McCartney as collaborator

Guess who Paul McCartney is collaborating with now?

lady-gaga-paul-mccartney-billboard-650

Yup, that’s Lady Gaga.

And yes, they are actually in the same room, not Photoshopped together. Apparently the past few weeks, which have seen the release of Kanye West’s and McCartney’s “Only One” and Rhianna’s, West’s, and McCartney’s “Four Five Seconds” have only whetted Paul’s desire to branch further out. No official word on what’s coming out of the sessions with Gaga, but on Instagram February 1 she said “Had a beautiful session with Sir Paul McCartney and friends . . . Working on one of his many secret projects! Killer musicians, vibe, and lots of laughs.”

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Paul, Rhianna, and Kanye

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Kanye and Paul

In some quarters McCartney’s gotten dissed (what a shock) for being a “serial collaborator,” but his work with others is actually in line with the Beatles’ practice, even when the group was together. Kristofer Engelhardt’s book Beatles Deeper Undercover takes a comprehensive look at all the sessions one or more members of the band contributed to. Just during Lennon’s 18-month “Lost Weekend,” he collaborated with Harry Nilsson, Elton John, and David Bowie. Harrison and Starr have also done plenty of collaborating.

But there’s no question that McCartney gets around more than any other former Beatle does / did. Where does this guy get his energy, and can I please have some?

A  few questions for Hey Dullblog readers:

What are your favorite musical collaborations involving a Beatle (outside the band itself, of course)? What do you think made them work well?

Who do you think Paul McCartney ought to work with next?

Just me, or does Gaga look like she’s auditioning for a production of Cabaret in that outfit and pose? And doesn’t Paul look rather like a cross between a 40s bandleader and John Lennon circa 1970 in that all-white suit?

 



39 Comments

  1. Avatar Buddy H wrote:

    What are your favorite musical collaborations involving a Beatle? I really liked Paul with Elvis Costello. Might be the best lyricist Paul worked with since John. There is a demo of “So Like Candy” on youtube. I remember when John & David Bowie got together. John was really stretching creatively on “Fame” and it showed the guy who sang “Tomorrow Never Knows” was still open to new sounds. I liked Ringo’s first solo album with the Louisiana guys, I found it charming. Post-humous collaboration was the “stripped-down” version of “Double Fantasy” (I liked it better than the original MOR release) My least favorite collaborations were with Phil Spector. I just didn’t care for what he did to John’s and George’s sound. And I wonder if the reason they got so close to him was because he pissed Paul off so completely?
    What do you think made them work well? John moving out of his comfort zone to work with Bowie. Ringo’s sincere love of traditional C&W made his collaborations more authentic than the usual “British rock star tries something new” syndrome.

    Who do you think Paul McCartney ought to work with next? I’m glad he’s working with Lady Gaga. She’s got genuine talent when it’s just her and a piano. Some people can’t see past all the costumes and stage stuff, just like in 1964 people couldn’t see past the “beatle haircuts and boots” (I’m old enough to remember seeing the fab four mocked on tv almost every day). I’d love to see put out an album produced by Don Was; something very minimal with guitars, bass and drum, a “stripped-down” McCartney.

    • Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

      Buddy, I agree that Lady Gaga’s got real singing talent — will be interesting to see what the McCartney collaboration sounds like. And I too like the idea of a “stripped-down” McCartney album. I’ve always been partial to the “Unplugged” album he did.

    • Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

      What exactly was the stretch of John on Bowie’s ‘Fame’ and what is the source for this position?

      “My least favorite collaborations were with Phil Spector”, I beg your pardon, are you dismissing the artistic quality of John’s POB-album? Of course point of discussion is what specifically was the influence of Spector on the POB album? The not so very good sound on ‘Imagine’ (album) including horrible strings.

      You couldn’t care what he did to George’s sound? Wow Buddy, that is a big one. How would George have sounded on ATMP without Phil Spector, when George still had to find his own sound? And we’re not only talking reverb.

      and btw Nancy, I never do speculation about the art of an artist ‘Time will Tell’.

