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[After the millionth insightful comment by our indefatigable Nancy, we asked her if there was anything Beatley burning a hole in her well-furnished brains. This is what she wrote; give her a warm Hey Dullblog welcome.–MG]
NANCY CARR • When it was released in 1971, Ram was hated—really hated, to the point of practically being crushed and melted—by many rock critics. Rolling Stone’s Jon Landau inveighed against it as “the nadir in the decomposition of Sixties rock thus far,” calling it “incredibly inconsequential” and “monumentally irrelevant.” Robert Christgau was kinder, giving it a C+ and sniffing “If you’re going to be eccentric, for goodness’ sake don’t be pretentious about it.” Ram was dismissed—its being credited to “Paul and Linda McCartney” didn’t help—as a bunch of chirpy domestic tunes.
Yet over the years Ram’s reputation has risen, as Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s changing opinion illustrates. In 1997’s All Music Guide to Rock (2nd edition) he gave the disc three stars for being mostly “filler,” adding that “while it’s enjoyable filler, it prevents the record from being much more than a pleasurable diversion.” Sometime since, however, Erlewine got Ram religion: the online All Music Guide awards the album five stars. “[T]hese songs may not be self-styled major statements, but they are endearing and enduring, as is Ram itself, which seems like a more unique, exquisite pleasure with each passing year.”
And to that I say, “amen.” Ram’s distance from the 1971 rock orthodoxy’s serious-statement aesthetic has kept it sounding fresh and undated. Forty years on, Ram’s unabashed delight in melody, harmony, and musical inventiveness sounds timeless, not throwaway.
It’s hard for me to fathom how any rock fan can resist this record. Its songs recall the Beach Boys (“Dear Boy,” “The Back Seat of My Car”), Buddy Holly (“Eat at Home”), and John Lennon (“Ram On,” and yes, I will attempt to justify this claim). On Ram McCartney cuts loose, exploiting his full vocal range (high, sweet singing on “Heart of the Country,” falsetto and precise harmonies on “Dear Boy,” flat–out screaming on “Monkberry Moon Delight”), and the full range of his feelings, from love to anger. Yet even the angriest songs are hooky and bouncy. Maybe that’s why so many critics in 1971 overlooked the often personal lyrics: the songs are so damn catchy they breeze right by.
Ram as Response
With the exception of “Ram On”, Side 1 is all response to adversity and criticism, comprising accusation (of Lennon, in “Too Many People”), mock self-defense (“3 Legs”), mock commiseration (with Linda’s ex-husband, in “Dear Boy”), mock apology (“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”) and defiance (“Smile Away”). Side 2 is all love, delight, and passionate release. It’s about finding a peaceful place to live (“Heart of the Country,”), having delirious family fun (“Monkberry Moon Delight”), making love (“Eat at Home”), falling in love (“Long-Haired Lady”), and reveling in teenage lust (“The Back Seat of My Car”).
“Ram On”’s importance to McCartney is indicated by the album’s name and by his including two versions of the song, one on each side. It’s the Lennonesque song on the album, a McCartney version of Plastic Ono Band’s “Hold On.” McCartney being McCartney, the lyrics of “Ram On” aren’t “Hold on, Paul” but “Ram on / Give your heart to somebody / Soon, right away.” But like Lennon, McCartney reassures himself that having found love, he can survive. “Ram On” also recalls McCartney’s early stage moniker, “Paul Ramon,” perhaps as a way of reminding himself of his continuing identity as a performer.
The Cover Versions
The last few years have produced three complete cover versions of Ram. Though totally unrelated, the compilations RAM on L.A. and Tom (after WFMU disc jockey Tom Scharpling, who masterminded it) were released the same week of March 2009. RAM on L.A. is fascinating and maddening by turns. You’ll either love Le Switch’s gypsy-inflected “Monkberry Moon Delight” or run screaming from the room, while Amnion’s psychedelic “Long-Haired Lady” is deeply odd but oddly winning. To my ears, Earliment’s “Too Many People” and the Bodies of Waters’ “Dear Boy” strike the best musical balance.
Loaded with big-name talent, Tom is impressive throughout. Aimee Mann does “Too Many People,” Death Cab for Cutie takes up “Dear Boy,” and The Morning Benders cover “Ram On.” Every track works, but Ted Leo’s “The Back Seat of My Car” is brilliant. The beginning drags a bit, but the last 2½ minutes are amazing. Leo’s “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. . . . WOOOOO!” before he screams “We believe that we can’t be wrong” over and over, more desperately each time—well, you just have to hear it.
Dave Depper released his cover of Ram this year, playing all the instruments (a female friend supplied Linda’s harmonies). Depper decided to cover the album when he was at a creative low ebb, unable to write original songs, and set out to reproduce McCartney’s originals as faithfully as possible. He comes pretty close, an impressive feat that also limits the album’s artistic value. Because it doesn’t reimagine anything, The Ram Project is fun but not very illuminating.
I’ll give Depper the last word. In an interview he explained his decision to cover Ram this way: “I felt like I just discovered this big secret—that Paul McCartney actually did a bunch of badass stuff, and I had spent my whole life trash–talking him. So it felt like a debt of honor to this guy to bring this to light.”
Nancy Carr is a writer and editor based in Chicago.
And let’s not forget the early cover version of this album by the sophisticated Percy Thrillington!
Absolutely spot on. This really was a crime, a mob attack, perpetrated on McCartney’s reputation by a bunch of music critics (Christgau, Jann Wenner) who were in league with Lennon and thought they were somehow doing his dirty work by tearing apart McCartney’s work.
It’s bizarre that it took 40 years for people to finally come around to this album. Just last week, in a review of Eddie Vedder’s new album, Pitchfork mentioned McCartney’s Ram and called it a “proto-indie masterpiece.”
The kind of intense criticism McCartney received has got to have affected him as an artist. I wonder how different his career might have been, in what other directions he might have gone, had he received any critical plaudits for this record. At some level, it’s got to shake your confidence even if you’re the type (like McCartney) who likes to pretend it didn’t and you just soldiered on.
Anyway, better late than never. I really really hope that when he reissues Ram he does it up BIG, with generous bonus material, with both the mono and stereo versions, and maybe even throw in the Percy Thrillington version.
Yeah, Lou, the part of this story that really bothers me is what you said: “doing Lennon’s dirty work by tearing apart McCartney’s work.”
The way John and Yoko (and now Yoko) used the press to reward friends and punish enemies is very ugly to me. Courtier culture is anti-creative and anti-human.
Christgau criticizing someone for being pretentious–ha ha ha ha ha.
Lou, do you think “Ram” was bashed mainly by people on behalf of Lennon? That wasn’t my impression: I think “Ram” was just not at all what most critics at the time expected McCartney to do. For the time, it was too happy and not critical enough.
For example, this is from another review of “Ram,” this one from the 1975 “The Beatles: An Illustrated Record” by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler: “‘. . . it was neither good pop (being too contrived) nor good rock (being too saccharine). It was sta-prest ready-to-wear music, to be listened to in a lounge with plaster ducks on the wall, and it positively reeked of cosy domestica — the kind of environment that stifles all creativity.”
Sure sounds like McCartney’s crime was at least in part being happily domestic, and not in a countercultural way a la Lennon and Ono.
I’ve always been a McCartney nay-sayer because I’m a bit pretentious. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to like McCartney & Ram. Thx for the entertaining Ram plug!
Nancy: Certainly it wasn’t “cool” at the time for a rock star to be happily married, carting his wife and children around with him everywhere. Valuing family and domesticity was something your parents did, right? It certainly wasn’t countercultural. It’s only in hindsight that what Paul did — bucking the convention of the rock establishment — looks pretty damn cool and brave. Rock critics LOVE when stars defy societal conventions but Paul was defying rock music conventions and that was a no-no.
