|Miss Willow and McCartney
I heard the news just as I was posting about this piece about a biography of Paul McCartney in the New Yorker.
It's written by Adam Gopnik who has been working my nerves since at least 2010. As with any Gopnik essay, this one has good bits equally matched by annoying bits.
Some of the good bits:
And yet, even though we’re drowning in Beatle fact, something mysterious remains, and that mysterious thing, as always in the lives of artists, is how they did what they did. There is something fated about the Beatles. The first photograph of them in their final fourness, with Ringo on drums, was taken on August 22, 1962; the last was taken exactly seven years later, on August 22, 1969. The space between was filled with music. The notorious 1962 Decca tryout tape, where they failed the audition, and deserved to, seems almost impossible to reconcile with the final, elegiac side of “Abbey Road,” or with the music of the last rooftop concert, in London in January, 1969—all that passionate, smoky, supple playing and singing. The seven years are still almost unbelievable in the growth they evidence. The Beatles were an O.K. provincial rhythm-and-blues group, then they were masters, and they departed having made only masterpieces. How and why it happened—and why, having come so far so quickly, they broke apart so soon—remains the biographer’s puzzle.
He makes an excellent point. I also like how Gopnik appreciates McCartney's very unusual for a rock star regular family man aspect, something I've written about before.
...Paul was not only a man of genius but also someone who has, past seventy, handled the madness of mega-fame about as well as anyone ever has. Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson died of something very much like suicide; John Lennon was murdered—hardly his fault—but after a long period of withdrawal. Paul is a grandfather and a father, by all accounts a good one, who made a bad rebound marriage after losing a much loved wife, but who has otherwise spent the past twenty-five or so years doing the good work of entertaining countless people and accepting innumerable awards. It’s a nice life to look at. He still strolls the streets of New York, smiling and dismayingly normal. So, if there are no new facts, there is a new attitude: all is forgiven.And I really like the ending:
Not long ago, on one of the Upper East Side avenues he haunts, Paul McCartney bumped into a woman (my wife, as it happens) who as a small child had seen him onstage and held her ears against the screaming, and, like every woman of her generation, has idolized him since. “I know you,” he said cheerily, and then, stepping forward, realized he didn’t. “I’m so sorry,” he said, at once. “I’m really sorry to intrude.” It must have been the first time in fifty years that McCartney had had to apologize for bugging someone on the street, rather than the other way around. That he still knew how to do it is a sign of his grace.I will have to spend more time on the East Side in the future if McCartney's over there walking around accosting people.
|from the New Yorker article