P-Mac at Fenway: A Quick Look at an Early Set List

Paul McCartney quit the Beatles in 1970, and for years, many years, he refused to sing any Beatles song unless it was unequivocally a McCartney song. The Long and Winding Road, Yesterday, Lady Madonna, Ob-la-di, Let It Be were on the table.  Any song in which he collaborated with Lennon was off the table. Paul was going to make a name for himself that was wholly separate from the brand he created with the Fab Four. With the exception of Hey Jude, a song Lennon always claimed to be part-his, this was the rule, and P-Mac stuck to it.

Things drastically changed as the Eastern Bloc governments began to crumble. Whispers of McCartney advancing age (he was closing in on the big five-oh) combined with declining record sales helped Sir Paul realize that if he didn't do something soon, he faced an end to his career that was more quiet and obscure than the manner in which he first arrived on the music scene.

Enter the 1989 Paul McCartney World Tour, the first such tour in over a decade. P-Mac changed the rules for this tour. Instead of skimming over the Beatles songbook, McCartney waded deep into it, singing songs from Sgt. Pepper, plus 50s-inflected songs from the Early Days of the Fab Four. Word traveled quickly, and the tour was a smashing success.

Still, the original Rule was more or less in place.

McCartney avoided singing any song that struck him or the public as a John Lennon song. I understood this. Sir Paul, notwithstanding the gallantry of knighthood and all, was still the same Paul McCartney from days of yore, meaning he was highly competitive. He had carved out a niche, and he was proud of that niche in its own right. He respected his old friend, John Lennon, but dammit, people were gonna see the genius of Paul McCartney as an individual and solo artist.

Now almost 71, I suspect the rules have changed again. Mortality is facing James Paul McCartney square in the face. Two of his former bandmates, John Lennon and George Harrison, are no longer alive to sing their own songs. P-Mac has decided to pick up the baton. "Don't forget my brothers" is what he seems to be saying.

Below you see no fewer than three Lennon songs sprinkled across the set list for McCartney's current tour (in green below). Plus Lennon wrote the mid-stanza, cum Waltz bit about life being too short in We Can Work it Out. Then you have the uke-infused version of Harrison's Something played as a tribute to our sitar-playing old friend. Last solo tour Paul sang one of the Beatles more famous songs that begins with Lennon singing by himself for the first half of the song. He followed that up with a Lennon solo song (see vid above for both songs).

It's a Beatles farewell tour with only one Beatle.

I'm down with that.

How 'bout you?


FLCeltsFan said...

Interesting. I never knew that about McCartney not singing Lennon's songs. Was it because of a rift between them or just because McCartney wanted to make it on his own?

Lex said...

I suppose part was due to rift and possibly stirring the pot when unnecessary. at same time, knowing what i know about p-mac, part of it was just him saying "this is me. this is what i did."

of course now at 71, he wants his band to be remembered, including the stuff the others did

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