The funny thing is: That 1975 critic who said domesticity stifled creativity couldn’t have been more wrong in Paul’s case. Ram is so amazing exactly because it’s exploding with musical ideas. The quality of Paul’s solo work would later stumble but I think that’s because he got beaten down so badly by critics he didn’t know how to proceed.
And yes, I think Jann Wenner and Christgau were predisposed to hate this album because of their preconceived notions about Paul, who didn’t go after his band mates in the press, while “honest” John spilled his guts slamming Paul at every opportunity. Of course as it turned out, John was lying at the time in order to manipulate public opinion — for ex., when Lennon insisted he and Paul had stopped collaborating early on and then John waited 10 years to admit, in another interview, that he’d been lying about that.
So yes, it was partly the record itself they didn’t understand. Why wasn’t McCartney making a statement about politics or spirituality? Why wasn’t he taking a stand on things? Why — in short — wasn’t doing what John or George did?
But I also think that John and Yoko were manipulating their tight circle of friends in the media to go after Paul.
Lou, you bring up a really interesting point: once he’d been slammed by critics, over and over, Paul almost certainly felt more and more uncertain about what to do. McCartney’s creative mechanism is other-focused–“what will they like?” Not to say that he doesn’t express himself, he certainly does, but audience approval is essential for him, and when he felt the lack of that–especially after getting more approval than any other artist in the history of pop music–the confusion, depression, and uncertainty he felt must’ve been considerable.
Lou, thanks for expanding on your comment. I absolutely agree with you about domesticity in fact feeding McCartney’s creativity at this point, so that “Ram” is overstuffed with musical ideas. And his style of combining his musical and family lives does look plenty cool now, however square it looked in the 70s.
But didn’t Paul “go after” his bandmates too? I think of that insert in the “McCartney” album where he says he didn’t miss his bandmates while recording it, and of the photo of those beetles on the back of “Ram.” No question that Lennon had the gloves off in the early 70s, but I think McCartney was mixing it up as well.
To your and Michael’s point about the critical bashing McCartney took for this album: I also wonder how much it affected him musically. “How Do You Sleep?”, in response to “Ram,” must have hurt him very deeply. Impossible to know what he would have done differently if “Ram” had been better received, but fascinating to consider.
Nancy: oh yeah, McCartney was slinging mud, too, but I think we can agree that he wasn’t in Lennon’s league when it came to vituperation–what did he call it? Something like “going up against the rapier champion of Chatham”? I’m misremembering it.
There’s an 1984 Playboy interview where McCartney talks about all this stuff: http://www.music.indiana.edu/som/courses/rock/paulint.html
I’d forgotten that line of Paul’s, Michael! Here it is (from “Many Years From Now”):
“When John did ‘How Do You Sleep?’, I didn’t want to get into a slanging match. And I’m so glad now, particularly after his death, that I don’t have that on my conscience. I just let him do it, because he was being fed a lot of those lines by Klein and Yoko, I had the option of going for equal time and doing all the interviews or deciding to not take up the gauntlet, and I remember consciously thinking, No, I realty mustn’t. Part of it was cowardice: John was a great wit, and I didn’t want to go fencing with the rapier champion of East Cheam. That was not a good idea.”
I can’t say exactly why, but I love “East Cheam” there.
IMO: The difference between the comments Paul made and the ones John (and George, to some degree) made is that Paul never once demeaned John’s music or criticized his songwriting abilities.
Paul talked about John “preaching practices” (which was true) and about how John took his lucky break and broke it in two and Paul said he enjoyed being with his family more than his old bandmates. But Paul never once stooped to the depths that John did — publicly attacking Paul’s songs, directly and publicly dismissing Paul’s music and his songwriting, suggesting publicly that he’d been the serious songwriter and Paul the lightweight. And John continued to demean Paul as a songwriter even as recently as 1980 saying The Long and Winding Road had been Paul’s last gasp, which is garbage and deeply ironic seeing as John was the one with a serious case of writer’s block for five years.
If John had merely called Paul controlling and bossy, or said he was impossible to work with because he had to have his own way all the time, that would have been fair game. And I’m sure John said all those things at one point or another! But it was when John sought to harm Paul’s reputation as a Beatle and as a songwriter — and influenced music critics to go on the attack — that I find pretty inexcusable.
I’m blathering on here. But my point is that John did a lot of damage to Paul in public in ways that Paul never did to John (for whatever reason). Just think of the nasty comments Paul could have made about John’s failed album, Sometime in New York. But Paul didn’t — thank goodness. And with hindsight, while John’s comments about Paul continue to hurt Paul’s reputation to this day, those comments have also hurt John’s reputation. The lyrics to How Do You Sleep is a jerk move, by any definition. So John did some damage to his own rep in the process.
I think it was in Peter Doggett’s book that I read him or someone say that you don’t keep “taking the piss” out of someone (like John did repeatedly to Paul) unless you view them as some sort of authority figure. But I’m betting that knowing that wouldn’t make Paul feel better, given how much he seemed to need/crave approval (as Michael pointed out). And yes, I think it did some serious and lasting damage to Paul as a musician and song writer — although I think in the last 10-12 years he’s got his mojo back. I’m in the camp that thinks Chaos and Creation (2005) was a great album, as was 2008’s Electric Arguments.
Sorry for babbling. Ram on!
I think your points are well-taken, Lou. I don’t know if this is what you were remembering, but “Many Years From Now” quotes Felix Dennis, who was present at the session where “How Do You Sleep?” was recorded, as saying this:
” . . . even if it might have been very hurtful to Paul McCartney, I think that the mood in which it was written should be borne in mind, which was one of schoolboy for the hell of it. It’s quite obvious that Paul must have been some sort of figure of authority in Lennon’s life, because you don’t take the piss out of somebody that isn’t a figure of authority. The mood there wasn’t totally vindictive. As I felt it, they were taking the piss out of the headmaster. A lot of giggling, a lot of laughing.”
John’s need to keep taking Paul down publicly seems to have been driven at least in part by his own insecurities.
I remember hearing John say in an interview — on David Frost, perhaps? — that he later came to realize that his character-assassination songs (“How Do You Sleep?”, “Steel and Glass”) were really all about himself. Sort of a convenient revelation, I guess, but it also sounds true to me. I can see some of the venom in “How Do You Sleep?” coming from a place of personal insecurity — particularly the anxiety about one’s best creative work being in the past. (Also, “Jump when your mama tells you anything” — who is THAT about?)
Love this post, by the way. I’m the Beatlefan in our relationship, but it was my husband (far more of a pop snob) who decided we ought to own Ram, and brought it along on a recent car trip. He loves it. Score one for Paul! But I can imagine critics’ feeling betrayed by all the nonsense lyrics and “bip bop” vocalizing where they’d come to expect real substance. They must have been annoyed that Paul was not taking himself and his obligation to be Important as seriously as he they felt he ought to.
Mollie, that’s a good point about Lennon’s recognition that his most venom-filled songs were at least partly about himself. But “Too Many People” and “How Do You Sleep?” feel most like two sides of a coin to me — written by men who, whatever distance they got from each other, couldn’t effectively write off their relationship.
To your comment about the nonsense lyrics on “Ram”: how different are they, really, from “All Together Now” or “Hey Bulldog,” from the Beatles era? Yet when the Beatles broke up the expectation seemed to be they would all (or all but Ringo) make self-consciously important musical statements. And that’s where “Ram” doesn’t fit in, though it fits well enough into the Beatles ethos, at least to my mind.
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But many of the “nonsense” lyrics on Ram are not really “nonsense” at all. As Nancy described so well, there are some deeply personal messages — sometimes angry ones, sometimes apologetic, sometime euphoric — behind the crazy lyrics of songs like 3 Legs, Uncle Albert, and Smile Away. Would the songs on the album be so enduring and sound as fresh as they do if Paul had been more direct? No way.
Nice threads here!
Once way back when, in the early to mid ’70s I fell victim to the crap that the Lennon-Ono camp was dishing out, as mentioned above. Years later, with the help of some acquired wisdom I managed to develop a more pragmatic take on John and Paul.
