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One Sweet Dream: A Beatles Podcast

Birthday Special Pt 1: The Case For McCartney As Artist. Not Beatle

Tue Jun 20 2023

McCartney's Career and Reputation

00:00 - 19:04

  • Salavitch's book treats McCartney as an artist and one of the most significant artists of the 20th century comparable to C Picasso.
  • McCartney opened up to Salavidge in 1986, giving him one of his best interviews.
  • Salavich wrote this book basically as a defense for McCartney because things had gotten so ridiculously out of whack in the wake of John Lennon's tragic murder when Lennon and McCartney were basically treated as a zero-sum game where praising one meant diminishing the other.
  • Culturally, he was sort of positioned not necessarily as the villain, but as the opponent or the adversary. There was a tension there, an ongoing competition, where he was always compared unfavorably.
  • McCartney deserves to be treated with respect bestowed upon Dil- because his career is as impressive. Dylan thinks this too.
  • McCartney's dazzling post-Beatles career is not revered partly because all he does is talk about The Beatles these days, trying to correct the story. He can be his own worst and...
  • In Hulu's McCartney 3-2-1 special with Rick Rubin, McCartney ends up talking about Harrison and Lennon and George Martin and Starr most of the time.
  • Negative treatment of McCartney still persists today in some major books and articles that dismiss or denigrate him.
  • The general public adores McCartney, but we need to disentangle some of the ideas that surround him or reframe how we talk about him.
  • The framing of Paul as a showman that wants to please the average punter has a whiff of sneer.
  • The author assumes that McCartney's work peaked and diminished after the end of the Beatles.
  • McCartney's post-Beatles work may be an argument for his poetry in lyrics throughout his career.
  • McCartney's contributions are often belittled, diminished, or ignored by reporters and critics alike.
  • There seems to be a reluctance to give McCartney the title of genius despite being the most successful songwriter of all time.
  • There is a reluctance to give Paul McCartney the title of the most successful songwriter of all time, which is absurd.
  • McCartney's success is not just the work of a craftsman but that of a magician.
  • A corrective still needs to take place in being more objective and neutral about his actions and removing some old judgments surrounding him.
  • The Beatles operated with McCartney as co-leader the whole time, regardless of words used.
  • It's unclear whether McCartney was an ego maniac or savant artist on a hot streak.
  • McCartney remains in the stranglehold of judgment by Beatles fandom despite being one of the best stewards for The Beatles.
  • More sophisticated analysis needs to be done on McCartney's psychology and particular gifts while being objective and sympathetic to his humanity like John or George.
  • McCartney has had an incredible life filled with huge success, glamour, fame, power, tragedy, and challenge. His life is iconic because he still shows up with positivity and grace.

Lennon-McCartney Partnership

24:04 - 35:15

  • 'The poetry of their existence' is a lovely term that applies to Lennon and McCartney's partnership.
  • There seems to be mysticism about their connection, as if it were written in the stars.
  • 'Now and Then' is deeply connected to McCartney in almost a spiritual way.
  • Salavitch attributes maternal and paternal qualities to both Lennon and McCartney.
  • He sees Lennon as more maternal towards McCartney, providing nurturing while needing direction himself.
  • He sees McCartney as more paternal towards Lennon, providing direction while needing nurturing himself.
  • Salavitch challenges the dominant idea that John was tough while Paul was soft.
  • McCartney had a soft spot for Lennon and understood how vulnerable he was.
  • The relationship between Lennon and McCartney was part creative and human love affair.
  • Lennon's anger with McCartney reflects the depth of his feeling for him.
  • The pressure to deliver hits impacted their psyches and nervous systems, pushing them together but also pulling them apart.
  • There was a sense of competition and insecurity about constantly being measured against each other.
  • The relentless pressure to keep the Beatles on top contributed to the breakdown when they broke up.

McCartney's Personal Struggles

34:46 - 40:49

  • McCartney talks about how he has to be careful not to believe too much in numerology and all those kinds of things because he's crazy enough as it is.
  • McCartney may not be as seen as we think when he tells his simplistic stories.
  • McCartney's tone in the 1986 interview with Salavit was quite different. He's acting almost as if Lennon was there.
  • Poor Paul was left in the unenviable position of having to eulogize a man he loved, but was also deeply conflicted about, and that he remains deeply conflicted about to this day.
  • McCartney hasn't been allowed to be angry publicly. When he expressed some of that anger, he got massive backlash, so he'd had to keep it in.
  • They never got to completely resolve what had happened. And McCartney was probably angry about that. Most importantly, He must have been very angry to have been left on his own carrying the weight on his own.
  • Maybe Lennon was just sad that they were moving apart and didn't really want to.
  • The life of famous bands or bands as a whole is incredibly stressful and relentless.
  • Enormous pressure caused the Beatles to turn inwards and hurt the people they loved the most.

McCartney's Creative Practice

24:04 - 29:59

  • More analysis needs to be done on McCartney's creative practice.
  • McCartney is smarter and more complicated than he's given credit for.
  • McCartney wants his story to be understood and his work to be acknowledged and respected.
  • Rick Rubin believes McCartney is the best bass player of all time.

Podcast Information

40:25 - 43:08

  • Combining and merging three audios affected the overall audio and made part of it a little bit tinny or echoey.
  • Two original interviews will be uploaded to Patreon in the next couple of weeks.
  • Part three of the episode will be a conversation with researcher Hallie Ryan.
  • Hallie Ryan has done an inordinate amount of research and has read a million Beatles books.
  • The third part of this episode is just our conversation about the themes in Salavitch's book, about the corrections to his image, deep about McCartney, about Leonard McCartney, probably way too deep.
  • Thanks for listening. Please look out for the episode tomorrow with Salavitch and the episode the following day with researcher Hallie Ryan.