Love Me Do, the Beatles classic that just turned 50, is largely considered to be a Paul McCartney-penned song, even though it bears the Lennon-McCartney songwriting imprint the two would share for the rest of their careers as The Beatles, with one man usually acting as the principal songwriter.
It SOUNDS like a McCartney song , too.
The immediate sing-ability of it, the harmony.... all seedlings of what would blossom, years later, into McCartney gems like Hey Jude.
But for some of us, admitting Paul's genius has been a long and winding road. And it began with Golden Slumbers .
"Once there was a way, to get back homeward....once there was a way to get back home, sleep pretty darling, do not cry. And I will sing a lullaby. "
With those comforting lines, my iPod died. While I was on vacation. Out of the country. And in the mute and soundless week that followed, Paul McCartney's warm hug of a voice filled my ears, lulled me to sleep, and filled me with his sense of safety.
This is by no means a novel sentiment on McCartney's voice.... except that I'd always defined myself as a Lennon girl. For years, the Beatles resident philosopher/activist/angry young man -- his youth and anger preserved by his untimely death -- had been my favourite Beatle.
The boom of Lennon bios in recent years has given me plenty of reasons to reassess my love towards Lennon the man. John , a book by his first wife, Cynthia Lennon , painted Lennon as A Jealous Guy... as well as violent-tempered, even abusive. Even Philip Norman's giant, comprehensive Lennon , which portrayed John in a more sympathetic light, still hinted at an insecure, drug-addled, frequently unpleasant character.
Brilliant Lennon lines
But still, the brilliance of Lennon lines like "God is a concept by which we measure our pain " won me over, Something about the directness of those words, simple summaries of complex ideas, rang with all the amped-up emotion of my 20s.
But recently, McCartney's been growing on me.
Once I thought Lennon's infamous sneer at his one-time bandmate, "You're all pizza and fairytales" was accurate (if mean-spirited). I don't think that's true anymore. If anything, we know Lennon said it in anger, when the band was at its most acrimonious. In his happier moments, he too , often remarked on Paul's gift for "smoothing over" the edges in songs he would create, his gift for making melodies that people would immediately be able to sing.
Maybe as life gets more complex, and its edges starker, there's room for McCartney's ability to hit home with the softer sides of life: the joys of domesticity, romantic love, and ways back home.
Welcome to my McCartney years.