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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  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.

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