NANCY CARR * On her new album “Wallflower,” Diana Krall covers “If I Take You Home Tonight,” a song Paul McCartney wrote while working on “Kisses on the Bottom” but didn’t release. (Not clear if he recorded a version.) I think the romantic ballad blends in seamlessly with the late 1960s to 1970s songs that make up the rest of Krall’s album. Listen for yourself:
I can see why McCartney didn’t use this on “Kisses,” but why didn’t he put it on “New”? To my ear it’s far better than either “Hosanna” or “Looking At Her,” which I think are the two weakest songs on that album. It’s interesting that those two songs are about an established romantic relationship going well, while “If I Take You Home Tonight” is, as the title suggests, about the first tentative move towards a romance. The feeling of both melody and lyrics is similar to that of some of the songs on “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard,” especially “Waiting For Your Friends To Go” and “Anyway.” The entirety of “If I Take You Home Tonight” is in the conditional mood, with the singer speculating on what might happen and wondering about rejection:
If I tell you how I feel
Would you be afraid and run away
I would say my love is real
If you let me take you home tonight
In the context of Krall’s album, “If I Take You Home Tonight” sounds believably like part of the 1970s playlist that includes “Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels),” “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” and “Superstar.” Has any other songwriter managed to cover the musical/historical waterfront the way McCartney has? His originals on “Run Devil Run” (the title song, “Try Not To Cry,” and “What It Is”) could pass for 1950s songs, and those on “Kisses On The Bottom” (“My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts”) sound like obscure pages from the classic songbook the rest of the album covers. But he’s always loved taking a genre and seeing what he can do with it, and exploring multiple modes simultaneously. One day during the White Album sessions he’s doing the music-hall-inspired “Honey Pie,” and on another the proto-metal stomper “Helter Skelter.”
He’s some kind of freak of nature, that’s for sure. He’s still doing full-on three-hour arena shows in his early 70s, collaborating with young singers and musicians across genres, and apparently writing enough new songs that he can just, you know, hand them around. To me, amazing with no maybe about it.