Current favorite song: "Blue Sway"

Michael Gerber
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McCartney II (1980)

From McCartney II (1980).

Paul McCartney is an amazing dude. Here I am, positively obsessing over his stuff for 40 out of my 43 years, and yesterday I stumbled upon this great tune, which I’d never heard. “Blue Sway” has proceeded to dominate my consciousness for 36-going-on-48 hours.

Paul, please promise to use this awesome power only for good, never for evil.

Whatever else you want to say about the man (and there’s a lot to say, and we say it here) pop music just pours out of him. I feel very lucky to be living at the same time, and think the true outlines of his talent—the breadth and depth of it—will only be truly perceived after he’s gone. Lennon was also a giant in his way; and because each man was built, or grew, to this outsized scale, each was made incomparably greater by the goad of the other. So McCartney is cursed to be—like Lennon—a half-finished, heartbreaking masterpiece.

Because McCartney lived on, too often we only see his flaws, rather than the gifts which only seem to kindle the heartbreak. But the flaws come from this world—mortality, other human frailties—not from the talent, which is deep and clear and pure.

So enjoy Paul (and this song).

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15 Comments

  1. Avatar Mystere2 wrote:

    Thanks for pointing out this gem.

  2. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Back in 1970, I think it was, WNEW.FM played a BBC documentary about the Beatles, narrated by Brian Matthew. I sat in front of my receiver with my little cassette recorder and taped the whole thing. It took me from the earliest days of the Beatles (Hamburg and Cavern) all the way up to “present day” (Back Off Boogaloo). I remember they played an Elton John comment about Paul: “He has a head full of melody” … that phrase stuck in my mind all these years (the cassette tapes I made have since disintegrated). Paul certainly has a head full of melody, and we’ve been fortunate all these years he’s shared it with us. I hope he continues for decades to come.
    One thing I did, after obsessing over the Beatles, I started listening to their influences, such as Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly.
    Here is an Eddie Cochran instrumental, where he overdubs his guitars:


    Listening to the people who influenced the Beatles helped me see the fab four as an important part of a larger river of sound.
    – hologram sam

  3. Avatar J.R. Clark wrote:

    Paul McCartney has the ability to make a melody stick in my brain for indefinite periods of time.

    I admittedly have not purchased, sought out, or even listened to any solo McCartney “albums-stroke-collections of MP3s” since Run Devil Run.

    The other day I happened to be eating breakfast in this hotel lobby and over the Tannoy I could hear that familiar voice singing an unfamiliar song called (I think) “This Never Happened Before”.

    Damned if that tune didn’t stay in my subconscious for the better part of three weeks.

    John, Paul, and George all shared the ability to craft memorable melodies.

  4. Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

    Michael, if you haven’t heard “Rushes,” the second Fireman album (1998), you should take a listen. If you have heard it, I’d be interested in your opinion.

    I love “Blue Sway” too — wish the lyrics were posted somewhere, because damned if I can understand more than a few words of what he’s singing. But “Blue Sway” is much more about the soundscape than about the words; in that way Paul reminds me a lot of Brian Wilson, another maker of sublime melodies. Paul’s instrumentals are almost always beautiful and interesting (I except “Kreen-Akrore”).

    And J.R., you might want to check out “Flaming Pie,” “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard,” “Memory Almost Full,” and “Electric Arguments” sometime. “Run Devil Run” was the beginning of McCartney’s third act (much better than his second, in the 80s and 90s, IMO).

  5. Avatar girl wrote:

    Yes JR. The albums after Run Devil Run are perhaps his greatest along with Flaming Pie which I’m sure you have. Even Driving Rain (2002) is enjoyable to me, although I seem to be in the minority on that one. In any case as Nancy says, all of them after Driving Rain are wonderful. Especially IMO, Electric Arguments.

  6. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Love this track. Makes me want to be some place warm, playing in the water. Now.

    Blue Sway is on the bonus album of McCartney II that came out in 2010. Have you heard “Secret Friend,” Michael? That’s another bonus track from McCartney II and it is even more astounding than Blue Sway.

    — drew

  7. Wait…and with all due respect — really?!

    Am I missing something?

  8. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants. 🙂

  9. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    “Am I missing something?”

    Yes, you are. 😉

    — Drew

  10. I must say, I’m missing it too. But then I still can’t fathom why most people “miss” “Revolution 9.” Other people’s ears continue to mystify me.

  11. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Paul is a fountain of melody, he has the gift of writing a song that makes you think it’s existed forever. Lately, I’ve been listening to his version of “Yvonne” which he wrote for 10cc. I don’t care much for the 10cc version, but Paul’s recording is a gem.
    – Hologram Sam

  12. Avatar Peter Deville wrote:

    I think the last decade or so there’s been much more retrospective appreciation of Paul, in terms of both his importance and influence.

    There’s been a lot of referencing of his solo sound, especially his 70s work, from bands like The Feeling and even Tame Impala.