Interestingly, Paul’s solo stuff (well, ok SOME of it) has aged a lot better than most of John’s. I realized what each of them brought to the Beatles table, and how crucial their collaboration was to maintaining the high quality output that The Beatles will always be known for. Without those checks and balances you can see how separately, John and Paul fell victim to their own foibles. In a number of cases there were great kernels at the core of a number of John’s songs – but buried by lack of compositional editing, dirge-like tempos, mediocre arrangements and performances. Many of Paul’s songs had great hooks, were arranged and performed impeccably, were suitably economical -but frequently they were missing that kernel. Neither of them were there to coax ideas or performances out of each other. Even after John and Paul stopped writing together their influence upon each other was strong.
Somehow I always manage to separate The Beatles from John and Paul. The Beatles’ corpse twitched on for one or two solo albums, but after that, I’ve always felt that John and Paul – and George’s output became mediocre. None of them alone were the Beatles, despite many of us wanting (and expecting) them to be.
Unknown, that’s often been a thought of mine–how The Beatles’ creative magic was so strong that it still worked on the individual performers for several years. That’s what makes the breakup such a shame–if you take John, Paul, George and Ringo’s individual output from 1970-74, you’ve got at least an LP a year FULL of smashes. Then add in the working method they used with each other, and…
For all of their (mostly John’s) pronouncements that “the magic was gone,” it manifestly WASN’T, the “singles” alone prove that. When you factor in their complimentary nature, you wonder, “What would something like ‘My Love’–perfectly satisfying Macca pap–have been if The Beatles had done it?” Yes, stuff like Plastic Ono Band needed to be solo albums, but it didn’t have to be either/or. And that’s the shame of it.
…..Maybe no one of the people who comment play music…i’m sure!
You would be wrong, Anon, but thanks for stopping by!
Great post! I’ve long been a fan of not only “Ram,” but also “McCartney,” and even — I say shamelessly — “Wild Life.” McCartney’s artistic voice in these early solo years were of unrestrained playfulness and creativity. On “Ram,” the “we believe that we can’t be wrong” chanting at the end of “Back Seat of My Car” is said to have been a stab and John and Yoko’s proselytizing, but it functions as a celebration of the youthful creative risk-taking that makes McCartney’s early solo albums so interesting and endearing.
Thanks for your comment, Alexander. I agree with you about McCartney’s early solo albums, and also about “Wild Life,” which has some good-to-great songs (“Tomorrow,” “Dear Friend,” “Some People Never Know,” and the radically reworked cover of Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love is Strange.”).
It’s true that Lennon thought the “We believe that we can’t be wrong” line was about him and Yoko, but then he also thought “Dear Boy” was directed at him, when it could hardly be more plainly aimed at Linda’s ex-husband. (However, just because John was paranoid doesn’t mean Paul wasn’t out to get him, as “Too Many People” shows.)
It’s funny that more people didn’t realize how personal these early albums actually were — as self-revelatory, in a McCartneyesque way, as Lennon’s and Harrison’s early solo records, in my opinion.
There was one very interesting thread on a music forum which dealt with the Ram album and someone described how even the Monkberry Moon Delight’s lyrics might be personal.
Link, anon? I’d love to read that thread.
As I listen to Ram, I am struck by how important George Martin was to both John and Paul…forget about him being the “fifth Beatle,” George was the “third Beatle” in the studio. George Martin and John Lennon were the only two people in the world who could tell Paul his songs were substandard.
With respect to Ram, had George Martin produced it, I think George would have told McCartney to go back to the lyrical and musical drawing board with at least half of the songs on the album.
I am a big fan of Paul’s, and I bet it must really suck for him to have to face the fact that he cannot summon up a lyric or melody remotely approaching the brilliant work he produced during 1964-1969.
How can the author of Eleanor Rigby look us in the eye as he submits lyrics like “Say you don’t love me, my salamander” for our approval?
J.R., we are clearly not going to agree about the musical and lyrical quality of “Ram.” That’s personal taste.
I do think you’re giving George Martin too much credit. He was the perfect producer for the Beatles, and his work with them is flawless, in my opinion. But that perfection didn’t carry over into his work with others, including his work with McCartney. “Tug of War,” which Martin produced, is not as good as “Ram.” (As for Martin’s work beyond the Beatles, consider that he produced the soundtrack of the Bee Gees/Peter Framptom fiasco “Sgt. Pepper’s” film.)
I also concur with Michael’s point that comparing anyone (including solo Beatles) to the Beatles at full flood is folly. The solo work is divisive because each Beatle went off in his own direction and the work shows the strength and weaknesses of their individual personalities much more clearly.
Ahem. Regarding Tug of War: Rolling Stone called it a “masterpiece”.
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Sorry about the deleted comments — having trouble posting from my phone.
Anyway, J.R., I disagree with “Rolling Stone” about “Tug of War.” Case in point: “Ebony and Ivory.” Strongly agree with the anti-racist sentiment, big fan of Stevie Wonder, loathe this song.
We’ll just have to agree to differ.
I found this take on “Ram” to be complimentary to yours, Nancy.
That’s very interesting, Michael — I hadn’t seen this post of Luca’s, but what he says about “Ram” in it matches what he says in his “Recording Sessions” book. I do disagree with him about a couple of things: I don’t think the album overall is “bitter,” though it has its moments of acrimony, and I can’t hear “Dear Boy” as a “sort of j’accuse to John.” Luca himself notes that McCartney stated this song was about Linda’s ex-husband, and I think the lyrics make that very clear. It’s fascinating that people keep hearing it being about Lennon.
I see “Ram” as the peak of McCartney’s “early period” solo career, more personal and overall stronger than “Band on the Run.” To me, “Ram” : “Plastic Ono Band” and “Band on the Run” : “Imagine.”
@Nancy, I agree on that arrangement. I’ll go a little further: BOTR has never really done it for me. I like it, what’s not to like, but I’ve never been the least bit interested in it. Couldn’t tell you why. And that’s exactly how I feel about “Imagine,” too. They are overly machined; each without the other simply doesn’t have that fascinating tension.
Re: “Dear Boy” — I think this willful misreading is a manifestation of fans’ desire for The Beatles’ story to continue after the breakup, under any circumstances. The Beatles were not just a band that made it really big — more than that they were a story, four people and one thing, that entered your life and you didn’t want them to leave. That’s why there was so much fan grief (and that’s the only word for it). The whole period 1970-80 can be seen as fans dealing with the loss of that narrative, and figuring out ways for that story to continue — begging all four to reunite, gathering at Fests, “discovering” the Beatles hiding as Klaatu, piecing together what they can from scraps of interviews and lyrics and legal actions.
This hunger can be seen to start in Pepper, and the White period; Devin’s Magic Circles does a great job explaining how The Beatles became primarily mythic. And at a place like The Fest for Beatles Fans, it’s now as much about celebrating these mythic structures and relationships as the actual music or merch.
