Let Me Roll It

Paul McCartney did a lot more great things in his solo career than his critics give him credit for. But no one could dispute that Band On the Run is the record that stands above all the rest. Someone pointed out that McCartney is one of those people who does his best work surrounded by a steady group of collaborators. The Beatles, obviously, and then Wings. The Wings years were consistently productive. It’s only when he’s left to his own devices that he starts to flounder. McCartney needs some no-bullshit helpers to keep his maudlin side in check. All that being said, he’s still Paul McCartney and does better work in his sleep (literally, sometimes) than most others do in a lifetime. The silly love songs reputation precedes him, but then there’s Rocker Paul, who knows a thing or two about riffs. That side tends to come out strongly in concert, where Sir Paul really amps it up and lets go. This song, one of his punchiest numbers, has been a concert staple since the day it was written, and lately he’s gotten into the habit of seguing his own riff into a short jam of Foxey Lady.  It’s a bit cheeky, but it works. McCartney is not the guitar hero Jimi Hendrix was, and perhaps twenty years ago it would have felt like he was overstepping his bounds. If Wings, in one of their flights over America, had gone into a Jimi Hendrix song, people would have laughed. At this point though, it feels like an honorable tribute to a fallen comrade. Sadly, as that generation inevitably shrinks away, tributes to the fallen become increasingly common. McCartney’s sets are peppered with tributes to the dead, as he has lost so many near and dear. He’s now not only keeping his own legacy, but shepherding John Lennon’s and George Harrison’s as well. Being the designated keeper of The Beatles is probably not something McCartney would have even signed up for, back in the seventies, when he wanted to establish himself as his own entity, and he and John were busy mocking one another in public. He couldn’t have imagined that he’d end up with the responsibility of carrying the Beatles’ torch and curating their legacy, near-singlehanded. Now, at 71, he’s almost like the Pope, touring heavily to share sacraments with legions of true believers.


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