    I remember reading an interview with Tears For Fears at the time of the release of their McCartney-influenced comeback album ‘Everybody Loves A Happy Ending’, in which they declared, ‘McCartney is the new Lennon.’ They were only half-serious, of course, but it’s much more ‘fashionable’ to dig McCartney than it used to be.

  13. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    Blue Sway is a great track. I prefer the longer instrumental version, actually. I don’t know why he left it off McCartney II. It would have greatly improved the album if he replaced Temporary Secretary with Blue Sway. If he wanted a clever title he could have gone with Secret Friend. LOL @ that title. I think it might be directed at John? After all, Paul’s son James said he recalled being carried by John in a house with lots of white everywhere. James was born in 1977, the year after Paul supposedly visited John at the Dakota for the last time. If James’ memory is correct, or if he was told this by his parents, Paul visited John as late as 1980 and no one else knows about it.

  14. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    As someone who bought the vinyl of McCartney II, you have realize that neither temporary secretary nor secret friend were originally on the album but were separately released singles, Released as then popular maxi singles in 80. This was still the era of many singles being released that weren’t on albums and blue sway was released much later But not on a single and I think was even recorded later than anything from McCartney 2 era I think, but not sure about all you horse riders and my quirky favorite, mr A a bomb., but think that any of the McCartney II singles the orchestrated version of blue sway was recorded last. You can look up for yourself when these songs were recorded, but I do know when vinyl singles and the maxi singles came out as bought it all then.

    This was true on many of his and other folks seventies albums and was like in most of Beatles era their a and b side singles were not on their albums. Temporary secretary was originally a b side but was his true eighties techno dance song and secret friend was his way ahead The era of frip ambient music era, frip the prog dude from king crimson who went solo. Secret friend was the truly Macca’s only ambient frip song decades before the ambient fad.

    I’m know I’m old to even know this stuff or be talking about vinyl, but these songs were out on MUCH later reissued CDs from around 09 and years in there as hi, hi, hi, c moon and oh, woman, oh why were for decades just singles, a side/b side or b side. A very rare one is the instrumental of give Ireland back to the Irish as single banned in Great Britain and common wealth but yours truly has the shamrock American cover. My favorite Macca album period, back to the egg, had two separately released And nit in album maxi singles which yours truly also has, very popular singles, goodnight tonight and arrow through me with probably his all time best b side, daytime, night time suffering. Maxi singles were hitting big then, many extended play.

    I have read about the amount on minutes available on vinyl as compared to CDs and vinyl had very limited space and minutes in all vinyl and McCartney II was released in vinyl era of 80, as CDs did not come in till 88. That is one reason the must shorter Beatles red album with the three minute something length of songs is a much shorter album than Beatles blue album. When extended play maxi singles came in late seventies With disco fad and stayed throughout eighties they allowed for more minutes, thus longer versions.

    I hope this isn’t too long as this blog hates long comments, but had to explain the several issues raised here and I feel very old explaining this And revealing that I own these singles and later maxi singles l, lol. However, just crossed a very interesting discussion on vinyl vs cd minutes elsewhere. Live glascow coming up in America was a insert outside of the sleeve one sided 45 because American record executives required live for AM radio.

  15. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    I wanted to correct my previous post flub up..meant to. say temporary secretary had a separate maxi single and obviously was an A side with the politically incorrect but funny pic sleeve, and didn’t mean to say it was a b side. Several of his seventies albums, though not all have been reissued in a deluxe box set now and McCartney II was, reissued as the double album I think though can’t find it online with reissued book that goes with those McCartney reissued deluxe box set. If it includes a double album, it is as red rose album was intended to be but in case of McCartney II, Paul was not at first not intending to release at all, as was familiarizing himself with synth and getting up to speed for eighties techno synth music music. It was his record company Columbia that wanted to release something after his Japan bust but as with red rose widdled it down to a single album as harder to sell double albums then as more expensive. Coming up had already been released as a big hit, number one and hsve thst ouc sleeve live single 45 too. Red rose single album however left off three of the best songs, whether because of his because of his or his record executives choice, and I have found that double album Rrsw from reissued deluxe boxset posted online but haven’t found McCartney II double album posted online.

    I would love to have all of the deluxe reissued box sets especially the very expensive but now much higher as very limited rrsw/wildlife/wings over Europe/mcmouse box set, but I’m retired and in limited income and don’t have any of them. However, I am VERY grateful that have what all I have as have unique rare Beatles and solo things of all types and very lucky got to see live George, ringo two times and Paul several times, including with wings. Please forgive any errors I made but I do know that orchestration added to blue sway a good bit later as macca did entire McCartney II album and singles himself, my favorite of his experimental work, truly the product to me if a musical genius on killer weed, and favorite is check my machine, and possibly first hip hop single with sampling…..macca was jiving to techno, and also bogey music also had sampling. Thanks. Glad to help and with available minutes on vinyl vs CDs thus no room for long songs on vinyl.

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