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Paul McCartney’s end of the end

I’ve transferred my Google Play Music from one account to another (because of something I’ll explain in a post coming soon) and have found in it some albums I don’t own, have never heard of, and sometimes from singers I never heard of. No, no extra U2. Plus, some of the names of singers whose albums I do own have been mangled: Amanda Palma is sonorous, although I personally prefer Amander Palmer.

Anyway, one lagniappe I appreciated was a Paul McCartney album I’d missed. I still find it hard to listen to The Beatles without being overwhelmed: awe at their genius, longing for my youth, depression at how badly I and my generation failed you, regret for who I was then and what I am now. You know, the whole lifelong shitteroo. (Christ, get me some chocolates!) But Paul’s solo albums I can listen to without being overwhelmed. If I like half the songs, it’s a good album.

So, this morning I listened for the first time to McCartney’s Memory Almost Full (2007), which had unexpectedly materialized in my Google Play collection. As the title implies, it’s mainly about looking down as you near the peak of Mt. Old. The excellent Wikipedia article tells me that it was a Top Five album, went gold, and was Grammy-nominated. Apparently I have not been paying sufficient attention.

His song “End of the End” has some lovely lyrics, although I prefer the verses to the chorus. Here’s one of each:

On the day that I die I’d like bells to be rung
And songs that were sung to be hung out like blankets
That lovers have played on
And laid on while listening to songs that were sung

At the end of the end
It’s the start of a journey
To a much better place
And a much better place
Would have to be special
No reason to cry
No need to be sad
At the end of the end

The line “like blankets that lovers have played on and laid on while listening to songs that were sung” makes me glad that Paul knows what his music has meant to some of us. And I like the wrapping of the metaphor — “songs that were sung … while listening to songs that were sung.”

The slightly sappy chorus nevertheless makes me glad Paul appreciates the sweetness of his life, even though I’m not much convinced that any of us are going anywhere at the end of the end.

But when someone says about their impending death “Don’t be sad. I had a full life,” or whatever, they’re acting as if their death only happens to them. We may not be sad for you, but how about for us? It’s not all about you, you know! Though I do have to acknowledge that in this case most of it is.

Furthermore, the idea that we’ll “always have them in our hearts,” is not consolation. It’s what we need consolation for.

Where are those chocolates already?

One Response to “Paul McCartney’s end of the end”

  1. Share many of your feelings about PM and the music, together and apart. Went to see him with the kids and had that same mix of emotions. I’m not evolved enough to accept what George would say–“all things must pass.”

    Can’t find the right words for this at the moment, but n in the past ten years McCartney has made such an effort to do his very best by the legacy while still making new work. I was surprised how much I liked many of the new songs, as well as the Wings work I had dismissed in my own youth. Yes I cringe at certain songs– and yet others are so lovely. The guy can still sing beautifully– he’s not out there lip syncing– and the band he has now is a delight. I think he really and truly wants to do right by the rest of the band– that’s clear from the choices he makes in concert, and the patter he uses to introduce their work. (Digression: the patter, by the way, is almost identical at every performance and in interview– talk about a guy with some serious control and privacy issues– but on the other hand, can you blame him?)

    I hope he has twenty more years in him, but I’m grateful to have seen him.

    All things must pass.


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