Why it's not yet time to say Goodnight Tonight to Paul McCartney
The 74-year-old former Beatle just announced he's set to release a new album with Adele producer Greg Kurstin. Let the ridicule begin.
MARCH 28 2017
Of course it invited ridicule when Paul McCartney revealed he is working on a new album, with high level pop producer Greg "yep, that's me behind Adele's 25" Kurstin, no less.
Not because it's likely to be embarrassingly bad or because a retirement-age musician making music is unusual, or because the thought of the former Beatle pulling the Adele power ballad out makes no sense.
It's not even because for a few years the 74-year-old McCartney sported one of those late-in-life hair colour changes – one of those shades of red favoured by other second and third marriage types like Rupert Murdoch – that are like a "hit me now" sign.
Actually, it is a little because of that: everyone's father or grandfather has gone there, but that doesn't make it right and certainly doesn't make it any less side-splittingly funny.
Still kicking and writing and recording. Paul McCartney Photo: AP
Mostly though it's because McCartney has been mocked for so long that it is almost the default setting.
He was the cheery, thumbs-in-the-air rocker, the Mawkish R Us lyricist, the one who carried his own stash into Japan and got jailed, the one who wasn't sharp and bitter John, sweet and dry George or mellow yellow Ringo.
And of course he was the one who wrote songs that grew on you like lichen and had about as much appeal as cold moss after a while.
There was Obla-di Obla-da, Wonderful Christmas Time and the interminable Mull Of Kintyre, which seemingly lasts longer than it takes to walk to that corner of Scotland, and hurts twice as much.
Producer Greg Kurstin won three Grammys this year for his work with Adele, including Album of the Year for 25 and Song of the Year for Hello. Photo: Tonya Wise
There was the irritating Beatle-goes-techno Temporary Secretary, the muddle-headed Say Say Say and The Girl Is Mine, with friend-turned-bete noir Michael Jackson, and finally the truly execrable, unforgivable, abomination before any musical god, Ebony And Ivory, with the equally culpable Stevie Wonder.
But as with Wonder, who has written some of the best music to ever grace a record player, McCartney can lay claim to some of the greatest pieces of pop penned yet. And some of the boldest adventures, too.
To list the gems here would take as long as it does to walk to every mull on or near bleedin' Kintyre but they run from I Saw Her Standing There and She's Leaving Home to Goodnight Tonight and Band On The Run, from Maybe I'm Amazed and Jet to Helter Skelter and (co-written with Elvis Costello) Veronica.
And despite a decade or so of often dull, sometimes sad and occasionally awful albums through the 1980s and 1990s, McCartney's post-Beatles output has in recent times been given a more sober and appreciative evaluation. That can be partly put down to reissues of early efforts such as the self-titled solo debut and, soon, 1989's Flowers In The Dirt; several well sourced, considered biographies; and the continuing revelations of his work funding music and education centres in home town Liverpool.
Even into his 70s McCartney had been taking risks as he did when he brought backward tapes and musique concrete to the Beatles in the mid-'60s.
He's made several albums of experimental electronica under the name The Fireman (the last one in 2008), a challenging record as Twin Freaks with musician/producer The Freelance Hellraiser, and even as part of both Liverpool Sound Collage and the unlikely grouping of Rihanna, McCartney and Kanye West which released FourFiveSeconds in 2015.
So what's wrong with an album with a noted producer of clean, bright and catchy pop like Kurstin, whose other credits include names such as Sia, Lily Allen, Pink and even the musical Annie? Absolutely nothing.
In any case, he's Sir Paul McCartney who can do what he wants, laugh all you like.