Late to the party but… Ram seems to have gone from being shredded more than what was appropriate, to being vastly overrated. It has a few good songs on it. Overall it kind of leaves me cold. I don’t know why. It sounds snidey in tone if not in actual fact, even though the most obvious John slam, Too Many People, is wonderful IMO. He should have been more obvious on the rest of the tracks (“I don’t get the gist of your letter” on Monkberry was a start). There are snatches of interesting music, while Linda’s singing… well, let’s just say I’m glad it improved with time. It certainly couldn’t get worse than what’s on display on this particular album. Weirdo John letting Yoko wail away on his albums is to be expected, but Perfectionist Paul? Some have said they used their wives as weapons in their fued, but it was the listeners who felt the brunt. Ram was described in a discography book I read of the Beatles and post-Beatles, written sometime in 1979, as being like a hollow chocolate egg. Sounds about right. Any Paul fan who says it’s better than Band on the Run are just saying that to sound cool, methinks. But yeah, perspective. Many years and forgettable albums later, and Ram doesn’t sound so bad to critics after all. P.S. I hope Anonymous has calmed down by now as the anger is palpable. He/she should know that Paul was the first to pick a fight with John on record (for all posterity), rather than in an interview like John, which he told Wenner not to publish in book form for all posterity (he did anyway, and lost John as a friend). P.S.S. John deserved to be the object of grievance in Dear Boy more than Linda’s ex-husband did. What did the poor guy do to deserve that? Was he mean to Linda? He never saw that love was there? I call BS. He should thank him for not knowing what he had found and divorcing Linda. And letting Paul adopt his daughter, for crying out loud. Nah, it’s probably about John, in coded language like the rest of Ram. They said that John was paranoid about the FBI too, until it was revealed that they did keep a file on him and tap his phones. Sorry for RAMbling, but why leave Ringo out of this conspiracy against Paul? His opinion of Ram was worse than the critics, who put their integrity on the line to say something was lousy when it wasn’t, just because Paul sued the Beatles: “I don’t think there’s one tune on the last one Ram… I just feel he’s wasted his time, it’s just the way I feel… he seems to be going strange.” Did Ringo have a change of heart too?
This old boomer who bought and loved ram, in spite of the critics and BOTR declares BLASPHEMY on some of what is written above. LOL. I’m kidding , as we all have our taste. I will say for those of you younger folks, Ram is like early seventies back to nature hippie era, as is the first McCartney album. I don’t think any other but song but too many people was directed to John. I wore that album out and followed solo The Beatles very closely in the mags.
The I don’t get the jist of your letter in Monkberry fits whole song….it is about decayed surroundings, failing health, old age declining mental faculties and finally ending in decadent drinking. It is wildly misquoted lyrics as is sore from the crack of the enemas hose, not enemies hose. It is a blues masterpiece lyrically and vocally. I think Linda’s singing on ram is very good with added harmony vocals. Yoko said John was paranoid about all of Paul’s sol music and played it over and over again. Like things that go too far in the extreme, it has swung the other direction as ram is seen as the first seriously critically scathed Paul album scathed. I do agree what I’ve heard of indie rock that it is proto indie and I’ve read there are current styles now that ram is the proto album for.
BOTR hit the slick earlier seventies style and sound. It has some great songs on it, though. It is a loose concept album. It is the wings big break through album, the mega seller. For you younger folks, it’s hard to realize how big it was. All things must pass and plastic Ono band were big hits with the fans but BOTR was a big hit with the public. All my school friends had it, my two siblings had it and I had it. Had Paul not broken through with BOTR, he wouldn’t have broken through with the subsequent two wings albums, as they had some excellent songs, but road on coat tail if BOTR.
Had he not had the mega success with BOTR, I’m sure he wouldn’t have had the wings world tour and yours truly would’ve missed the best concert in her fifty years of concerts, there are songs on BOTR that could be individual hits, like in American release, Helen wheels and I can’t remember a GREAT one he did in rock show due to my seizure trouble as I sometimes scramble what is on what album in my old age. One of my favorite Macca songs is on BOTR, 1985, and the one hand clapping and can see it o n HD live promo I regard as Paul’s BEST live performance with his great piano and he gives the yelling part 110%. That version was neither used in the album or the. B side of BOTR single.
I do want to say that it is true John didn’t want the rolling stone 70 interviews published in a book for posterity, but some of us, like my sis took rolling stone before staples in it and read ALL John said. I’m sure the gist of it, to use that word got to Paul. I beg to differ….John DEFINITELY started the hate war and Paul too many people responded in song, At that time I was a solo John fan and sympathetic to him and I kept up with ALL things could about John as well as others secondarily….but I was a JOHN FAN. John definitely started. I heard the song a lot then, a good bit since but don’t see how dear boy is about John.
I LOVE wings, all know that and seventies my favorite era but love much of his especially unreleased adventurous stuff in later decades, different musical genres he did from 70s-90s and all if his experimental stuff.
Far and away, my favorite seventies rocking wings album is Back to the Egg, the punk sounding one but with a beautiful oddly recorded medley track and an interesting very well done jazz roots song.
My favorite Paul mellow seventies album is red rose speedway. Macca fans are split right down the middle on these albums. Many don’t like RRSW was don’t remember lad back country phase of singers like Denver, seals and Croft’s and don’t like egg because don’t remember the thrashing punk playing and singing. It was a brief but great British fad of the thatcher austerity program, a new form of music iconoclastic to sixties and seventies concept rock. I was weird for my age group liking the sex pistols and loving the clash singing about phony Beatle mania. Liked punk much better than the laborious prog rock and seventies glitter or concept stuff.
As a young teen I’ll always love his first solo McCartney album well as ram. The pastiche of beautiful tunes and lyrics fascinated me as a teen and reminded me of what later Beatles did. I wish I could remember tge great track on BOTR that was a highlight of Rock Show, but it escapes me. I see BOTR as having a more commercial flow like ram had a more rural flow. Paul was looking to touring which is why he did the wings European tour, where from the parts I’ve heard, he has a very clear voice but wings got Wayy down rocking in Europe in 72.
In the seventies macca made very quick stylistic adjustments to that decade, wildlife was early proto grunge, as was John Ono band album, rrsw was country pop then popular, BOTR really reflected that era, as did the subsequent albums. Min my old age, I almost like Venus and Mars better than BOTR, but it’s like comparing pepper to revolver except Venus and Mars came later. You simply cannot underestimate the HUGE breakthrough of BOTR and how it launched wings to become the biggest sellers in the seventies second only t The Bee Gees due y disco fad, Wings quickly swung through seventies styles, as silly love songs was a disco pop fusion at height of disco…thus the great success and has a long playing version. He had extraordinary seventies singles not on albums, like the wonderful beats and bass goodnight tonight, sultry jazzy arrow through me and one of my favorite Macca songs, daytime, nighttime suffering. He ended that decade with Kampuchea benefit and had his odd but one still played heavily, wonderful Xmas time. He makes half a million a year off that song now. I get on all this to stress the importance of BOTR.
As t above interpretations about ram…u think they all regretted the breakup but Klein was about to move entire Beatles music catalog into his holding co, like he did with some stones song they had to sue and took them years to get them back. Thus, Paul forced to sue for breakup which halted this as well as halted them bleeding money. Nancy, I agree that I I band album resembles ram and imagine resembles BOTR. They are different albums but emblematic in their early solo careers that way, imagine and BOTR each produced mega selling singles.
I hope this makes sense. I know you have a few older commenters and many more older readers of this blog, but some of this you just have to realize is of the time. There was HUGE pressure on the solo Beatles to at least have one mega album, especially on John, Paul and George, for wings it was BOTR, which enabled everything behind it.
Careful about dissing anything from my favorite wings album. You can excuse my salamander, a wiggly fish that slips away, lyric in a song on a late punk sounding wings album by NOT comparing it to a Victorian style concept rock song from over a decade earlier. It’s the same way you can NOT compare John oh, yoko lyrics or most ANYTHING he wrote on STINYC album, whatever gets you through the night to the best lyrics he wrote in rubber soul or even I’ll cry instead. You can nit compare a fifties rock n roll or jazz lyric to a late sixties lyric, different decades and styles. Those are different decades, different styles and the lyricists has different goals.
There were different styles to those decades. God save me from “concept music” Eleanor rigby pretentious stuff and “heavy lyrics” in 79 when salamder lyric written….on egg album a GREAT get down to basics late seventies punk phase is the year punk began to hit America at CBGB club in NYC. There were a few seventies prog rock groups left, but MOST folks were very tired of pretentious lyrics in 79. You have to TRUST me on that, as 79 was fading disco, black r n b, British punk and emerging new wave and mellow AM music. Folks were plain burnt out on that heavy sixties lyrics crap and early seventies had Elton, ELO and ELP and Bowie and cooper with their glitter performance act with their laborious concept albums. Mid seventies became disco to dance off the tension partly. Then came punk as folks so tired of disco had a big bonfire of disco records at end of seventies cuz whole stations even in my area of tge south went solid disco. Mercifully, new style of new wave and mtv came in.
