As I approach the end of my academic career at Tech, I can’t help but reflect on my time here, as well as the legacy I leave behind.
Part of this legacy is that in every relationship I’ve formed, I try to leave the other person with a greater appreciation of Paul McCartney’s underrated solo catalogue than when I found them.
To this end, I’ve been largely successful through the tactical gifting of his albums and discreetly sliding his songs into playlists.
Given this background, it’s hard to overstate my dismay upon reading the caustic review of “McCartney III” which appeared in this publication.
It’s understandable, even predictable, why the author reached the conclusions she did, but I find that along with some factual errors, her review suffers from a failure to consider the broader contextual and thematic elements of the album.
The review begins with an unnecessary shot at Paul’s previous effort, Egypt Station. It seems erroneous to say that “Egypt Station’’ was met with “little reaction” when Rolling Stone called the album “awesomely eccentric” in its glowing review and rather ironic considering I reviewed it positively for The Technique. Additionally, millions of fans seemed to react positively to the former Beatle’s effort when they made “Egypt Station” his first Bill made “Egypt Station” his first Billboard number one album in thirty-six years.
The previous entries in the McCartney series both came at tumultuous inflection points in his career.
Released in 1970 following the break-up of The Beatles, the original McCartney embraced a raw, home-spun feel of acoustic guitars and eclectic instrumentals.
1980’s McCartney II followed the disbandment of Wings and showed influences of the new age with its electronic synth sounds, which verged on the outlandish with songs like “Temporary Secretary.”
If those albums were produced by a McCartney made insecure by an uncertain future and lost identity, “McCartney III” is the product of a much more assured, mature man. This maturity manifests itself in the underlying themes of the album and helps turn lyrics, which may seem bland and unoriginal at first glance, into much more meaningful statements.
Consider “Find My Way”, for example.
In the opening verse, McCartney sings, “Well I can find my way/ I know my left from right/ Because we never close/ I’m open day and night.”
I’ll acknowledge the rhymes seem lazy.
But these lyrics, along with the bridge where McCartney offers to help the listener with their anxieties, show a clear thematic progression from when he begged his wife Linda to help him through his own struggles in 1970’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Themes of being an older, wiser version of himself continue on “Women and Wives” when he suggests the examples we set are valuable to the younger generation.
The original review would have benefitted from a more in-depth analysis of this nature.
Sir Paul stays true to “McCartney III’s” predecessors by playing every instrument on the album and never taking himself or the product too seriously.
This approach ensures there will be ups and downs which perhaps subvert expectations, making the original review understandable.
Claims that Paul’s creative juices have dried seem overstated, however, especially during the past decade which has seen Paul record everything from 1940s classics to grunge rock. “McCartney III” is not a perfect album, but it is pure Paul, and that makes it a fun listen and privilege to experience.