      • @Rob, I wouldn’t go so far as to dismiss POB, but I will say that I think it’s an album more often name-checked than listened to. It was a fascinating experiment in the form of rock and roll circa 1970, but it’s akin to listening in on someone’s therapy, and that’s not pleasant. In a world of pleasures — even challenging ones — POB sits on my shelf. My guess is that Spector’s production made it even starker and chillier than it would’ve been otherwise, though that’s a guess.

        • Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

          Maybe Bob Dylan was right when he sort of couldn’t understand why fans LIKED LOVED Blood On The Tracks… however I can understand people not liking the pain and human complexities on POB as well as in BOTT, but it amazes me still. Do we really need a world full of pleasure? Is life about pleasures only, is the pain, the death, the agony and misunderstanding, the heartbreak etc. not the essence of life, or do you really think all the bad and ugly is only a myth, belonging to Ovid and Homer? I don’t think only God is a concept by which we measure our pain, life is measured in pain for most of the world’s population, we are enjoying more times of pleasure paid in blood by others, and not the soldiers and hawks from West-Point, the blood and burned skin of little ones in places like East-Asia, the middle-east and any place during the next presidency.
          .
          Btw the best cooperation from John Lennon after The Beatles was with Yoko… if only Walking On Thin Ice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAh5x5x2hQY had a much bigger contribution by John, than on Fame, and a stunning sound, completely ignored in 1981. For me the absolutely winner from the stuff record in 1980, ex aequo some beautiful stuff like Grow Old With Me surely not Beautiful Boy which was artificially flavored suger-beet.
          .
          Why would Macca’s coop with Elvis Costello be good or the best as Costello is lyrically comparable to Lennon? A) I think Costello wrote much better lyrics than Lennon, except for maybe the bet stuff Lennong wrote, but even than. B) as if the lyrics matter most, in the cooperations with McCartney you got to be musically on par otherwise there’s no way to go…
          .
          I think Macca’s work in Fireman is superb, especially their Electric Argument, including all the other art-work. Another good on is that super-song Cut Me Some Slack composed (structured) out of a jam with a self-beheaded Nirvana, initiated by David Grohl.
          .
          I think the vocal arrangements from Wings are still unique, and Linda played a great role in that, without her those vocals would probably never had happened.
          .
          Macca’s output with artists like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Rihanna etc. is about impeccable pop songs.
          .
          Even Fourfiveseconds, which is not composed by Macca, is musically and rhythmically pure McCartney – if not Beatlesque. Kanye has quite an ear.
          .
          I even think Kisses On The Bottom is an elegant joy from a cooperation between Krall/McCartney/Tommy LiPuma even thought the album’s title is the outcome pure narcisism:
          I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter and make believe it came from you/I’m gonna write words oh so sweet/They’re gonna knock me off of my feet/A lot of kisses on the bottom/I’ll be glad I got ‘em.
          Paul’s just confirming a bit too much the problematic shadow side of his image (personality?).
          .
          Yet what is even more important all the cooperations show a similar pattern of jamming, playing along, showing off like we could have seen in the Let It Be movie, if ev’rything would have gone right…
          .
          “The approach was loose, and decisions as to arrangements and angles to take were made on the fly, albeit with input from impeccable sources in McCartney, LiPuma, Krall, the musicians, arrangers Johnny Mandel and Alan Broadbent, and engineer Al Schmitt. The mood was relaxed and fun…”
          http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/506233/paul-mccartney-the-billboard-cover-story?page=0%2C1
          .
          ‘Cut Me Some Slack’ came from trying, fooling, jamming and finding a riff and rhythm, so did Paul with Kanye West who had the lyrcial idea for ‘Only one’ as a starting point.
          .
          I am looking forward for much more, and it might still be better than an album with Paul’s own originals.
          .
          Or maybe, just maybe baby, Kanye West as producer for a McCartney album next time… woooooooooohhhhhh!!!!!!

          • Interesting as always, @Rob!

            I guess for me POB is in the end too personal to be consistently enjoyable, and to my ear simply not varied enough musically (a real problem in John’s solo work). With POB, the monomania is sorta the point, and it was the best raw material that Lennon ever mined. So it’s a masterpiece of what it is, but I don’t find myself wanting to be with it more than once every five years.