Thank GOD, one of The Beatles like Macca did something punk like egg and wrote punk style lyrics like salamander……you must have missed god save the Queen, she ain’t no human being, the Sex Pistols. Thank GOD macca also got those black artists on SEGREGATED mtv by his duets and did black r n b style. How could we go on a lot about Beatles being so experimental and varied otherwise, standing for causes yet cringe at this? How do we sleep, to paraphrase John? .Thank GOD macca did syth McCartney II that later influenced house music and more recently gozilla anf others. Old dude STILL in last twenty years did the great fireman, electric argument, reef and earlier great sway New Age music.
As someone from Birmingham, AL,in the sixties who remembers Wallace and the church bombing that killed young girls, I’m very proud of ebony and ivory and you might be surprised to see how the public loves it and sees it as a solution song to world race relations today, like give peace a chance. Ironically, I just watched ebony and ivory video today. I read a great many very positive comments from around the world about it. It NEVER embarrassed me and I don’t find such songs corny, no more than I would a national anthem or a religious hymn corny.
Say, say, say was number one one r n b black style hit and Paul was only Beatle varied enough to do r n b black style, which he touched on in goodnight tonight song. I watched a lot of mtv and these songs reached a lot of folks and may have changed their prejudices about race. Neither am I embarrassed about freedom song as Paul sat on a plane five hours in no fly grounding on 9/11, and then got off got a cop who wasn’t supposed to do it to show him ground zero of attack. Paul was not a mind reader and could not predict future US abuses over that attack, but he struggled hard to round up folks to organize that, to play and was ridiculed and dissed by some. There’s a good documentary video of all the trouble he had doing this and how badly he was treated. He probably wasn’t thinking and he shouldn’t have promoted his new album but probably more familiar with playing and singing that material as brand new so played that, but I read he asked Clapton I think or Townsend what to play at very last and Townshend told him freedom again.
Paul was not even American, but struggled to do this and was ridiculed then and now for it. He also did NOT have to stick his neck out to get those black singers on MTV as that decade changed and he was competing with singers half his age. MtV then had mellow AND new wave stuff then. Had solo macca done nothing but ebony and ivory, a good song, that emphasized racial harmony solo I’d be proud of the him. His first duet Jackson wrote off thriller two years before big breakthrough of that album led to explosion of Jackson as first big black crossover superstar of a decade. It is sad that Paul sticking his neck out and helping to get these black artists on mtv and writing a racial harmony is ridiculed as corny. I read on one forum that many fans left him, never returned as thought that too UNHIP, some returned many years later when thought his elder statesman icon, legend mantle of cool returned. Had George new something like the NYC 9/11 concert, would have been hailed as another Bangladesh desh. John NEVER wrote a song about race relations that I know of…..but if he’d written ebony and ivory and I it would have been declared another anthem like imagine. If anyone responds that John would have never written anything as bad as ebony and ivory I refer you to the WAY worse and worse selling STINYC. Also, John never wrote a song about racial harmony that I know of but I only listened to STINYC album a few times and may have forgotten if he did.
I promise to quit looking at that how could the man who wrote Eleanor rigby write my salamander line, cuz that always sets me off. LOL. I was a kid in the sixties but grew up in the seventies and my seventies stuff is my sacred cow I guess. LOL. Please forgive if too strident. We all agree to disagree sometimes here. Thanks.
Forgive any typos.
Addendum to above comment.
I really hate I can’t edit. I wanted to add that Paul probably did driving rain songs more in NYC 9/11 concert because he had not toured since 93, his last two releases were mainly oldies covers, off the ground tour eight years earlier and had not practiced other songs to do. I saw that off the ground tour and learned in a forum that many fans don’t like that album which I did as had multi cultural ethnic sounding songs on it, but I’m weird and like the unusual albums I guess, as love press which every one else hates. I have leaned online that what I liked at the time and for years, others diss, but we each have different tastes.
SORRY….my seizure troubles caused me to forget to post about tug of war. Here’s a few thoughts on it….it was a much anticipated album after John died. It had some phenomenal deep cut song gems on it. By the eighties,
Musical styles overall much more mellow. Tug of war was a loose but not a coherent concept album. I can completely explain the very high rolling stone review…..everyone following music realized how needlessly unfair that mag and the entire rock press had been to macca in seventies. There was major guilt about that and all were relieved when he did tug of war and here today songs about John. There was extreme shock several years in eighties that John died, half of Lennon-McCartney dead.
Paul did not receive much reprieve however, as yoko agitated much strife against him, saying stuff like John said no one ever hurt him like Paul. This may belong in the John and Paul were lovers section but Paul responded with how did I hurt him? It’s the way I was raised and the home I came from. Paul was soon treated worse with the survivor hatred well portrayed in the movie ordinary people where father resents the son who survived when favorite son drowned. Paul got increasingly grilled in eighties in the press, the bunch of Saint John villain Paul books appeared, one I’m reading right now by Peter brown, and Paul got increasingly defensive and angry in his eighties interviews which made things worse for him.
I’ll never understand why he gave so many interviews then. It was then with wings gone he got all of the personal and John questions because got no Beatles reunion or wings next project questions. It was then that he began giving stock answers a McCartney interview given a few days before John died is the last in depth, probably really god interview with him, the interview was given to deejays I think then sold as a double or a single album in the early eighties. You could tell he was grieving for John, trying to defend himself and struggling as a middle aged man in a new decade where folks had become younger. The mtv duets helped his career with the younger crowd as they all especially loved Michael.
As for tug of war, it began a new era in conventional, non fad music albums for Paul. he tried to get updated with the failed Press album which I liked but was badly incoherent and produced though had some very good songs on it. Macca wasn’t following the decade new wave trend as he later didn’t follow the later grunge trend but I agree that his jam session with the remnants of nirvana besides electric argument and Rihanna 4,5 seconds is his best collaboration but I like what have heard from kisses album. Tug of war album was completely different era than ram and Paul was a completely different age, that era would never have the fresh rawness of ram or wildlife for that matter, because he kept saying in interviews he was forty, had a lot of kids to raise and it was then rather than the outlaw hippie portrayed in man on the run settled into middle age. Also, it’s important that Japan bust broke up wings and eventually Denny left, so he had to start over. From his bootlegs Eighties through nineties, he reserved his musical experimentation for unreleased tracks, even did techno version of broad street, other great techno, did tge failed movie that should have been less expensive made for mtv or vh1 movie butt did tge award winning shirt cartoon Rupert, did new age, nineties various cultural ethnic, swept genres, revived raucous but versions of old rock n roll songs.
No one in eighties would dream of making an album like ram, in concept, structure, themes because eighties videos focused on teen suburbia, fun times and dancing with new wave music. That was the last decade I myself bought contemporary albums as by nineties bought mainly singles I liked, the quintessential eighties was The spies like us all macca fans hate and the video with break dancing is consummate eighties. Techno And syth was consummate eighties and nineties house club music . MTV drove eighties music like radio drove sixties and seventies and singles were still popular in eighties but by end of decade music was album not singles driven. it was as much visual as hearing, new styles in hair and clothing and music then more of a fad than even seventies and most mtv folks didn’t have but one hit.
Stones and macca had to make very big adjustments in eighties. I do want to add, probably driven by john death that tug of war was a number one album and on macca youtubes I still see folks list it in their top five albums. I personally think Martin producted flaming pie is a stronger album due to the consistency of song quality but tug has a few such great gems the songs are in my own top ten solo macca songs. Many artists like Neil young retired, wilburys a hit on mtv and George got number one single. The eighties was a zany eccentric decade but I read here younger folks dissing the macca mullets, then in seventies called the shag and the pink shirts on men. As that was my decade, I’m telling you kids that stuff was COOL. LOL. No you say, looks stupid. Okay, I’m old.
