stranded on a desert island with paul mccartney and endless electricity

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 min­utes.

LAST YEAR THE QUESTION of “Why was Paul the most suc­cessful out of all the Bea­tles?” turned up on Quora. Of course, I chimed in with an an­swer. But be­fore I post that here, I want my readers to un­der­stand a few things: For the pe­riod 1963-1969—you know, when he was a member of a band called the Beatles—I con­sider Paul Mc­Cartney to be the most cre­ative bass player in pop music along with being one of the best song­writers and singers.

That is, in a decade brim­ming with cre­ativity and vi­tality, I rank him near the top­per­most of the pop­per­most in the rock and pop music pan­theon. Then came the ’70s and in­stead of new records from the Bea­tles, we had records from John Lennon, Paul Mc­Cartney, George Har­rison, and Ringo Starr. Each at his very best didn’t have the smallest part of the magic of the four of them together.

So here is my an­swer to the ques­tion, Why was Paul the most suc­cessful out of all the Bea­tles?:

“Com­mer­cially, Paul McCartney’s solo/Wings records have been ex­tra­or­di­narily suc­cessful: twenty-two sin­gles made the Top 10 in the US and twenty-six al­bums have been granted RIAA Gold Records. Ar­tis­ti­cally, I think Paul McCartney’s solo/Wings records stand as in­con­tro­vert­ible ev­i­dence that the real Paul blew his mind out in a car ac­ci­dent in 1966 fol­lowing the recording of REVOLVER.” 1


PaulMcCartney McCartney first album FC 600

PaulMcCartney McCartney first album bc 600

Upon hearing Mc­CARTNEY is 1970, I thought that it did not bode well for the ca­reers of the four Bea­tles without their mates. In fact, it sounded like a bootleg of studio re­jects (al­beit a bootleg that blew all other boots away for sound quality). I did like the lovely photo of Paul and his daughter on the back cover.

An appropriate answer

Ear­lier today an­other Quora reader re­sponded to my an­swer (a few ed­i­to­rial changes were made to make the an­swer fit with the house style of this blog):

I hope you are joking. And it is a bad joke. Music changes. Look at Paul Simon after his breakup with Gar­funkel or Brian and the Beach Boys or Chicago after the sev­enth album. Paul’s music moved on in di­rec­tions he wanted, un­bur­dened by the other three.

He could have used Lennon’s bal­ancing on some songs but all are filled with melodies and har­monies. He won Grammy awards and was nom­i­nated for an Oscar. As you say, he had dozens of hit solo songs and al­bums and the best tour of the three in the ’70s!

I didn’t even have to think about an ap­pro­priate an­swer, I just let my fin­gers do the talking:

If I was stuck on one of the end­less supply of desert is­lands they abandon rock critics on and was given a stereo and a choice be­tween any one Bea­tles album or every­thing Paul has recorded without his former bur­den­some part­ners, I wouldn’t even have to think about it. No joke—not a single thought would be needed.

I could have gone into a little more de­tail, like asking what the ca­reers of Paul Simon, Brian Wilson, and the face­less mem­bers of Chicago have to do with it, or saying that for a cer­tain type of fan from my age group the Grammy Awards have been a farce since in­cep­tion, or ar­guing that hit records are not nec­es­sarily a sign of ex­cel­lence, or that “un­bur­dened” is a dreadful choice to refer to John, George, and Ringo’s con­tri­bu­tions to Paul’s record­ings as a Beatle. 2

But I didn’t. 3

Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles records stand as ev­i­dence that the ‘real’ Paul blew his mind out in a car ac­ci­dent in 1966 fol­lowing the recording of REVOLVER. Click To Tweet

PaulMcCartney albums collage 1000

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from this col­lec­tion of Mac­ca’s al­bums that I found on Pin­terest. I’m pleased to see that the person who put this to­gether in­cluded Paul’s first extra-Beatles long-player, the sound­track to The Family Way but don’t know why ABBEY ROAD is in­cluded. 4



1   I didn’t choose REVOLVER as a cut-off point to in­di­cate dis­plea­sure with Mac­ca’s stuff on the Bea­tles records that fol­lowed. It’s just that if the “real” Paul left this plane of ex­is­tence in a car ac­ci­dent in 1966, he couldn’t have been the Paul on the records that fol­lowed REVOLVER.

2   “Face­less” is not a judg­ment but merely re­flects my total lack of in­terest in Chicago’s music. I just looked up Chicago’s discog­raphy and dis­cov­ered that they had thirty-four sides reach the Top 40 on the Bill­board Hot 100. Five of their records have been cer­ti­fied by the RIAA as having reached Gold Record Award status, ten reached Plat­inum Record status, and eight reached Multi-Platinum Record status. All of which means I would have en­thu­si­as­ti­cally voted to in­duct them in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I just don’t ever ex­pect to put one of their records on my turntable again.

3   I could have added that if ma­rooned with a stereo (and an un­named but ap­par­ently end­less supply of elec­tricity) and one album, I would just as easily choose GRACELAND or BRIAN WILSON to live alone with in­stead of Mc­Cart­ney’s cat­alog. Hell’s Belles, if I did think about it, I might choose JOHN LENNON/PLASTIC ONO BAND or ALL THINGS MUST PASS over Mac­ca’s oeuvre.

4   I saw The Family Way decades ago and have (for­tu­nately) for­gotten it completely.


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