            Why? There is, I can say from my advanced age, something undigested in POB, something — forgive this if it seems overharsh — adolescent. Anybody who’s been through a lot of therapy can recognize what’s going on; in the immediate aftermath of a breakthrough, everything rhymes with your new outlook. And so even on the terms under which it is masterpiece, I find it more than a little unsatisfying. It is the chronicle of a half-finished healing process, and shows the limits of Lennon’s growth, and capacity for growth. As such, it’s fascinating but also frustrating — POB is static, not expansive — and ultimately a document of mourning, not maturation.

      • Avatar Matt wrote:

        Hi Rob…

        As far as I’m aware, Spector’s production duties on ‘Plastic Ono Band’ were almost non-existent – or at least according to one or two key members of the illustrious band who played on that album. Basically, he was literally nowhere to be seen during the making of the ‘POB’ album and Lennon – tired of waiting for his producer to appear – assumed production duties himself. Similar can be said, it’s claimed, with regards to the ‘All Things Must Pass’ album. According to former Beatles and Abbey Road engineer Ken Scott, Spector was barely in the studios during the making of the album. According to Scott, Spector turned up to the studios during its making as many times as I have fingers on one hand. As a result, the production duties were left to George, Ken and others.

    • @Buddy, I also loved Paul and Elvis working together. Out of all the people who’ve come along since, Costello reminds me the most of John Lennon; he’s got a fierce, verbal intelligence, a sharp wit, unique style, even a common touch. To me, he’s Paul’s best foil since John.

  2. Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

    @Michael You wrote: ” POB is static, not expansive — and ultimately a document of mourning, not maturation”
    This is an argument to leave POB on the shelf? Again, to me there is nothing wrong with a record of mourning, protest and goodbye… it still stands tall…
    .
    both lyrically as well as musically.
    .
    There is a point to be made that POB is the ultimate realization of de-Pepperizing and de-Martinization of The Beatles’ music after 1967, it started well with the white album, it utterly failed with Get Back/Let it Be, and John found it when he asked Spector to give him that fifties sound for Instant Karma.
    .
    It is Instant Karma that is the key to the sound of POB. Gosh I would love to hear the studio tapes of that day, to find out how the team created the sound. I just don’t want to believe it was Phil Spector by himself in the control booth that created the sound… as comes across from the wikipedia story.
    .
    Lyrically it is a fine combination of personal, universal searching for the meaning of life and anthem-like proclamation. It was utterly stupid of George Harrison and Paul Mccartney to fend off Cold Turkey, just imagine Cold Turkey a winner single, Something and Come Together a blast, Instant Karma following in its footsteps… so many big hits if only John wouldn’t have had that ugly looking haircut before he went on Top of the pops.

    I think Instant karma and POB are great collaborations from John and Phil Spector… Paul was having his depressive uncreative days,like John wasn’t really capable of much in 1965.

    • @Rob, there’s nothing wrong with a record of “mourning, protest and goodbye.” I think POB’s a landmark album. But I was explaining why I listen to POB once every five years (whereas I listen to RAM every five weeks, and Walls and Bridges once a year, and so forth). POB is considered the highpoint of Lennon’s solo career, but it’s nowhere near his best Beatle work. I’m not saying you can’t like it, but it’s an album more name-checked than played IMHO.

      The lion’s share of POB’s gripping quality is what we know — and knew — about Lennon’s personal story (ditto “Cold Turkey”, which is a nice riff, sure, but at the very least it’s missing a middle eight). If you separate POB from its historical and personal context — John’s miserable, complicated childhood; the breakup of the Beatles — what’s left? And a piece of art that relies that heavily on immediate context is, to me, flawed in some way. “Hey Jude” does not need the Julian backstory to be a fabulous piece of music; “Strawberry Fields” or “Walrus” purposely exist outside of context and work beautifully.

