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Post-Beatle Blues

Monday, 21 October 2013

December 8th, 1980.  The graduate school dorm at the University of New Hampshire.

MY FUTURE WIFE:  John Lennon has been shot and killed outside of his apartment in New York.
HER EARNEST FRIEND FROM INDIANA:  Oh, no!  Now the Beatles will never get back together.

I've been wrong all these years.  I've been trying to respect a memory.  This realization came to me last week, when I saw that Sir Paul McCartney had released a new CD.  I haven't heard the CD, haven't seen reviews, don't even know who might be in Paul's band these days.  No, my mind took me to a different connection--in about two months, Paul will have lived 33 more years than John.  Thirty-three years.  Twelve years more than George.

So here's what I'm blue about: the four ex-Beatles have had over one hundred years of solo time between them since the band ended, and not that much to show for it musically.  Think about it.  Think hard.  There just isn't that much there.  John's time was relatively short, but at his untimely death, his songwriting arc was not on the rise.  It is far more interesting, for me at least, to speculate about where Jimi Hendrix would have gone  than John Lennon.  George, freed from the Beatles,  became a wonderful human being, but his great solo music is mostly all contain on All Things Must Pass, his initial explosion of creativity after the Beatles.

 Paul I admire for maintaining a career and for keeping the Beatle flame alive, but even though I am more generous toward his work than I once was, there still isn't much of it that I'd want to listen to.  And Ringo, God love him, well he figured it out pretty well; he is the one who would be the most fun to see in concert with his ever-changing band of All-Stars.  But that would be purely nostalgic on all counts.

In that output there just aren't that many songs that, although pleasant to hear in a supermarket, maintain the timeless quality of their work as a group.

And the best song of all, "Maybe, I'm Amazed," was the first one released after the break-up.

That is always a surprise because, as I alluded to at the top, I am a John defender.  Long before Team Edward and Team Jacob, there was Team Paul and Team John.  But I heard "Maybe, I'm Amazed" again today and, 43 years later, it sounded as fresh and relevant as ever.

That led me to consider what are my favorite of the post-Beatle songs.  It isn't a "mixtape" I've encountered anywhere else, and I decided to limit myself to ten songs so that I'd be forced to stick to the essential (though maybe I cheated and snuck in an eleventh--hey, whatever gets you through the night, right?)

So, here's my list.  I've even tried to put it in a kind of order.  Maybe I'm not wedded to it, absolutely, but, sure, I'll defend it.  There are two glaring omissions, so let's dispense with those first.  "Imagine," while an IMPORTANT song, is not here because it is so weighty and because it's not a favorite listening experience.  Once I "got" the song, there was no need to listen to it over and over.  "Band On The Run" could be on this list for its music (especially those strummed acoustics near the start),  but it's a dumb lyrical concept and even sillier as an album concept, and for that reason, I always hear it with half pleasure, half irritation.

1.  Paul--"Maybe I'm Amazed"
2.  John--"Instant Karma"
3.  George--"What Is Life" or "Awaiting On You All" (tie)
4.  John--"God"
5.  George--"All Things Must Pass"
6.  John--"Oh Yoko"
7. Paul--"Coming Up"
8. George (with Wilburys)--"Handle With Care"
9. Ringo--"It Don't Come Easy"
10. Paul--"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"

Come at me.

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