P.S. me my medical condition would allow me to remember and be more concise,mi wouldn’t have to keep adding. Sorry.
You may not like ram and that is your prerogative, but in early seventies I learned not to trust any critic or book whatsoever about a macca album or song. Had I listened to early seventies critics I’d have never liked anything but Ono band album, imagine and all things must pass, and,because John told rolling stone he liked it, band on the run. The anti macca poisoned pen went on several decades. If you hear ram as a hollow chocolate egg and agree with that, ok, but anyone writing that in a book in 79 I would not take as the gospel. Had I listened to the critics on all the solo Beatles, especially Paul, but also George and even John, I would have missed some great songs and albums that became my personal favorites. I’ve seen that quote all over the internet to support thesis of the recently overrated ram, ironically because their favorite wings album is mine, back to the egg. I’ve also seen the Paul is dead folks gleefully pull up the scathing early seventies Paul critics to support that JPM would not have composed such trash. As the saying goes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but I see no reason why I can’t like both completely different albums of ram and egg from different seventies eras but prefer egg.
It’s enemy’s hose. I own Blackbird Singing, Paul’s book of poetry and he included that song’s lyrics. I reckon it’s accurate.
Two albums by Paul and John which were trashed by critics but I really like are Red Rose Speedway and Mind Games, which came out the same year.
I don’t want to hog the comments, but find the discussion of seventies solo, especially solo Paul music very interesting as in that decade he released his most genre varied music on his regular albums. One reason I gravitated to Paul music in the mid seventies was the extreme variety of music styles on his albums and singles. What critics then hated, I found fascinating. John and George music hit a style and seemed to recycle it, but you got every style on a Paul album or b side.
There’s been much derision of bip bop song and lyrics online. As someone with parents from extreme south AL next to Mississippi, I have to tell you all that is black primitive blues roots music and lyrics, like she’s my baby or baby’s request seems to be jazz roots music. I’m not a musician but remember these music genres in the sixties. As a southerner, I was interested that Paul came to south in mid seventies to record in styles of those cities, Nashville and New Orleans. His much later great cover of protest song, all my trials was also sung in southern soul, gospel style. He did great gospel style songs, black spiritual style like call me back again, great Cajun like down to the river. I’ve been looking for blue grass style, but haven’t located it yet.
I was very surprised that the Hoffman forum folks loved, as I always did, Paul’s great vaudeville, twenties and show tune solo songs, you gave me the answer and c moon, very surprisingly loved mary had a little lamb protest song cause give Ireland song banned, but mary song had children singing on it and they all adore my love, which was wings first big break through AM number one hit. These are folks a decade or two younger than me without the boomer or the gen x prejudices. Probably many the youtube lovers of Paul mtv songs were eighties kids, but some seemed older loved the song as a message of hope and how to live.
I want to add ebony and ivory got Stevie a number one song for the third decade in a row and that say, say, say was number one on the r n b charts, making him the first Beatle to do so. Black r n b, as was black funk music with Rick James being the biggest artist, was big then and unlike now, radio was highly segregated….there were white stations playing mainly white music and black stations playing black. I was delighted to find a pure 1980 funk version of coming up song on Wings rehearsal for the tour. The seventies had some great completely different music styles throughout the decade, more than any other besides the sixties in my lifetime.
Many then and now criticize Paul and wings output, but as he was a forever banished outsider to the rock press and old Beatles fan trying to be hip, so the smartest thing the man ever did was reinvent himself to start a group from scratch and appeal to a younger generation. You have to be my age or older to realize that most in wings concert audiences were around my age. I was 19 when I saw them. Wings broke through AM radio but BOTR broke through AM….AND…FM. Am was for singles but FM those days was album oriented.
Paul was the first solo Beatle to be heavily played on FM with BOTR because as I said Ono band and all things must pass big hits with critics and fans but less so with general public and George album was an expensive box set. Even my southern city, had a FM album rock station….many called underground stations then. This helped BOTR go platinum several times. Oh, I think it was let me roll it on band on the run, he song I couldn’t remember the three big wings selling albums each had three great Macca songs later used in WOA tour, call me back, beware my love and let me roll it. It was great to be a macca fan in the seventies because you never knew what all you would get on an album or single.
You had to get some albums or especially macca singles to finally get the great, rocking Soily song, or the screaming oh woman, oh why or, my favorite, mess. I was an unusual wings fan being my age, as I started out a Beatle and solo Beatle fan. While critics greatly disparaged him for not finding his footing, younger fans loved the stuff, the zany, varied wings stuff. Regular press folks amazed Paul able to recreate Beatle mania with younger generation crowding into the then general admissions wings shows. The rock press of course realized he had cleverly slipped past their hegemony of hip declaring fiefdom and quickly called Paul a sell out but all of John’s mid seventies friends and George were desperate for a number one am hit and a number one album which drove the music business then. Each got another one or two but by then Paul had blown past them. Had those been John or George singles or albums, they would have been hailed then.
The most interesting thing to do is to go to his seventies solo YouTube comment sections and ignore the conspiracies nuts and John fanboys but to read comments from folks growing up in seventies or later decades and their current hatred of the way he was mistreated as compared to other solo Beatles or if young to be appalled that had read how bad his seventies stuff was or how he didn’t rock but younger folks now amazed at live promo performances of those seventies songs, especially young guys as note macca and wings could really scream and rock. The then extremes recycled in the rock books haven’t gone over well in contemporary times. Many older folks growing up in seventies have ir their parents had favorite wings albums. Many especially seem to love the mellow and eclectic London Town which really hit overall the mellow sound of non disco 1978 stations.
Unfortunately, these rock critics look like propaganda ministers, as they were that, pushing their vastly superior John and George memes, and Beatles were gods myths, male John vs Paul false dichotomy and effeminate looking musical Paul was vastly inferior to the macho John was the Beatles genius, the cause guru and all of this had now cause folks to further question and doubt history and what is written, unfortunately. I’m sad that this has eroded John and George’s solo music musical legacies from younger commenters I’ve seen but eventually I wondered if it would ever balance out, but seventies John made himself an image and restricted himself to a caricature personally and musically almost whereas George’s music itself was severely stylistically restricted. I too was thinking at the times these memes would go on forever as got recycled throughout the decades, but Macca’s old age, steady musical slogging throughout the decades, and George and John’s early deaths as well as their stylistic restriction choices along the way left their music carved in Stone. There s also the Internet where folks don’t have to have bought the books or the rock mags from then, as can find them online and easily listen to all of the solo music.
Macca’s music changed rapidly in the seventies, but with every decade and he did his own musical side projects, some released and some not, but it’s not just because of heavy touring and his elder statesmen beautiful, more mature music of last twenty years that he is now called a melody master, a tier 1 song writer, and a rare in a century or two musical genius and and a contemporary Mozart, which it is all of the genre sweeping, adventurous styles he dipped into beginning with his first solo album forward. Many of Macca’s musical endeavors and experimentation in styles were dissed throughout the seventies and later decades but they are now, true to the pendulums and extremes of history, seen as a part of the whole…….as many of his commenters on his YouTubes note….genius as work. For those who didn’t remember those decades and other music from them, it is very difficult to evaluate someone by himself without consideration of what all was happening around him. His stuff is a contradiction as he both followed his own music and trends as well. Sometimes leading them, as with electronica McCartney II and singles as only Kraftwerk German group doing this but not to extreme extent of Paul sythn McCartney II and singles.
Michelle, I’ll go by what you say quoted in blackbird book about Monkberry lyric being crack in the enemy’s hose, though the other does makes a whole lot more sense and the song describes the decayed and inferior stuff and surroundings. The song has nonsensical but great impressionistic blues lyrics and by seventies many not putting lyrics on back of albums. Paul should know what he wrote but could have cleaned it up. The crack in the enemy’s hose could mean the enemy was fracturing. No wonder ram drove the already paranoid John even more paranoid.