      It’s precisely because POB isn’t universal that we’re still talking about it. It’s impossible to hear “Mother/you had me/but I never had you/I wanted you/but you didn’t want me” and not think specifically of John and Julia. POB is biography, not fiction, and biography seems to be a lesser rank. (How many biographies are in the Western Canon? Very few.) “People say we’ve got it made/don’t they know we’re so afraid” — does that speak to the universal human experience? Maybe if you squint at it. But it definitely describes John and Yoko’s life as it existed in 1970. The biography works against the universality.

      You say “de-Pepperizing and de-Martinization” like it’s a good thing! John needed Paul, and needed George Martin; he had a tendency to rush out work before it was fully developed, musically — just as Paul did/does with the lyrics. This habit actually worked to his benefit on POB — it fit with the material. But once you get past the biographical, there’s just not as much in John’s solo work as one might expect. It’s the price he paid after 1968, when he consciously adopted an ethos of self-expression over craft. Critics and ilk love it, because it makes for an easier, more interesting text — but in the hands of Lennon, it doesn’t seem to have produced as much top-rank stuff. And before you come at me with your usual “how can you judge?” thing, I’ll just remind you that this blog is a BEATLES blog, not a Lennon one; the Beatles changed the world, whereas solo Lennon was merely interesting AOR. Which doesn’t mean you can’t prefer it to his Beatles work… only that it’s once again a personal taste, whereas the Beatles are as close to universal as popular music has produced.

  3. Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

    Ah, the vagaries of personal taste! I find the question of why particular music speaks to us (or not) as individuals an enduring mystery.
    Though I like what McCartney and Costello did together, I’m not as enthusiastic about that collaboration as some are. I agree with Rob that McCartney’s work with Youth, as the Fireman, is excellent.
    And if we’re counting producers as collaborators, Nigel Godrich deserves a shout out for his work on “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.”

  4. Avatar linda a. wrote:

    McCartney’s work with Youth, as the Fireman, is excellent.
    And if we’re counting producers as collaborators, Nigel Godrich deserves a shout out for his work on “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.”

    Thanks for the reminder Nancy. I wasn’t going to comment because I really couldn’t think of any collaborations that thrilled me too much. Yes his work with Costello stood out. Together they crafted some top notch, quality songs. Other than that however I couldn’t think of anything else that stood out for me…only what didn’t. His recent collaborations are very nice for Kanye and Rihanna. Both of them are extremely talented and both collaborations show that McCartney has good taste and always picks the best. But he seemed like a side man at best, on both songs, and I’m sorry to say I’m not overly excited about either of the songs. I could only think of collaborations from a few years ago that I wish had materialized but didn’t. Like his aborted attempt to work with Radiohead. I’m really disappointed that never came to pass. Also I could have sworn I heard about a collaboration with Green Day’s Bille Joe Armstrong but maybe that was wishful thinking on my part. I completely forgot about Youth. Without a doubt Youth is probably my favorite McCartney partnership outside of the Beatles. Electric Arguments is one of my all time favourite albums. And yes as collaboration goes, why not talk about producers he has worked with. Nigel Godrich is at the top of the list, probably right after George Martin IMHO.

  5. Avatar Drew wrote:

    What’s wrong with Paul being a sideman? His critics complain relentlessly about Paul’s egomania and accuse him of refusing to relinquish the spotlight. So here he cowrites TWO hit songs — at age 72!!! — and he takes the sideman role and he gets criticized for that! I think he willingly took a sideman role on these songs because (1) he knows young people want to hear young voices not old voices and (2) he’s showing that he is happy to play the sideman, than he LIKES collaboration, that he wants to be a part of things. And so now I’ve seen comments all over the web (not so much here) attacking Paul for having “lowered himself,” for being so “desperate” to remain “relevant” that he’s willing to play a side role. The man can’t win. And I also have to say the number of overt and subtle racist comments I’ve seen about Kanye from so-called Beatles and McCartney fans is absolutely disheartening. (Again, I don’t mean comments here but on Facebook and Twitter).

    I think both Kanye tracks so far are terrific and catchy. My teenage daughter and her friends are all singing Four Five Seconds and frankly it makes me happy to hear them loving a song that Paul cowrote and plays on.

    • Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

      Right on Drew, I understand the opinion that people can’t see or won’t see a collaboration may just be a collaboration of musicians who like to play and create music, it is a way of being locked in authoritarian hierarchical conservative thinking -maintaing the proposterous idea that your hero is or should be hero forever and to ev’rybody.

      I think the song Paul did with Kanye is great piano work by Paul, utilizing a spare sound that is now theirs, after the Rhiannon song. You may like it or not, creatively it stand strong.

      Paul is not the King of Pop and shows no desire to be that, he shows the ambition to play music and entertain people with his music, think of Irving Place concert last saturday.

      Btw I haven’t seen any formal references that Paul wrote fourfiveseconds.

    • I’m with you, @Drew. I think McCartney’s love of collaboration highlights several of his best attributes: his utter passion for making music, the catholicness of his taste, and his generosity. I don’t understand the negative spin — the latest edition of Beatlefan’s podcast, Things We Said Today, went into this at length. For the life of me, I can’t see how this is a BAD thing for Beatle fans.

      There is a tribal belief among some lovers of classic rock that hip hop isn’t “real” songwriting… and of course there’s the racism, which in this country is never too far from the surface. But that kind of narrowness is unworthy of a Beatle fan.

    • Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

      Wholeheartedly agree, Drew. McCartney loves making music, and is frequently happy to be the sideman on a project — I can’t see this as a bad thing, however much negative press he gets for it. I saw a recent interview with Diana Krall about her new album of covers, “Wallflower,” in which she talks about how much fun it was to work with McCartney on “Kisses,” and how happy she was to cover a song he wrote for that album but didn’t record. I can’t believe how musically FECUND he still is at the age of 72.
      As to the negative press: sometimes I think / hope that McCartney’s been dragged through the hedge of public opinion so many times that he’s come out the other side, and is truly able to disregard it.

  6. Avatar Drew wrote:

    Paul is listed as the second writer of the song, after Kanye. Of course, per hip hop’s very democratic tradition, there’s a list of like 8 other writers, too. Anyone who suggests any bit seems to get a credit. But Paul is officially listed as a songwriter. By officially, I mean on articles on the song (based on a press release, I presume, listing all the names).

  7. Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

    If anyone has doubts about Paul’s place in tne entertainmen world, Tom Ford’s pre Oscar’s fashion show showed that street denim, like in Rihannon’s Foufiveseconds videoclip, is going to hit big. He was there , right there where he was when with The Beatles in the sixties… part of setting the trend, collaborating.

  8. Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

    A great performance of Kanye West collaboration with Macca of Only One – http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2015/02/28/kanye_west_performs_only_one_in_europe_watch_his_appearance_on_norwegian.html?wpsrc=fol_tw. And the info on all the other collaborators is screened too.

    Raw and strong, sensitive and rocking…

  9. Avatar Rose Decatur wrote:

    Kanye described the process of collaborating with Paul in a radio interview as one in which Paul would noodle on the piano or guitar and Kanye would improvise lyrics over it. He said the vibe Paul brought to their sessions was so great that one day, Kanye walked in the studio signing, “I’m about four, five seconds from wildin’…” which became the chorus for “FourFive Seconds.” Later Kanye agreed to produce Rihanna’s album and told her that he’d done some songs with Paul McCartney and played them for her. She flipped out over “FourFive Seconds” and begged to sing for it for her own album.

    In another recent interview with Zane Lowe, Kanye said the 70’s sound of “Only One” was deliberate and, “The type of chord changes that Paul does, I don’t even understand them. Meeting Paul McCartney is like meeting Ralph Lauren. The greatest of their field of all time, period.”

    • Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

      Hey Rose Decatur,

      .What station and when was the radio-interview. Any verifiable source – link?

    • Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

      Hey Rose, you wrote: ” Kanye said the 70’s sound of “Only One” was deliberate”

      Actually it was Zana Lowe who explained he thought it sounded it like country-rock of seventy six, Kanye added it was that sort of sound he liked when he was younger. I did not hear it was deliberate and, I might be wrong, but this is what I think I heard, they were both referring to Paul’s riff of Fourfiveseconds, not to ‘Only One’.

