Friday, September 18, 2015

Favorite Song Friday: Press

Look. Let's this get this right out of the way up front: I'm not saying this is a great song. I am, however, saying that it's far better than its reputation. And, moreover, I'm saying I love it so very hard.

Sure, its production is ridonkulous, and I say that as someone who has loved unabashedly and unreservedly many of Hugh Padgham's records. And yet it's hard to deny that the production is so 1980s it should be wearing parachute pants.

But it's not all the production's fault. Macca's style is in full bloom here, for good and bad. The good is that, of course, it's an insanely catchy song, with a bridge that most good artists would kill a dozen homeless people for in order to use it as a chorus. And the verse is even catchier. And neither comes close to how catchy the chorus itself actually is. And his voice sounds great, even for him—once you get past the silly pseudo-accent he adopts for the count-in. And, frankly, the overt sexuality of the lyric is somewhere between bracing and kind of embarrassing, and good for him. (I think.)

But then he throws in bits like the "Oklahoma" part and what the hell is with that? First of all, structurally, it's weird—the kind of weird he seems to revel in, as though he'd mastered the perfect pop form long ago and so has to deliberately try to sabotage songs in order to keep things interesting. (To be fair, he's probably not wrong.)

Anyhoo, the most famous musician in the world can do many things, but convince someone he's a boy from Oklahoma ain't one of 'em. I mean...look at the expression on the woman's face at 2:14. She tries to be cool and pretend she's not utterly stoked to be in the presence of a damn Beatle...but she can't. No one can. And no one's not fully aware that Sir Paul McCartney was born and bred 4475 miles from the Sooner State. And then, to make things worse, he has the silly drum break, apparently determined to outdo (or perhaps indo) John Fogerty on "Zanz Kant Dance."

Wow. That's a lot of negativity from a guy who claims to like the song. And I don't really have all that many arguments to counterbalance the criticisms. Except this: it's Paul. And all that stuff is true, this is kind of a lousy record, well below "Silly Love Song" standards (and I'm not kidding about that). But it's still got Paul damn McCartney unleashing that impossibly great voice on a fantastic melody, the kind which inspired the brilliant Douglas Adams to write:
Arthur could almost imagine Paul McCartney sitting with his feet up by the fire on evening, humming it to Linda and wondering what to buy with the proceeds, and thinking probably Essex.
Also the video's a hoot.

Supposedly this is literally the first time McCartney had ridden the underground since 1962. That's pretty believable, but would also make a dandy urban legend. Either way, watching the reaction of people realizing they're near a Beatle just doesn't really get old, and he's so damn charming that his deep-seated need to please and be liked somehow doesn't grate (too much). Also, his hair looked better back before he started dyeing it.

So. Yeah. Not a great song. But at least every few years I'm hit with the urge to listen to it and whenever I do I find myself playing it a half dozen times because really some people just wanna fill the world with silly love songs, and what's wrong with that?

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