I stand corrected.
You are right about the glow the of the solo Beatles wearing off f the critics by the time rrsw and mind games and George’s album around that time released…..material world? Dark horse? It was very unusual and for the first time that Rolling Stone mag gave rrsw a better review but for the first time downed a John album. I too liked mind games. I really shook John I read as he and yoko had expended a lot of PR effort winning over the rock press. I read where it depressed John and led to his spiral downward, his lost weekend, eventually. Walls and bridges is my favorite album of his in the seventies and contains two f John’s best solo songs, to me, bless you and number 9 dream.
All of the solo Beatles were under extreme pressure in the seventies, certainly not just Paul. They all were expected to produce a stream of number one singles, albums and sadly for their solo work to be on the level of the hallowed Beatles. I want to also add as I was a huge George fan in the seventies and bought all of his stuff, he had a VERY hard time after the mega seller ATMP. George fans liked material world, but finances forced him on a failed tour, which I saw and so very glad did but his voice terrible, Ravi put in middle of show, and afterwards George did some on them but panned albums that had some very good songs n them.
Finally, by 79, he did the very good George Harrison album. I was so happy that after the seventies, he bounced back with wilburys and mtv. Ringo sputtered and I cannot remember when the I think it was called I wanna be Santa album came out, but I’d love to have a copy for the novelty. However, to credit them all, despite critics their albums sold well in the seventies and before disco took over in 75. One or the other solo Beatles dominated the am singles charts and radio.
Seventies solo Beatles era was very interesting, their stuff completely different from each other, they were all alive and except for their embarrassing public fighting and song fighting, it was a great era. I’ve often said that the ONLY good thing about the Beatles breakup was all of the great solo music,…..not like the Beatles music, as impossible to recreate that, but interesting stuff, not necessarily always good but displayed their personalities. Some folks cite this as a weakness as lacked the others to rein them in, but I found it all interesting.
I do want to address what you said about John being paranoid about Ram and paranoid about the FBI, which turned out to be right. Forgive me, it I point out that is false equivalency. Just because John was right about the FBI following him does not mean, he was right in assuming dear boy song was about him. I do not agree with his or your notion that the song was about him. I won’t try to unfairly trump you with my age because bought and I listened to it so much then, but I have listened to the song several times recently and do not hear where it is about John.
I hope this doesn’t offend you but to suggest because he was right about one thing does not mean he is right about another. Also, it is unknown, this blog has discussed when John got off heroin or what other drugs he used during the time of comment about ram. I do know that certain drugs can induce or worsen paranoia but don’t know for sure if that was the case about his dear boy comment. I know that by what yoko said, John was obsessed with Paul solo music for references to him and played it repeatedly.
@Pidpoo, try not to personalize your comments. Just say you see it differently, then (more important) show why. This helps keep the conversation flowing nicely.
Well, this is the second or third reprimand I have received on this blog which I felt contained very interesting subjects. I have told my solo Beatles personal stories or expressed opinions backed by fact as best I can remember them from dinosaur paper days, as they are relevant to the subject. When discussing my opinions of what I remember and like and my opinions varied with others, I’ve joked about my opinions as situational to when I grew up. I do not see the difference in my comments and those above in this or the other threads. I’ve made an effort to participate on different subjects so as not to restrict myself to just commenting on one subject like so many on the were John and Paul lovers like many others have done with pure speculation. I’m not sure what kind of comment policing exists or is wanted on this blog.
I’ve read some very interesting comments from another commenter but you chided him for jumping in the middle of a thread and derailing it. I thought he was disagreeing but adding to the subject. When I was complimenting your blog in that thread, you got off topic for and told me not to take PID so personally. I thought my angle as an older solo fan would give a different perspective to this blog. I didn’t realize I had to be, I hate to use the term but will, politically correct here. That is the problem in the contemporary world, everyone’s opinion is equally valid with no basis as I don’t see a false equivalency as being a basis of opinion. This at first appeared to be an open forum. I don’t get how there can be a leap of logic about John being right about FBI following him, so he must have not been wrong about dear boy being about him, the latter does not have factual support, but I’m being lectured to provide factual support.
You don’t need to educate me as to how to support an argument because I studied that a long time ago. Way up thread and in other parts of this blog other folks, including you, have discussed why they don’t think dear boy is about John and not just what they read but the song itself. This blog should allow folks to state what they like and to provide background along to substantiate it. It should be more than an intellectual debate or false comparison opinions. Perhaps you need to be the one to give an academic lecture on false equivalency.
I’m certainly glad I chose an anonymous name, as would not want you embarrassing me repeatedly with reprimands. The Gus guy holds his own here, though. I don’t always agree with him, but he doesn’t let you back him down. He is so smart, and I’ve learned a lot from him. Perhaps I should continue commenting to let you know you are interfering at times with your own comment threads. No one is perfect and it is hard to moderate something like this, but you do your site no favors by inconsistently doing this. Perhaps she’s a much older forum member than me and that’s it and it’s a matter of rank. Gus seems to be a strong willed guy and that’s it with him. You tried to stop his comments several times on that best macca solo collaboration effort.
I am of two minds about it, but it’s probably not worth my commenting again. I tried in recent threads to joke at the beginning or the end about differences in tastes. I’m astounded that you would not correct a false equivalency idea but me instead, as that’s about as intellectually academic as you can get. Was very surprised you let that go unaddressed as it is right up your line f background and interest. My arguments are more well supported than any I’ve seen on many of the other threads. You will discourage other commenters with this kind of regular reprimand. You let way too much slide with some commenters to regularly call out others. It would be better for you to disable comments entirely than to cherry pick your commenters.
If you continue to do this kind of thing, you’ll have nothing but the female fantasy thread about Paul and John being lovers, which seems to be far and away your greatest number of comments. you have actually published several comments from a younger person about Paul not being nice, John was and wished he had met Elton who, without support was assumed to be nice, not Paul. Folks chimed in but not you, the blog owner. I was shocked to read that but could tell the person was young. I figure if youM the blog owner would let that by and a lot of what’s in the John and Paul were lovers by, surely nothing in my comments would be worse. I see you let a John wasn’t paranoid about ram unsupported argument by but chide me for my comment.
@Pidpoo, on a topic like this, everyone is expressing opinions, so what’s worked for 11 years is to encourage definite statements of personal opinion:
“I have always been dubious of John’s claim that he didn’t realize “Lucy In The Sky” spelled “LSD.” Here’s why…”
Rather than the more typical
“Jenny, I totally disagree with you. Lennon absolutely knew that song spelled out LSD!”
Doing it this way keeps tempers cooler, and encourages people to talk with each other, not at each other, as it common in comment section.
I’m sorry if you felt chided. You are a new commenter—as are many—and I wanted to gently remind everybody how comments are done here. We’ve been running the site for many years now and have some little rules of thumb that I dust off when necessary.
The shortest version: say what YOu think, rather than interpret or characterize other commenters. No offense was intended.
I can see what you are saying generally, but in two incidents you responded to me personally rather than gently reminding people in general of the rules of this thread. I have seen on at least two of the other threads I’ve been on on this site where folks interpret or expound on what others say which though they may disagree and the conversation moved forward because it was all part of the discussion except with the other guy I mentioned and me.
I’ve never gotten the reply button to work on your site but that may be because I’m technically ignorant. The greatest example was maybe one or two people especially but probably more on the John and Paul lovers thread and the other on was on the opinions about Paul’s best solo collaborations. I also just in this thread saw various preferences with no support.
The John and Paul lovers thread is rife with those unsupported comments such as I just think or they look like they were soulmates. That is a very interesting thread but without argument support in many comments though some do have better support. I actually think and have for a long time they had a relationship go sour, but that entire thread is really circumstantial including anything I myself added to it.