  10. Avatar Rose Decatur wrote:

    Rob, the stuff about “FourFiveSeconds” was in an interview with Ryan Seacrest on his LA radio show about a month ago. The Zane Lowe interview was done earlier in the week and was also recorded on film and is on Youtube and various outlets.

    The third Kanye/Paul song has been released, “All Day.” (Warning for explicit language). The melody of the song is based around Paul’s unreleased Ram song “When the Wind is Blowing,” which has also been dubbed “Two Fingers” after Paul performed the melody on Parkinson in 1999 and talked about its origins (trying to figure out of the chords in a Picasso print hanging in the hospital where his daughter was born).

    http://www.missinfo.tv/index.php/kanye-west-all-day-cdq/

    • Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

      The instrumental melody line appears quite similar at first hearing indeed, yet there is no mention of Paul being co-composer is it? The whistle and all the way to the end is typical McCartney true. Love it.
      By the way, I like the live performance of the song much better. More power, gets the lyrics thru a whole lot better. Kanye should learn how to rock from Paul more, although Paul has a way of burying rocking rhythms too, maybe ask Chuck Berry to give them a master class.

      • Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

        Here’s a link to a Slate piece about “All Day”:
        I liked the ending: “Did West and McCartney, who also recorded the parental ballad “Only One” together, bond over memories of having their first children—and end up with this? What’s really cray is that this old lullaby of a song would, after decades, become part of Kanye West’s new club banger.”

        • Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

          Nancy, your response is a tough one to consider. Michael suggested off and on-line that we’re all here for the fun of it, and it is all just a matter of meaning and there is no truth, well that’s fine, but I humbly disagree. There is information out there that gives us insight and could enable us to go beyond merely an opinion, and even more important the musical heritage of The Beatles both as a band and as solo-artists deserve consideration that goes beyond opinions – I could be wrong of course.

          The Slate piece is so full of music-composing-ignoring-nonsensical-judgmental words that are only meant to represent an opinion the author had even before he ever listened to the last four songs that came out of Kanye West musical creativity. The point of view can be appreciated by people only in it for the entertainment.

          From a perspective that includes the creative process – the four lads deserve that as Kanye West as well – there is more to it. The guitar chords/melody from Two Fingers is present through the song, it shapes the attractor, beside the rhythm, the lyrics and the singing. Denying that and being derogatory about the performance or the composition is showing you’re outside of the creative process. It is not just the last minute.

          If we understand the creative chemistry that might have been between Paul and Kanye West, just read and listen to what’s available, and knowing how Paul has created music even in the early days of The Beatles. The structure of the song starts making a lot of sense. Taking musical fragments, taking chords apart, using melody lines or chord progressions and use them in a different context, or even reverse. Of course the opinion can be one doesn’t like it, but that doesn’t mean it is well crafted and expressive. The political power (aggression?) of ‘All Day’, including the massive melodic chords from Macca, combined – maybe even better, contrasted – with Paul “you and I country dreamer” feel is strong and in tune with both how The Beatles, again both as a band and as solo-artists, dealt with political and societal issues as entertainers. This is what Kanye West presents after Jeezus, complimentary and deeply felt stuff.

          Ridicule or deriding that may be cool but renders itself in the face of art superfluous. – it is indeed just on opinion that ignores a creative process in which, like Kanye West says in the interview with Zana Lowe, Paul is the superdude of amazing chord changes, which he creates himself with a guitar in his hands, and doesn’t steal like Bob Dylan did and does.

          The other utterly silly remarks in the Slate piece is the reference to the flame-throwers… they fit the lyrics and the staging of the people all dressed dark and moving like on the Band on the Run cover – why is that “a humongous, Mad Max-esque flamethrower” idea? Even though I like the song ‘Live and let Die’ I think the fireworks are utterly stupid and cheap, as a lot of the effects at Macca’s concert. I have never seen anything more visually and intellectually intriguing than U2’s Zoo TV / Zooropa stage and show design.

          My opinion is that Forrest Wickman is clueless about the work of Kanye West.

          • Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

            Rob, I wasn’t meaning my link as a wholesale endorsement of the Slate piece. I liked those last lines because I read them as a nod to something I feel as well: how incredible is it that McCartney’s 45-year-old, unreleased song has helped to create this new song in a different genre?

          • Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

            Well, Forrest Wickham wasn’t appreciative at all. btw I think Kanye West expressed in the interview with Zane Lowe what it is specifically he liked about the musicality of Paul McCartney… and the three songs that have appeared out of the collaboration so far prove that… it is qbout the chords, the chord-changes, the melody…

          • @Rob, because you’re misinterpreting me by name, I’m going to clarify.

            In our conversations, both on and offline, my position is NOT that we are just here to have fun and thus should not apply genuine brainpower to the topic. My position is that you consistently inflate your own highly idiosyncratic personal opinions and interpretations, claiming something more definitive. This rhetorical stance is neither helpful nor necessary, and when combined with your prose, tends to create endless, harmless but also useless wrangling.

            Even for a native speaker and extremely fluid, clear stylist with a gift for criticism (Devin, for example), songs are not riddles nor equations, things to be solved, fixed, pinned down like an etherized butterfly; they are both more and less than that, they are songs. Sure, they can be interpreted, but let’s not claim authority that’s not ours; you, me, Nancy, everybody but the individuals who made that music are outside of the creative process, which means that we can only interpret. We are the audience, not the creators; we can, with great effort and some luck, perhaps piece together some of what the creators’ intended to evoke. But that may not even be what’s important about a piece of creative work — the effect may be much more ineffable. But that’s a philosophical debate for a different post.

            While I enjoy your comments, and even more enjoy that you WANT to comment, I simply don’t buy that you’re showing any more rigor than anybody else here. It’s “Aeolian cadence”-talk, and as someone who’s had his creative work analyzed (I once spent a delightful afternoon with an Italian Ph.D. student answering questions and debating my own intent), I know from experience that your conclusions are mostly about you. As my conclusions about others’ work (like Paul McCartney’s songs) are mostly about me.

            Carry on, folks. I have a new job that’s wiping me out, but I’m delighted the same old debates are taking place in my absence.

      • Avatar Rose Decatur wrote:

        Paul is listed as the second writer on “All Day” after Kanye.

        • Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

          @Michael
          .
          There is indeed a difference between opinion and analysis. There is a way of looking and listening to art that is spontaneous – you just walk into a space or take a device and listen or look at the piece of art one wants to experience. You come in there without all you know and a lifetime of emotional etc baggage – what comes up comes up.
          .
          There is however a less subjective way. Just like in police-investigative or science work one can pick a method of listening/looking/exploring that piece of art, a way of analyzing/looking at/listening that is less your own than your usual walk into a museum and see/hear what is happening.
          .
          If you take that method serious and apply it you might come up with experiences and knowledge/understanding etc. you would not have without this method of looking/hearing/analyzing. The conclusions that come out of this way of exploring a piece of art might not be what you as a person might think or feel about that piece of art. I never meant to suggest a more rigorous, a better way of listening/looking – and the result is not a better one, as you suggest I assume. It is with Lennon’s ‘POB’ and ‘Walls and Bridges’. Musically and emotionally POB is a stand out, and still in line with Lennon’s musical development, an extension of the path chosen in 1968, and tried out unsuccessfully during the Let it be sessions. As a piece of art is big, I wrote that before, maybe his most original, but that doesn’t mean it is the album I like best – I like the roughness of ‘Sometime in new York City’ and I can play ‘Walls and Bridges’ for entertainment anytime, and I do.
          .
          Oh, and I do hope I do not assume too often to know what the intention of the artist was or is unless supported by facts and quotes and not personal feelings. There is of course this way of taking in art, where one feels the response to a piece of art is sort of in tune with what that piece of art is considered by others or according to its creator, and you still don’t know why you think or feel what you think or feel.
          People are in some cases able to explain their feelings and experience, to themselves and those they share a conversation with, by teasing out the meanings of a text or music and sound. It may appear people are talking about a piece of art when in fact they are rambling thoughts to support and explain their own experience. We should indeed not confuse that way of exploring our own experience and meaning with knowing or implying the intention of the artist.
          The problem with the intention of the artist is that an artist’s intuition can allow her or him to create something unconsciously in line with whatever, which is later on suggested as her/his original artistic intention. That is why many artists are able to leave that exploration to the audience and the critics, they are hardly ever involved in that discussion.
          .
          To involve the artist in this kind of discussion is to me disrespectful and utterly silly, that is why exploring who did what among The Beatles with the intention of ranking the artists utterly stupid. Equally I cannot be bothered by arguments that find solace in the opposition of artist’s intention and ‘just opinion of the audience’, it is a death-trap I like to avoid enjoying any great art.
          .
          Oh and Michael it must be lovely that you know what I want to comment.

          • Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

            Rob, in response to your last line, what Michael said is that “I enjoy your comments, and even more enjoy that you WANT to comment.” Meaning, I believe, not that he knows in advance what you want to say, but that he’s glad you’re contributing your thoughts. As am I.
            Here’s my two cents on this debate:
            I agree that there’s a difference between an initial reaction to a work of art and the understanding / appreciation one can achieve of it through analysis. How “objective” that analysis can finally be (or even should be) is a thorny question.
            “Objective,” of a person or judgment, means “not influenced by personal feelings or opinions.” But I believe that if a work doesn’t influence your feelings or thoughts — if it doesn’t move you — then you probably won’t be motivated to analyze it, and even if you do analyze it, you won’t “get” it.
            To me that doesn’t mean that it’s all feelings, and anything goes. It is possible to combine the kind of insight that is derived from emotional connection with rigorous analysis. I just don’t think we can ever get rid of the emotional component, and given that reality, all judgments of art are going to be subjective.
            I’ve learned the most from people whose judgments differ from my own, because they enable me to see things in the work that I wouldn’t be able to see on my own. Even if my own judgment doesn’t greatly change, it’s enriched by being reminded that my judgment isn’t final or “right.”

          • @Nancy, the way you sum it up here is pretty much how I see it, too.

          • @Rob, read Nancy’s response. I like your comments precisely because I DON’T presume to know what you’re going to say; and because your takes are often different than my own take on things. I enjoy your comments, keep commenting, that’s what makes HD fun.

            My only quibble, and it is just a quibble, is that I am skeptical of your belief that art can be effectively analyzed with a methodology in any way similar to those used in “police-investigative or science work”. And even “police-investigative or science work” is notoriously error-prone/provisional in its conclusions. Even if one was able to create a systematic and data-driven method of analyzing creative work, the method would only be as reliable as the human operating it. But that’s just me. You do you, as the kids say. 🙂

  11. Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

    Another collaboration with Kanye West hidden in plain sight, on great song All Day, with visuals that remembers the Band On The Run-cover http://www.examiner.com/article/paul-mccartney-hiding-plain-sight-on-a-third-kanye-west-single-reports-say

  12. Avatar Rob Geurtsen wrote:

    @Nancy Thanks I appreciate your point of view. I hope I understand it well and get the point you are trying to make. But I get a sense that you suggest that beside our own experience and opinion, other opinions exist.

    With regards to ‘objective’ vs ‘opinion’: the outcome of any application of a model or tactic for analysis, research and understanding of a piece of art is neither ‘objective’ nor just an opinion of a person. It is a way of understanding, appreciating or understanding a piece of art without all the personal connotations and feelings. again it is not just an opinion (use of adjective is mine) nor ‘objective’.

    If there is anything I ‘want’ is to get an understanding and appreciating of music The Beatles and other art, by discussing facts and ways of looking/hearing/understanding the music to get new insights, never to get a definitive, but to discuss after Darwin creationists point of views about humanity, is too much to me, it is stupid orthodox conservatism,
    of course other opinions might indeed add some to it.

    @Michael and @Nancy
    I rather explore and understand the creative process of the collaborations rather than our current topic, which, I am sorry to confess Michael, is a case closed to me. We appear here to discuss opinions and trying to go beyond opinions is perceived as a “position (…) that you consistently inflate your own highly idiosyncratic personal opinions and interpretations, claiming something more definitive.”

    And in the mean time Paul is back at the top of the charts with a song that is a collaboration with another artists who seem to know Paul’s work very well… and especially the rhythmic work during McCartney II.

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