My consciousness of the Beatles was very limited when John's death occurred. But it was that event that triggered my exploration of and now undying devotion to all things Beatles (and Lennon). Sirius XM came out with an all Beatles channel a few months ago and it has been wonderful not with just the songs but with the snippets in between of Beatles trivia and guest hosts like Don Henley and Billy Joel breaking down Beatles songs. Another feature is for regular fans to call in with their four favorite songs and give a little spiel as to why. I could never pick just four songs.
So I made up another category of four underrated songs by Paul. Maybe I'll find some variations on this in the future. John always said Paul was a vastly underrated bass player and even though Paul could be shallow in his lyrics at times, other times he soared in ways people also don't give due recognition. I'll attempt to correct that oversight today.
I'll present these in chronological order. Note that original studio Beatles songs are banned on YouTube.
I was shocked the first time I heard this song written so early in the Beatles catalog as the final song on "A Hard Days Night". I felt Paul found a haunting corner of everyday life and beautifully expressed it. His emphasis on communication is thematic throughout his Beatle career, most notably in "We Can Work It Out". Here he sees the future rooted in words spoken this day while acknowledging in the melody a certain melancholy. It reaches an ancient sorrow brought to light. As Beatle songs predate human history, who knows what corner of the universe that came from. No matter how many times I hear it, I can never get to the bottom of it.
A while back I saw in the theater a documentary on the making of Sgt. Pepper's. This guy has broken down other Beatles albums as well and I especially looked forward to this one. He did, however, skip over a few songs, one of those being "Fixing A Hole". I thought that was outrageous. I think the lyrics above to be a moment of clarified genius expressing the futility of arguing reality. Beatle Paul could step outside of himself sometimes and make these wonderful observations. "When he wanted to, he could think." (John referring to Paul). This song forced me to realize I could be right or wrong about the shape of the earth but my place on it remains the same. That was a relief.
Day after day, alone on the hill The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him
They can see that he's just a fool
And he never gives an answer
But the fool on the hill Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning around
Yes, this is considered a classic but is still not properly appreciated. Paul paints the picture of a "wise" fool and I love that seeming contradiction. I feel people for the most part are a little disturbed by the vision of a wise fool spying on them, seeing them for what they are, never answering their demands. So this song is not embraced as it should be. Though maybe not conscious of it, Paul is speaking of every artist ever born, observing and smiling like a Cheshire cat who never tells you why. Lennon also liked this song and whenever I hear it I want to expand it into a film and explore it deeper.
Out of college, money spent See no future, pay no rent
All the money's gone, nowhere to go
Penny jobber, got the sack
Monday morning, turning back
Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go
But oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go
Oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go
Paul is sitting atop the Beatles mountain here knowing it's about to crumble. Only those four know what that was like. He was, in essence, homeless. To me, I imagine a person walking the streets with a special feeling inside he can't get out. It's a painful place to be and obviously not a sustainable way of life. I read where Paul no longer sings this stanza in concert when he does this song. I can understand why. He's left alone on the edge of the universe wondering if he's going to fall into the abyss. It's a horrible thought but I'm forever grateful he went there and captured it for all eternity.