Yes, I am a new commenter but am still debating whether or not this is a site where my comments are welcomed. Folks will disagree and you find this on every site of any type, but I’ve seen some unsupported broad brush strokes here go uncorrected by you and I would overlook that completely but have seen you monitor me and another person and let all of others go. I’ve gone back and read as many of your old articles and comments as I can. You seem to have just a few regular blog commenters who seem to be the same folks with the exception of the John and Paul thread. The very comment I responded to that got your reply to me was an unsupported comment.
You run the site and you do but made it very clear to me that you do. Folks have to come up with articles, but they seem very few and not to be updated that frequently probably because you are all very busy working and with families and that kind of stuff takes time. I really enjoy hearing other folks interpretations of events of Beatle and solo music but some of my areas, like maybe collecting, concerts saw may differ from others on this site.
However, I’ve heard a few folks call others’ interpretations of John and Paul were lovers idea as being homophobic on that John and Paul thread and, as you are moderating so closely, I’m very surprised you didn’t jump in on that. I guess that’ us one think that misled me to think the comments sections were more open. If I continue commenting, I don’t feel so free about it. I haven’t read or found your comment rules anywhere. I will say that you aren’t reminding everyone though, twice you have reminded me.
I won’t count your unwillingness to research anything about Chapman as that is up to you but my comment was posted in the conspiracies thread. Way back at the beginning of your thread a commenter posted something in relation to it or the CIA I saw. As far as support for your argument much here that is not actual Beatles history gets into unsupported facts, like your interesting but still unsupported speculation that especially Paul’s father drank heavily and your fascinating but largely unsupported idea that the Beatles all came from substance abuse families and each is the archetype of a child from a home like that.
As so many odd opinions have gone unchallenged here, I thought it was a free forum. I may not stay, but if you don’t want your commenters to be singled out and targeted, ou may need to remind all of your commenters on a central place because I’ve seen a few wild things along unchecked in these comments and folks called homophobic. Thanks for responding. I do enjoy reading all of the comments and have learned a lot on this site.
@Pidpoo, I responded to you personally because you are blitzing the comments section. I’m glad you like to comment, and want to err on the side of allowing everybody their say, but after 11 years there are certain techniques of commenting that we’ve found lead to better discussion. So I spoke up. I’m sorry if you felt singled out or criticized, it wasn’t meant harshly.
I don’t monitor the J/P thread super-closely (though I do read every comment), because I generally don’t wanna get into the habit of lecturing people. It’s a crazy topic, and one that is inherently conjectural. The other thing is, people are super-attached to that topic, and life is too short for me to get tangled up in each commenters’ ideas of sexuality, for example. Nancy and I regularly talk about ending comments on that post, because we — in general — don’t like ’em. But then it seems to mean a lot to people to be able to talk about it here, so we let it roll.
I have, since you mentioned it, researched Chapman and the other issues you mention *exceedingly* extensively. I know exactly what you’re talking about regarding “Catcher,” and much more besides. However, I came to the conclusion based on my own research that it was neither useful nor healthy to speak about such matters here. That’s my choice, and your mileage may vary.
This blog isn’t in any way “a free forum.” It is a site that I have maintained and paid for, for 11 years. I’ve read and approved over 9,200 comments, including 20 of yours in the last week or so. I’m sorry if you feel constrained, but we all need to feel a bit constrained for the discussion to flow smoothly; for the first eight years or so, because everybody held themselves to a very high standard of concision, thoughtfulness, and impersonalness, our comments section was regularly hailed as an oasis of respectful, stimulating discourse. Over the last several years, the comments have gotten more personal, more aggressive, and often group around one of several emotional sticking-points. Nancy and I do our best to apply the standards that worked so well from 2008-16 or so, but increasingly we feel that perhaps closing comments is the only way to avoid these kinds of wrangles. I want to write posts, not replies to angry commenters.
Pidpoo, I’d like to jump in here and give my perspective on some of the issues you mention. I’ve been co-moderating this blog with Michael for the past 9 years, and we’ve seen times when comment threads are largely respectful and productive and times when they turn relatively toxic. A few months ago Michael reposted about our commenting policy, in order to clarify what we are trying to do here.
On the “Lovers” thread specifically, I chose to write a post about why I think some of the patterns I was seeing in the comments thread are problematic. I’ve responded to specific comments when I have had a reasonable expectation that that will be helpful. There’s a fine line (to quote a McCartney song) between chaos and creation, and we’re trying to walk it here. People of good will are always welcome.
I will also add that I have yet to see others except maybe you and Nancy using any these modifying qualifiers….restating their opinions to make them gentler. Again, folks will agree and disagree and you have to realize they do all throughout your comments, most especially on your most controversial John and Paul lovers thread. I don’t need lectures in etiquette and diction, thank you, as I’m not your student in your college class, but simply a commenter on your blog.
@Pidpoo, you’re right — you’re not my student. But this is MY blog, and I have the right to ask you to comment in certain ways. You can choose not to do that. I could say, “Please keep your comments to 500 words” or “Please don’t use the word ‘wombat’.” And HD readers might read that and think, “Well, I love wombats, I’ll comment somewhere else!”
As I explained, it’s neither personal to you, nor random; we’ve been doing this blog for a long time, and it’s precisely because I wanted people to feel they could engage with you safely and usefully — because I wanted you to integrate into the community we have here — that I asked you to keep an eye on personalizing your discourse. You say you like this blog and learn stuff from it; well, if you go back and read all 775 posts, and all 9,000 comments, you’ll see that I have stepped in at times, and that there have been probably thousands of different commenters, and very little sniping or conflict or flame wars. But if the way I like to do things bugs you, that’s all right — just lurk. Or find another blog that you can speak on. But let’s quit bickering, all right? I’ve heard you, you’ve heard me, let’s move on.
Now, to the rest of you: Because there are so many new commenters, I’m taking the time to reply to these comments of @Pidpoo’s, to demonstrate how commenting goes here. I’m not going to write up a bunch of rules, because I am not going to argue with people over whether or not such and such thing was “abusive” or “incoherent” or “too long” or “combative.” I’m just going to give friendly nudges, and if the behavior continues, I’ll only approve comments where the behavior isn’t present. Go back and read the old posts, and the comments, and you’ll soon get a sense for how things should go.)
Think of HD like a party that Nancy and I are throwing at my house. Nancy and I have a right, as the hosts, to ask guests not to put their drinks on the turntable. Don’t take it personally, it’s not personal; I just don’t want you to spill your drink on Nancy’s copy of RAM. But the point of all this, like any party, is to have fun. If HD isn’t fun for you — if it’s a source of conflict or frustration — please please PLEASE don’t torture yourself. Go find someplace that makes you happy, taking our thanks for whatever you’ve brought to HD.
Thank you both for responding. I’m very sorry if my multiple responses on this one thread particularly seem as if I’m blitzing the blog. There aren’t that many folks on this thread anyway in this case and as just the solo Beatles have fifty years of history and, if you remember and know a good bit of it, it’s sometimes hard to keep comments below a certain number of words or not to make multiple comments on one thread and same commenters some with very long comments on your John and Paul lovers multiply comments by the same people show that. Seeing that, i did not think that was a issue here. There’s a few people go back and forth a lot with each other on that thread and one in particularly writes very long, but interesting responses that seem longer than 500 words.
I’ve tried to add my thoughts to different topics, as I I thought my age and memories could add to discussion on the issues where I’ve commented. This was a blog I thought someone my age and with my perspective could add a different view to and all would enjoy as I have enjoyed their views and opinions of many things. Yes, it goes without saying that this is your blog, one on The Beatles for the fans too. Though I don’t make as much as you, obviously, I was thinking about donating to this great site. I will say in the past this site has made me very happy but fortunately all things Beatle tend to reflect their career and solo years, a topic this site has provided interesting analysis on. Had I not been happy about this site I would have never commented on it, especially more than once. I will not comment on this site again.
@Pidpoo, whether you comment again or not, please know that you have my deepest good wishes for your health and happiness, and I hope that the Beatles and their music can play a role in that healing.