sell slowly: or, no escape from the Fab Four

By |2014-03-24T07:11:08-07:00March 24, 2014|Beatle-inspired, Breakup, solo|

NANCY CARR * The Beatles broke up over 40 years ago, but in the public’s mind they could never really stop being Beatles. The desperate efforts of all the band’s members (well, except Ringo) in the 1970s to escape its gravitational pull were doomed. If you want to see this reality in action today, check out the displays in a nearby record store—assuming you're near one that's survived. There's a good chance that everything Beatles related will be shelved together. One of my favorite local shops, Oak Park Records, is owned by Alan Heffelfinger, who's particularly knowledgeable about music (he worked for [...]

“Chaos and Creation in the Backyard”: Or, music to confront a small-scale void by

By |2014-06-09T09:40:17-07:00February 18, 2014|Paul McCartney, solo|

NANCY CARR *  Never was an album more aptly named. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard finds McCartney facing the void and trying to wrest something positive from the encounter—but in a modest, domestically-focused way quite different from Lennon’s or Harrison’s more cosmic grapplings. Based on my experience, it may be just the thing if you’re staring down a garden-variety void yourself. This album has grown on me as few others have. On initial hearings I thought it was all right but nothing special, and now I rank it among my favorite McCartney albums. More than his other albums, I think the [...]

Solo Beatles: Good stuff from this millenium?

By |2013-09-09T08:30:34-07:00January 28, 2013|George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, solo|

These CDs don't NEVER EVER sell. NANCY CARR • In the "Blue Sway" thread, Commenter J.R. remarked that he hasn't sought out Paul McCartney's work since 1999's Run Devil Run. Then I came across this blog post by Todd Pack, which reprints the "Do Not Never Ever Buy" list reproduced above. (It's from the Laurie's Planet of Sound music store in Chicago.) The list includes "60s/70s Artists CD's from the 80s/90s/2000s" as a category comprehensively to be avoided when buying CDs to resell. (This isn't a list of music the record store clerks snobbishly hate, a la "High Fidelity," but a list [...]

The breakup, viewed from 1974

By |2019-10-09T19:30:04-07:00September 22, 2012|books, solo|

In 1974, it seemed entirely possible that the Beatles would reunite. I knew this already, as we all know historical facts, but listening to a voice from that time—a voice that of course can't know what's to come—gives that reality a new vividness.       I came across this book [The Beatles: Yesterday . . . Today . . . Tomorrow] in a used bookstore, and bought it for a dollar. I've never heard of the author (Rochelle Larkin), and it was published by Scholastic Book Services. It was one of those books you could order from a newsprint flyer your [...]

McCartney’s Songs of Empathy

By |2015-01-06T13:40:36-08:00August 6, 2012|Paul McCartney, solo, Wings|

Paul McCartney, possibly empathizing NANCY CARR • Over the years, and especially as a solo artist, Paul McCartney has written many songs expressing empathy toward others. Being the analytical list-making obsessive I am, I've created a catalog of them. Note that I'm not arguing that writing such songs shows McCartney to be a better or more empathetic human being than his former bandmates; I'm interested here in the way his imagination works. John Lennon's written a couple of songs I'd put in the empathetic category ("Whatever Gets You Through the Night" and "Bless You" spring to mind), but often his [...]

Review: RAM (Paul McCartney Archive Collection)

By |2016-12-04T18:27:45-08:00July 31, 2012|1970s, 1971, Paul McCartney, solo|

DEVIN McKINNEY  •  Can anyone think of another pop record whose qualities have been so vindicated, and whose reputation has been so rehabilitated, by time? Though I’ve fought bravely on this site against massed resistance (well, one or two people) to call it something just less than a masterpiece—can’t get past a certain emotional vacuity at the core of things—RAM is so bountifully queer and cleanly, gracefully executed, the beautiful song crowded by the gargoyle-ugly, that finally masterpiece doesn’t matter. I’ve loved RAM since I first heard it. It is Paul’s best solo record by a distance, and one of my favorites [...]

Keep ‘Em Out vs. Let ‘Em In: An Angle on Lennon & McCartney

By |2013-10-15T15:17:24-07:00May 23, 2012|John Lennon, Paul McCartney, solo|

John and Paul face off, 1969 Some thoughts about an aspect of Lennon's and McCartney's solo music, prompted by some recent re-listening. -- Nancy After the break up, each Beatle pursued his own musical sensibilities pretty much unchecked. Here I want to look at a difference between Lennon’s and McCartney’s solo music that hasn’t gotten much critical attention: Lennon’s tendency to write songs of rejection and McCartney’s tendency to write songs of invitation. Since we’re considering Lennon and McCartney, everything is maddeningly complicated. Presenting them as opposites or complements overlooks all the ways their music overlaps, and focusing on a [...]

“Poor old Buddy”

By |2013-08-13T22:50:42-07:00May 6, 2012|1972, john and yoko, John Lennon, solo|

DEVIN McKINNEY  •  Greil Marcus sends a link to this rare footage from 1972: John Lennon playing "Rock Island Line," with snatches of two Buddy Holly numbers, "Maybe Baby" and "Peggy Sue." Yoko provides handclaps for the first number (in rhythm!) and vocal interjections for the latter. But mainly it's just John's voice and raunchy guitar reaching out in time, coming back with a feeling you can see in his face. In return, I sent Marcus this photo I took on April 22, 2011, outside the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, where Buddy Holly played the night before his plane went [...]

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